We are in the Northern Capital Akureyri. It is a tourist town with a harbor for fishing and cruise ships. It is beautiful. However, the drive up here … stunning, magnificent, awe, God’s creation is just amazing.
Mrs. G is handing off the typing to me, Ms. Smith, while she dictates.
Our first stop was at the largest hot spring in Europe. According to Elli, this hot spring pumps 120 degree Celsius water 180 liters per second to homes and businesses across several towns. This particular hot spring is so large, that it can be pumped over 70 kilometers away! All the hot springs are in the South, and the areas that are able to run off the hot springs are powered by the renewable energy they provide.
Some major pluses to living in Iceland include NO MOSQUITOES and NO SNAKES! There are only 5 predator species, 5 different kinds of fresh water fish, reindeer, rabbits, farm animals, and the occasional displaced polar bear who sometimes accidentally hitches a ride on a sheared off piece of a Greenland glacier.
We made an extremely memorable stop midafternoon at Hraunfossar, the “Lava Falls”. These falls are created by the glacier water that melts and runs under the ground, emerging through the porous lava rocks and spilling into the frigid and incredibly clear river below. The steel-blue color at the base of the falls is…for lack of a better word, breathtaking. The kids had a hard time leaving this place because in all honesty, it looked like something out of a movie. Like blue food coloring had been mixed into the water and the rocks had been perfectly crafted to create stunning shapes with the water. This is our guide’s favorite stop, and she takes her tour guests here often. We can see why.
After we left the falls, we passed through a North Western mountain range. There was a long stretch of road that had no flora, fauna, no nothing…just raw beauty. This was a distinctly different landscape than what we had experienced thus far. Everything was so covered in snow that it was almost the only thing you could see. The kids were taking pictures and the only sounds we heard were oohing and aweing, or complete silence as they took it all in. It got me the way our guide is proud of the beauty and peace their countryside holds. The kids even mentioned this in our debriefing tonight. They noted how much it moved them seeing God’s creation in such a wondrous way.
As we reached the base of the mountain pass, the snow remained, much to the delight of our students. We then entered a coastal town called Akureyri (yes, Elli had us rehearse its pronunciation several times before we got there). We got checked in to our really nice hotel with views of the harbor on one side and the ski lifts on the other. After check-in, we went to dinner, then the kids proceeded to have an epic hour-long snowball fight consisting of eye-locking-sudden-death snowball duels. They were wet and cold, so it made perfect sense to end the night with ice cream!
Our walk back took us by a centerpiece church that was lit up at night. As we got closer, we noticed semi-cleaned off graffiti on its walls that broke our hearts. We were suddenly reminded of how much this nation needs Jesus. Several students commented on these writings during debrief, and we could tell they were disturbed that someone would do such a thing. This had a lasting effect on their hearts throughout the remainder of the night, and spurred on a meaningful, reflective debriefing time. We ended the night praying in the lobby in the same manner in which we conduct prayer walking; No heads bowed, saying the prayer to the group as if it were just a conversation. In doing so, we aren’t trying to bring attention to ourselves, we are simply trying to bring the presence of Jesus into the moment.
Tomorrow morning we head out to explore some more of Iceland. This is the city where Pastor Gunner’s congregation hopes to plant a church this year. Please be praying for us as we support Gunner and his church by ending our day with prayer walking the city.
A SHOUT OUT to Ms. Smith… My brain was struggling to think and type… it was a team effort! What a blessing she is to our school, this class and to me personally!