Brynjólfur Vídir Ólafsson of Hafnarfjördur, Iceland

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    “My full name is Brynjólfur Vídir Ólafsson, but my friends and family just call me Binni.”

    Brynjólfur Vídir Ólafsson of Hafnarfjördur, Iceland

    In Iceland, where Binni lives, people are commonly known by their first names. Icelanders still follow the Scandinavian tradition of using their last names as a way to tell whose sons/daughters they are. For instance, Binni’s last name, Ólafsson, tells us that he is the son of Ólaf. His father’s name is Ólafur Einarsson (he is the son of Einar), and his mother’s name is Björg Marteinsdóttir (she is the daughter of Martein). Binni’s brother’s name is Matthías Orri Ólafsson, and his sister is Unnur Erna Ólafsdóttir (she is the daughter of Ólaf). This may seem confusing to us, but for Icelanders, it is a very easy way to keep track of their family history.

    Binni is nine years old, and like most boys his age, he has many good friends. Some of his friends live in his neighborhood; others he usually sees only at church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because none of his member friends live near him, Binni looks forward to Sundays, when he and his family travel from their home in Hafnarfjördur to Reykjavik for church. He meets his friends Jonathan and Einar there, and together they learn about the gospel, study the scriptures, and talk about going on missions someday.

    After school and on weekdays, Binni spends a lot of time with two friends who live close to him. They play with miniature cars on the lava rocks in Binni’s yard; they play a form of hide-and-seek called “one krona”; and they play soccer. “But my favorite game of all,” Binni says, “is hafnarbolti (baseball)!”

    The summer days are very long in Iceland. In fact, in June and July the sky never becomes dark. During these months, children and adults spend as much time outdoors as possible, and Binni and his friends can play a lot of hafnarbolti.

    During the winter months, however, there is very little daylight. In December, the sun rises about 11:00 A.M. and sets in the early afternoon. During these long winter hours when he cannot be outside, Binni likes to draw and to read. He especially likes to draw birds and read about them. His favorite is the tern, a small bird related to seagulls.

    Because the tern is seen only during the summer in Iceland, he must wait for the long summer evenings, when he and his dad go on hikes and watch the birds. His home is very near the ocean and only a few blocks from a beautiful harbor. He and his family often go there to watch the ships and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

    Most of the people who live in Iceland belong to the evangelical Lutheran Church, and Binni, Unnar, and Matthías are the only Latter-day Saints in their school. When the time came for his baptism, Binni decided to do some missionary work. He told his parents he wanted to invite someone special—his school teacher! His mother and father encouraged him to ask her but cautioned him that she might choose to not come. On the day of his baptism, however, she was there at the church! “She even stayed afterward, had some refreshments with us, and asked some things about the Church,” he said, very happy that she had accepted his invitation and that his first efforts as a missionary had been successful.

    [photos] Photos by DeAnne Walker and Janet Thomas

    [photo] Binni’s Dad and Mom

    [photo] Hafnarfjördur Harbor

    [photo] Playing with his soccer ball

    [photo] With friends at church

    [photo] Binni’s family at the Hafnarfjördur Harbor

    [illustration] A tern Binni drew

    [photo] Leapfrogging a post on the way to the harbor

    [photo] With his brother and sister, next to a representation of a Viking in front of a restaurant