Faroe Islands Friendship

Faroe Friend

This fella was right outside the door of my hostel this afternoon.

I arrived in Vagar in the Faroe Islands yesterday afternoon, and found that I had just missed the bus to Thorshavn, the capital.  The next bus would be in two hours.  A taxi driver told me that he had room in his taxi to take me the hour’s drive for the equivalent of just under $30.  Considering that I would have to somehow find the way to my hostel from the bus station, a drive straight to the door of the hostel seemed like a very good deal.

He stuck my suitcase in the taxi and told me that I could wait in the taxi if I wanted.  However, I love to people watch, so I stayed near him in the airport until the other people who had booked a ride arrived.  In about ten minutes they arrived and we all piled into the taxi, which was a nine-seater van.  I sat in the back with an English lady, and a Faroese couple sat in the seat in front of us.  My seatmate was very nice, and we made pleasant conversation.

About halfway to Thorshavn, we realized that we are here for the same purpose: to attend the Nordic Prayer Conference.  Then we realized another very happy God-incidence (not coincidence!): her hotel is right next to my hostel.  That turned out to be a very good thing because we had to somehow get to the church for the first session a couple of hours after arriving.  So after a rest we had a light dinner together then shared a taxi to the church.

Meeting Fiona had been strategic for another reason: the whole conference has turned out to be in one Nordic language or another—without translation.  Fiona has lived in Norway for the past thirty years near the border of Sweden.  So she is fluent in both Norwegian and Swedish, and serves as a translator at her home church in Oslo.  So Fiona translated for me and a few other English-speakers.

Fiona is very good at translation, when you consider that she’s translating from all different Nordic languages: Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese.  She has difficulties in a couple of them, and cannot translate Finnish at all because it’s the only language of the region that is not Nordic.  But the Finnish people here have been speaking Swedish in order to be understood by the others.

Meeting Fiona has been strategic in another way: she was originally coming with a friend, but at the last minute her friend had to cancel.  Since she had already paid, the hotel told her that they could give her credit to use in the hotel or vouchers to use in town.  We haven’t seen much of town yet, but Fiona doesn’t really want to have to go shopping to spend the vouchers, so she opted for hotel credit.  And since she’s not likely to be able to spend all the hotel credit on herself, Fiona has invited me to dinner and breakfast.  That has turned out to be a big blessing for me because we’re pretty far out of town and there is no store or restaurant in the area besides the one in the hotel.

As I look back on it, if I had decided to wait in the taxi as the driver had suggested, I probably would have sat in the front seat by the driver, and would not have gotten to know Fiona on the drive from the airport.  She would have been another person at the conference, but we probably wouldn’t have developed the kind of friendship that we’ve got now.  In fact, it’s pretty amazing the way that God has blessed me with a new friend who has herself been such a blessing.  As they say, we are blessed to be a blessing, and dear Fiona has truly been a living example of that.  God is good!

A Delightful Day Trip

My houseguests came to Italy from Czech Republic to attend a prophetic prayer conference, but they made use of their free time to do a bit of tourism.  I generally help guests get oriented and figure out how to find what they’re looking for, but mostly I leave them to go visit the castle, the cathedral and other tourist sites without me.  However, my friends Rose and Piotr invited me to come with them to visit Como.  I hadn’t been to Como for several years, and it is a very nice place to visit, so we packed a picnic lunch and I went with them.

We arrived at Como’s San Giovanni station.  Como has 4 or 5 train stations.  I picked San Giovanni because it is above the city, and from it you enter the city through a nice park.  From there we walked to the lakeside park where the monument to Alexander Volta stands, looking very much like a giant Duracell battery.  Ducks approached us quacking for a handout, but we had come empty-handed.

We walked back toward the marina under a canopy of trees so thick that it was like walking in the shade of an arcade gallery.  As we passed the marina, I pointed out that it is possible to take a boat tour of Lake Como.  They decided that it was going to take too much of our time, and so declined—much to my relief.  If they had wanted to do the boat tour, I would have waited for them on solid ground in a coffee shop.  It’s true, I’m not a big fan of boats.  I will ride boats when necessary, but it’s really not my idea of a fun time.  I know that lots of people love sailing, love boating, kayaking, canoeing, but they can have it.

From there we walked to the cathedral where we enjoyed the naturally cool interior, and then we went for a coffee.  The waiter spoke English and entertained us with his shtick for foreign visitors.

Then we went up the funicular railway to the top of the hill overlooking the lake and the city of Como.  The view going up was spectacular.  At the top we found a shady bench and ate our picnic lunch, enjoying the beautiful view and the lovely day.  Piotr pointed across the lake and asked me if the city in the valley was Chiasso, Switzerland.  I said, “I don’t know.  It could be.”  When we found a detailed satellite map, we discovered that it was, indeed Chiasso.  I asked him how he could possibly have known that that was Chiasso.  He shrugged and said, “It was a train to Chiasso, and that looked like it must be the next stop for the train.”

We walked along the narrow street to the scenic overlook at Fonte Pissarottino, which means fountain of Pissarottino.  The fountain did not have drinkable water, and had a marble sign reading “Porta fortuna,” meaning that the water brings good luck.  I translated the sign for them and said, “Of course, we’re blessed, so we don’t need luck.”  The views over Lake Como are all stunning, and this was certainly beautiful.  Then Rose and Piotr wanted to climb even farther up the hill to the lighthouse, Faro Voltiano.  I decided that they could do the climb in the full sun of the afternoon without my help.  So I waited for them at the coffee shop by the Funicular and did one of my favorite activities, people watching.  A tortoise-shell cat came to me, looking for some love.  Since I can’t resist cats, I naturally complied.  With a satisfied meow, he sauntered off to look for a good spot to nap.  Soon after that a big puppy that had slipped off his leash came wagging over to me.  I petted him with one hand and grabbed his collar with the other.  When a girl about 9-10 years old came running up, I handed him over to her.  She was very relieved to have him back.  The rest of the family came running, and made a big fuss over the dog, putting him back onto the leash.  The puppy just continued to wag, enjoying the chaos he had caused.

When Rose and Piotr found me in the shade of the café umbrella they confirmed what I had suspected: that it was a hard climb to the lighthouse in the full sun for very little payoff.  I smiled, thinking that with age (experience) comes wisdom.

We took the train back to Milan from the Como Nord station, which is not far from the bottom of the funicular.  It had been a beautiful day, and a pleasant day trip.  I called it an early night (about 9:30), and we all slept very well.  God is good!