Christmas saved – again!
CALI: We at Underveis can look back on another great Christmas celebration. This time far, far from home. Two people from our region back in Norway came to the rescue, and we have had a great time together, eaten a lot of food and received numerous Christmas presents.
Cartaghena, 28.12.2007
CHRISTMAS TOWN: Cali is considered the Christmas town in Colombia. Here they celebrate the longest, and decorate the most. It is also known in all of South-America as the city with the most beautiful women. Here from the river that flows through it.
In the city of Cali, on the Pacific side of Colombia, we met Karstein and Lillian Morfjord fra Lofoten. Lillian spent the best part of her childhood at Skomvaer lighthouse, as her father was a lighthouse keeper. They have started a congregation in the city, and are involved in a lot of social work among drug addicts and youth. The day before Christmas Eve, we attended Christmas service, and we sang a Norwegian Christmas carol for the around 30 people that attended. On Christmas Eve itself, Karstein and Lillian opened their beautiful home for us, and we had a delicious steak, opened Christmas gifts and called home to Norway to say Merry Christmas. It is no exaggeration to say that they saved our Christmas.

Also onboard the ship, we have celebrated. We have made a special Norwegian Christmas brew called glogg, presented to us by the chief steward onboard the Olympic Orion in Trinidad, and we have installed the Christmas tree we brought from Norway, with all the decorations. Even the star in the top is still not broken! We have played the Christmas carols that Anja gave us on CD at Nordfjordeid, and we have let the Christmas peace reign below decks for a few days. For us, this Christmas came to pass as a quiet time for contemplation, where we tried to find our way back to the original ideas of Christmas: Hope, optimism, compassion and consideration.

With these words in mind, we want to wish all our many readers around the world a Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year!

KISS AND HUG: Everybody present received a Christmas present, and even a Christmas hug. No bad thing for a couple of weatherbeaten ocean navigators from Røst.
Last year we celebrated at the Norwegian Seamen`s church in London, and it was a real Norwegian style Christmas. Perhaps the most Norwegian Christmas we have ever celebrated. (See the article and photo essay here)

We both come from homes where Christmas is celebrated thoroughly, and crammed with family traditions. Hence, we have really bent our minds over how to celebrate this years Christmas properly. We have strolled around in the streets and watched inflatable Santas and illuminated snowmen stacked up along palm trees. A strange, but also familiar sight. From the street restaurants we have heard Christmas carols with familiar tunes, but in a completely incomprehensive language. None of us speak a lot of Spanish, although this is changing rapidly. We have hummed along to the tune, and felt the Christmas mood in our hearts.

Colombia is a country of contrast between rich and poor. They have oil, gas and precious stones, and could easily have been a country as rich as Norway. We are often reminded that Norway is perhaps the best country in the world to live in. Especially in December, this is very evident. Vagrants and dilapidated buildings make for a strong contrast to enormous shopping malls with gigantic American plastic Christmas trees. Crime, violence and large housing complexes where people have decorated their gardens with Santas, leprechauns, lights and snowmen between sky-high barb wire fences and walls. These are things that have given us a lot to ponder as we have wandered about in the beautiful old town in the port of Cartaghena.

GOT NOTHING: Karstein is, if possible, even more childish than Runes dad Arnfinn when it comes to Christmas and gifts. We even got gifts this Christmas, and we were very happy for them.
CHRISTMAS FOOD: We even managed to sneak us some delicacies during the service, in addition to the gifts.
CHRISTMAS EVE: Lillian and Karstein live in a central part of Cali. The view from their veranda is spectacular, and nearby there is a park where they can go for a walk.
YUMMI: Lillian prepares the potatoes for the Christmas steak. It tasted fantastic with a few local twists, and a marvelous fruit cocktail for dessert.
SPACIOUS: The premises rented by the congregation has previously been a theatre. It is spacious, and has good acoustics.
NOT CRISTAL CLEAR: During the Christmas service we sang Christmas carols in Norwegian and Spanish. Even though we hadnt sung for a while, nobody laughed at us!
OH CHRISTMAS TREE: Both the Christmas tree and the presents were there,ma nd we could feel the Christmas mood sinking in. It was a strange feeling to be so far away from home that night.
HAPPY GIRLS: During the veremony there was much laughter. The Colombians are all in all very happy people, and the smile is never far away.
DECORATING THE TREE: The tree is being decorated, and the Christmas mood has started spreading around.
ON BOARD: Some Christmas celebrating below decks, with Runes uncle Arvids Christmas tree, Christmas glogg - and Mariana, who we regrettably had to leave behind for the next circumnavigation we make.
TWO LEPRECHAUNS: NO Christmas without Santa. This year we had two of them. We thought they looked familiar, but chose not to say anything. Krrstein was most concerned with the Christmas pudding, that tasted great, by the way. (Photo: Lillian Morfjord)
SOCIAL WORKERS: : For the missionaries Karstein and Lillian, the workload is big and the workdays seemingly endless. Here from a rehab farm for mentally ill and people with drug addictions.
IN FLAMES: Finn Olav spewing flames for the guys at a rehab farm for mentally ill in Cali, receiving great applause from the audience.
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