This year is the first time that the Birch Church is open during the entire Summer. We are seeing God doing the increase, as more people are coming, last Sunday we even had new visitors. This picture was taken during the service. We are noticing that every Sunday people are fellowshiping and staying after church longer and longer. Every Sunday Summer BBQs are held in different Church member homes, this is a time where we can break bread together.
This is what the Church in “Acts” did, causing the church to grow.
” Day by Day attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they receive their food with glad and generous hearts. Acts 2:46″
We got a call around midnight on Sunday that it was time for the baby to be born, we rushed over to watch Geordy. Mom and Dad went to the Hospital while we stayed with him.
We sent picture to the parents to assure them that all was going well at home. God has a sense of humor by putting us in this situation of watching a little one at our age.
Later that day Dad called and told us the good news, that Mamma had a healthy baby boy. He said that they will be coming home with the baby that afternoon.
We capture the moment when both brothers met for the first time and it was a very tender moment when they held hands.
We witness when for the first time baby Djidula (it means winner in their language) met his earthly family, they did look so happy! imagine the joy our Lord has when one of his children get born again.
“Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord” Psalm 127: 3
I opened up the church Father’s Day and God put it on my heart to sit out front and play the guitar and sing. I have learned the hard way to act on whatever God lays on my heart. Recently, I was leaving the hospital because visiting hours were over and God told me to call a friend that was going to meet me at the hospital so I could give him a tire tube to fix. I ignored Him and should have gotten the message when I got off the elevator He told me to go back and get the tube. As soon as I got home the friend was coming to get the tube(I said sorry God, I will listen better from now on). I had to go back to the hospital the next day and travel quite a bit on the moped to drop off the tube to the friend. God has made it easy for us, He doesn’t ask us to listen to the 2nd or 3rd still small voice, but the 1st one. So next time I hear from Him, I will obey.
Back at church I tried my best to play the out of tune guitar and sing some hymns. I attracted some attention to the passers by but was not sure if they liked it or not because their comments were in Swedish and I’m still learning. Later on a guy approached me while I was playing and said “Do you know that your guitar is out of tune?” I said yes but was having trouble tuning it and if he knew how. He said yes, tuned it and it sounded like a totally different guitar. He started playing and singing some John Denver songs. I said your pretty good and that we’d love to have him play in our praise band. He said he has played in several churches because they have great acoustics, but he wasn’t a “church person”. I said you don’t have to be a church person and you are always welcome to join us even if just to hear the music.
I gave him our card from church that has our contact info on it and asked him to call anytime. I’m hoping to see him again soon and play the guitar with him. He told me he played BB Kings guitar many years ago at a jazz festival here in Umea. I said wow “The king of blues”.
During Elbita’s stay in the hospital, she experienced God’s love. She was in the ER all day and later that night was put in a room that was large with a nice window view of town. About 15 minutes later she was taken to get some tests done and returned to her room about 1 hour later. She was just getting settled in when the nurse told her they were moving her to another floor because they needed that room for someone else. She asked why they couldn’t put that person in another room since she was already there. She was moved from the orthopedic floor to the burn section. She was concerned that she would not be seen as often by the orthopedic doctors.
She arrived to a smaller room around midnight. The nurse and nurse assistant greeted her and asked her how she felt. Elbita told them she felt disappointed and the nurse said “God will take care of you”. That reminded her who was in charge of her situation. First she talked with the assistant nurse who told Elbita that her job was not important. She was very tender with Elbita who told her she was important to her. The assistant left and the nurse came in and Elbita identified herself as a missionary because she remembered the nurse’s comment about God. The nurse praised God for bringing Elbita and Lester here to share God’s love with others. The nurse said she had been praying for missionaries to come to Umea and explained that her coworker was a new believer.
She was the only patient on this floor that night and they talked about God then the three of them prayed together until 2 in the morning. Among themselves they joked that the reason Elbita was moved to their floor was in order for them to meet her. They said it would be funny if Elbita got moved back to where she came from later that day, but that they were blessed by having her there. Later that day a nurse came to tell Elbita that she was being moved back to the same floor where she came from.(The nurses that prayed with Elbita had gone home from their shift and were not aware of this). To Elbita’s surprise, she went back to the exact same room.
Elbita only had the first name of the nurse, and she tried to contact them while still in the hospital without success. She was discharged after spending 5 days in the hospital. After a few days, by the grace of God and with only the nurse’s first name, she was able to löcate her and called her. The nurse was surprised but glad to hear from her and they have agreed to get together soon.
God works in mysterious ways. Elbita was feeling bad about being moved, but God had other plans. He is still at work, even in the hospital to bring together His children so they can meet, rejoice, and build relationships.
We thank God for all your prayers while I was in the hospital. My body was retaining fluid so we decided to go to the local clinic to get it checked. The doctors sent Elbita to the emergency room at Umea hospital to undergo several tests to identify the cause. To our surprise, she was admitted to the cardiology floor and we waited until they were able to do a heart catherization to determine how her heart was working. They determined that the heart was stable and working fine, but changed some of her medications and will have her come back for an ultrasound of her hip, as soon as they have an opening to do one. We were blessed that the doctor in charge of her care occasionally preaches at a local church in Umea and speaks fluent Spanish. (God takes care of the little details to bless us).
We noticed here that the patient is encouraged to eat in a common meal room that serves ‘healthy’ food options. In the morning,a typical swedish breakfast is available self serve style. A menu is provided to choose your lunch and dinner that the staff prepares and serves. Fika is available every afternoon. If you choose to, you can have your meals served in your room. All the staff was willing to make the effort to speak English and was very thoughtful. We made sure to thank everyone for all their help.
The beautiful orchid was a welcome gift from the pastor and his wife on behalf of the Birch church. It reminds us of the beauty of God’s creation.
Sunday services are always in Swedish and English. It is a blessing to hear God’s word being preached, sing praises, and then have fika and fellowship. We are praying for God to give the increase and that someday the church will have its own sanctuary. This will allow for more growth, no need to set up every Sunday, and the building could be used all year long for activities. Please join us as we lift this need in prayer that God will provide the best location and the resources needed.
On friday night we got to experience having “fika” with a couple from church. We had such a delightful time that we talked with them for several hours that night. They made us feel very welcome and comfortable and we talked about each of our cultures.
The swedish people are very warm once you take the time to get to know them. We talked about the importance of studying God’s word and the need for revival of God’s people. We look forward to deepening our relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Every thursday evening we meet with our homegroup. Our hosts or someone from the group prepares dinner and we all eat together. As you can tell by the picture, we have a full house (We have had up to 15 people). This group is formed of many different nationalities. We have been part of this group for about 2 years via the internet, but now we are thankful that we get to be with everyone, since we were already familiar with them.
In the past we went through the entire bible as a group using “The Bible Project”. We start by praying, eat together and then review the previous Sunday’s sermon and everyone shares their thoughts and questions we have. We finish with a season of prayer.
Today we helped set up and break down for the recordings for the Sunday sermons this summer. We also helped with lunch for the recording crew. Big delicious homemade grilled hamburgers and fries helped recharge everyone. We ate outdoors and fellowshipped together.
Tonight our host family invited a dear friend, Dienyaba, from Senegal. She brought a dish from her home country and came with her daughter. We have met Dienyaba several times before and discussed some spiritual topics and ended up giving her one of the necklaces Angele put together for us that has a little bottle with a mustard seed in it. We shared the parable of the mustard seed and told her that this can be a reminder that all we need is the faith of a tiny mustard seed to see God do great things in our lives.