Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Denmark Day 4: Church, Lunch with Steve, Kristina Statue (Part 2)

It's now a little before noon on Day 4 of our trip. We've been by the temple and the mission home and on our way back to the church building we found the current mission office.

This is a group of us in front of the mission office with Adam doing his best impression of the road runner. I was about to take a picture of the group when Adam ran up to flip somebody's tie or give someone a wet willie and I caught him just as he turned away laughing.

Run, Adam, run!

This building was across the street from the temple. We tried to find it earlier in the day, but couldn't locate it after wandering a few blocks. Then on the way back from the mission home, we found it. Success! Of course, we couldn't go in as no one was there, but it was nice to see that in about a three-block radius was the temple, the church building and the mission office. All very convenient.

Crew in front of Denmark mission office

I had to take a photo of the name plate as well. I really enjoyed hearing the Danish language throughout our trip and trying my best to massacre it as it came out of my mouth. And the reason I really enjoyed the language was because we didn't experience a lot of frustration communicating in this country as nearly everyone we talked to would speak to us in English. That was amazing to me. One gentleman told us that many Danes learn Danish, German and English in school. Go Danish education! Of course, they speak English with a British accent (at least that's what it sounded like to me) so at times I felt like a bunch of British aristocrats had invaded this beautiful country.

Nameplate at office

We even got a photo of Mom and Dad in front of the office. Though I have a question. What is Tami doing in the reflection of the glass? Does she see a bird or a plane or is it Superman? More like Julie hearing some more of that Superwoman theme music.

Denmark mission office

It was already hot by this time of the day and we were thirsty and hungry. There was a convenient little 7-11 at the corner so we all stopped in for some refreshments. Can you believe it? A 7-11 in Denmark? We saw a few McDonald's and Burger Kings as well, but it seemed like 7-11 was everywhere.

Then it was off to church.

We got in to the chapel and settled ourselves into two rows. The organ music floated around us and people were very friendly, smiling and shaking our hands and asking where we were from. We met a very nice gentleman from our home state who has lived in Denmark for 35 years. He served a mission there, then came back and married a member and settled down and raised a family. He was very gracious and outfitted each of us with headsets for the meeting and then very kindly translated the entire service.

Needless to say, we were feeling the love from the Saints in Denmark. They could not have been more accommodating or welcoming.

As we settled into the service though, the effects of our busy morning, the hot weather, and our ongoing jet lag had a soporific effect on us all. In other words, we were head bobbing through most of the meeting.

Sleep. Bob. Sleep. Bob. Sleep. Bob.

Yes, that was an effective worship time for us.

Fortunately, we sang congregational hymns and those hymns kept us going, if not for their familiarity, at least for their giggle-inducing moments. Have you ever tried to sing a song that you know, but in a language that you've never spoken? You say "eee" when you are supposed to say "ah" and you say "ooo" when you are supposed to say "uh." And let's not forget that anytime you try to speak a new language, most people flavor it with their own second language. In other words, we had people trying this whole trip to pronounce Danish words with a Spanish trill.

We were all over the map. Some of us sang with a Spanish accent, some sang with French accent, and some just sang accenting every word with an increased VOLUME.

Like Adam.

I think he drank too much of something back at the 7-11. When the hymn singing began, Adam burst forth in song the likes of which would have rivaled Andrea Bocelli in a packed opera house.

And that woke up everyone up. Yes, even the people on the stand at the front. We all really should have said, "Thank you, Adam" for he gave us the shot of adrenaline we needed.

After the meeting, we were again accosted by friendly handshakes and smiling faces. Dad even ran into this very sweet lady.

Sister missionary

She came up to him and said, "I remember you, do you remember me?" He searched his memory for a minute and then she said she had knitted him a sweater and it all came tumbling back. She was a sister missionary serving in his area and was apparently very handy with knitting needles and knitted an entire sweater for him.

I think in the parlance of my mission such a gesture would have meant I-have-a-big-fat-crush-on-you, but whether out of forgetfulness or politeness no one confessed to that.

Dad and sister missionary

She was attentive though and consulted with Dad about the location of one of our destinations.

Christus statue in lobby

The Danish Saints certainly exhibited what we claim to believe: a faith in Jesus Christ. Their love cast a light on the rest of our day.


We even ran into wonderful, beautiful, amazing Bettina! Bettina was the very first person we met in Denmark. She was at the help desk at Scandinavian Air where we registered a claim ticket regarding our lost luggage. Bless her heart, she helped us when we were so frustrated regarding our missing carry-on bags. When she found out that we had departed from Salt Lake City she began asking us questions about what we were going to do on this trip and we told her we would be seeing some family history sites. She mentioned--really casually--that she had been to Utah herself a few years before to see a branch of her family that had emigrated there. Well, this got us all excited. I wanted to ask her if she had been to Temple Square or if she knew anything about the Church and I was rolling over ideas in my mind of how to introduce that when Dad asked her point blank if she was Mormon. (Score one for the Danish missionary.) She said yes!

Immediately, I felt like everything would be okay. We would either find our luggage quickly or we would deal with it easily. We had felt before this momet with our lost luggage that we were just a couple of people in a vast network of airports and airlines and our luggage could be anywhere. Suddenly, meeting a member of our faith made our problem seem not quite so insurmountable. Denmark is a country of 5.4 million people and our faith only has 4,000 members there. What are the chances of running into a member in our very first encounter in this country? (And that is for all of you statisticians out there because I don't know.) Truly, it felt like a small world in that instant.

And yes, this is Spencer and I going on Day 4 wearing the same clothes. (No, we aren't stinky, people. Through loaner clothes and other assistance we were washing out our clothes every night in the hotel sinks.)

Have you counted up the miracles we've had on this trip so far? Miracles and blessings. That is the best way to get through any vacation.

Well, we met yet another wonderful member at church named Steve. Here he is in the photo below in the tiny, tiny Copenhagen apartment that he shares with his wife, Marian.

Mr. Lunch

Marian is Danish and Steve is American. He is yet another ex-missionary from Denmark who came back to visit about 10 years ago and got reacquainted with Marian. They both were divorced and something magical happened on Steve's trip and they fell in love and married a short time later.

I'm making lunch for how many?

Well, this very nice couple invited us to lunch. (Did you just gasp as well?) Yes, that's right. Just breezily after church, Steve invited all SIXTEEN of us to come to their tiny, tiny apartment and they would feed us.

I'm sorry, but I have no idea what I would feed sixteen people if I had about 30 minutes to come up with a meal for them from my cupboards.

And Marian said when Steve told her that he had invited us to dinner that she just started racking her brain.

What are we eating?

And somehow this woman came up with something to feed our very large group.

We walked to their apartment with Steve telling us stories the whole way. When we got there he excitedly invited some of us to ride up with him in the elevator. Megan and I were elected to participate and then we stepped into an elevator that was really, truthfully, made for only a very skinny cat and a petite child to fit in. It was that small. Steve was so excited about it that he didn't notice we couldn't breathe once our faces were smashed up against the wall. When the doors shut, I had a gripping realization that my death was likely imminent. Panic ensued. Let's just say after that Megan and I elected to walk up the stairs rather than take the elevator. (Thanks to our little elevator escapade with Steve, I would ride any other elevator on our trip with great reluctance. But I would think of Steve every time!)

I'm yoking, I'm yoking

The apartment was so small that we packed ourselves in like sardines. Then nobody moved.

At least nobody moved unless so ordered. As we assembled at the dinner table our collective desire to not inconvenience anyone around us seemed to heighten our politeness to an extreme degree. We were stuffing people into chairs around the dinner table while the balance of the group made do with the couch and the floor. But one chair went unoccupied. The boys weren't about to take it from one of the girls and the girls thought they would be more comfortable on the floor than one of the bigger boys. Julie was the closest girl to the unoccupied chair and she was protesting and desisting from claiming it with great good humor. That is until the mother ship, Jamie, decided the matter by barking the order, "Julie, get up in that chair."

To which Julie's body responded with a frightening speed, while her face registered total shock. Let's just say that Mama Jamie doesn't usually employ such a forceful, vocal degree of command and I think Julie's first exposure to it was complete and total bewilderment.

How do we fit 18 people in here?

Before all that shuffling and maneuvering at the table though, we tried to help whatever way we could without stomping on each other or our gracious hosts in the process.

Want to see my green card?

Steve contiued to regale us with stories, information and data about Denmark. And when there was a lull in the conversation, he even showed us his green card.

Steve has them spellbound

It's hard to visualize from the photos how tiny the kitchen was, but the most people you could fit in there at one time was three. We rotated in and out as we helped Marian set the table, slice bread and cut vegetables. Marian had raised four children in this little place and it didn't seem to faze her to feed a crew quadruple that size.

Clean up

For lunch we ate open-faced sandwiches or smørrebrød. Traditional and very popular in Denmark, they consist of
one piece of buttered bread, often rugbrød—a hard, whole-grain rye bread—topped with any of a variety of meats, including various cold cuts, bacon, herring, fish fillets, eggs and leverpostej (liver paté), and then usually some vegetable (for example, thinly sliced cucumber, tomato wedges or pickled beets)and then usually a condiment, such as mayonnaise, or toasted onion bits. A traditional replacement for butter on a piece of bread with herring is pig fat. There are many traditional variations associated with the smørrebrød. There are special stores which specialize in these sandwiches. (Wikipedia)
Marian served them with leverpostej (pronounced liver-post-eye) which is a pork liver spread. Ewwww! But I think we all tried it. Or claimed to have tried it. And bless their hearts, Steve and Marian gave us the experience of eating traditional food in a Danish home which is really more than we ever expected. That in and of itself was all the treat we needed.

Tiny kitchen

Well, our crew made short work of the meal and helped with the clean up. By now, it was 3:00PM in the afternoon and we still had miles to go before sundown. So, we thanked our hosts and made our getaway.

Next stop: the airport.

We were driving to Møn that night and wouldn't be near the airport again for 10 days, so we made one last stab at locating our luggage in person. It was a heroic effort, but it was a failure.

This also was our first real day of driving in Denmark and everyone was getting used to the manual transmission in our vans. The drivers especially. Dad was driving our van and I think on stall number eight Jenny started to tally his stalls vocally. When he hit stall number 12, he turned over the controls to Russell. Who himself promptly stalled.

Rus's stall just happened to take place as we were leaving the airport and passing through the parking gate. He had just pushed the button to open the gate and in his hurry to restart the van and get through the gate before it closed, he was fumbling with the controls and turned on the windshield wipers. And not just the windshield wipers in the front, but the windshield wipers in the back too.

Which sent the group in our second van behind us into gales of laughter.

But we did make it through the gate. And couldn't stop laughing for fifteen minutes.

Then we were off to see the Kristina statue.

Bon Voyage

Here's Matt on the pier in Copenhagen where the statue is located. Do you see that massive ship in the background? It was just leaving the port. It was gigantic, but at least gave us a sense that this really was a place where ships departed for all over the world.

They're looking, they're looking

The Kristina statue was installed on this pier in the summer of 2000 as a tribute to the many LDS saints who departed from this pier as they emigrated to America in the 1800s. At Kristina's feet are bricks with the names of Saints who left from this pier. Our extended family bought and paid for a brick to be installed here.

Hans Jorgen brick

It took us a few minutes of wandering but we finally located it. It lists our ancestor's name, Hans Jorgen Rasmussen, and his hometown and the year he left: Harbolle, 1862.

Do you see it?

It felt kind of reverential to be there. Hans Jorgen was a young man in his twenties when he left the only home he knew to go to an unknown country to join with other members of his newfound faith. It must have taken an immense amount of courage for him to stand on this pier and wave goodbye to a home and a country he loved and would never, ever see again.

Clustering around Kristina

And we are just a few of his descendants who have benefitted from that choice and his courage.

Goodbye, Kristina

The statue was beautiful, we were filled with gratitude and our time in Copenhagen had come to a close for now. It was time to get back on the road.

Playboy posing

But not before Rus gets his laugh in. Do you think he got the pose down?

We came, we saw, we conquered

Then we were off. We had a about a two-hour drive south of Copenhagen to the island of Møn.

And it was beautiful. Green rolling countryside everywhere.

Danish countryside

Once we arrived on Møn, we found a little greasy spoon that was still open. I think it was the only thing that was open at the wild and crazy hour of 7:00PM in that whole town.

Cooks at greasy spoon on Mon

This was one place that Dad's Danish came in very handy. Otherwise, I'm not sure what food we would have ended up with after ordering.

And a popular menu item was the Danish hot dog.

Danish hot dog

The Danes are known for serving a great hot dog. They have long, red hot dogs stuffed in warm bread and served with ketchup, mustard and remoulade sauce (which is yellow sauce that seems like a mix between mayonnaise, mustard and tartar sauce) and garnished with things like cucumbers, tomatoes and toasted onions. And make no mistake, these are not your typical, bland, American hot dogs. In fact, I was actually shocked when I came home from Denmark to find that I was craving their hot dogs. Not something I have ever craved in America.

Who is Tina Turner?

We kind of overwhelmed this little food stand and some of us had completed our meal before others had even ordered. I'm thinking Brock hasn't yet eaten in the picture above.

This food is good!

And Mom and Matt had already finished their food.

But after an hour we were all served and smiling. Then it was off to the hotel. We checked in, got ready for bed, and hooked up to the Internet to begin what would become a nightly round of phone calls and emails trying to track down the luggage.

Sunset on Mon

It had been a busy and beautiful day. Just look at the sunset that wrapped it up for us. It was magic.

Day 5 will include a rainy day hike, a scandal regarding our great forefather, and a forced shopping expedition. Hold on to your hats, folks.

Read the rest of the journey:


[Julie R] said...

Oh Eden...I am loving this.

Christine said...

I love your commentary. I need you to travel with me so you can document my experiences. You are fabulous! And I really didn't want to work this morning anyways! Thanks for the distraction.

Aunt Mary Jane said...

I think you and Megan in the elevator should have made the poll. Also Mama Jamie "growling" at Julie! Oh Eden, you are so good at this! I'm with Christine...please come on my next trip and document it for me. Hey, maybe you could market that ability and get to see the world!

Michelle said...

I started laughing out loud reading about Adam singing in church. The funny thing is I totally don't remember him singing loudly. Maybe it's just his regular "church voice" and I'm used to it. :) I'm so glad you're writing this - I love to read it!


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