“Henrik Amundsen of Lillestrøm, Norway,” Friend, Feb. 1998, 20
Five bicycles line the driveway. A variety of balls decorates the yard. Bicycle helmets hang from pegs just inside the door. Swimsuits and goggles are ready at a moment’s notice, and several pairs of skis wait in the shed for the first snowfall. These are all signs of the busy, happy life of the Amundsen family in Lillestrøm, Norway. Eleven-year-old Henrik is the oldest of the five Amundsen boys. He and his brothers, Robert (9), Michael (8), Andre (5), and Håkon (2), have learned that brothers really can be best friends. These brothers and their parents know how important it is to work together and to play together.
“We ride our bikes together, and we play soccer a lot,” says Henrik, “but our favorite thing to do is play basketball.” Their basketball games became even more exciting a little over a year ago, when three of their cousins moved to Lillestrøm from Drammen—both cities are near Oslo, the capital of Norway. All the cousins are very good friends, and they play together almost every day.
Basketball is just one of many sports activities that Henrik enjoys. He loves to swim—as do his brothers—and they often go with their father, Øystein, when his job takes him to work at different swimming pools in the area. In fact, Norwegian children take swimming classes in school, and Robert is quick to admit that swimming is his favorite subject.
And the skis in the shed? The whole family enjoys skiing—both downhill and cross-country. The older boys like the thrill of the faster downhill skiing best. “The younger boys don’t try it so much,” says Henrik’s mother, Inger-Anne, “but maybe in five years or so. …”
“Sometimes people say that Norwegians are born with skis on their feet,” jokes Henrik’s father. “The truth is, skiing is a very common activity in Norway. Norwegians love being out in nature.”
It isn’t difficult to understand why. Only four percent of the land in Norway is populated—the remaining ninety-six percent is mountains, lakes, and forests—so hiking and camping are other favorite activities for Henrik and his brothers. “Last winter Dad took us on a short backpacking trip in the forest,” he remembers. “We got a little cold, but we had fun cooking our food and playing in the snow.”
Each summer, he and his family take a vacation and visit their mormor (grandmother) who lives in Ålesund, on the west coast of Norway. Here the country looks very different from the rolling hills and farmlands near Lillestrøm. This coastal area of Norway has towering cliffs and deep fjords (narrow inlets of the sea). “One of our favorite things to do while we are there is catch crabs at the seacoast,” Henrik says. “We like to go to two special places where the water is very cold and clear. We look under the stones and find the crabs, but then we let them go!” (His dad says that the same crabs have probably been caught at least ten times each summer!)
Even though the Amundsen family enjoys many exciting outdoor activities together, Henrik’s parents are teaching him and his brothers that what happens inside their home is what really makes a happy family. “We have family prayer and study the scriptures together in the morning,” he says. “I guess I don’t really have a favorite scripture story—I like reading them all.”
The brothers look forward to family home evenings, especially when Mom makes up a treasure hunt. And for treats? Ice cream and biscuits (cookies) is the unanimous first choice.
Of course, in any happy home there must be time for study and for work. “Henrik is always good to help with the dishes and to clean his room,” his mother says. “And he really likes to help his dad in the garden.” He is also learning to play the piano—in fact, he learned a piece of music and played it at Michael’s baptism.
Henrik’s father is a member of the Oslo Stake presidency, and he often has to attend Sunday meetings in other wards. On these days, Henrik helps his mother take care of his little brothers, and he helps them to be reverent during sacrament meetings. He knows that, being the oldest, he should always be a good example to them.
Not too long ago, he and his brothers sang with the Primary children of the Oslo Second Ward in a sacrament meeting. They sang, “I have a fam’ly here on earth. They are so good to me. I want to share my life with them through all eternity.”* These words seem to describe the way Henrik feels about his family. He is very happy that he has a father, a mother, and brothers who work together, play together, and worship together. He is happy they are following Heavenly Father’s plan to become an eternal family.