Monday, December 7, 2020

Goin' a'viking

Picture a Viking.  Do you see large, hairy men raiding and pillaging on sea-faring voyages?  Yes, they probably did look like that, since they didn't bathe often, and long hair was the norm.  But the word viking was originally a verb, not a noun.  To go viking, one went on a journey.  Yes, it may include pillaging and burning, but it could also include exploring and settling new areas.  So if we go viking, we're just on a journey.  Who knew?

We went a-viking a while back and discovered more evidence of Viking presence at Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala).  I didn't take a ton of pictures but be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge them.

First off, back by the Uppsala Cathedral, we met this cool couple at the tiny Christmas market.  It's the only Christmas market we've seen so far.  Too many restrictions for bigger markets, sadly.  He is from Sweden and she is from Colombia.  She makes homemade Christmas cards and he makes the traditional saffron buns that are so popular at Christmas.

On our way to find Gamla Uppsala, we passed this mosque.  We love hearing the Call to Prayer that is heard 5 times a day from each mosque.  We've heard them in Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Kenya, Tanzania, and other places where there is a Muslim presence.  We can't help but admire the devout Muslims who worship Allah with fervor five times a day.  But as I think of it, we also pray to God five times a day too, if you consider family prayer night and morning, personal prayer night and morning, and prayers over our food!  Plus prayers in between as we go about our daily business.  Prayers, like . . . help this pandemic to soon be over!

At the end of the Viking period (about 1066 when William the Conqueror conquered England), the pagan church that had been on this site was replaced by a Christian church.  Apparently you can still see evidence of the pagan church in the basement of this church.  Gamla Uppsala was once the residence of Swedish kings and the palace would have been in this area.

A big chest made from a single hollowed-out oak log, complete with bands of metal so it could be locked is displayed in the foyer of the church.  

LeRon, of course, is examining the pipe organ and wishing he could play it!
And here is the pipe organ he is wishing he could play!  Interesting to have a beautiful pipe organ in a small church.
Nativities are set up in every church and cathedral.  Even though Sweden is a secular country, with only 8% declaring themselves to be religious, Christmas is still their biggest holiday and nativities are about the only thing that reminds us of the real meaning of Christmas.  Apparently most Swedes consider themselves spiritual, but not religious.  Reminds me of the song "Did you ever take a walk through the forest . . . Stop and dream a while among the trees.  You can look up through the leaves right straight to heaven.  You can almost hear the voice of God in each and every breeze . . . "  I still like that song and I do believe you can see God in nature, but I still think it's also important to see him in church!!!  (At least when we can go back to church after this crazy pandemic is over)!

Now from the churchyard we are looking out toward the Viking burial mounds.  These Royal Mounds are where ancient kings were burned, with their belongings, and the ashes buried.  Excavations have disclosed many bones and artefacts. 

This stave church is behind the brick church.  Wish we could go inside!  Later:  We've learned that all of these, what we called stave churches, are actually bell towers.  Almost every old church has a bell tower beside it and the bells still work and they ring them before every church service.

We found these graves interesting.  They reminded LeRon of the gravel art he saw in Japan when he served his mission there from 1972 to 1974.  In the West, we have lawns, and in Japan they have gravel, which they rake into lovely designs.

Looking out from the bell tower toward farmland.  We're always interested in farmland.  

We love cemeteries.  So interesting to wander through them and to consider how short life really is.  We need to "seize the day" and make the most of each one.  Each day is a gift.

Although the pagan faith persisted throughout the 11th century, Christianity was slowly making its inroads.  Here in Gamla Uppsala, Sigvid Englandsfararen was one of the first Christians.  The rune stone he raised in memory of his father in the first half of the 11th century is now bricked into the outer wall of the church.

There are long hiking trails all over this area.  The burial mounds are closed off to protect them.  Interesting to think of deceased people being burned right here.  This mound dates to 600 A.D.  That's a very long time ago!

We stopped at Sigtuna on our way home.  Saw another very small Christmas market.  Not much for sale except CANDY!!!  Swedes like their candy.

Sigtuna was founded over 1000 years ago and was once one of the most important cities in Sweden.  It's a quiet, cute little town.  And all decked out for Christmas!
Back in Stockholm, in our tiny apartment, Tamara and Marko, our Montenegrin friends are helping unpack and install our new stove.

One of our sister missionaries, Syster Nissen, is an amazing singer.  Check out Emma Nissen on YouTube to hear some of her music.  She is going to be releasing her latest original music on YouTube on January 3, 2021.  Check her out.  In this picture, our Social Media missionaries are recording Syster Nissen singing the mission song that she wrote.  Elder Torrie is accompanying her.  Sorry the picture is blurry.  I'm sure the problem is my phone, not my unsteady hands!

Syster Cowgur on the cello and Elder Torrie on the piano are getting ready to record O Holy Night.  The office missionaries are getting ready to record.

We have so much fun every Sunday night, in our apartment, singing with the 7 office missionaries with whom we work daily and who live above us (so really, we are one family, thus obeying restrictions!)  We're now at the mission home with Syster Cowgur on the cello and Elder Torrie on the piano, recording a couple of Christmas songs.

1 comment:

  1. It is interesting how secular a lot of the European countries have become, given their historic significance and cathedrals. Nice pictures!