It’s amazing how quickly a year goes. One year ago today we arrived in Sweden, opening this new chapter of our lives. It was a lovely summer day when we flew into Arlanda, where Maria’s parents met us and drove us to Örebro. Today it was warm but grey. But tomorrow sunshine is forecast.
It has been a huge year for us, full of new experiences as we have adjusted to this change in our lives, in some way a harder change even than moving to the Anastasis back in 2001. For Maria it was a homecoming, but at the same time she has struggled with missing her other home, Australia, and all the people that were so much a part of our lives there. She has realised that in many ways she is more Australian than Swedish, which is a strange experience. The kids have adjusted better than could be expected, all of them speaking Swedish fairly fluently, all of them fairly comfortable at school and in the local community. Yet they would probably return happily to Australia any time we suggested it, and barely a day passes without reference to things we have lost by coming here. Perhaps they are easier to recognise now than what we have gained, which for both us and the children sometimes seems a bit vague.
But we have been welcomed by many and we have become friends with some wonderful people. The past year everything has been new, and different, especially for the kids and me. It has been a pioneering year. The year ahead will hold lots of new challenges, especially for me, as I begin working in a new language and a new system. It is a scary yet exciting prospect. It will hopefully be a year of consolidation. It will be a time of settling.
Today I was out in the country at a summer church service on a farm near Motala about an hour south of here, with our friend and neighbour, Mikael Hallenius, who was preaching there. After lunch I walked out alone along the country lanes among fields of ripening wheat. I reflected on what I have lost and what I have gained. There is much I have learned about myself as I have struggled to find my way in an unfamiliar land. Some of what I have learned has disillusioned me greatly. My self esteem, shaky at the best of times, has taken a battering. But that is not necessarily a bad thing, since much of it has been based on the wrong things, many of which are not there any more. It has been a time of stripping away the wrapping and bringing me back to basics. Who am I and why am I worthwhile? I am a friend of the living God, freed from the eternal consequences of my own failings, with nothing to stand on but the fact that Jesus loves me. I have been blessed with a family that loves me and needs me. I am a part of a community of people who know God and follow him, in spite of themselves. In these things I have strength to live and to love.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need…
He leads me beside still waters…
He restores my soul