Monday, 27 April 2009

A Phonecall Home, and breathing God...

I called home yesterday for the first time in, what, 3 weeks? I'm afraid I put it off because it makes me quite homesick... My nieces were there at my parents' house and oh my goodness, my heart aches to hear their little voices over the line!! They told me of all the baby cows on Grandpa's ranch and Abby chattered on about Barbie Dolls and I missed them so much it was a physical ache.....

( The girls on my last day with them in the States)

For me this is one the clearest areas in my life where I'm given the chance to not only speak words of faith, but live them. If I truly believe He is God and this world has fallen and reconciliation with Him is the only way; if I truly believe His heart is alive with love for every person on this earth, and longing to bring us all home, away from this aching world and straight into the paradise He meant before sin; if I truly believe in what He accomplished at the cross... I'm going to do whatever it takes to do my part in making that known.

Today, for alot more reasons than missing my lovely girls, I'm saying with Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

I know the most important thing in life is what is eternal-- so here's to living like it's true.

Awww, what a phonecall home can do.

BEFORE the aforementioned phonecall, I spent the day both at my church where I had my first Sunday back on the worship team, and then at a friend's church in the afternoon. The service was in Swedish so Betty whispered a translation in my ear the whole way through :)

It was beautiful....

The Norwegian pastor, speaking in Swedish, began the talk by telling us that we take something like 26,000 breaths a day... He then went into some biblical text and it looked like the statistics at the beginning were completely unrelated as he spoke of how God's infused everything with His holiness and we only must wake up to it... then at the end he told of how the Hebrew letters for God's name YHWH were pronounced in Hebrew in such a way as to sound like breaths... And he breathed them out for us.

And the beauty of the analogy is still sticking with me-- that God would design our very breath in such a way that we would be speaking His name 26,000 times a day.

How close is our majestic God.
How deeply He knows our every thought, every struggle, every cause for tears and every cause for smiles.
He's imprinted Himself in our very breath...

May you know this crazyily-loving God better today than you did yesterday.

Out for coffee after the second church service with Betty (Indian but born and raised in Sweden) who took me to church with her, Teri-Anne (Singaporean-- and the one I'm renting a room from!), Patra (Jamaican), Sorinella (Romanian) who also came to the second church with Betty and I, and Antone (Bulgarian) who is also my house-mate renting from Teri-Anne and Anders!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Catching my Breath...

Hej Kompisar!

This means “Hello Friends” in Swedish. Yes, through a move of God I find myself back in Göteborg, Sweden for just over a week now!

·Getting Here·

Some of you will know how it was seeming that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong in the process, but with much prayer, and much work, and many phone calls, and anxious days waiting on mail, the Lord seemed to release me all of a sudden and I returned just in time for Easter weekend. My lovely sister-in-law-to-be (Caleb’s fiancé Danie) who is studying the semester in the UK had booked tickets to spend Easter break with me months before, never knowing how many road-bumps I would hit on the way to being back and that it would actually look up-in-the-air until only a few days before!

Check out the Photo Gallery of Danie & my Easter Weekend Adventures and more at:


Nor could I have known how truly difficult the adjustment would be this time. Maybe it’s the enormity of it all— going out now no longer as “student” but as “missionary”. Maybe it’s the huge spiritual warfare element. But whatever it is, my soul has been so very torn—happy to be back in Europe where pieces of my heart seem to literally come alive as if they’ve been entranced in a deep sleep, happy to be back with the people of my lovely Rescue Mission Church, happy to be back to the day-to-day purposefulness of ministry; but struggling to leave behind relationships in the states and pick up relationships here, desperately missing my family after being back in their lives for such a long period of time as 5 months was, constantly fighting so many fears about my inadequacy for this, which is such a monstrous waste of energy better spent pouring myself out for Him!!

It's so hard and yet so easy, so painful and yet so joyful, so too much and so not enough. I don't understand. I don't know if I ever will. And I struggle. But I laugh more than I cry. And I love it more than I dread it. I feel a bit lost right now, but that's what adjusting is. I musn't think that just because I've been here before, I've got it all figured out. Not even by half! I feel more insecure this time than ever before... but He knows and He has reasons & plans & purposes I cannot see... I only must see Him, and the rest, well, it’s in His hands.

·Living Arrangements·

Some of you will know of the little dilemma I met when I first arrived to find that the friends I intended to rent a room from had in fact FILLED their ad for the room and didn’t tell me for fear I wouldn’t come! I panicked a bit at first but they laid my fears to rest and explained what they’d planned—which involved shuffling a few rooms around and means that I am making my home in a house of a family of four, plus another boarder (a kind Bulgarian man), and in a room bordered with Winnie-the-Pooh characters! But by the provision of God, I can afford the rent and so far groceries and transport and such on top of that.

This family is very special. Teri-Anne (Singaporean) and Anders (Swedish) have been dear friends from the first

time I met them last year in our little Rescue Mission Church. Teri-Anne reminds me of my sister in a lot of ways and we are as at ease with one another as if we were sisters. I see God’s hand in bringing me here to this

family for such a time as this.

The house where I’m living is in a nice neighbourhood on a large, mountainous

hill only about 15 minutes outside of the city centre of Göteborg, and I am slowly managing to make my room a homey sanctuary, and find my way around this beautiful area (The house and area can be seen in the Photo Gallery link given above as well!)…

Please email me or facebook me for my new address and mobile number! I would LOVE to be in touch... or to have visitors!

·Rescue Mission Ministries·

The Rescue Mission Secondhand Shop is humming with as much energy as ever. It takes so many hands to run and I am constantly amazed at the team God draws together simply for the day-to-day functioning. I’m fascinated by His sovereign leading—and many of them working with us right now don’t even realize that it’s a loving Abba who has drawn them there! Leif is a lovely old Swedish Atheist who has been faithfully serving with Rescue Mission for years now, though he avoids our bible study and church like the plague, and sits quietly and respectfully while we pray before meals. This week his granddaughter who is just about my age has started working at the shop. He asked us to take her in because she’s been struggling a great deal with Depression. Isn’t it interesting how he knows where to go?? Kim is very sweet and I’m excited to get to know her better over the coming weeks. Brōna has released me to take her under my wing : )

Another interesting individual drawn to Rescue mission these days is a Swedish transvestite called Gabriella who sometimes forgets to use his high-pitched voice and then sounds every bit a man! He likes to discuss clothes, shoes, and CHURCH with me and very sweetly greets me hello every time he sees me in whatever section of the store, even if it was only 15 seconds from the last time I saw him. I’m intrigued and pleased that he feels at home with us at Rescue Mission. People leading such lifestyles are not always so welcome in a church setting and I think often make themselves scarce because of it. As Christians, we can sometimes see the lifestyle before we see the person. I’m so thankful Christ sees the person first… Or else where would any of us be?

Praise Points:

  • God smoothed the way for me to get back to ministry in Europe!!! I booked roundtrip tickets that place me back in the states for the weddings this summer about a week and a half past the 3 months I’m allowed to be in Sweden without a visa. I should be visiting the UK for a week or so and so figured it should be okay, but didn’t know for sure! So… I placed it in His hands and prayed for no more complications. When I arrived at the airport in Sweden, it was the strangest thing. I just missed border control all together. Suddenly I had fetched my luggage and was walking out to the car with Mike and Danie and realized I’d never gone through border control. Those of you who travel know that generally, it’s unavoidable because they structure the airport so that there’s no way around it… I am still amazed and confused at how He handled that one!

  • The work He is doing through Rescue Mission, and all the hands He’s using to do it…

  • The beautiful gathering of people from all over the world who make up our little Rescue Mission Church

  • His provision!!! I’ve have a place to live where they’ve given me a reduced rate on rent until I get enough support to pay in full! Which means I am able to afford some groceries and not be so very hard-pressed on everything else like I might have had to be. I’ve been able to get a pay-as-you-go Swedish mobile, which is very helpful for a girl living on her own, and a tram card so I can get around. I am so thankful for all of this because coming over I knew money was not going to be plentiful and it was in His hands to sort out!

Prayer Points:

  • Discernment about how best to reach out, both to the people involved in Rescue Mission right now, and to those who aren’t involved yet! God is not haphazard in the particular team of people working at the shop right now in this season. I would ask for deepening relationship, that I would be equipped to explain His heart well when opportunities arise, and as is a theme in my life, to “know nothing but love.”

o I especially think of Kim and Gabriella. Pray for open hearts!

  • Unity in the church & ministry here. May the greatest passion and so the purpose of our lives in this little gathering here be the same—to know Him and make Him known.

  • Boldness & confidence in Him. That I will fight the good fight of faith against these feelings of inadequacy and insecurity

  • Settling-in. That I will feel as if my mind, heart, and body are all in the same place again, not torn across the world, and that I will confront life gracefully in the meantime.

·Hej då · (“goodbye” in Swedish)

I pray you’ll know and remember with me that the Lord our God who is mighty to save is living among us. May you live out your faith fearlessly in this truth…

Love, Leah

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Yes, I Have a Room!

Hej, hej, as they say here!

I just wanted to quickly let you know, as you've been asking, that yes, I AM actually still renting a room from the original people I was going to. When I arrived I discovered that they already had a boarder to fill their ad that I thought I was filling-- but they hadn't wanted to tell me because they were afraid I wouldn't think I could come then! I am still renting from them, but it means I'm renting what was the kids' room-- and I hate to take a family room!!! But as they rationalize for me, the kids don't use this room at all except for to sleep in. They've never had toys in it or anything, that's all downstairs. So... the kids are just as happy to sleep in the room with the computer desk... Which leaves me with the privilege of renting the room with the Winnie the Pooh border :) Hehe!

Things are still so unsettled. I start back at Rescue Mission tomorrow-- after the long holiday weekend, so I'm hoping with that will come some... settling. More on all that later.

And a link to photos from the weekend with my future sis-in-law and back in the Land of the Swedes!!

I have so much to catch you all up on...
Love in Him!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Safe & Sound in Sweden

Hey All--

Just wanted to let you know I've made it :)

The leaving was very very hard this time around... But God was so near. He made sure I got the window seat on all my flights and when I boarded my plane out of MSP, all teary-eyed and heavy-hearted, there was Christian music playing over the plane's speakers! I've never ever heard Christian music over a public speaker on an airplane before...

As we touched down in Amsterdam after feeling too upset and unsettled about leaving again to sleep, I asked God what it is about this place-- Europe-- about Europeans-- that He drew my heart to. He didn't say, but I felt so connected once again. Like pieces of myself had come home after a long absence.

And then, as if just to give me one more comfort and assurance of His presence, my Dutch friend Adriaan came all the way to the airport in Amsterdam to meet me for a coffee between my flights! We didn't even know if it would work for me to pass out through security, but he came anyway, just incase, and all was well with the world if only for the hour and a half I was at the Amsterdam Airport!

Sweden is the epitome of Springtime! It is beautiful and sunny and alive. Mike and Danie met me at the airport, Danie exhausted from her own travels from England which meant she was leaving Oxford at 1am to be at the airport in London in time for her 7am flight! "Papa" Mike swept me up in one of his signature hugs and it felt like a homecoming :)

There are snags, though (aren't there always?) in that the room I thought I would rent has been rented out! And I'm not sure where else I can go on the mission support I have so far... I'm sure He has it all in hand and I'm not even going to worry about it til after our busy Easter Weekend with my future sister-in-law visiting. But I would value your prayers!! I know He'll hear :)

I find myself so very sensitive about all this. Like, any little thing that goes slightly off plan makes me go, "Oh, so maybe I'm on the wrong path, then?" Ridiculous, I know, but the doubts prey on me if I let them. I have never felt so very much part of a battle for my trust in Him then I have since starting this journey into Mission and Ministry... Please do keep praying for this specifically. That He will teach me Big, Strong, Battle-ready faith and trust in Him...

I can't help but feel way too small for this when I'm off in it. But I can't help but feel a bit empty when I'm not! Oh Lord, I'm glad You know what You're doing with this life because I sure don't! But it's Yours, and that's enough...

Tomorrow, Danie and I and my Romanian friend Sorinella, are going to try to go out around the city and see the beauty of Goteborg, as well as sample traditional Swedish Easter fare! You can expect photos :) Tonight we are just crashing after our travels. It's so great having Danie here. I think we could really get used to this traveling together business. Our temperments are so alike and our thirst for the beauty of the world too :)

Love and hugs and much more where this comes from--

Monday, 6 April 2009

I Want BIG Faith...

God's been doing big things in my heart over the past few days as He's been working out my return to ministry in Sweden.

And I'm feeling hugely convicted.
But it's a joyful conviction!

I feel like He's patiently taking me back right to the basics of what it means to follow Jesus. What the Kingdom of God is all about. Faith. And I want a BIG one. And He's good for it...

I've been preparing to go back to ministry in Europe and thinking of all the people I have to leave behind AGAIN and the things I'll be missing out on here AGAIN... (like the birth of my new nephew. I visited his nursery the other day and I can just picture him in it :) The photo is me with my sister-in-law and baby nephew pre-debut-to-the-world!--->) ...and I've been worryingworryingworrying about how He's going to make this work when I haven't got enough mission support yet and just can't see how He'll work it out. And when I know so many people look at me and think, "What?!" I'll admit straight-up, mission is an alternative lifestyle. And it is a step of faith huger than the faith I have. But it's not fun being misunderstood-- it gives space for so many doubts and worries...

But still there's our HUGE GOD saying, "Test me and see if I won't give back a hundredfold whatever bit of your life you give to me..." (A paraphrase of Mal. 3:10). That verse is about tithing specifically, but tithing is just meant to be representative of giving whatever we have of ourselves for love of God. I don't have money, all I have is me. So that's what I'm giving... Francis Chan in his incredible book "Crazy Love", quoted that verse and then wrote, "This is the only place in the bible where God invites His people to test Him, to try to out-give Him. He knows it is impossible, that no one can out-give the One from whom all things come. God knows people will realize that 'we have given You only what comes from Your hand' (1 Chron. 29:14). Nothing has strengthened my faith more than seeing God bless what I give back to Him, what I surrender at His feet.... If you really want to experience God's supernatural provision, then do as He says. Test Him. Give more than you can manage, and see how He responds" (pg 110).

Woah. Such encouragement right now as I step out on a limb and give Him back more than I actually have... But the thing is, He doesn't have to "repay" anything we "give" Him. He is GOD, for goodness sake!! But it's His nature to be O-so-good to us, because of His crazy love. And that just makes me want to live out crazy love for Him too...

And this was really timely too-- "Noah spent 120 years building an ark and warning others of the impending judgment. Suppose the flood has never come. Noah would have been the biggest laughingstock on earth. Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy. Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers" (pg 114). WOW. WOW. WOW.

I'm just feeling so convicted by my lack of faith and fullness of worry. Hello, LOOK AT THE GOD WE SERVE!!! And the thing is, the service doesn't feel like work when it's all held up by love...

I was tossing and turning and talking to Him about this last night and giving it all over again, asking for more faith and more trust again, and then this morning I got a call letting me know of someone who wants to be a part of my support team and involved in the ministry He's calling me to. Before the call I was worried about being $190 away from meeting rent each month. Now I only need $40 more in monthly commitments to make rent!! Other things like groceries and public transport costs and insurance will come in too if rent does... surely they will. And it was only after I gave up the worry and told God I would step out and look a fool to the world for love of Him...


I know that once I get back there, there will be a whole new host of worries and fears to conquer and give to Him (like leading anything at church! Eeek!!). But I know He is big enough. And He just can't wait to take those and show me again Who He is and what it is to belong to Him :)

I know He wants the same for you.
Test Him and see...

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Hello, Mr. Goteborg!!

So... finally.

I have been up at all hours of night the past week playing phone tag with the migration board in Sweden and my case worker and my host at Rescue Mission. But finally, I have confirmation that they will go ahead and process my visa for Sept 1, 2009- Sept 1, 2010, since they already missed my original start date (beginning of April). This doesn't mean it's approved, it just means IF it is approved, that will be the time period...

But what it does mean is that I was able to call the consulate in New York and request my passport back so that I can fly out to Sweden until the weddings in August and get back to the ministry there now! And how right is His timing after just helping at the Women's Retreat last weekend and having my ministry-heart re-ignited and my calling re-confirmed...

But still it is such a strange feeling. I have waited and worked toward this for so long.

I look back at what I wrote in my first week back in the states this past November, and recognize that it's now the same sort of strangeness, only in reverse:

November 22, 2008:

Coming home after living abroad for 3 1/2 years and not visiting for a year shouldn't be so hard.

I'm afraid I'm more European now than American..

Yet, I am still and will always be American.

Where does that leave me?

Homesick... at home.

I have grown so comfortable here again. And yet, I never have. It's hard to explain. I live with this constant passion to see hearts and lives introduced to His amazing love in Europe, where there the ignorance of it is so much more prevalent, so in that sense, I never grow completely comfortable. But it is very nice to be somewhere familiar; to be able to hop in a car and drive, be paid an actual salary for my work, and have my own space in my family's house. To pick up the phone and call whoever, whenever. To be able to read all the public signs. Haha. Simple things we just don't think about until we don't have them.

Yet somehow, when I am "on the field", His grace covers all that and I don't feel the lack of them so much as the excitement of what is there. So... He'll do that again, surely.

I was growing too comfortable. And He's not called us to comfortable lives, really. But lives of passionately living out His transforming love, radical lives pointing to His righteous kingdom we were all made for and will someday confront face to face. That day is coming soon. And I so long to see as many hearts ready as possible... There is so much more at stake here than comfort.

And so, back to Europe, the field where He's asked me to lay down my life for Him, and back to the bittersweetness of living for Him/dying to myself there.

I am so excited, and so sad, and so eternally torn. I guess that's what living as spirit&flesh is all about...

(Thank You, Jesus, for being the grace in our every moment...)

And Hello, Mr. Goteborg!!!!
(I'll fly out Wednesday, arrive Thursday afternoon)

(Also... if any of you were thinking of pledging any financial support to this ministry, now would be a GREAT time to let me know. Praying, praying, praying for enough! I'm happy to explain more about the ministry itself and my part in it if you're curious!)


There are a few books I've read I consider particularly life-changing or focus-shifting. I would recommend these to anyone. Among them are "Blue Like Jazz" & "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller, and "A Chance to Die: The Biography of Amy Carmichael" by Elizabeth Elliot, and "The Journey of Desire" & "Waking the Dead" by John Eldridge.

Tonight it's "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan.

Read it, read it, read it!

Tonight as I read through the amazing Chapter 4, some of the scripture he quoted just hit me so hard. Luke 21:1-4 especially.
As He looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," He said, "This poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
And about Matthew 13:44 ("The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.") he writes, "In this account, the man joyfully sold all he had so that he could obtain the only thing that mattered. He knew that what he had stumbled upon-- the Kingdom of Heaven-- was more valuable than anything he had, so he went for it with everything in him."

Just today I sold my last earthly possession of any worth to anyone (besides my computer, but that's necessary for my ministry!) for $50.00 (a camcorder).

This journey can be so lonely and I fight feeling a fool all the time for taking such a different road. But HE IS WORTH IT. I know it. And if only one other person can come to see it because of how He leads my life, then it's worth it, right? No matter how hard it feels in the flesh, the spirit can rejoice and rest in His greatness, His love, and His care.

"I quickly found that the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don't swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered. That's for the 'radicals' who are 'unbalanced' and who go 'overboard.' Most of us want a balanced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering..."

Lord Jesus, grow in me a radical faith that cannot be shaken by fear or loneliness...
Shake us up to follow You truly, and not Christianity as a man-made religion. May we be unafraid to take You at Your word...

You are not safe, not in our narrow view of what "safe" is. But You are so very good. May we not miss out on the goodness for fear of the unsafeness...

Teach us to be taken right up into Your heart
and hold us there.

May we give you all we are, right down to the last two pennies of our bodies and souls.

And somehow I am suddenly ready to give up all the comforts and securities of home again.
I'd rather have Him.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

We're Tax-Deductible, Baby!

So, upon further discussions with the accountant-- and after he'd gone in to do some further reading and investigating-- he's concluded that supporters can make checks out to me-- whether one-time or monthly-- and we'll be able to keep the money on the American side to be used via my debit card so we don't have to bother with wire transfer fees and all that's lost in conversion. Then in December I will add up what each partner has given in support and Rescue Mission (well, it'll be me, but officially Rescue Mission!) will send a receipt as the non-profit organisation, saying x-amount was given for my work with the ministry. You just claim the total amount on your taxes as charitable donations and that's that!

Not nearly as complicated as he made it out to be a week or two ago.

Thank you for your prayers for this. God's favour rests upon us :)

Now, pray for Him to speak to hearts about the 2/3 of monthly support left to be pledged! He will provide :)

Thank you, lovelies!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...