Saturday, February 28, 2009

Life in the Middle #1

Right now we are in the no-man's land between two cultures. We are not living and participating in our culture of origin and we can only sort of participate in the culture we now find ourselves in. If you haven't experienced it, you should just know that it comes with interesting experiences. I was reminded of Jesus words that unless you become like a little child you cannot enter into the kingdom. Much has been discussed in commentaries and books about these words, but a few weeks desiring to acquire life in a new culture explains it better than any sermon. With two weeks of language class under our belt, I now have the communication ability of a 1.5 year old. I can name some items. I can identify some actions. I can sort of introduce myself. And I may be able to tell you how I'm doing.
So what happens when a 29 year old tries to use what little he knows of Icelandic to buy coffee at the cafe. He ends up saying something along the lines of, "I WANT ME SOME COFFEE!" I was thinking...that's about how Darcy orders, but that would be another post.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Welcome to Europe...

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Icelandic culture, nudity is the norm here. In the locker rooms at the gym and the pool, there is no hiding anything from anyone. It has been interesting to take the kids swimming here. Last time we were here (in 2007), they were too young to remember anything, so this is all new for them. Last night we entered the locker room all bundled up in our winter gear and Haley stopped dead in her tracks, made a loud gasp, and --with jaw and eyes gaping wide—pointed at a rather large, naked woman in the locker room. I put my hand over her mouth before anything could come out and pulled her aside to our locker. As we were getting ready, there were the expected comments from Darcy’s abnormally loud voice, “HALEY!! I see your Naked BUTT!” and the sideways glances from everyone else. Icelanders are, by nature, incredibly quiet people…and Garman girls are, by nature….not. I feel like a circus show everywhere we go. For instance, when we finally got in the quiet pool, Darcy pointed at a boy wearing a Speedo and blurted out, “Daddy! Dat boy is wearing panties…Dat is SO silly!” Oh Lord, please help that poor boy to not speak English.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Haley, The Coloring Queen

Haley has been improving on her coloring skills since we have been in Iceland. She mainly sticks to an Equine theme.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunday Photos

This is where we live.

This is the distance from our door to the bus stop.This is our ride.

And I just liked this set of windows.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

You know you are in culture shock when...

For the last week, I have been dreaming in Icelandic. Not vivid dreams like I usually have, but weird, fuzzy dreams where the scene is dim...kind of like I am under a bed. Anyway, I don't see much, but I am surrounded by Icelandic voices, multiple voices, talking at the speed of light. I am straining to follow what they're trying to say, but to no avail. My level of frustration rises along with my body temperature, and the next thing I know, I wake up in a pool of sweat. Yes, I think I'm stressed out. Last night, I was tossing and turning because I was trapped in a dream where I needed to blow my nose, but I couldn't figure out how to do it in Icelandic. You can imagine my relief when I broke out of the REM stage, sat up in bed, and realized that all I had to do was pick up a tissue and blow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

We love geo-thermal heating...

It is nothing short of tropical indoors here in Iceland. Yes, this picture was staged.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And we're off...

Yesterday we started Ice-School. The entire time that I was there I was writing a short-story in my head about the experience. Unfortunately, if I take the time to recount every detail about the smells of the classroom, the jolly professor with his Hawaiian shirt, the two other classmates from Germany and Denmark, and the inter-lingual learning techniques, then I won't have time to study before bed. One statement: Colby is a grammatical, linguistical genius and I am so thankful that he sits by me! Being able to be in class together was a huge way that God provided. Last week, we signed up for Ice-school but didn't have child-care yet. On Thursday morning, I was praying and felt really strongly that I should go downstairs and talk to our neighbor. She invited me in for tea and we got to chat for awhile. She, her husband, and her 2-year old son moved here from Switzerland last year. She has been staying home with her son since she hasn't been able to find work here (there are seriously four stay-at-home moms that I know of in Iceland...after age 2, all kids go to pre-school). We had them over for dinner Saturday night, got to know them a bit more, and asked her if she would be interested in watching our kids in the mornings so we could go to language school together. She is an artist and an elementary school teacher. The last two mornings, Haley has been in high heaven coloring horse pictures with her. It is a great set-up for this four week language course. Although the kids won't be exposed to much Icelandic for the next month, they will be learning Swiss German and French. As if they weren't confused enough...
I am so thankful for how God is so far ahead of us here...preparing the way and making the path clear. It was encouraging to see God answer this prayer; I have been concerned and praying about child-care since October. Thank you to everyone who joined with us to pray about this--I hope this also renews your faith in the God Who Hears!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Man cannot live by Skyr alone...

...but that is what we have been doing.
Skyr with pretzels,
Skyr with Ritz crackers,
Skyr with toast,
Skyr with cereal,
Skyr with peanuts,
Skyr with waffles,
Skyr with fruit,
Skyr with tacos (we didn't have any sour cream)...
Skyr with skyr.
Skyr has been a staple of the Garman family the past week and we can't understand Stephen Colbert's lack of enthusiasm for it on a recent short segment about Iceland on the Colbert Report.

The WordClass Iceland Running Group

I figured I would join a running group here in Iceland as a way to meet new people and stay active. This morning at 9:30 am I headed to the gym (World Class) where the meet up for the run is and made it just in time to join 25-30 other runners for a nice morning jog. As I walked up, a man said several sentences in Icelandic and everyone started running. I didn't know really anything about the plan for the run except that it said it was a paced distance run. So as we took off I was wondering, what pace and what distance this might be. I figured if things did not go well I could always turn around and come back before the others.
So after running a few minutes I thought I had better ask someone the plan. I struck up a conversation with a nice man named Hermann and we enjoyed 20 minutes of running talk as we were headed down the path by the sea. Hermann explained to me that some were running 14K and others were running 20K. He also told me about various running spots and races I might enjoy while here. Since I was bound by time I asked him to let me know when we had run 30 minutes from the start so that I could turn around and make it back to the house when I had planned. In all I had about an hour run, an enjoyable conversation, and felt like I discovered an easy way to get to know some more people here in Iceland (which is not always easy when you do not yet speak Icelandic.)
For those who might be interested the Glitnir Reykjavik Marathon/Half-Marathon/10K is on August 22, 2009 (that was for you Brooke, others too, but mostly Brooke).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Finally, the real blogging has begun...

That was Colby's title for this post. Okay, it's time for Annie's perspective on our first week here. Let me start out by saying, flying IcelandAir is quite the experience. Everyone has their personal touch screen t.v. where you can select a variety of t.v. shows, movies, documentaries to watch. I watched Heima which was a documentary of Sigur Ros and his free summer tour around Iceland in 2006. It nearly brought me to tears...the videography was so moving and it made me stand in awe of God and His creativity in making this wild country. (Andres had an extra cd; I am now a raving fan....if only I could figure out what they are saying. Hopefully they are not singing about killing their mothers or doping). Needless to say, I was disappointed when the plane landed because I didn't get to see the other documentaries that looked equally as riveting.

Going through the airports and getting here was so easy....almost too easy. Colby pushed two carts of luggage, and I pushed the new double stroller with my finger with five carry-ons in tow. I kept waiting for something to go wrong--the plane to re-route to Scotland, the man in front of me to whip out a gun, the kids to finally catch the flu bug and vomit everywhere. Instead, the girls were great and the flight was turbulence-free. Going through customs was so strange. We just rounded the corner to find two men who were relaxing, leaning against the wall with their arms crossed. They didn't even move when we walked up to them. I felt uncomfortable, like I was interrupting their conversation or something. They looked at our eight suitcases with furrowed brows, asked why we had so much stuff, and nodded for us to go ahead. Then, through the double doors to Siggi, Andres, and Lilja who were a welcoming sight.

We unpacked for awhile, napped, and had dinner at 2:30 in the morning. Mornings have definitely been rough for me. Colby has literally had to start lifting me up out of bed into a vertical position and nursing me some Earl Gray to help me wake 10:00 a.m. (cut me some slack...that's 5:00 a.m. East Coast time!). I am finishing a COUN class online, which has been interesting since we didn't have internet for the first few days here. By Sunday night I had to interact on the discussion board, so we all bundled up and walked across the street to an internet cafe. Bad news: it was closed; good news: they didn't turn their internet off. There we were at 11:45 p.m. sitting outside the cafe on the icy sidewalk, me--trying to type quickly with numb, freezing fingers-- and Colby--stuffing the kids with pretzels and My Little Pony gummies--all the while trying to hurry me along. In the end, it all worked out and I was able to post by midnight.

I'll close with a few pictures of the apartment (a.k.a. the art gallery).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wow, What a Week!

I was just sitting here and thinking about what we have been up to this week.
-We arrived
- We unpacked
- We got a phone
- We got internet (Thank You Dagny and Diana)
- We had Swedish Meatballs and a great evening of Loot with Andres and Lilja
- We found a four week intensive beginners language course
- We have almost nailed down childcare
- We locked ourselves out and were rescued by the neighbours and the Lady overseeing the building
- We got bus passes and have discovered the joy of the city bus
- We took the girls to the outdoor pool
- We went to the gym and discovered that all of Reykjavik seemed to converge there in the evening
- We reconnected with our friend George at the Indian Mango
- We made an IKEA run and got some needed housewares
- We had a great evening visit with Sveinbjorn, Linda, and Family who have helped us through the residence permit process
- We rejoiced in the Lord for the little ways He has gone before us (2 Cor. 2:14)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Understanding the Uniqueness of the Gospel

Tim Keller has written one of the most clarifying books that I have ever read on the heart of Jesus message. It is accessible to someone just beginning to think about the gospel and a clear and thought provoking read for the mature believer. More than an explanation of one of Jesus parables, The Prodigal God is a journey into the subtleties of the human heart making distinctions between religious discipline and worship, prideful self-salvation and true repentance. In speaking of the teaching of the parable Keller says:
"This means that you can rebel against God and be alienated from him either by breking the rules [like the younger son] or by keeping them diligently [like the older son]. It's a shocking message: Careful obedience to God's law may serve as a strategy for rebelling against God."
At approximately 130 small pages it is a quick read that communicates more than most books do in 500 pages. As you can tell, I highly recommend you put this one on the reading list. Thanks to Dave and Nancy Fauth for providing us with this fine reading material.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Live From Reykjavik!

Well, we are here in Reykjavik. All the logistics when as well as possible and we are excited to be here and settling in for our stay. Since it is sort of late to be bloggin' I will take a page out of Jason Pelt's book and give you a high and low this evening.

High: The flat we are staying in is very nice. It is located downtown. It is near the main bus station. It has a nice open living area and we feel very comfortable in it. With the help of some friends here our arrival has gone incredibly smooth and we have been able to acquire needed things quickly (like a good internet connection).

Low: Last night we locked ourselves out of the flat at about 10:30 PM. A little help from the neighbors downstairs and the daughter of the woman who owns the building and we were back in before too long. It could have been a bad situation, but we felt like God was gracious to us. Silver Lining: We now have two keys instead of just one.

Maybe some pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Garmans Have Arriveed

This is Clint Clifton writing for the Garmans: I got a call from Colby on Saturday about 3:45pm. They have arrived safely and are in the apartment. All is well. The travel was mostly smooth and they are settling in. Colby said that they would not have Internet for a few more days so updates may not be frequent during the first week. Colby said they could see Hallgrímskirkja out of the window and it was a beautiful sight.