This was a sad-glad day.
We first met Munir when asked to teach our English conversation class on Tuesday nights. He was the pastor of the Arabic-speaking church in Luleå with a passion to see people come to know and love Jesus as he did. He shared his faith boldly and many came to Jesus. We had so many good times in our class discussing world events, Jesus, our lives, etc. and learning English at the same time! He had a beautiful smile and a twinkle in his eyes! Munir and his brother, Samir, became dear friends to us!
Listening to his story, we realized that we had mutual friends, George and Martha. As a child in the States, Gwen’s church supported George and Martha. They were the ones who first told Munir about Jesus so many years ago! Who knew that all these years later, we would meet him in Luleå, sharing his contagious faith? God had a plan!!!
Last March/April, Munir shared with us that he had cancer in his stomach. We prayed as he endured chemo, but 2 Sundays ago, Munir changed addresses and started to live in heaven with his Jesus! I guess Jesus decided Munir had had enough of the pain and suffering and wanted Munir to come live with Himself for all eternity. Today was Munir’s funeral. Thus, it is a sad-glad day. He leaves a huge hole in our community and in his family. We miss him and it’s so hard to comprehend that we won’t meet him again on this earth. Such was his earthly life. But now, he continues his life in heaven, which we know is far better!!! The beautiful song, “I Can Only Imagine” was sung today. While listening, I couldn’t help but to think that Munir doesn’t need to ‘only imagine’ any more. He knows!! And I can just see him going around heaven with a huge smile on his face and a twinkle in his wide-open eyes exclaiming, “I never imagined such an amazing God or such an amazing place!!”
We finally had our first “good” snowstorm! It snowed for two days and our total for this storm alone was about 18″ of the white stuff. Sasha is a mixed breed and two of her breeds are used to hunt moose and bear, so she’s in her glory running and burying herself in the snow.
If you click here you can see a video of the happiest dog in northern Sweden having a blast catching and finding the toys as Jensina throws them!
We had a White Elephant Christmas gift exchange with our house church last week. Nobody except our family had ever taken part in one before, which made it so much more fun. Who said house church is boring? Check out the video here.
In the previous weeks, we discussed the different aspects of Advent: Hope, Peace, Love and Joy.
We love our church!
Jensina, Jiana, and I (Gwen) had a fun day today out on the ice in Luleå!!! They have a wonderful ice road, so Jensina had the idea to take Sasha there – her first time on the ice!!! It was really cold, about 5 degrees F, but a blast!!! If you want to see a short video, copy and paste this into your browser: https://youtu.be/Oe6jIssKgos
Hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to God’s blessings for 2016!!!
This week, our house church gathered in our apartment to fika (enjoy coffee and sweets), get to know each other better, pray for each other and discuss God’s grace found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. We were blessed that 6 people came to learn about God and share life. This is the reason we are here and the heart of our ministry – to make followers of Jesus!
We’re in the midst of our concentrated week of Martin birthdays in November – Tony (17th), Gwen (19th) and Jiana (23rd). And oh yea…we woke up to a lovely snowfall that’s just incredibly beautiful.
What a blessing to be able to attend United World Mission’s Euro Conference!!! It was a week of wonderful renewal!! For Tony and I, it was a great time of meeting our colleagues in other mission fields and hearing their stories; some old friends, others meeting for the first time face to face (vs Skype), and meeting many new ones!! My best highlight was the worship time each morning! We were blessed with a great worship team from Texas. It’s amazing how much deeper your worship is when you can worship in your mother tongue!! Tony loved being in the majestic Julian Alps in Slovenia. He’s seen them in almost every country they are in and they always take his breath away!! Jensina and Jiana totally enjoyed meeting the other Third Culture Teens, all the different activities they did each day, and the times to process about being a Third Culture Teen. We’re so thankful for those who traveled over from Texas to bless our girls! They are in school right now, but if I could ask them what their favorite thing was, I’m totally sure I would get different answers!! I think Jiana would say all of the activities they did and Jensina would say hanging out with the other teens and making new friends!! (But don’t hold me to that!!! LOL)
It would take a really loooong blog to share everything, so instead I’ll share through these pictures! I hope you enjoy them and don’t get too bored!!!
Nice view out our living room to the balcony and then the grill place (brown structure)
Transition is the name of the game right now. After 8 months of being transients, we moved into our apartment on Feb. 28!! Woohoo!!!! It’s great to have so much help from friends!!! We’re not quite settled yet. The apartment needed a lot of fixing and we’re now in the final phase of wallpapering. Fortunately, the landlords arrange all of this. So hopefully, we’ll be all settled in by the end of April. It’s about 1/2 hour drive to take the kids to school, so we’re getting used to that also.
Our church is also going through a significant change of location right now. Please keep Kroskyrkan in prayer – change is never easy for a church! And for us as it impacts our ministry as well.
The Swedes have a 5th season they call spring-winter!! It’s now, while we still have quite a bit of snow and ice, but the days are getting quite long, sunny, and warm!! And so, we are all about transition, leaving the cold, dark, insecurities behind and looking forward to a season of warmth, sunshine, and growth!! It reminds me (Gwen) of my life verse, Philippians 3:13 & 14 – “Brothers and sisters, I don’t consider that I have taken hold of it yet. But here is the one thing I do. I forget what is behind me. I push hard toward what is ahead of me. I push myself forward toward the goal to win the prize. God has appointed me to win it. The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself.”
And it continues to come!!! Enjoy your day!!!
after almost a year of looking, we have an apartment!!!! YAY!!!!! We can move in on March 1!!! It’s in Sävast, about 20 – 25 min drive from Luleå. So while it’s not exactly where we want it, it is exactly what we have been asking God for!!! It’s 3 bedrooms, so the girls can have their own rooms!!! It’s on the ground floor, rather large (95 m2/~1,000 ft2), good storage, 2 big walk in closets, and a car garage!!! Dear Jesus, thank you for opening up this door for us. Thank you for this perfect place for us to settle in. It’s not exactly where we want it, but we trust You that You are placing us where You want us to be. We trust that when you want us in Luleå, You will open the door for us to live there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen 🙂