Okay, they really don't call it middle school here, but that's pretty much what this group is. A rowdy bunch of teenagers up to about age 13 gather every Wednesday night at Immanuel Church to play, talk about a Bible passage, and eat their Feeka. What is feeka, you ask? Good question. It's food. Like a snack. Or a small meal. Or a falafel from a street vendor. But, I digress.
Today, has been great. It started with prayer time with the pastoral staff at Immanuel. Two of the leaders of the church are preparing to lead in a tent revival in another town. Like in the states, this is not seen as much in Sweden as in days gone by, but we prayed that God would use it to move among the people. Sweden is a very secular country and, though the Swedes are a prosperous people, there is a great need for revival to pour out on this country. Please pray for God to move in Sweden.
After that, Joel had a staff meeting, so I hung out with Martina and Ida, a couple of youth ministry Interns. (OK, they don't really call them that either. They say they are "practicing," but I think it amounts to the same thing. One of the youth workers was convinced I was calling them Inmates and laughed about what I might be suggesting about their church. Oops.) Both are talented young women who are completing a one-year Bible school program that provides them training in the Bible as well as a variety of ministry aspects. The girls are great fun and were even kind enough to listen patiently as I told them stories of life in America.
When the weather is as good as it is right now, the Swedes in Malmo do all they can to be outdoors. Joel asked me if the day seemed dreary after living in California. "No," I told him, "today would be a beautiful day in California, too. Of course, there are many beautiful days in Southern California." He laughed.
Today was Lily's first birthday. Uncle Paul got to go to the park with her to celebrate and watch her unwrap some packages, too. Sweden is no different than the States. She threw the present on the floor and played with the ribbon and the box. Check out the Uncle Paul picture attached.
About 6:00 p.m., Joel and I joined the interns and some other leaders to get things ready for club. Tonight was American Idol--strike that, Swedish Idol night. The kids sang, danced, and acted silly. Again, not so different from the states. About 5 or 6 of the students actually remembered me from my first trip to Malmo two years ago. They told me that I called them all Charlie. Hm, I wonder why they thought I would do that. I got to do a brief talk on having diverse gifts but being one body in Christ after the talent show. Gabriel, a funny kid who teased me as much this trip as he did the last, asked me as he was leaving, "Okay, so you will be back in another two years? Don't forget to come see us, Charlie." One of the youth leaders told me, "I wonder if any of the kids realize your name is Paul and not Charlie." Too funny.
Anyway, Joel has to actually do some work tomorrow--I know, what is that about--so I am going to take the day to hang out in Copenhagen, Denmark, just across the bridge from Malmo. Should be a great day . . . though I doubt it can beat teasing with Swedish teenagers.