Thursday, February 4, 2010

Return to the Holidays- part 1- Thanksgiving in Denmark

It has been a while since we returned to Denmark from Sisters, Oregon and began a frenzy of Holiday festivities. I seem to always be behind one or two holidays and lots of birthdays. Please forgive me. My mind is always trying to catch up with itself.

I almost hate to say "goodbye" to my mother's posts. They are full of sweet memories that I don't want to replace with parties and fun. But that is exactly what she loved to do.. and if I could talk to her on the phone we would share all the details of these last few months together. I am sure that she has had a wonderful reunion during the last few months. I think that most of her friends and loved ones are on the other side of the veil. I wonder how the holidays are celebrated there. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you, Mom. I hope that you can read this blog and enjoy the memories of our holidays in Denmark.

There are many "Festi-" holidays here that surprise us. Every celebration is called a "Festi". We have been to "Festinord" (a huge internationaly Young Adult Conference), "The blum-fest" (a big flower display in the center of town), St Hans Fest- the bonfire extravaganza, and this month they are celebrating a type of Halloween in in February called "Festelavn." More about that later... We know that it is a holiday when all of a sudden, when we least expect it--the stores are closed, the students depart, and we are left sitting alone in the center staring at each other without a soul to teach, or a thing to eat. Life is hard in Odense !

Now I am starting to wander. When we left for Oregon, Odense was full of fall colors.

At our October zone conference, we had a theme about letting our light "so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven." Some of our Elders, including Elder Moulton , carved these spectacular pumpkins of the Savior kneeling in Gethsemane, Joseph Smith, President Hinkley, and our prophet today, President Monson. What a surprising, well done object lesson.

When we returned to Denmark we had a layover in Salt Lake City. We were surprised to discover that we were flying back to Denmark with 8 new missionaries and an LDS Airline attendant. We were well cared for. President and sister Olausen greeted us all in the Copenhagen airport. It was a grand homecoming. It is nice to be home.

( Sister Hatton and Sister Liljenquist busy baking)
The holiday plans had already begun when we returned to Odense. The Elders and Sisters on our side of Denmark were busy making plans to celebrate Thanksgiving. This day has no meaning to most of the Danes here. Some are not impressed at all with our pilgrim and Indian story, nor do they love the idea that America is often called the "promised land." But this American Holiday would not be forgotten by this handful of missionaries who baked four turkeys, candied yams, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade rolls, and of course, my Mother's famous cranberry jello salad. I brought bread cubes stuffing mix and spices from America. A good friend brought me some jello. Most of the young Elders and Sisters had probably never baked a turkey or made homemade stuffing by themselves before. This was quite an accomplishment.

Elder Francis and Elder Ockey spent long hours planning an American Football game- The Turkey Bowl. They created these handpainted T shirts for all of us to wear.

On Thanksgiving day, about twenty five of us gathered in Horsens, Denmark-- two hours from Odense. It was a beautiful, rainy day. Even the Horsens Chapel was decorated with fall colors...all the seats are a coral red.

Elder Faylor and Elder LeFevre came well prepared for our Thanksgiving Feast.

While everyone in Denmark went to their everyday jobs, we prepared to spend a day remembering the "red white and blue." It was not a day of suits and ties- it was the best "P" day (a weekly preparation day) of the year.

These brave Elders went out in the mud and rain to play what they call here- American Football. Welcome to the "Turkey Bowl" !

Every one chose their favorite number to be painted on the back of their T shirts. JJ is wearing my T shirt. My number was 14.5... chosen because we have fourteen grandchildren and one on the way (Kathy's baby). Elder Wiring tosses the ball. What a game !

The rain continued. The game could have been called the "Mud Bowl." The competition was fierce.

When the game was over the Elders gathered for a team picture.

The Turkey Bowl goes to the red team. The black team went down in defeat. Muddy, and proud the Elders returned to our Thanksgiving Day feast.

Elder Brown and number 14.5 (JJ) bravely endured the loss and the mud. Lots of muddy memories and muddy shoes.

Thank you- Elder Francis (and Elder Okey) for preparing a very successful American Football bowl. Sister Reed, Hatton, Davidson, and Liljenquuist were some of the sisters who stayed at the Horsens Chapel to help prepare the feast and "deck the halls."

Many gathered in the hall to play a card game. Looks like Sister Younkin is winning.

Many gathered in the kitchen to prepare the final touches for the big feast. It was a great gathering of some of the best members of the house of Israel.

Time to serve pitchers of gravy and sliced turkey. Thank you again, Elder Okey and Francis.

You can't serve a meal in Denmark without candles and colorful napkins in your cups. We created a huge Thanksgiving family table. All of us sat together to enjoy the harvest feast.
Elder Francis greeted the pilgrims and the Indians. The aluminum foil uncovered the warm turkey and trimmings. The old fashioned dinner began with prayer and Thanksgiving.

We are truely blessed here. It is a pleasure to be surrounded by all of these young, dedicated Elders and Sisters. They have given two years (18 months for the sisters) to ride all over Denmark on their bikes, through very cold, wet deliver a message that is not always well received. We were the only senior couple at this well organized event. The heroes here are the wonderful, organized, enthusiastic Elders and Sisters on this side of Denmark. Thank you, all for this event. Thank you for the great work that you do. We will not forget this day.

Thank you, Sister Liljenquist and Hatton for helping to prepare the meal and for keeping us on track setting the table and helping to serve the deliscious food.

Thank you Sister Younkin and Smith for your hard work and to all of the Sisters who stayed at the Chapel to "rattle the pots and pans" during the all American turkey bowl. It was fun working with you.

There was peace among the Pilgrims and Indians... and more than enough turkey and dressing to go around.

JJ became an Mormon Missionary and an American football player all in one day. Welcome to our feast, JJ.

I think that I have used the work "Great" way too many times in this post. It was a GREAT day.. shared with a bunch of great people....eating great food...made by these great people.

In no time we ate four turkeys, tubs of dressing, gallons of gravy, baskets of rolls, and some of us even ate the bones. (Nikolas and Elder Moulton).

Then, thanks to the Sisters, came the homemade American pies.

(Sister Younkin, Smith, Reed and Liljenquist- great pie makers)
Pumpkin pies, apple pies, berry pies appeared from all over Denmark. The Danes make tarts, and cakes but it is almost impossible to find pie tins and canned pumpkin here. This was a project of love. Thank you, again to all the sisters for being so determined about this traditional holiday experience. Thanks to you we had real American pies in rectangular "pie tins.

Can't you just taste this flaky pie. Maybe they will make you a pie...if you send some pie tins to Denmark.

These pies were so fancy that one of them contained a secret word. Click on the picture above and you will read a Danish name. Why do you think that word is there? Type the word into Google and you will find out why Sister Liljenquist put this word on her pie.

Great job, Sisters ! What a way to end our feast. (Do you see the secret pie word in this picture?)

Even Elder Ronnenberg (on the right), one of our only Danish Elders, finally relaxed and enjoyed this very American Thanksgiving Day. I think that after all of the strange dressing and cranberry jello, he was relieved to eat a piece of a good old fashioned American apple pie.

Many Elders found a place to relax after the dinner.

In the evening we enjoyed a guitar concert by our famous "Mormon Tabernacle Elders and Sisters Rock Band."

The crowd of Elders and Sisters were full of enthusiasm and anticipation. (and just plain full of our Thanksgiving Feast).

Elder Wiring and Faylor began the concert with some ballads with deep meaningful lyrics. Elder Ramsey played a great piano solo. (time to say "Great" again).

Sister Liljenquist joined the entertainers with her sweet voice. It would be the last time for Elder Peterson to hear her. He is the Elder on the left giving thumbs up to his cousin, Sister Liljenquist. Elder Peterson is now home from his mission. Thank you for spending Thanksgiving and part of your mission with us here in Odense. We miss you.

Elder Francis played some sad, moving songs. The crowd was moved by his performance.

Then Elder Peterson, one of our most trusted leaders, taught us how to be spies and murderers by playing a game of "Mafia."
I know that you can find the rules to this game on Google. It is often played at parties by
Young Single Adults in our church. They are not spies or murderers but sometimes it is fun
to become heroes in this dark world.
Everyone, one by one was eliminated in this dark underworld. I still don't know who murdered who. It was a Thanksgiving mystery. Elder Wilberg looks very guilty in this picture. But then again, so does JJ. Noone recorded the we are still in the dark.

Life has been good to us here in Denmark this year. This month (February) we have been here for one full year. I am so grateful for our mission in Denmark. This was a great way to spend our first Thanksgiving Day outside of our homeland. Heavenly Father is watching over us all. What a fine group of Elders and Sisters we have here.

Time to leave this holiday and move on to the next. Before you know it, it will be Easter and I will still be hanging live candles on our Odense Christmas tree. See you in the next post- Christmas in Denmark.


  1. We enjoy hearing what you are doing, no matter the time difference. Denmark seems to be 4 months behind the US. Mafia is a favorite game at theater camp, too.

  2. Thanks Emily, Love your comments. Time flies by and sometimes stands still here in Denmark. We often forget what day it is. I do know that it is a snowy winter day.. everything is white and beautiful..just like your snow filled month.
    Have a great day ! love and miss you, Belva

  3. That was quite a book, not a blog. I enjoyed all the pictures and the fun. Looks like Americans seem to try to recreate America where ever they go. We did the same thing here in Novosibirsk. Lots of Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes etc. New years we even watched 2 year old football game on DVD. Thanks for the insight into your life.
    Elder Dougie