A Letter From Norway
A Visit to a Vast White Wilderness
IT IS an early winter morning. We peek through the curtains to see what the weather is like. How exciting to see a clear blue sky! We are going to spend three days preaching on Finnmarksvidda—a large mountain plateau north of the Arctic Circle.
Wintertime is cold in Norway, so we are a bit apprehensive about going to the northern wilderness. Happily, we are traveling with three of Jehovah’s Witnesses who live in the area. They know what to expect and have given us good advice.
Roads are few here. The best way to reach people who live in remote places is by snowmobile. We pack our clothing, food supply, and extra fuel onto our snowmobiles and sledge. A vast white mountain plateau lies ahead as far as the eye can see. The snow sparkles like diamonds in the sunshine. The sight is breathtakingly beautiful!
Finnmarksvidda is home to reindeer, moose, lynx, hares, foxes, wolverines, and a small population of bears. But what we are most excited about is the prospect of reaching the people living in this remote area. We are especially keen on meeting some of the Sami people, who make a living herding reindeer or working at the mountain lodges.
Outside the first mountain lodge, we meet several young people who are cross-country skiing with their school class. They stop to talk with us, asking us what we are doing. We, of course, are happy to explain. “All the best with the Bible!” one of them says to us as we depart. Back on our snowmobiles again, we cross big frozen lakes and white wasteland. Will we see a reindeer herd?
As we drive up to a small cottage, a man greets us warmly. He is one of the few permanent residents here. When he notices that our sledge is broken, he kindly offers to repair it. He takes his time; people do not rush here. His manner makes us feel relaxed too. After he repairs the sledge, we thank him and show him a few points from the Bible about why God permits suffering. He listens attentively. Before we leave, he accepts the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? and the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. He smiles and says, “Thank you for visiting me.”
After a few more visits, evening begins to fall, and we head toward the cabin where we will spend the night. Suddenly we catch sight of a fox. Its red fur glimmers in beautiful contrast with the white snow. The fox stops for a moment, looks at us curiously, and then moves on. Now it’s starting to snow, making it difficult for us to see where we are going. What a relief when we finally see the cabin! We make a fire in the stove, and the place slowly warms up. Though we are worn out after a long day of bumping up and down on the snowmobile, we feel happy.
Morning comes all too soon. We reload our snowmobile and drive down to the lowland, follow a riverbed, and come to another mountain lodge. Here we meet a young man, and we share several upbuilding thoughts from the Bible with him. Kindly, he shows us the easiest way to get back to the trail.
The last day of our visit arrives. As we enter the Stabbursdalen National Park, a fantastic landscape opens up around us, with distant snow-covered mountains gleaming in the sunshine. Before us appears a large herd of reindeer! They are calmly feeding, using their large hooves to dig up lichen and moss hidden beneath the snow. Farther away, we spot a Sami, sitting on his snowmobile. He is quietly watching his reindeer. His dog is carefully tending the herd and keeping them together. For a moment, the dog pauses to sniff in our direction. Quickly, though, it is back at its job. We present our message to the herder. He is friendly and listens to us.
On our way back home, we think of all those whom we met on our 200-mile (300 km) journey. We feel privileged that we have had a small part in reaching out to the people in this vast white wilderness.
[Picture Credit Line on page 15]
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