Counting my blessings

“Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done!
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

“Count your blessings, name them one by one,” the song declares! Well, I don’t know how many of us ever take time to simply count our blessings and name them as we thank God for what He has done so far. I also don’t know what the above song really means to you as a person… For me, the above song has been real to the letter of every one of its words. And it has been quite evident in the journey I have had so far in Norway. I have witnessed and experienced so many blessings, that on naming them I am short of words to express my thanks to the Sovereign Lord! So, today I just want to count by mentioning the blessings I have gotten in the various families that I have gotten to visit. I do all this as a way to simply relay my heartfelt and sincere gratitude to God for having allowed these families to be a blessing to me in my short stint in Norway.

My various visits have given me a clear picture of love in families. I have gotten to see and appreciate genuine love in a family; to witness submission from children to their parents; stable love among the couples; and generosity at its best. I come from a warm culture in Kenya and we are generally hospitable; but what I have experienced here so far is a rare kind of hospitality! It comes in a very resounding manner. It has some degree of simplicity and humility that is difficult to describe with mere words; it is best felt and experienced. And the centrality of unity keeps sprawling within… All these are, despite Norway being a cold culture!!!

Firstly, is the Normann family. Joyline and I visited this family back in September. We were still very new and they gave us a notable warm welcome. Despite being in a hurry, I couldn’t help but notice the passion for God present in the home. Ben David, who is the second of the three sons to the lovely couple, is my “roommate” and he is a true depiction of that passion. We took coffee with some chocolate and engaged in several chats ranging from faith, to social, to church history, to civics matters. I enjoyed the simplicity with which Olaf, the father, took it all especially in sharing his Christian faith. At least from my chat with him, I noted he has a notable hunger for God and His Word. And the great library of books that he has is also something to mention. Given my love for reading, I’ve already engaged two books from his library “Living water by Brother Yun and Farewell to God by Charles Templeton”. Am proud to say that this family gave me another view of what it meant to be Christian in Norway.

Secondly, is the Kiplesund family. This is the family to John Olav, one of the Hald students in Madagascar. Here, we got an exposure to further simplicity and I sensed genuine love in the family. Listening to the talks in the family really brought me to the grand realization that there is power in humility. John Olav is one very humble yet friendly young man. And on visiting his home, I noted that indeed the humility had its source in his upbringing.  We had dinner in what is considered a Trøndish delicacy…

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Trøndish delicacy

…after which we went for a boat ride with our friend…

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Out for a boatride

…and then, after dessert, we had varied talks about different things including the reality of being in a different culture. From this, we got to express some of our fears and “culture shocks” we had encountered by being in Norway. It was really great to hear their comforting encouragement. For me, it was very sobering to see that the family had some concerns for one of their own going away. Hearing Tormod, the father, saying that “it is our son’s decision after all” was quite solemning! This cemented the very love for one of their own; supporting him to the very end, and giving him an opportunity to go out.

Having done all this, the family still surprised me when they gave each of us something to keep us warm during the impending winter…

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Hand-knit socks 

Thirdly, is the Opedal family. This family has, to say the least, been amazingly good to us. Our first interation was courtesy of their son, Eivind, with whom we are at Hald and who was going to Kenya on exchange. It was a wonderful union through which we talked, laughed and even played “Ticket to ride”, a typical Norwegian game. We had a fun-filled encounter with a good part of the family. And their willingness to host us; to know us; to listen to us was quite astounding at first. There was no question as to whether I had felt at home or not; it seemed like we had known each other for so long!

We had the Trøndish special for dinner and then had dessert…

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Cake and coffee for dessert

 …and we had some time for a family photo…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA section of the Opedal family

The Opedals have become our mentors; and what a joy it was for us (Joyline and I) to learn of the news!! They have been more like our parents; always looking out for our welfare and asking the right questions at the right moment; extending the hand of support in this very cold Norway. There is a warmth that I cannot put in words at all… Just this week, we had some great meal together in an Italian restaurant downtown! And it was awesome partaking of the delicacy in the company of new-found friends; people you can look up to and ask the difficult questions about life in the new culture. When with Jan Peter, the father, and seeing him listening and asking those questions not out of duty but concern, it prompts me into reminiscing the great family and warmth back in Kenya. This has helped me come to terms that God is still at work, and in full control.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the Italian restaurant

…then receiving one of the best gifts ever, given the winter season we are in. This gift came at a time when I was already struggling with cold in my hands despite my gloves…

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Warm hand-knit mittens

And for the love of reading, I am already going through one of the books from their library called “Barack Obama: Dreams from my father”. I think there is more to learn from this lovely Opedal family; and I am keen to tap as much as I can…

All these experiences have helped me specifically realize how God can and will always have His remnant; to use in demonstrating His love and greatness.

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