Today, we are celebrating Midsommars Eve and tomorrow is Midsommardag here in Sweden. As usual, Swedes celebrate the holiday on the eve before. It’s the longest day and shortest night of the year and Swedes come out to celebrate the summer solstice. Back in Viking times, it had to do with a fertility rite where Mother Nature was fertilized to bring forth a good harvest. Later, the holiday seems to have been combined with St. John’s Day, celebrating John the Baptist’s birthday (6 months before Jesus birth). There are many varied myths of magical powers surrounding the different customs of the day. Today, Swedes celebrate by dancing around the Maypole (mostly children) while singing old, traditional folk songs, sometimes dressing in national costumes. Flowers are an important part of the celebration and some girls make flower wreaths to wear in their hair. They eat fresh potatoes and pickled herring with crisp bread and beer, saving fresh strawberries and whipped cream for dessert. Below are some pictures from our Midsommar celebration!
The girls have now finished with school for the year!!! YEAH!!! They had a month at the Montessori school and the last 2 weeks were composed of lots of field trips, outings, and playtime in the classroom! Lots of fun for everyone!!! They close the school year here by having a closing program called Avslutning. The Montessori school had their Avslutning at Domkyrkan, the Lutheran Cathedral in Luleå. it was basically a concert put on by the kids, with the pastor of the church and the principal of the school speaking for a few minutes in between songs. “Angel” was preformed by Jiana’s class.
Jensina had a little duet during her class’s song, “Summer Nights” (of course, I missed getting the duet on film). So proud of them both!!
Later while we walked around town for some ice cream, we saw the gymnasium (high school) graduates beginning their celebration. It was really fun to watch and try to figure out their traditions!
Overall, the girls both had a great school year! I was putting their portfolios together last night and I couldn’t believe how much stuff they had!! In addition, English and math was done at home with me. So it has been a really intense school year! We’re all ready for a well-earned summer break!!!! The last 2 weeks, I (Gwen) was also studying in the Swedish for Immigrants course. Tonight, we have our last house group meeting for this year where we will be interceding for the Luleå University students. Tony finishes his Swedish studies at the end of June. So, we’re starting to plan for some vacation in July, hopefully getting away for a week and then just relaxing here at home. We hope you all have a great summer, too!!
The snow and ice are gone, green leaves and flowers are appearing!! Lately, it’s been really rainy, but we can’t complain because it is making everywhere really green! And we love the color green, along with the yellow, white, pink purple and red flowers!! Temperature-wise, it’s usually in the mid-40’s to low 50’s. That’s a little strange for us as we’re used to at least the 80’s by now! It feels quite Aprilish here. Often now, we smell the grills going and have even been down to the river to make a fire and cook our evening meal. We’re looking forward to more of that and are getting better and better at starting our fires!! The first time Frigg saw the river free from ice, he ran right in 5-6 times!!! So it looks like we’ll have a fun and exciting summer with him!! LOL
Life feels like it’s going really fast here!!! The girls started in the Montessori school right after Easter. It’s been a real challenge for them with the increase in the amount as well as the level of Swedish! Keep them in prayer as they struggle to advance with their class. I’m sure you can imagine how learning in a foreign language makes it really difficult to keep up with their classmates academically. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough staff to give them the special help they need. This is now their last week so there’s lots going on!
I (Gwen) started Swedish for Immigrants last week! I’ve enjoyed the class and will be able to keep my lesson book over the summer to work on. The pace of my life has really increased as I now add my Swedish homework to the schedule. Tony continues in his Swedish course until the end of June. Today, our friends who help us with the language, Clas & Christina, told me that they can really see all of us improving. That is such an encouragement as we don’t always feel that way.
Our home group has been really great!! We have anywhere between 6 and 13 on any given night. The last few weeks, we are interceding for the city of Luleå. Last week, we interceded for the children, schools, and the women’s shelter and their need for someone to work with the children. Next week, we’ll take it outside and do some prayer walking in the centrum. It is really a privilege to work with this group of sisters and brothers in the Lord!!