Category Archives: Personal

March Furnace Fires

I woke up to a beep. I could smell smoke. I could hear voices outside, and something was rumbling. Another beep. It must be a work truck outside, I thought to myself. What time is it?, I wondered. It’s dark, but if I can hear people talking then it can’t be that early. Another beep. “I’ll go see what’s going on,” I tell Mari.

While descending the stairs I heard our neighbor talking, and she sounded worried. Another beep. Worse yet, on the other side of the wall from where I was standing I could hear what sounded like her furnace unit jumping around. With every leap a metal piece fell off.

Her furnace was on, and it was blowing up.

I continued down the stairs and looked through our door’s window. I could see the utter shock on our neighbor’s face as she told the person on the phone, “Yes, please get here quickly. My furnace is on fire.” She was talking to local volunteer fire department.

Hurrying up the stairs, I turned the bedroom light on and told Mari, “We have to go! The neighbor’s furnace is on fire.” Smoke was flooding into our room through the vents. We got dressed, ran down our stairs, grabbed our backpacks by the door, and our winter coats. By this time, there was so much smoke coming in from our kitchen that it looked like a youth worship service gone wrong. We ran out safely, though quite shaken up. I was in my blue wool slippers which Mari had made me. I even wore them to church later that morning (it’s all I had at the time).

After running outside, I ran to the back of the apartment only to see large flames coming out from my neighbor’s flat. This whole place is gone, I thought. I went with Mari to the front yard. So far only our neighbor’s duplex was on fire.

Within minutes of getting to the front yard the firefighters were there (at least 5 fire trucks and a few police cars). I soon called our landlord and told him what had happened. It was 3.40am when I called him. The fire began between 3.00 and 3.15am.

On one end of the quadplex, we lived in Apt #4. Our neighbor whose place caught fire was in #3. Two brothers lived in #2, and one guy in #1. One of the brothers had arrived home around 2.30am from his job. After eating, he heard the beeping of our neighbor’s fire alarm. Having heard for a little too long, he knocked on her front door to see if she was awake. It took several minutes and him banging on her door before she finally responded and opened it. A flood of smoke came out through the opening. She had been looking for her dog. Her electricity cut out as they were standing in the doorway. The guy saw a flash of fire in the back of her apartment where her furnace was. He quickly told her to call the fire department. That’s when I woke up.

Everybody made it out safely, including the girl’s dog. Her place has been reduced to ashes. Virtually nothing was left but a black hole. As for our apartment and the brothers in #2, everything was covered with a fine layer of soot and reeked of putrid smoke. Additionally there was some water damage from the firefighters.

Our apartment was (and is, and will be) unlivable, and we were officially homeless. Later that day the ceiling fell down in one of our rooms, as the fire had spread through the attic earlier that morning. But with the help of friends, we got most of our things out later that day (and night). Our small group leaders housed us for a couple of nights, and for a couple of months we will staying in some missionary housing on campus. From May-August we will be going home to family both in Louisiana and Norway. We have to find another apartment in time for the fall semester, where we will hopefully be able to live securely until our time at SBTS is over.

Conclusion

I’ve written this so that you may all know what is going on, and to explain the PayPal Donation button in the top right sidebar. A professor here asked if we had a donations page, so I set this up. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I presume your donations can be given anonymously, though I haven’t tried.

We’ve been able to wash some clothes. We’ve aired out parts of our library. We have a place where we can store what is left of our belongings while we are figuring everything out. We have plenty of dry cleaning to do, along with wiping down our other belongings, making an overview of what we need, and filling out our insurance claims. We don’t know how much some of this will cost or what will need to be replaced (besides our couch, armchair, and bed).

We are so thankful that no one was hurt, and that our teachers have been very accommodating with papers and midterms (as this happened right before midterms began). We have truly been able to taste and see the Lord’s goodness through this experience as church and friends have come together to show us the love of Christ through providing meals, financial support, and prayers.

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Why Spoiled Milks?, Pt 2

Here is another life story giving insight into why I named my blog Spoiled Milks. Names below have been changed to protect the guilty. Any similarities to historic personas are pure imagination. (Read Part 1 here).

Curdle Hurdle

On August 13th, 2011, sometime around 2am after Toby’s party (I used to think this had been a Christmas party because . . . what’s the difference, really? Toby’s a present to all of us) at a house where the owners (at least) will remain unnamed, I was hungry and wanted cereal. I asked Toby if the unnamed owners had cereal, and he replied with a, “Yeah, sure. I think so. Go take a look.”

Jordan and I stole some looks for cookies, and we happened upon some gingerbread cookies that were simply amazing. I ate three. Then two more. Then I found the Rice Krispies. Then I ate two more cookies. After we poured the Krispies into our bowl, I returned to the living room and told Tori how utterly delicious the gingerbread cookies, the ones that were really small and soft, were.

Me: “Tori, those gingerbread cookies, the ones that are really small and soft, are utterly delicious.”
Tori: “Yeah, they’re really good…” (or something).
Me: “Oh, that’s weird . . . they make my cereal taste like . . . Tuna Helper.”
Tori: “ … that’s disgusting” (or something).

I kept eating the cereal because it was still good once I got past the Tuna-Helping taste (and I like Tuna Helper, but not as cereal. At least if it had been called “Tuna Krispies” I would have known what I was getting myself into).

Jordan comes in and says, “Hey, Spencer, is the milk expired?” Now, there is never anything strange about that question. I’m sure Jordan just doesn’t want his Rice Kripsies to taste like Fruit Loops. It’s a precaution.

Me: “No. My tongue’s not tingling. I’m sure it’s fine. Just don’t eat those cookies before you eat the cereal. Makes it taste like Tuna Helper.”
Jordan: “Oh, because the milk says it’s from July 24th.”
Me: ” . . . w
hat? Well . . . I’ve already eaten this much.”

Scooping up more cereal while dodging the milk I kept eating, but poured it all out two bites later. Afterwards we figured out that the milk was exactly 3 weeks past it’s sell by date, which was a new record for me, at least for milk already opened. There was another time where a group of friends duped me into drinking a small bottle of Borden’s chocolate milk that was two months past due. And it burned.

And I took two more cookies, the ones that were really small and soft.

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Why Spoiled Milks?, Pt. 1

Throughout my three and a half years of having this blog, people have asked me about the name. I review biblical books, talk about biblical concepts from those books, occasionally talk about my life, even Pac-Man . . . but spoiled milk? And why in the plural. Spoiled milks? I thought I’d share with you two events that have scarred me deeply. Deeply enough to carry this burden around on my own as a spectacle to the world. It’s the thorn in my flesh.

spongebob-pauls-thorn-in-the-flesh

The Four Letter Curd Word

Once upon a time, anybody who was anybody was a part of the megalodon known as MySpace. It was all the rage back home. I was never one for writing, not until my life flashed before my eyes. What was thought to be a one-off occurrence soon became just too common. In my family growing up, we always drank a lot of milk, especially me. There was always milk ready, and it was always good. I came home from university one day and, given my love and appreciation for (ice) cold cereal, I poured myself a bowl of Rice Krispies. We had no sugary sweets, so plain Krispies would do fine. Bowl + Ice + Cereal + Milk = a good time (I’m a simple guy).

Then a miracle happened. Call it a miracle on Elm Street. I had the aurora cerealis in my mouth. My Rice Krispies had turn into Fruit Loops! The tastes—the colors . . . . It was like the boat scene on Willy Wonka.

My tongue began to tingle.

. . . that never happens when I eat Fruit Loops.

  • Bowl? Check.
  • Ice? Check.
  • Cereal? Check.
  • Milk? Che… waaiitt… two weeks past due.

garfield-milk

Granted, this is American milk. In Norway, I just have to wait three days past due and it’s already clumpy (annoying as it may be, it shows the milk is more natural). Regardless, this was disgusting. I poured the milk out, kept the cereal, poured new milk in, and ate the rest. Then later found a 13 day old un-opened gallon of milk. What is this? Goosebumps?

Thus, a machine was born. I began to blog every Tuesday. About what? Absolutely nothing. You would have thought Edwin Starr was writing about my life.

When you’re an only child and you sink this low, the only thing to do is become more spoiled. Next is another story that involves late-night cookies, tuna fish, and a birthday party.

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October Updates

leaving-norway

All packed and ready to go

After spending a year in Norway, we packed up the house and left for Louisville, Kentucky (by way of Louisiana first).

Our cat didn’t want us to leave (for those of you who know me, can you believe I owned a cat? and liked it (eventually)? and wasn’t allergic to it??).

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We left this wonderful backyard

backyard

. . . for tobacco!

tobacco

Not quite. That’s actually in Southern Ohio . . . and we didn’t leave for tobacco either. We left for this place below.

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Norton Hall, where we have all of our classes (this semester)

buildings

Our large lawn and some dorms

By now school has started (and is almost finished). In my first draft we were just into our fifth week. The next time I updated this we had five weeks left. Now we only have just over three weeks left. Mari is taking an MDiv with a concentration in Biblical Counseling, and I’m taking an MDiv with a concentration in Christian Ministry (and this one has six free electives which I plan to use for the languages-hopefully). This semester we each have four classes, and three of those classes we get to attend together (Systematic Theology I, Personal Spiritual Disciplines, and Biblical Hermeneutics). I have Elementary Hebrew and Mari has Elementary Greek. The two languages are the most demanding, but they are definitely our favorite classes (usually).

new-couch

Me posing with some hideous pillows on our first couch

Biblical Hermeneutics

A big word for how to study the Bible. Rather than examining how to approach the text according to its genre, in light of the entire canon, in light of Israel’s history up to a certain point (e.g., when you read Lamentations, you should know that Jerusalem had just been destroyed and Israel has been exiled out of the land God promised them because of their utter wickedness), etc. In this class, Dr. Jim Hamilton, the professor, takes a look at the broad storyline and the small details which connect the story. I’ll be writing about some of the small nuggets Dr. Hamilton has talked about.

Personal Spiritual Disciplines

What is fasting? What does it mean to pray? To meditate? To pray the Bible? To even read the Bible? To be held accountable? Even to journal? It’s one thing to look at what the Bible says about these topics; it’s another to live them out. We do both in this class. I’ll write a bit about this too, because there are some things I’ve learned that have been tremendously helpful (like with prayer and meditating on the Bible).

Systematic Theology I

Who is God? What is Scripture? Why do people arrive at such strange conclusions about these topics? This is an brief introductory course to these two topics, and the teacher loves what he teaches.

Elementary Hebrew

This one is basic. Dr. Peter Gentry, a brilliant scholar, called by some as a “true Hebraist,” teaches us how to understand Hebrew. Next semester we’ll get into the Bible itself. It’s great. It’s difficult. It’s my favorite class.

The Kentucky State Fair

You can’t live in Kentucky and not attend some kind of fair. And what do you know? Just mere weeks after arriving in Louisville, Kentucky held it’s state fair, and nothing says “America” like putting fried sugar-glazed bread on both sides of a greasy burger.

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Nothing except deep-fried Funnel Cake Oreo Sundaes. Just how many things can you fit into one dessert? It’s like going to a Ryan’s desert buffet.

living-in-america-2

And then we needed to find a church . . . without having a car.

which-church

But we didn’t really need to look. I had heard of Clifton Baptist Church back when I was in York. Tom Schreiner was the teaching pastor then, and John Kimbell has since taken his place. Plus, it’s only a 20 minute walk from our apartment, which is only a 7 minute walk from school (also good when you don’t have a car).

I managed to pull a muscle/obtain a pinched nerve in my shoulder over a month ago. The pain subsided a few weeks ago, but the shoulder itself is still pretty weak. It’s difficult to lift something up or to the side with my arm stretched out (even to push some doors open), so I’m borrowing a exercise band to work it back to what it was before and not look like some poor guy who can’t open doors.

tfs

The Far Side

Reviews

I have some reviews in the pipeline too, but I’m busy enough that I can’t make much time for doing anything else besides on Sundays. Mari and I have tried to make one day out of the week open to do anything else besides school. It usually works well, but sometimes we have too much schoolwork to do so that idea doesn’t work. No rest for the weary.

I’m trying to make it sounds like we’re drowning, but for the most part we’re not. Usually.

Something I’ll start doing with upcoming reviews is to write shorter reviews which focus less on summarizing the book and more on the benefits of the book itself. It’s much easier to only summarize the book, but it’s also not so exciting. It might be helpful before one reads a book, but what would be better would be to interact with the book itself to show why you should read this and how it will (hopefully) benefit you in your walk with Christ and in your knowledge of him.

There are other websites which summarize Christian books better that I can, and really, the average person who reads my reviews would rather know why they should read this book and how it will benefit their thinking rather than what is in the book. Since most of the books I read lean toward the academy, it’s better to show both how reading such books is beneficial and why you might want to.

I should also start reading more fiction. Correction: I should start reading fiction period. Maybe that can be my New Years Resolution. Though I have started moving toward that direction. But believe it or not, I’ll be reviewing a few non-theological books too. I’ve asked for (and received) another book on Norway, The Nordic Theory of Everything, and I’ve also asked for a few books on Apache Indians and the early days of the US Postal Service. So it’s a start.

In the mean time, I’ll write up a few posts about where I got the name for this blog and how I’ve used it within my blog itself.

fair

Later, skater

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26/10/2016 · 19:40

Biking in Denmark and Seminary

For the last 9 days (or from Sunday June 5th to Monday June 13) I’ve been biking in Denmark. I believe this was the sixth time Mari has biked Denmark, and it was the fifth time (or so) for her sister. It was the best time of the summer for the three of us to go together. Mari and Ingliv hadn’t started working yet, and the weather in Denmark was pretty perfect. There was no rain at all until we left Denmark. Then it was supposed to rain for a week.

As you can see on the map, we drove from our town Risør to Kristiansand (red), then took a ferry to Hirtshals (green), three trains south to Struer (blue), and biked back up to Hirtshals (purple). Unfortunately the picture can’t be made any bigger, so you may have to squint a bit.

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The pictures below reflect the better times we had (though the memories might be better than what happened in the actual pictures, like biking against the wind). I have left out pictures of my week-long allergic reactions, blood, and tears.

Place: Denmark:
Length of Stay: Nine days
Bikers: Three
Distance Biked:
300 km/186 mi
Days of Rest
: Two
Ice Cream: Lots
Best Ice Cream: Mint Chocolate Chip (still haven’t found this in Norway)
Theme Park: Fårup Sommerland
Allergies: Grass
Good Nights of Sleep: 1?

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Oh! You mean it goes through that hole!

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Cotton Candy / Candy Floss

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Hey, Spencer! Do you like spiders?!

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We slept poorly, but we were together

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What happens when they give me the map… kidding!

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After 9 days, it was very, very nice to get home. Now one of our Bible college friends is visiting us for three weeks. It’s great especially since I’m finished with my Norwegian language course and my schooling. Now with all of this free time I have (not exactly), I have more reviews coming up. Zondervan has some new online classes up, and I’ve been blessed to be able to review Basics of Biblical Greek 1 by William Mounce and Basics of Hebrew 1 by Gary Pratico and Miles Van Pelt. These classes will be great, and they will prepare Mari and I for our classes at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’ve already gone through a bit of both of the online classes, watched some of the videos, I’ve done a few of the exams, and it works out really well. I’m really enjoying it, and it’s nice to have someone teaching the material alongside the books.

I suppose I haven’t announced this yet, but it is now official that Mari and I have been accepted into Southern Baptist Theological Seminary! We’ve been praying about this for a while and we are excited over our acceptance. Mari will be taking a Master of Divinity degree in Biblical Counseling, and I will take mine in Biblical and Theological Studies. We’ll be living in Louisville, KY for 3 1/2 years, and we’re praying for a car so that we can get around town (400 sq mi with 1.2 million people) and hopefully see some friends around the country. I was able to receive a need-based grant for my first year, and Mari will receive an international student grant (both will be a big help).

We’re working on getting Mari’s international student (F1) visa right now, finding a place to live, a possible car, and the money to cover everything. We would appreciate your prayers now and throughout our time at SBTS. We’ll need it!

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Vis-à-vis

 Shadow Walk

The Good News

If you’ve read my last post about what Mari and I are up to now, or if you’ve talked to me since I’ve been here, then you know I’ve been waiting for a response on my application for Norwegian student visa. About two weeks ago I received good news vis-à-vis my visa application: it was approved! All I need to do is to report to the police within a week of my entering the country. They’ll get my biometric information (picture and fingerprints) and then they’ll order my resident ID card, my official proof of residency. After a lot of hullabaloo, our prayers have been answered.

Group

The Bad News

Our return date to Norway was October 16. I received my acceptance email on August 26. I was also told I must travel to Norway within a certain timeframe to activate my residence permit. My last date of entry into Norway would be September 30. By the way, this is before October 16. Which means not only will I have to leave LA earlier than planned, but I’ll have to buy more flight tickets. I could send a request to UDI to extend the date of entry, but I was told they are reluctant to extend the entry date and “incurring extra expenses” was usually not an argument they listen to. Now Mari and I had some options.

Before we bought our flights over here, we paid extra on my tickets just in case the visa wouldn’t be approved in time. In this scenario, Mari would go back to Norway, work, and go to school. I would wait until my visa was approved or until I was out of Norway for 90 days, in which I could then return. Since my visa was approved, I could move my flight to an earlier date and leave early.

  1. I could change my ticket to leave early. But I would be in Norway for three weeks without Mari, and she would be in LA for three weeks without me. Not ideal, but it’s doable.
    • Problem: It turns out that to change my return flight… I would have had to have changed my ticket before I checked into our flight to LA. This is pointless. We paid extra so I could change the ticket, if needed, while in LA. We found out I had to change the ticket before getting on the plane the first time. Hopefully we won’t fall for that one again.
      f
  2. Mari and I could both leave early.
    • Problem: Even if we find cheap tickets, this is more money.

Since choice 1 wasn’t ideal and I couldn’t change my flight ticket, we opted for choice 2. However…

Far Out

The Problem

There was still yet another issue. As I said before, within a 6 month period, I (and you too!) can spend a whole 90 days in Norway. And then you have to leave. Basically this means 3 months in, 3 months out. Well, this go-round, I spent 88 days in Norway. Maybe even 89. This leaves me with 1 or 2 days at best to be in Norway, and it takes 2-3 weeks to process my student visa. Despite that the Oslo border patrol will see on their computers that I have been approved, I still need legal proof to stay in the country.

What then do I need? I need an entry visa which lets me stay in Norway for up to 30 days while my visa is being processed. How do I get an entry visa? I have to take another 5 hour trip and go back to Houston! I go with my itinerary and my passport, and once my passport is stamped I’m good to go.

Barefoot Walk

The Answer

To make this simple, I asked if I could mail in my passport and itinerary. Affirmative. I mailed it in and it was approved and stamped. It’s official. Instead of October 16, we leave on Friday, September 25. We’ll spend the next 10-11 months in Norway. Mari will work and finish her bachelor’s degree, and we’ll see what kind of work I can do. I’ll take a one year course at a university in Oslo along with a Norwegian language course somewhere in there (after I finish my DuoLingo lessons!). Then we’ll attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY where Mari will take a M.Div. in Biblical Counseling and I in Biblical and Theological Studies. After that… well, we’ll just have to see.

Hop Skip

[Special thanks to Caelen Weber for our wedding photos!]

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What I’m Up To Now

Timber
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything informative about my life. This past spring, besides reviewing books, Mari and I lived in Waterford, Ireland where I taught 2 Corinthians at the Calvary School of Ministry. I enjoyed teaching, and I even saw a few familiar faces from the Bible College that was in Siegen, Germany. Afterwards Mari and I went back to Norway and started revving up for our second wedding. This time, it was only the celebration. We had our civil ceremony back in February [you can read that blog post here. It brought in the most views I’ve ever had in a month, the next month the third highest views – the second highest was November when Mari and I became engaged… perhaps I should write more about Mari?], and this time we wanted our friends and families to be able to celebrate with us.

A week before the wedding Mari’s aunt passed away, and her funeral was the Tuesday before our wedding. There were two houses on her property, one that was built a few months before her passing. Mari’s parents have moved to the old house, and Mari and I are able to stay in the new house (so long as I can actually stay in Norway).

The Test

[The Test]

Student Visa

The summer went well. After our celebration we finally took our honeymoon. We went to Makarska, Croatia. It was nice, but there were a lot of tourists (which I guess we only added to the problem). Now… before our wedding Mari and I went to London to apply for my student visa. Mari has one year left of university before she graduates with her bachelor’s degree. The easiest way for me to stay in the country is to get a student visa (and no, I don’t get to automatically stay in the country because we’re married). I was accepted into Fjellhaug Internasjonale Høgskole (FiH), for a one year program in religion.

To apply for a Norwegian student visa I either have to apply from my home country (US) or from a country where I have had residence for the last 6 months (UK). In my previous life post I mentioned some problems with the visa I had because Calvary York’s sponsorship had been revoked (for reasons which I don’t agree with). Now my visa was going to expire on June 1, so we arrived in London on May 29th. We would go to the Norwegian Consulate there and apply for my visa.

Upon arrival we found that with CCY’s sponsorship being revoked, my visa was also rejected (which happened sometime between March and May). The border agent didn’t understand why we were coming to the UK to apply, but eventually we made it through… with me on a visitor stamp and not on my visa. But after some touring around in the rain, we made it to the Embassy, I applied for my visa, and we flew back to Norway that night. A week later we had the wedding, and then a week later we left for Croatia.

Another week passed and, after Croatia, we returned home to Norway. It just so happened to be my birthday that day, and we were anxious to open up my letter from UDI (they process the applications from foreign nationals) which would tell me if my application had been approved or not. I had met all of the other requirements, but we were unsure about the visa issue. We opened the letter, and my application had been denied. Even more so, it said I had to leave the country in three weeks!

Volvo

[And they wouldn’t be sending me out in this sick volvo]

This didn’t make sense, so Mari and I went to the police station in Arendal to ask them some questions. It turns out UDI had some summer interns working that summer who may or may not have worked on my application. Whoever did work on my application, however, made some mistakes. We could contest them, but it would take up to a year to hear back on anything. And it’s that year that I need to be in Norway. In the end the police told us that I didn’t need to leave in three weeks and I could stay until my visitor stamp was up (August 15). So now what does one do… but continue on with summer life?

Summer Life

Family

During the summer I painted our house and a work shed (elhuset [el-hew-seh]) on the lot while Mari worked at an old people’s home with people who had dementia. I also learned how to drive stick shift, and, as anyone who has tried to learn stick shift can attest, it was horrid. I despised it. But Norway has hills. Low gears make it easier to get up the hills with ease and back down the hills without wearing down your brakes. After a freaky 8 hour drive over to Sola, Norway, and a much easier 6 hour interstate drive back home, I felt much more comfortable with driving. Besides driving, hiking, pancakes, waffles, and plenty of reading, we had a pretty calm summer. In our last week we went to Mari’s 5-year high school reunion.

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What makes me feel old is that my 10-year reunion is in two years.

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So What Are We Up to Now?

If you haven’t heard, we’re in Houma now! Since my application didn’t fly earlier, we had to fly to the states so I could apply at the closest Norwegian Consulate: Houston, TX. Luckily it’s only 5 hours away and I have family there. Mari met my grandparents on my mom’s side for the first time, along with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and we had a successful meeting at the Consulate. And now…. we wait. We’ll be here until the middle of October, and hopefully within the next month and a half I’ll receive my acceptance letter. If not, I’ll be around until November and then I can fly to Norway. For now Mari and I have school online. We’ll hang out with my family and friends, and, as usual, I’ll be reading and uploading other posts about books up here.

Housing

[Special thanks to Caelen Weber for our wedding photos!]

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