Christmas Greeting

Here in Ciudad Darío, we have just finished the first semester of school year. With gratitude, we look back at what lies behind and with curiosity (just like children on Christmas Eve) we look forward to what God has planned to surprise us with in the time ahead.

In this way I want to wish you a very merry and an exceptionally blessed Christmas!

Students visiting the village El Bordo

Student Blogs:

Swedish students’ Christmas greeting:

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Brave Heroes

I admire courageous people. To be counted among the brave one must first have been afraid. Otherwise, it just cannot be an expression of courage, but just something one do.

When I was in my early teens, I read my very first autobiographical book; Long Walk to Freedom about Nelson Mandela, who since then he has been one of my heroes. Such a man cannot really die; the legacy he leaves will live on after him.

This weekend we ended up in Jinotepe, me and the Swedish students from Testa Mission and one of the leaders of the Mission School. We had a visit from one of my friends from Texas who were to preach in the church La Roca in Jinotepe. A visit there is well worth the trip, it is a church that has grown from 200 members to 3,000 in seven years. The atmosphere is thereafter, grace by grace and I went home with a large dose of new energy.

Our friend from Texas was the one invited to preach, but he wanted to have us on board as a team. The students who have just had a few lessons about the gifts of the Spirit and had some time to practice to prophesy now got to try their wings in a public context. And they did it well indeed!

To be involved and encourage people in a personal way with the prophetic is exciting. When we discover that God can use anyone of us mere mortals in a supernatural way, that’s when life gets a purpose that even goes beyond death.

And yes, sure, one can be a little scared. But like Joyce Meyer (inspired by Karl Barth) once said, ”Courage is fear that has said its prayers and decided to go forward anyway.” Thanks to all of you who go on to new levels right in front of me – you are my heroes!

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The Father’s Love

There is this text that always touches me; when reading it in Swedish, I hear the Finland Swedish voice of actor Stina Ekblad, singing in my head (after listening to the Bible on audiobook along the roads of northern Sweden). After doing the narrative voice to a drama I also have a relation to the Spanish translation of the story. I have read it since I was a child, and yet, today I got a new meeting with the parable of the prodigal son.

Together with the Swedish students, I was invited to a cell group in one of the Nicaraguan students’ homes. We saw a simple video about a young man who chooses to leave with the inheritance in advance and go on an adventure. The story is well known and I know the end, yet I could not keep the tears back when the old man begins to run when he suddenly catches sight of his battered son out on the yard. What a hug. Tonight, I was once again reminded of how great is the Father’s love, that I will never grasp it but that it’s right there in its grip, the real adventure begins.

Here in Ciudad Darío, we have begun a new school year, with four Swedish students from the Swedish course “Testa Mission” and ten Nicaraguan students from five local churches. It has been a busy but very nice month and we all look forward to a blessed school year together. Last Sunday we celebrated the Day of the Bible, the four hundred and forty-fourth anniversary of the Spanish translation of the Bible. And yes, there is something worth celebrating when there is a book I can read all my life as if it were the very first time.

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Times and Seasons

To miss someone before they go – yes, beautiful people, you have taken a special place in my heart. A few weeks ago, I was asked how I manage to receive a new group of students every year and then take leave when the school year of nine months is to end. And I gave the same answer that I usually give when asked how it feels to leave my family and my Swedish friends, “God gives grace to what He calls for.”

One of our Swedish students read from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes at the farewell party: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”. Perhaps the wise Solomon knew that there is a right time and a right place for both the welcome and farewell. The thing about being in the right time has taken on a new meaning for me. Just as creation has seasons, the Creator as well establishes spiritual seasons in our lives. When it comes to the weather, adapting to the best of one’s ability is the wisest thing to do; if it’s a cold Swedish summer you just have to dress accordingly, especially if you’ve lived too long in a tropical climate and find that twenty degrees Celsius feels like Antarctica. The Swedish saying: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing” perhaps works even as metaphor when it comes to our spirituality.

Before you even left the country, I began to miss you, even though knowing we’ll see each other on Wednesday at Discover Your Mission Course of Graduation, in the sunny side of Gothenburg (weather forecast in faith). You have made an impression in my heart and these nine months with you is a season I will always remember with warmth of the more tropical type.

Beautful People

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More Than Ice Hockey Gold and The Eurovision Song Contest

During the last class of the school year, the students shared their dreams and I was struck by the fact that I have the privilege to spend my time with truly great people. Having the opportunity to view the glory God has placed in man, up close; how ingenious, creative and personal the Creator is when He forms His crowning achievement: His own children.

The writer of Proverbs put words to it by letting the wisdom herself talk about with what joy she played as a child before God Himself in the beginning (Prov. 9:30-31). To read these lines make me happy, because I know that all the dreams that I listened to last Wednesday, they are just the beginning of an amazing journey for each one of the people I have been privileged to love this year.

Sunday’s examination of fifteen wonderfully created men and women of God was a joy and an honor; a pleasure I personally appreciate higher than both the Swedish ice hockey gold medal and The Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden. Thanks for the awesome privilege to have had the chance to guide you all during this year!

Scarey Face

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Love and Other Signs

Easter was spent in Bluefields, a city along Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. Rarely have three days seemed so rich and intense. Afterwards, I needed a few days just to pick myself up and digest the impressions.

The school was invited to a conference with the theme “restoration” to hold seminars for leaders in the mornings and campaign meetings in the evenings. We did not know much in advance of what we really were to embark on – those are the times when it is especially fantastic to get the confirmation that God always knows what He is doing. And yes, it did happen a lot of things, ranging from people who received Jesus for salvation, liberation and both physical and inner healing. Some examples are a man who for 10 years of time had not been able to walk without crutches (without medical explication). The night when he received intercession he had so much pain that he could not rely on the legs. After two rounds of prayer, the pain subsided to the point that he left the crutches on the floor and walked around inside the church hall, clearly fascinated by what God did in his body. That same evening his mother received healing in her spine, her delocalized disks that had caused her a lot of pain were laid in their correct positions during the prayer and she was so grateful. A man came into the end of a church service, very drunk and in really bad shape. He received prayer where he had an encounter with God and received Jesus, the next day when he came back with his whole family; it was like meeting a new man.

Seeing the students expressing love, serve the people with intercession, testimony and leading the congregation in worship was beautiful, yes, pure beauty! And I note (to myself – once again) that it is a true privilege to lead young people with potential of large dimensions.

The church greeting us farewell is a memory for life. Never have I, after only spending three days in a context had the privilege to receive so much love and gratitude – it made me remember that love remains the biggest sign of them all that God’s Spirit is on the move.

Niñas de sus ojos

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The Surprises of Guatemala

Central America is beautiful! I firmly believe that the Creator wanted a place on earth to feast His eyes on. I’ve been on a visit to the neighbor country of Guatemala. After mostly having heard news of the gang violence, murders and other crimes I must confess that I did not arrive with the highest expectations; hence my main goal was to come back unscathed. Keeping this in mind, discovering the world heritage of the city of Antigua and the beauty of Lake Atitlán was like discovering paradise on earth.

Truth said, the actual objective of the trip was not about survival but rather a seminar on how the Swedish and the Central American Pentecostal Mission together can work for a greater future. I now return to Nicaragua inspired by people whose greatness is based on what goes on, on the inside, reminded that the Kingdom of God makes everything possible for those who believe.

And yes, since I have finally found common ground with the Swedish singer Evert Taube; (Central America impresses on us both!) here comes a Swedish-Guatemalan serenade:
Sololá by Evert Taube

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With a Taste of Desert Sand

By now my promise to the readers concerning regular updates looks like a bad New Year’s promise, an unwelcome and very protracted bronchitis stopped the ambition to stand by my word. After two doses of antibiotics, chest radiography, nebulization among other new phenomena, I now feel much better. Being sick gives new insights into life, as an example, health in general is grossly underestimated, especially by those who are blessed with a strong immune system. It is said that some men when with cold feel like though they are suffering just as much as women in travail. Sometimes, however, women also get in touch with their masculinity. In short, thank you Jesus for the gift of healing – that I will value forever.

Another insight of more practical nature is that I am extremely grateful for Amazon Kindle – engineers must also be God’s gift to mankind. I’ve had some time to read, including a book on the Rwandan genocide – written by a woman who survived but saw her entire family being brutally murdered. The story gave a totally different perspective on suffering. Frida carries a testimony, not only of survival but also of the power of forgiveness and the possibilities that opens up after an inner healing.

I am reminded that in the Kingdom of God there is only one direction: from glory to glory. All deserts have an end and if they don’t, one simply has to plant a tree or more so that the desert stops spreading. Suffering like suffering – whether walking through the Sahara Desert or through something that by comparison only seems to be some unusually hot and dry summer days there’s always glory awaiting on the other side. So yes, 2013 is the year of our Lord’s favor, and I look forward with anticipation to the glory that God has in store for this season.

Three Cures for Self-Pity:
– Reading: Frida: Chosen to Die, Destined to Live by Frida Gashumba (she is my new hero!)
– Hearing: Dying Star by Jason Upton (no, feeling sorry for oneself is not forming good character)
– Seeing: Six hours of The Emigrants and The New Land (delighted to have emigrated across the Atlantic Ocean under completely different conditions than the nineteenth century Swedes settling down in the state of Minnesota)

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An Attempt to Make Amends

This post should probably begin with an excuse for poor continuity – improvement is hereby promised.

In defense of my silence it should be said that quietness is sometimes useful. My Creator has given me two ears and one mouth. Sometimes I should learn to use my two protruding ones more proficient. Furthermore, the art of listening inwards is one of those things I can never learn enough – learning to recognize the voice of God among all other voices is my life’s most important choice.

Jesus knew how to be silent at the right times – so quiet that Pilate became uneasy. And Solomon, the wisest of them all knew that there is a time for both silence and speech. Then of course I’ve also heard that talk is silver and silence is gold.

Despite the beautiful excuses I hereby attempt to make amends for everything you have missed since last time, therefore you are welcome to check out the following blogs and links to clips on YouTube. Luckily and namely, the quiet missionary has some Swedish students who are more diligent when it comes to making updates. For those of you who speak languages other than Swedish; a picture is worth a thousand words. And Google Translate of course says some words correctly as well.

Frida’s Blog
Hanna’s Blog
Jakob’s Blog
Movie Clip

After the Silence

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Beyond Words

We spent the Sunday in San Francisco Libre – a village near the Lake of Managua. I went there the night before the students, in a crowded bus on a road that had seen better days. The next morning I woke up at five by the sound of prayer on the other side of the wall – thirty members from the church who came together to start the day by praying in the church.

When the students then showed up they got gallo pinto for breakfast (the Nicaraguan national dish of rice and beans). We took part in a teaching on the Holy Spirit’s gifts in a morning meeting under a metal roof that created the heat out of the ordinary. Nicaragua is warm, in some places more than others. The afternoon consisted of a boat trip, fishing with bait in the form of a dismembered water snake and horse riding. In the evening we were at a church service where the students participated with testimonies, text reading, worship and intercession. And I can only say that God is cool – when we let the Spirit be and act, stuff happens. Those gifts that the Spirit wants to give are quite extraordinary. And in the middle of all the miraculous He is still so close and natural like only God can be. And then we went home in a minibus along the same dark road with what I think could be described as contented hearts. It made me thinking of how fascinated I am by the grace of God and His tireless attempts to draw me closer to Him. It is an unconditional love that is too great for me to grasp.

My grandfather had the biggest hands I know, yet he, as a young man had lost one of his fingers in a sawmill blade. His hands bore stories about how life treats us and how we move forward stronger and I remember that as a child it gave a special sense of comfort to put my hand in his. Prayer is the most beautiful communication I know. To seek the honest words – the open dialogue and allow God to speak in the way that only God can. But sometimes prayer goes beyond words. When all my words run out, I see God in a different light – that’s when I just want to stretch out my hand and grab his big, that hand that also carries marks – marks of love for me.

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