It was most likely culture shock–this tremendous weight I had to bear up under day after day. The heinous, icy winds ripped through me every time I went outside…and we had no car to shield us from its wrath. There was much internal pressure to learn the language and keep up with Colby as he excelled. I also felt the pressure to put myself out there, make new contacts, and build relationships instead of always stay at home where it was cozy and comfortable. In addition to all this, I was learning how to be a mom of two small children and wanting to take care of them well. In the end, I felt like I was failing miserably at all of it.
I don’t know if I can properly articulate how it felt to be back on Icelandic soil this week. I was back home, even though I struggled to call it that during our time there…
For the first time since I had walked those streets, the weight was gone. I was finally riding on top of the wave that for so long I felt crushed under. It was as though all the Icelandic I had worked to gain was still there, sitting dormant in a drawer that hadn’t been pulled out in almost four years. Instead of feeling crushed by the language, I felt empowered by it.
For the first time, we were able to see fruit of our labor. On Sunday night we went to a brand new church plant in Reykjavik named Loftstofan. Loftstofan is the realization of the dream that we had the entire time we lived in Iceland: A gospel centered church, led by an Icelander, that exists to Know Jesus and Make Him Known. Our prayers of nearly a decade are being answered through this small group of people who desire to plant healthy churches across Iceland. We spent much of our time encouraging Gunnar Ingi and his wife, Svava to stay strong in the work. They mean the world to us and we know they have their work cut out for them.
Our trip included meeting old friends and continuing to share the good news of Jesus with them and leading Bible Studies for the local believers at the international church (Emmanuel Baptist). The highlight of our trip was prayer walking the streets of downtown Reykjavik with our small team. We started on Grettisgata, a street near our first apartment where the journey had begun. With Bill as our leader, we weaved down the streets, pausing at places where God had done something significant and offering up prayers for the city.
The walk ended near our old flat where we had lived for over a year. Bill asked me to pray a prayer of thanksgiving and as I did tears fell down onto the sidewalk, splashing and sparkling in the morning sun. Only God knew how much difficulty I had experienced in this country, but how thankful I was for how it had grown and changed me. Colby later whispered to me his prayer…that my tears would be the seeds from which something strong and beautiful would grow.
This week I felt color everywhere in things that used to be monochromatic. Hope is coming to Iceland. You can almost taste it; you can definitely see it. God has heard the groaning of His people and is sending faithful workers with The Good News on their lips. I am grateful to be one of them…a small piece of this puzzle that is being built to display God’s goodness to this island in the North Atlantic. May the light continue to creep up from the horizon and shine the glory of the Son.
May we all be transformed in the process.