As a new blogger I'd hoped I wouldn't let it go a month without posting. But here we are already back from Sweden and I'm just now posting about it. I think part of why it has taken so long is because it's hard to sum up our time in Sweden. We had a great summer there. Uppsala is beautiful. The pace of life is so refreshing. We loved biking and walking everywhere (well, most days we did). We had a great summer with 23 awesome students. It was an interesting summer getting to talk with Swedes about who God is, many of whom had never thought much about Him existing.
But in many ways it was also a hard summer. It was hard to see a country where everyone had everything they needed physically but lacked so much. Sweden is spiritually a very hard and dark place, which is sad considering how centuries ago it was one of the largest missionary-sending nations. The focal point of Uppsala is a giant cathedral (we've had pics of it on earlier posts)...anytime you got turned around you could see the church and orient yourself again. A city and even country that used to be so centered on Christ now sees Him as irrelevant to their lives. It was hard to see that reality and the hopelessness and lack of purpose students there lived with.
We were so thankful for the opportunity to spend this summer in Sweden. Here's a little update on what we did our last few weeks there:
Like we've mentioned before, there are some long-term staff with Campus Crusade that live in Sweden. So the last week we were there, it was crucial for us to connect our new friends we met with the long-term staff. Each of us wrote letters to friends we made and gave them to the staff team, who will be able to follow up with them later. We're excited to hear how the conversations continue to go as the staff team meets with our friends later.
We spent our last day there doing lots of packing and picking up last minute souvenirs we wanted (I bought tons of candy bars and bags of tea as presents! Glad we had enough space somehow for all of it!). It was so fun to have one last day to walk around the city that had been our home for the summer. Then we had one last dinner with the other staff couple we were with. Here's a picture of some of us at lunch the last day...
The last day we also had a photo shoot at domkyran, the church at the heart of town. Here's one of the ones of our whole group:
Friday, June 18th we packed up and headed to Munich to begin our debrief. We were there for 3 nights, spending time with our team and sharing what we'd learned this summer. We each had a rock we were given and wrote one word that summarized our summer on it. It was so cool to hear what God taught each of the students. One shared the word "power" because they had seen God's power in new ways. One shared "simple" because God had showed him how simple and beautiful the Gospel is, not only to those he was ministering to, but in his own life as well. I wrote "intimacy" on mine because this was a summer when I found new depth and intimacy with my relationship with God. It's so neat because I was praying (and had others praying for me) that I would simply fall in love with Jesus again this summer and not be so fixated on the to-dos of ministry. It was so neat to see how God answered that this summer. We also talked some as a team about how to transition well after project. It was a great last few days with our team overseas.
One of the highlights for me was our day trip to Austria! It was only an hour and a half train ride so we figured we'd better take advantage of it and go. That is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been. Old, gorgeous buildings, cobblestone streets, rolling hills..it really was amazing! I decided to go with some of the students on the Sound of Music tour. I've never seen the movie (I know, I know...I need to see it) but it was so cool to ride around and see the countryside. I took some pics but don't have them on me now, so I'll have to post them later.
The most random part of our debrief was that on our Sound of Music tour, Jim Caviezel was on our bus (he was Jesus in "Passion of the Christ" and is in a bunch of other movies like "Frequency" and "Count of Monte Cristo")! It was definitely him and he was there with his family. We didn't get his autograph but we did sneek a picture or two of him. We couldn't believe of all the places to see a celeb it would be in Salzburg, Austria!
On June 22nd we left our hostel, carried our 4 bags each of luggage to the train station (stressful!), and headed to the airport to head back to America. It was quite the adventure making sure we didnt lose anyone from one place to the next. By the time we got to our gate, we only had 20 minutes to spare so we definitely cut it close! 9 hours later (whew, so long on a plane!) we landed back in America.
We so loved our time in Sweden and will never forget it! Thanks for keeping up with our travels on here! We'll keep blogging but just about our life here in the USA! Until next time...