Among her treasured possessions, Maren Nilsen has a cookbook carefully written on sections of rough toilet paper bound by pieces of old string. Today this 80-plus-year-old woman lives alone in a Norwegian cottage in the city of Tronso, near the Arctic Circle. Her brightly decorated house stands facing the fjord, and in the summer her garden is filled with lovely flowers. Visiting her is an unforgettable experience.
When World War 2 broke out, Maren had just married. Like all Norwegian patriots, her family wasn't happy when the Germans invaded Norway. Because Maren's husband and his family were active in the resistance movement, she was arrested and sent to a concetration camp.
Maren would have starved in the camp but she had access to the garbage that came from the kitchen. She would steal potato peelings, hiding them until the matron who guarded her barracks was asleep. Then she would warm them on the tiny stove and share them with her mother-in-law.
The starving women were all experienced cooks and they would talk about their favorite recipes - cakes, cookies, shortbreads, reindeer roasts, and the other good things that they were denied. So for Maren's birthday, the older women put together a small recipe book of their favorites - something she will cherish to her dying day.
"Did you hate the Germans when you were released?" I asked her. I can't describe the expression on her face, as she replied, "No, I do not hate them, but we must not forget." God's grace brought healing and help to Maren, whose devout faith enabled her to keep hoping and trusting.
"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." HEBREWS 13:5