Monday, July 31, 2017

Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Island) commemoration July 2-17

 Friday evening, the senior missionaries met for dinner to welcome the arrival of Elder and Sister Erickson who will be serving in Reykjavik.  We also said farewell to our dearly loved couple Elder and Sister Michaelsen.  They have served faithfully and diligently.  No words can express our gratitude for their wonderful love of the members as well as the missionaries.  We will miss them and our prayers go with them as they return home to family.

Saturday began a day of commemoration of approximately 400 saints who left Iceland from the Vestmannaeyjar (Heimaey island) 
 in-between the years of 1854 and 1914.  These early converts settled and built their homes in the first permanent Icelandic settlement in North America, Spanish Fork, Utah.  The Icelandic saints meet here once a year and are often joined  by many saints from America with Icelandic heritage.  This year there were over 40 visitors from America as well as about 60 from Iceland.  It began as a cool, windy and cloudy day, and ended with warmth and beautiful blue skies.  There was a short program at the statue site with several members sharing their tender histories of ancestors and their challenges.  The elders sang "I'll go where you want me to go" accompanied by guitar.  We were served a delicious soup with bread rolls.  We were then welcomed into  several churches on the Island to hear more ancestral stories.  They fed us hot chocolate and pastry as well as entertained us with Icelandic folk music.  Afterwards, we were welcome to tour the small Island.  Some walked around town while others toured the "Volcanic Museum" to learn more of the famous Eldfell eruption in 1973.   

On our way to the Landeyjahofn harbor
Arrival at the Heimay Island

Thanks to our Oldungar who took our picture by the site where the saints were baptized

Here is the statue which was placed on the island near the site where the saints were baptized in the icy cold waters.  She is handing a message of the gospel to all those will receive it.

Elder Erickson sharing his story of faithful Icelandic ancestors.  He served his mission in Iceland from 1975-77 when the mission first opened.  He speaks the Icelandic language and we are blessed to have him and his wife serve here.

It was not easy to gather all the Elders for pictures.  We are missing one...and picked up another...Oldungur Stewart came for the celebration after departing just a few months ago.

The Volcanic Museum was very interesting.  One really learns how difficult it can be to live on a small volcanic island.   Yet, the 5000 Islanders love their home and choose to thrive here.

The volcanic eruption of 1973 filled many homes with Lava and rock.  Many of the homes were buried.  Only one man lost his life but hundreds were evacuated to the main island for over 6 months.

It's truly easy to love these Elders.  They are loving this sunny beautiful day!

Driving above the city of Heimaey

Sunday, President and I traveled to Selfoss to speak in sacrament.  We were all basking in our feelings of love for the Icelandic saints and their faithfulness.  The day was beautiful so we took the opportunity for more photo ops.


The hay is wrapped in several colors here, white, green, black and pink. 

view of one of the volcanos  in route to Selfoss. 

Our Zone Picture, in the sun, on the Island of Heimaey.  It's been a day of gratitude for faithful ancestors as well as faithful missionaries.  This is a force for good in Iceland.  I like to refer to them as "God's army".  They are disciples of the Lord and they work hard.  We love you missionaries!  We love you Iceland!

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