TORPO/ÅL, NORWAY: “God wants us to celebrate!” declared the senior tour participant Eero Nevanlinna, as he referred to the feasts Jesus celebrated with His friends when He was on earth.
Approximately 110 young people from the Youth Exchange Program (YEP) gathered for a weekend of relaxation and fellowship at Torsteinslåtta retreat and resort, in the mountains near Torpo in Hallingdal.
Sébastien Delmas (21) from Nîmes in the south of France is in the Norwegian mountains for the first time, and thinks it is beautiful here.
“It is quite similar to France,” he says with a smile.
Tour coordinator Magnus Larsen (22) from Hønefoss explains that the goal of the trip is to get to know each other better.
“The intention is to bring us closer together. That is why people who don’t know each other so well were assigned to the same rooms.”
Sébastien enjoys being on a trip with the other boys in YEP.
“It is really good. I am getting to know several people, and that is good for me since I have only been in YEP for one month.
In that connection, he pulls out his two hours of daily Norwegian instruction that YEP offers.
“This is important, because I need to learn Norwegian. Relationships are built when I am able to communicate with my friends in Norwegian.”
Norway versus France
Even though Sébastien thinks the Norwegian mountains look like the French mountains, he notices other things that are different here.
“Norway is much more relaxed than France. There, everything has to happen so quickly and everything is stressful. In Norway, things work more smoothly, and Norwegians are very friendly,” he laughs.
The feast itself
Saturday evening there is a meeting, and the meeting leader, Eero Nevanlinna, starts it off with a few introductory remarks:
“Now we have come to the ‘last, great day of the feast,’ in other words, the feast itself!”
“It is the brotherhood that is our true joy, and the Word is what binds us together,” says Jon-Harald Ditlefsen, visiting from Hallingdal, Norway. He is the first speaker at the feast. Later in the meeting, he shares a wise saying with the young assembly:
When no one humbles himself, there is conflict.
When one person humbles himself, there is peace.
When both people humble themselves, there is fellowship.
After the meeting the evening festivities continue into the wee hours with competitions, games, songs, and the sauna.
We want to learn from the others
As the weekend draws to a close, Sébastien is clearly enthusiastic about getting to know many new people.
“It makes me want to be humble, to really get genuine, spiritual fellowship and to learn from the others.”