6 Weeks In

A lot has changed in the last 21 months. As hard as it is to believe, it was 21 months ago when we made the announcement we would be moving to Iceland. Time is weird. It feels as if it has been a lifetime since that moment, but also feels like it was just yesterday.

I think it is safe to say 2020 blindsided most everyone and we were no different. It was a hard year and to make it harder, we pushed on towards moving our family to another country, which involved purging most of our belongings, selling things that once brought a sense of security – our cars, our home, just stuff in general. It wasn’t easy and I think it is safe to say it may be one of the hardest things I have done so far in my life. 

But when you feel God moving you in a direction, you move. After a lot of ups and downs and starts and stops, we finally made it here on June 24, 2021.

And Now We Are In Iceland

We are finishing up our sixth week here. My biggest source of anxiety about moving here was how the girls would adjust. Yeah, they are good. In fact, they are doing really, really well. It’s funny, they really didn’t miss a beat. They are playing hard, making friends, and just enjoying life.

I think of the four of us, I am probably having the hardest time adjusting. And it’s bizarre – it’s not the weather or temperature, it’s not the new surroundings or changes in daily life; it’s none of the things I thought would be the hardest. I realized that over the last year and a half I have been so very busy. Busy getting the house ready to sell, busy moving into an apartment, busy packing, busy getting visa applications and school applications in order, busy saying goodbye – just so very busy. And now, all that stuff is done, and I don’t have errands to run or deadlines to meet, or appointments, or activities…

It is the stillness and the lack of activity that has hit me the hardest. I don’t know how not to be busy. And it’s hard.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible has always been Psalm 46:10. 

         He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

                  I will be exalted among the nations,

                  I will be exalted in the earth.”

All last year I felt God telling me to just be still. I felt Him telling me to slow down. I joke that He hurled me to the ground in January 2020 in an effort to slow me down and I just ignored it and barreled on through. But now, here I am, faced with stillness. I am surrounded by beauty and stillness, and I truly believe it is exactly where I am supposed to be in this moment. I believe my heart and life are being prepared for what comes next…whatever that may be.

But Enough About Me…

Here’s where things currently stand with our family…

  • Our visas were approved back in July (sorry, never sent the official update of that info out). That means we are now legally able to stay longer than just three months.
  • We moved…again. We were staying in a great little apartment in downtown Reykjavik, which was perfect when we first got here. It was within walking distance of just about everything – grocery stores, food, shopping, bus stops, etc. However, it was literally steps away from the busiest area in Reykjavik. So, on the weekends, it got loud. Everything was reopening, tourism was picking back up, and woah…from 3:30am until about 6am, it was constant noise outside our windows. Sometimes there was even a random firework or two. Therefore, we are now a little further away from city center.
  • Girls will start school on August 23rd, and I believe we will get to take them on a tour of the school later this week, as well as meet their teachers.
  • I will start school later that same week. (I’m too old for this). FYI, Icelandic is a tough language for a Southern girl from East Tennessee.

We miss our friends and family back home and love hearing from everyone. Please feel free to comment, call, email, text, or however else you wish to communicate with us. 

Culture The Church

Redeemer City

Becoming members of Redeemer City

This past Sunday, we had our 3rd worship service at Redeemer City Church of Reykjavik and this coming Sunday, July 18th, Heather and I will be voted on to become official members of the church. This has been a long time coming and we’re extremely grateful to be a part of this church family. (Fingers crossed for a unanimous vote! 😉)

We’re continuing to learn how to acclimate to a different culture and, simultaneously, how to deal with the separation from friends and family — but, rest assured, we’re doing okay!

Here’s the part where I remind you to shoot us a message every now and then. We have the joint account on Instagram, we both still have our same numbers and email addresses, I’m on Marco Polo, and Heather posts on Facebook regularly. (I’m on FB as well but very rarely check it.)

In addition to prayer on that front, we’ll always seek out and welcome prayer for the vision, mission, and purpose of Redeemer City.

And a few random updates

  • We’re hosting a fellowship potluck tonight (July 14th) with the church! It’s our first with Redeemer City and we’re very much looking forward to it.
  • Zoe’s finally losing some baby teeth. She’s lost two since we’ve been up here and a third is on its way out. (Oddly, I’ve lost the same amount… maybe it’s the sulfur in the water. #jk)
  • The plan is for both girls to start school in August (if everything goes according to plan and we’re able to stay).
  • I’m on week three of working remotely… and I was able to cobble together a home office set up that isn’t wrecking my spinal column. (My remote work opportunity is how we’re able to be + stay in Iceland for a little while and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity.)
  • And, lastly, we’ve both begun language lessons. It can be a beautiful language but it’s a difficult one to pick up on.

That’s all for now. Comment with any questions!

— J

Culture Traveling

Feels Like We’re 3,000-ish Miles from Home

Yikes, it’s been a hot minute since we’ve posted. Sorry about that!

We’ve spent the better part of the time since the last update just getting acclimated — to the apartment, to the city, to the absence of family, and, well, to bus transit!

If you’re curious, we landed in a short-term apartment at the heart of Reykjavík. It’s actually a very convenient location to a bunch of different things and we were extremely grateful to be able to find it at an affordable rate.

One interesting note in regard to being so close to ‘downtown’: we’ve learned that typically-reserved or quiet Icelanders take their weekends very seriously. This has made for some — hmm, what’s the best word — vocal nights. 😂 For real, everything is going very well.

The church family that we’ve come to be a part of — Redeemer City Church of Reykjavik (a.k.a., the whole reason we’re here) — has been extraordinarily welcoming and we’re all so grateful for that. I think I mentioned in the last post some of the warmth and hospitality that they have extended to us this entire time… and it’s only continued.

That said, the reports of separation anxiety — about which we were adequately warned going into this endeavor — were not exaggerated. Fortunately, though, we’ve been able to keep in touch with everyone back home via calls, texts, FaceTime, Zoom, etc. The accessibility of technology has been a literal blessing in that regard. And we’re also trying to figure out how to make the space we’re in (for however long) just a bit more like home to help with that whole process.

Heather, by the way, will be following up with a post very soon with some cool news we received — in addition to sharing some of what her and the girls have been up to. (Her update will assuredly be more lively; I’ve personally just been mostly working — remotely, another thing for which I’m so very grateful.)

Oh, and in case we didn’t mention it before either here or in person, we’d love-love-love to hear from you. I think some people have indicated some concern about calling or messaging because they weren’t too sure about the time difference and didn’t want to interrupt us at night or early in the morning or whatever. Others weren’t sure how connected we’d be. Rest assured, we’re good with anytime and we’re very well connected so please call, text, FaceTime, Marco Polo, email, or whatever at any time.

If you’ve just stumbled on the blog, you can send us a message if [a] you’re interested in knowing more about what exactly we’re doing here (also check out the blog intro) or [b] if you’d like to find out about how you could be involved. Better yet, get in touch with the mission or pastoral team within your church and talk to them about coordinating a mission trip to the area. We’d love to see some of you come out, share some meals with you, walk around (and pray over) the city with you, and welcome you to a service at Redeemer City. (We’re meeting in homes for now but there will be a seat for you.)

That’s all I’ve got as of this moment. More to come soon!

P.S. — here are 5 random things I’ve learned while being in Iceland.

  1. They take trash/waste seriously. In other words, if you go out to get some groceries, you’d best have brought a reusable bag with you. (No complaints, by the way; I think it’s awesome.)
  2. Downtown Reykjavík is easily walkable. I love it. I haven’t walked this much since maybe ever.
    • The bus / transit system is extremely reliable. While here, you should just go ahead and grab a Straeto subscription right away.
  3. There’s an IKEA here. Also: IKEA is a wonderland. People tried to tell me that before but I didn’t necessarily believe it. It’s officially one of my biggest regrets now in life.
  4. Pretty much everyone speaks at least a little bit of English and I’ve yet to encounter any linguistic obstacles. However, it is our intent to be mindful residents and immerse ourselves in the native language. That brings me to the last item.
  5. Icelandic is, structurally, a very difficult language. It doesn’t have latin roots like many of the dominant foreign languages so it’s almost impossible to just ‘pick things up’ based on what you know. It’s a brilliant experience to hear people speak it though. I would describe my experience as being delightfully bewildered.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for real now.

— J