A great day with the Spensers!

Trip Start Dec 16, 2007
Trip End Jan 11, 2008

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Paul has prepared a typical hearty English breakfast with eggs, beans, bacon, potatoes and some nice breads. We again talked and talked. At 10:30 am we headed for Lindköpinig about 20 miles away. That's where we propose to hold the United Church of God Feast of Tabernacles in 2009. Kira Spenser had already done some preparatory work in locating a hotel and hall for Festival meetings. Lindköpinig is Sweden's fourth largest city and has a renowned cathedral. Kira used live here and worked in the cathedral.

We went straight to the proposed hotel and met the owner whose name was Lotta. She showed us around the hotel which has 75 rooms. It's right off the main city square that has many beautiful buildings. The location is very pleasant in my estimation.

Everything in Sweden is much more expensive than in the United States and we are doing all we can to make the cost of the Feast as reasonable as possible for people transferring in. With the US dollar sinking, overseas costs seem to be going higher and higher. If the decline continues even more significantly I wonder if people in the United States can continue to transfer overseas as they have.

The hotel rooms are more modest, but hotel rooms in Europe tend to be more modest than in the US where you almost always expect dressers with drawers and bathtubs. But, I think that the hotel can be very doable. It's within walking distance of many things to do and see. There are plenty of things to do, see and plenty of restaurants. Our current concern is that while the hotel rooms are OK, clean etc, they may not be what many in the US are used to for a comparable price. We would be very interested in knowing how many people from outside Scandinavia would desire to come here for the Feast of Tabernacles.

We then looked at the theater where we would hold services. The manager of the theater whose name was Fredrick showed us around the auditorium, stage and sound area. He was very friendly. The rental of the hall would be $330 a day.

So, this gives something to think about for 2009 Feast. Paul and Kira Spenser know this area well and would be key in the organization. We are wondering how many people would be interested in Sweden as a transfer site. It WOULD help the growing number of people we have involved in the United Church of God in Sweden.

We then went to a little Italian café for sandwiches before driving back to Mjölby.

We then got ready for the blessing of their almost one-year old daughter Erin Louise Viktoria Kira Spenser. It's going to be a family affair with Kira's parents two brother, their spouses and children present.

All was set for the evening. The living/dining room area was set up with chairs. Kira's brother Markus brought over a keyboard and we had a few hymns before the blessing. We sang hymns whose melodies were familiar to the Swedes.

About 6:00 we started by singing hymns "Praise Ye the Lord the Almighty" and "Seek Ye First." I played the keyboard as everyone heartily joined into the singing.

Then I gave what amounted to a sermonette about children who are our treasure and spoke about how they are valued in every culture, but most of all by God. While we do all we can to protect our children, we are asking for God's blessing and protection tonight. Then I quoted two examples of Jesus blessing children in the New Testament and how He used the events to focus on the Kingdom of God and humility.

Marianna Thorsten, Kira's mother told me right after the ceremony that what I read in Matthew 18 about humility was what the Lutheran priest (the Swedes use "priest" for their ministers) spoke about last Sunday.

Kira's parents Thorsten and Marianna are very well read and are keenly aware of the geopolitics in their region of the world. Thorsten was an air force pilot for 15 years and in the 1960's monitored radiation from Soviet nuclear tests at Novaya Zemlya in the arctic ocean. At one time Sweden had the fourth largest air force in the world after the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. After being a pilot he was an air traffic controller in Lindkoping which is the site of one of Sweden's Air Force bases. Lindkoping is also the home of the Saab military aircraft manufacturing.

Kira's older brother is Niklas and his wife is Lolla. They had their son Emil with them. Her other brother is Markus and his wife is Asa and their cute little three-year old daughter Embla.

Then we had a little celebration with champagne, cheese and crackers. It was all so very wonderful to be immersed into this family and see all the relationships and interactions among them. Kira's two brothers are tech savvy and we talked about upgrading Paul Spenser and getting him into wireless. I've just about been off Internet while here, but did manage to get out a few messages on Yahoo to our continuing destinations in Denmark and Norway. It does not look like we'll go to Denmark. That would have a been a difficult venture because of train hopping to the various islands and the long ferry back to Sweden. But, we did have a friendly chat with the people we were going to see and will work out visiting them on another trip to this area. This will help us more reasonably see everyone we need to in Norway before flying back to Indianapolis on Thursday, January 10th.

After the guests left Paul, Kira and I got into Publisher and laid out our next Nordic newsletter to be mailed out to Good News readers from Iceland to Finland. The stories we are covering is a general report about the area, the new booklet What is Your Destiny?, Viktoria's blessing and a story about our current visiting trip. In this newsletter we want to put on a human face showing activity in the Nordic countries along with more official reports. Several readers of the Good News responded to our first newsletter about who we are about our church. We are hopeful that quarterly newsletters will build more interest in those already subscribing to the Good News. We are happy that we have two booklets to offer in the Swedish language. Our GN subscription list last doubled in the past year from 250 to nearly 500 through Google Ads set for Swedish IP addresses. We hope to expand Google advertising to Denmark, Norway and Finland when I return to the USA.

So ended another exciting and interesting day. Bev and I have thoroughly enjoyed this trip if you haven't noticed.
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starlagurl on

Looks like you are learning a lot and growing your ministry at the same time. Good for you!

khoffart on

Vic and Bev,
Thanks for taking the time to post details of your travels. Reading them is always an inspiring way to begin the Sabbath.
Please keep us posted on the English program for the Ukranians. Will that be a LifeNets project? [I read those postings last Sabbath and gave a small cheer when I read about Dan and Cindy's initiative!]
Your word portraits of people give insight into the trials and joys of Christians in other societies and cultures. We in America take so many things for granted.
The Schultz family is a great example of knowing and doing what is right. And it is amazing how God is using a prisoner to help bring the truth to others.
As usual, gems of wisdom are scattered throughout the text - I'll be pondering the reference to God using the work we do for a long time.
The travel tips are universal and so true!
I do not envy your travels during the darkest and coldest time of the year. But the fellowship with others of like mind more than makes up for that.
Have a safe trip home and again, thank you.
K Hoffart

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