Settling in Sweden

Why does a family of five, established in one country, uproot and move to another? From Australia to Sweden, from the bottom of the world to the top? Questions which we have been asked and asked ourselves repeatedly over the last six months – no more…

The obvious reason is that one of us, Maria, is Swedish. Born and bred in Örebro, in the county of Närke in central Sweden. Resident here until we got married in 1993. And since then, where has our home been? It is not straightforward, but the easiest answer is “Tamworth, NSW, Australia” because that is where we have left to come here. Why not straightforward? Perhaps our history as a couple explains why: met in England in 1989 when we worked in YWAM, married in Sweden, but not before multiple trips between Sweden and Australia and endless discussions about where would be our future home. Somehow the default answer was Australia, but it was never a “given”.

And since then, though for the most part we have lived in Australia, we have continued the debate about where we should live and why, spent eight months in 1999 living here, and more recently spent two years on board the Anastasis, a hospital ship belonging to the Christian NGO, Mercy Ships. And perhaps for those of us who follow Jesus the answer to “where should we live” is never as simple as those who do not give their allegiance to “a higher power”. Think of Abraham, who packed up and left everything he knew to go to a place he had no knowledge of, which God had directed him to. How many times must he have asked the question why, and those around him too.

But why now, with children aged 8 and 6, a comfortable home and a good job, did we decide it was time again to move? We find ourselves living in an area of Örebro called Brickebacken, a rather attractive area surrounded by trees, a little raised above most of the town, on the southern edge. After great effort on Maria’s part we secured a 3 bedroom flat in the area, on the ground floor of a two storied row of flats. Brickebacken is not the most affluent part of town: Maria’s father asked why we would live there, in Brickebacken, which is “full of criminals.” We laughed of course, but an altercation a few days ago in the garden in front of our flat between two men armed with knives made us wonder if his assessment of the area was more accurate than we had at first thought.

The answer to the question of why will no doubt recur in this blog, as will this little area called Brickebacken, which has become our home for the time being at least. For now we are preoccupied with getting our life together, settling the children in school, finding a job for Maria, and getting my head around study, since for the time being that is my main responsibility. This afternoon we are going to an auction to hunt for furniture…

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