Sandra’s visit to Norway did not start off on exactly the right foot. Yes, her dear friends arrived to meet her, Gintas, Guoda, Timonas and Kristupas. However, their picnic lunch at a highway turnout near the airport and return to pick up Danielle Berthiaume did not go so well. After waiting an extended period of time with growing concern Sandra texted her daughter in New Hampshire to get Danielle’s cell phone number. Jenna sent a text to Danielle’s sister who happened to be in Virginia at the time. When Sandra called Danielle she discovered that her flight was not arriving until the next day. Relief flooded Sandra and horror filled Danielle as she was afraid she’d read her tickets wrong.
The tired travelers made it back to Porsgrunn a bit later than necessary, but very happy to be there. In the end, Danielle was correct and there was simply an oversight made in communicating the details. Poor Gintas had to make the 2.5 hour trip back to Oslo the next day. Danielle’s travels were not to be that easy though. She missed her connecting flight in Paris and had to wait 6 hours for the next one. As she said, “The time wasn’t so bad, but there wasn’t anybody to talk to.” Sandra spent the day in private consultations with mothers, listening and sharing as directed by the Spirit. Everyone was glad to welcome home Gintas and Danielle that evening in spite of their state of exhaustion.
The Americans did their best to settle into the family routine and their adjustments were eased greatly with a spiritually quiet setting, healthy and delicious meals, and a boundless zest for life. Danielle was granted a late wake up call and then the ladies were packed up and taken to the shore. This time two year old Joana joined the older children and Gintas to walk the stony coastline, scan the ocean waves, and frolic in the grassy field. After a brief visit to the seaside town of Brevic the little band returned home for a tasty lunch. The rest of the day Ina and Danielle prepared food for the ladies retreat the next day while Sandra reviewed her presentations.
Early the next morning one lady arrived to drop off her two oldest children and join Ina and Sandra as they drove to a neighboring town. They arrived and unloaded the van which included 5 month old Gytautas along with goodies galore. Once the space was arranged and ready the ladies stopped and prayed for God’s blessing over the entire event. They were joined by the attendees He sent.
Sandra offered her talks in a warm and casual setting around a coffee table with flowers. The ladies were seated in comfortable love seats with sunny windows behind them. It was a blessed time of fellowship in the Word. Lunch was delicious and an excellent opportunity for informal conversation. She reports that no matter where sisters in Christ gather there’s always lively and intimate interaction. Amen The retreat closed with a time of prayer for the personal needs that had been expressed throughout the day. Email addresses were exchanged in an effort to extend the preciousness of the gathering.
Sunday was another early and busy day. The Juoniai family carried Sandra and Danielle to the church plant they are attending. It was a sweet gathering of saints that did an excellent job of incorporating children into the worship experience. The blessing of being together in worship with international siblings was grand. The surprise at having real wine in the communion cups only deepened the experience. Right, Danielle? Since this was our last day in Norway fond and warm farewells were made around the dinner table. Love, appreciation and joy were exchanged with hugs and gifts.
The next day was meant to be one of smooth departures. However, on arriving at the airport the ladies were greeted with the news that Amsterdam’s airport was closed – supposedly, more volcanic ash. Danielle was able to be rerouted through Newark, New Jersey to Boston, but Sandra had to wait for a late afternoon flight. She and Gintas waved good-bye to Danielle and, when they were certain her flight had taken off, headed for downtown Oslo. Evidently God had decided that Sandra should not miss the Norwegian national holiday parades for a second time.
Gintas was Sandra’s tour guide for the train ride into town, for the walk down the crowd-packed streets toward the castle, and the visit to the National Opera House. They enjoyed lamb on bulky rolls before getting back on the train to return to the airport. They were happy to find that the flight to Amsterdam was indeed on time. Sandra felt the visit was too short, but was happy to be started the journey home. So she waved good-bye to Gintas with a mixture of joy and sadness.
The delay in Sandra’s flight heartily telescoped her time in Amsterdam on the way home. Instead of a leisurely visit and lunch, she and Myra held an intense conversation over soup and a sandwich. Her gracious husband Barry drove Sandra to the Adkins’ home after the children were in bed so her family visit turned into a late night chat with Alistair and Julie to catch up on various topics. Thankfully Megan and Nicole got up early enough in the morning to spend some time looking at photos from China before taking Sandra to the local farmers market. They bought chocolate cupcakes and took her to a nearby windmill on a canal to enjoy them. As usual they charmed the socks off the old lady.
Not to be left out, three year old Kelly took Sandra and her mom for a walk to the neighborhood playground. These are ubiquitous in the Netherlands and delightful for children of all ages. After showing her talents on the various pieces of equipment Kelly took the moms back to the house. The car was quickly loaded up for the trip to the airport. Once again it was a mixture of emotions, joy to be heading home and sadness to leave such precious siblings behind.
Thankfully the final leg of Sandra’s plane travel took place smoothly and on time. She was met outside Customs by a joyful Curt and swept home in record time. It took several days for her body to adjust to the time change and a few weeks for her mind to begin to process the experiences and the lessons. She reports that there’s no doubt that this was a marathon ministry trip and that it was accompanied by marathon of blessings.
Please ask the Lord to cover the families in Norway with His wings. There are several families Sandra was unable to meet during her short stay. Perhaps a longer visit is in the Father’s plans.