Here in Luleå, there is some serious snow removal going on! Snowplows range from very small to humongous!!! They not only clean snow from the streets, but also from sidewalks! Recently, they have been breaking up the 5-6 inches of packed snow & ice from the streets and they pile it all up in gigantic snow piles.
Snow removal at Tony’s school
But it doesn’t stop there. After the kids have played in the piles for a bit, the snowplows come back and shovel the snow into huge dump trucks to be taken to the snow dump. Today, I was watching them remove the snow at my apartment; one dump truck was filled up and moved in front of my window while waiting for the second dump truck to be filled by the 2 snow plows. While looking at
Dump truck of dirty snow at our apartment
the dump truck filled with the dirty snow, I started thinking about Jesus dying to remove our dirtiness. You know, the bad things we all do. This dirty snow gets taken to the snow dump and there melts into the ground never to be seen again! And that’s just why Jesus came; to take away the dirtiness & unpleasantness of our lives never to be seen again!!!!!!!
New Year’s Eve, we drove to Hindersön Island, with a population of around 150, in Luleå’s Archipeago. The exciting part was that we drove on the ice!! Yes, we took one of Luleå’s ice roads. It was truly amazing to think that we were actually driving on the Baltic Sea!!! This year, the ice road was open earlier than usual because it has been colder than usual here. It’s about the size of a 4 lane highway and plowed down to a few inches of snow to help with traction. Pictures speak louder than words so please enjoy our slide show!!
Ringing in the new year at midnight, found us in Luleå Centrum, watching fireworks shot off on the ice. What a fun day we had!!!
We are living in such a Winter Wonderland!!! As I drive along the road, I often feel like I’m living in a Currier and Ives picture!!! Everyday!! The only difference is that I’m, thankfully, riding in a warm, motorized vehicle rather than being drawn in a one horse open sleigh!!! Here’s some pictures – hope you enjoy them!! Gwen 🙂
Everyone did such a great job on the Christmas Play, Åsneexpressen (The Donkey Express)! They were all awesome!! It was a wonderful blend of fun, great music, and the wonderful account of Jesus, the Christ! They preformed it 5 times total, 3 of those times for all the schools in Luleå!! We don’t have a video, but here is a slide show for you. We hope you enjoy it!!! Merry Christmas! God Jul! Gwen 🙂
What an awesome time we had!!! These pictures don’t begin to capture the beauty of these rapids. Every few seconds, I had to stop and take another picture! Are they ever powerful!! Truly amazing! From the 1800’s until 1982, loggers were using the Pite River to bring logs down to the port of Pite. They took a different path from what is there today. Too many logs were getting damaged so the loggers made a floatway to “squeeze” the water to where they wanted it to go. Isn’t it beautiful?? The Dead Falls is where the water used to run. What an amazing creation God has made with man’s ingenuity!! We had such fun watching the falls, having a picnic lunch, visiting the Logging Camp Museum and running around in the Dead Falls!!!! –Gwen 🙂
It’s surströmming season and we did it!!! We ate surströmming!!! All four of us!!! So what is surströmming and what’s the big deal? It’s a northern Swedish dish of Baltic herring that has been fermented! They catch it in the spring and store it in a brine in barrels for a couple of months to start the fermenting process. Then, it is canned where it continues fermenting until it’s eaten. If you’re smart, you’ll open your can of surströmming outside! It does have an awful smell that permeates everything. We ate it in an open-faced sandwich with very thin crispy bread. Butter the bread, pile on the potatoes, cut the fish into tiny pieces and place it on the potatoes. We also added onion, tomatoes and sour cream. UMMMMM. It mostly tastes like salt, but there is a flavor that grows in your mouth and stomach that I can’t describe! Leftover food is thrown away because the smell and taste infuse it all. It was a very fun evening at our friends’ home, but our tummies were talking to us about it late into the night!
So what else are we doing besides eating sour fish? Our boxes finally arrived last Wed, but badly damaged! We knew they were damaged in the States, but still were shocked at the sight of them. Some things were outside of the boxes, many had been opened, with lots of torn and crushed boxes. Thankfully, not much was damaged but things are missing. Unfortunately, we may not know all that was taken until we are back in the States and see what we left there. So we are now carefully going through everything and compiling a list of the damaged and the missing. We’re also putting together furniture from IKEA and more will arrive later this week to be built! And we have a couple of painting projects we’re working on together as a family. Pray we will also be faithful in our Swedish studies in the midst of everything else.
We took the girls to Leo’s Lekland (Play land) to celebrate the end of summer. They started school yesterday in different classrooms. It just doesn’t yet seem right to be going to school in August. The weather has definitely become colder (highs in the 50’s) so that helps. They are in Välkomsten (the Welcome School) which is the school for kids who are immigrating to Sweden. Here they will learn Swedish, then when the teachers feel they are ready (probably between 3 months and a year) they will go to the regular public school. Everything is in Swedish so it is a challenge. Please pray they will catch on quickly. For Jensina, pray that she will stand strong in the Lord and have a Godly influence and leadership on her classmates rather than vice versa. She is the youngest in the class. Also pray that she does her homework and English and math that Gwen will be teaching in the afternoon with a good attitude – this is often a struggle for her. For Jiana, pray that as she stands strong in the Lord and makes the effort to become friends with the other children and thus be a Godly influence.
Last weekend Luleå held their eighth annual festival celebrating food, games and entertainment that drew thousands of people from the town and surrounding areas. Several churches have used the opportunity to set up a tent in the middle of the busiest pedestrian area and offer food and a place people could listen to Christian bands, hear testimonies and just sit and hang out. Inside and around the tent, people mingled with the crowd, talked with them and sought ways to spread the gospel.
Main pedestrian walkway at the festival. The orange tent is where Tony shared about Jesus.
Tony was there Saturday night and saw so many who were with other people, yet seemed so lonely. We’ve been told that when girls here turn 13 or 14, their parents give them keys to the house and allow them to come home whenever they want to. Many even fix up the basement as a room where their daughters can “entertain” their boyfriends for the night. This is simply seen as a normal part of growing up in this land. Tony personally saw so many in their early teens roaming the festival grounds – even at 4:00am – and he prayed God would keep them safe.
Tony was part of the tent outreach ministry and was able to share Christ with about seven people – he couldn’t believe how receptive people were. Most of the people knew about God, but had no desire to know Him personally – they held on to the false hope that God would allow them into heaven because He forgives everyone and they had done more good than bad in their lifetime. One fellow said he thinks about what will happen after he dies every night and it concerns him. Another young fellow has a Muslim father and a Christian mother and said he knew both religions well and the “only” difference between them is how Jesus is seen – he said he’ll choose his religion later when he doesn’t have so much on his plate.
We sense a real spiritual battlefield here in Luleå with eternal destinies at stake. However, we know God has not turned his back on these people! The Holy Spirit is piercing hearts as evidenced by people’s questions and willingness to listen. We continue to need your prayers so God will use us for His glory!