Sabbath, May 25, 2013 7:41 am local time (1:41 am EST)
Good morning, and Happy Sabbath! If I'm not careful, this could turn into welcome and announcements for church. Right now we are in the town of Røyse, Norway, staying at our sister school Tyrifjord.
Last Wednesday we got to do laundry (!), and then went on a tour of the city of Uppsala, Sweden, which is about an hour away from Ekebyholm. Of that city's 200,000 residents, about 40,000 of them are students at the several universities. We got to look at the museum (though we didn't go in), and our tour guide told us that there were some 37,000 manuscripts, many of which were stolen during the 30-years-war (1618-1648).
As we were driving through Uppsala, we passed the northernmost mosque in the world. It was fairly modern looking, and very beautiful. We kept driving, and eventually parked in front of s small store. We got out of the bus, had a potty break, and then began to walk.
Before we went very far, we came across a line of small hills, and Esther immediately wondered if they were burial mounds. It turns out that's exactly what they are! They were the graves of the Nordic kings from before Christianity.
After walking a little further down the road, we found ourselves standing inside the oldest church in the country. It was built some time in the 12th century! That's 1100s, folks! We sang several songs there, including Cantique de Jean Racine with organ accompaniment. I even got to turn pages (and I played a C major chord!)
That oldest church was the original seat of Christianity in Sweden, but it was moved fairly quickly to a new cathedral in Uppsala, and finally to Stockholm.
The Protestant Reformation began (pretty much) with Martin Luther's 95 theses. In Germany the Reformation was of free choice, but in Sweden it was a political move. Gustavas Vasa (I'm not really sure if he's I, II or III) didn't like the Catholics, so he basically drove them out in the 1500s. It wasn't really until the 1700s that the common people accepted Lutheranism.
[Later in the afternoon, maybe 3:30 local time, 9:30 EST]
We later visited the "new" Cathedral in Uppsala--completed around 1300 or so. It was originally a catholic church, so going in and walking around we were shown many different things that had no business in a protestant church. There were images of several saints, and even a room with relics in it. Martin Luther's Solus Christus had been forgotten in a Lutheran church! Throughout the whole stop at this Lutheran, formerly Catholic, cathedral there was a song going through my head, as there often is. It was the English text of the Cantique de Jean Racine by Faure. As I looked around the church which was full of distractions, my heart's choir sang:
O Redeemer Divine
our Sole hope of Salvation
Eternal Light of the Earth and the Sky
we kneel in Adoration...
And so I did. I sat in a pew and prayed. I prayed for our tour, I prayed for my relationship with God, and I prayed for those who worship in that church--that they can find the truth in their confused church.
In the evening, we went to another mall to eat, and I learned my lesson and ordered my own pizza! No more sharing with Kaiti. I was hungry, so I polished off that pizza toute de suite! It was absolutely amazing! I have never been a thin crust lover, but when it's the only thing, and when it's done right, there is nothing better.
Thursday morning we left about 10:30, and drove once again to Stockholm, with the husband of Ekebyholm's rector (principal). He is, I think, a doctor, but it seems like he has also been a teacher and a missionary. He acted as our tour guide, and was a lot of fun to be around. He was the man who took us on the tour of Ekebyholm, and he grew up in Stockholm and was able to give us wonderful facts and histories, coupled with several really good jokes!
Our first stop in Stockholm was a vegetarian buffet which was actually quite good. I had the first broccoli I'd had on the trip, and several other delicious entrees. I even had some strawberry ice cream.
I've decided that I am going to write a book called Around the World in 80 Restrooms, and one that I will be sure to include is the one from that restaurant. The toilet and sink were beautiful! They were painted very intricately, and I thought it was just about the best thing I'd ever seen. I have pictures that I'll eventually put up.
From the restaurant we went to an outdoor "museum" that was part Plymouth Plantation, part Syracuse Zoo, and a small, overpriced gift shop. We walked around for a few hours and enjoyed looking at the animals and watching them blow glass, etc. I got to see Elks and Moosen and Reindeer and Otters. It was really quite a lot of fun. There were also replicas of several different houses that we could find throughout Sweden.
Joel and Kaiti got bored in the museum (called Scanson), so they dropped me off at the front door, and they went and explored Stockholm for an hour. I didn't want to go, so after wasting 30 minutes in a 10 minute gift shop, I went out, curled up in my hoodie, and took a nap.
From the Scanson we went to the Stockholm SDA church and practiced and gave a concert. All the churches we've sung in have actually been quite nice, but this was one off my favorites. There was a nice organ in the back, and the pews and pulpit looked strongly in place, but they actually moved quite easily, so we were able to set up how we wanted it.
We drove back to Ekebyholm after our concert, and I got to sit next to the pastor from the church, and he gave me a pronunciation lesson which I thought was great fun!
We had to be up and out by 7:30 the next morning, thought it actually turned into 8... We drove all day from Rimbo/Ekebyholm to Oslo, Norway. We stopped for lunch at about 2 o'clock, and we went to Subway. It tasted so good, except next time I plan to order my sandwich without peppers.
We arrived later than expected to the Oslo SDA church, and only had a little over an hour to change, eat, practice and get ready to perform a concert. It worked, and the concert went very nicely. The church almost looked like a cabin, or at least it had a rustic feel to it. It was finished, but it has knotty pine throughout, and it looked very nice and they had nice acoustics.
After the concert, we changed and drove another hour and a half (or so) from the church to Tyrifjord, our final sister school. The beautiful thing about being this far north is that the sun doesn't set until late, and the sunsets last forever! For at least the last half hour of the trip, in those wonderful twilight moments that we hope will never end, was flanked by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Clouds, darkened by the setting sun, combined with the sun's pinks and golds. On top of that was a still, calm fjord, with everything reflecting in it. Literally the most beautiful scenery I'd ever seen.
I had been listening to orchestral hymns on my iPod, and by the time I was really starting to enjoy the beauty of the Fjord, I realized that a new hymn was playing: =
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely DIM
in the light of his glory and grace.
I was confused for a moment--how could something this beautiful ever dim, but then it dawned on me: How much more beautiful must Jesus be if he can make this beautiful sight dim in comparison!
As we continued to drive by this beauty, the choir erupted into two songs: the Majesty and Glory of His Name by Tom Fettke, and a different setting of How Great Thou Art (which we had sung the previous school year). Those were some of the most glorious moments of music I've ever heard, and it's because we all knew to Whom we were singing and why.
We arrived at Tyrifjord, and found out that all the guys were staying in one room. The last time that happened it was miserable, but this time it actually worked. I just went to bed before anyone else got there, and I wasn't woken up.
Sabbath morning (today) we all stayed in bed as long as possible, then finally put on our accursed tuxedos and went to breakfast. From there, we loaded the bus and drove a little more than an hour to church. I'm honestly not sure where it was, but it was a very nice place to sing. It was a little modern for my tastes, but the acoustics were very nice.
We at a potluck supplied by the church, and then loaded back on the bus. We change and eat supper in about an hour, and then it's on to our final concert of the tour.
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.