Initially meeting Thomas Prichard felt like an act of Providence. Meeting him a second time solidified this feeling. And so it was when he shared his contact information with Katy and me upon our parting of ways in Molde that we felt sure of his genuineness in offering us untold hospitality. Later, as the events of our final days in Norway began to unfold and become clear to us, we decided to give him a call to see about having a Welsh send off to our nordic vacation and Tom unhesitatingly obliged to have us as his guests. And so it was that with our final four days in Norway we experienced yet another unexpected part of its culture and country.
Tour Guide Thom: August 15, 2015
“When Mr. Prichard asked us what we wanted to do, we simply left it in his hands to show us the town. As such Katy, Tom and myself saddled our bicycles, and rode the 8 percent grade down into Lillehammer.
From central we opted to check our the local museum of history. It resembled the Folk Museum [Trondheim] in many ways, and we were even witness to some cute acting between two women and a crowd of children; they were in search of stolen / lost spirits from the medicine shop. Thomas was friends with the more animated of the two women.
In this same area of old-town reproduction, I picked up a couple of gifts for my mom and dad. Moving past the old postal and train stations, we were transitioned into a more modern era, and saw homes from wartime. A 1939 home demonstrated life during World War II, and one actor showed us how they would roast peas to create a coffee substitute–it smelled right enough, but we were all weary of its taste. Soon no actors remained, as it was 17:00, and so we walked around the old farm homes, and looked at the ancient stave church (one of the oldest) before settling down at Tom’s favorite cafe for coffee and carrot cake.
It was still sunny and warm–what more could we ask for! Well, we did, and splurged on burgers and beer at a local pub, called Nikkers. Twice as expensive as at home, but well worth it. The night was closed with a movie back at home, up the 8 percent grade again. Ah, right, Katy and I also shared, in greater depth than before, our faith in Christ Jesus, and he with us about his views on life and religion, that are largely unknown even to himself. The conversation itself, however, was both weighty and courteous. A real privilege.”
Hillehammer: August 16, 2015
“It has been such a relaxing sabbath today: sleeping in yet another day was a good start, and our homemade pancake, bacon and eggs breakfast, in the out of doors sunshine, really sealed the deal. By 2pm we had almost wrapped things up, so I wouldn’t call it a breakfast, hardly a brunch even, but it was definitely right.
From here we all continued to squander some more of our day, but with plans for a hefty chicken and bacon sandwich dinner. Katy and I decided to go out for a bit of a run up and down the hillside that Lillehammer is built alongside. On our return Katy spotted a bunch of raspberries that we later picked for use in tomorrow’s breakfast.
Otherwise Thomas has hosted us to a marathon of various videos and music tastes.”
Summer Send-Off: August 17, 2015
“‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.’ This figure of speech jesus used with them, but they did not understand what He was saying to them. So jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.’” - John 10:1-21 [cont. on next post]
“When you’re rushed and packing recklessly, you simply wish to press the escape button. Today was not that kind of a day. In fact, come to think of it, it rather felt like a series of well executed calculations, and thus, pragmatic, which is also to say, Norwegian.
Today marks two months since Katy and I landed in Oslo, so while I tape up our bicycles beneath the Scandinavian summer sun, and above fields of half-golden wheat, it is all beginning to feel like home. So the bike bag errand was a success, and hopefully Tom’s ant powder is as well.
When all duties were fulfilled, we three ate tacos on his outside picnic table while the sun set. It was an ideal and picturesque moment in time. Katy and I hope we can return such favors to Mr. Prichard when he visits us.”
Time Stands Still: August 18, 2015
“‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep and I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.’ There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, ‘He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?’ Others said, ‘These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’” - John 10:1-21 [cont. from previous post]
“As travel goes, today has been remarkably smooth. Thomas was kind enough to drop us at the train station and the ride to Gardermoen went well. Our flight check-in was completed early, and now even the time to destination has decreased nearly one hour.
We have just now left mainland below and behind us as we venture toward Greenland, but just before we did I caught a glimpse of Stordal, and where the Bjordal’s cabin is. It is a fitting close to our stay in Norway.”
Initially our flight home was like a recap of our time in Norway, traveling over Lillehammer, the Bjørdal's very mountain cabin in the Sunnmøre Alps and Ålesund. Then we were over the northern Atlantic and blinding ice sheets of Greenland before reaching Canada's great northern expanse of dense forest. Eventually we touched back down in Oakland, the name now having deeper meaning to me because of my great grandmother, and with an odd bit of culture shock went to visit my Norwegian grandmother, Francis Evelyn Holk to tell her of our experience.