a little work. a little play.

i just re-read the post i wrote before i left for my week of camp, and noticed that i was expecting to find solitude and rest. well, my week in the archipelago didn’t turn out exactly as i expected… things rarely do in life.

we plan, prepare, worry, hope, dream, and expect things to be one way, only to find that what actually happens is completely different from what we imagined… and usually for the better. eventually. well, things may not be as we expected, they may not even be as we wanted; but if we keep on, if we keep going, keep trusting, keep fighting and hanging on, believing in ourselves & our dreams, then one day we will look back and understand how the pieces fit together. we hopefully will understand how life has given us so much more than we ever imagined, even though the journey may have been tough and grueling, with unexpected twists & turns.

the unknown is a curse and a gift. the desire to control & know exactly what comes next takes up time that we could be using to enjoy life, cursing our experience of the present moment. it’s something i’m working hard on… learning to let things be, to focus on the here and now. the unknown is also a gift because of the surprise joys and moments that come our way without even realizing it. for me, the unknown is a fun adventure and something to fear at the same time. but, i think i do a pretty good job of keeping those two feelings in balance. well, i try. hehe.

i had planned to have lots of quiet, soul time during my week in the archipelago. but, with about 70 people there coupled with the fact that i was working while i was there, i did not exactly find the quietness in the way i was expecting it to be.

however, i did find rest for my soul. and i found it smack in the midst of community. as i look back, i realize (and i realized while i was there too) that, though there were no silent moments alone (ok. there were a few very, very short ones.), i didn’t need them . in the midst of community, in the midst of all of the people & activities, i felt my soul filled. i felt as if i was overflowing with peace. and i found myself not even craving much time alone. the connection with the people (and the beauty of the surroundings) touched me. and what was one of the most amazing things, was that it was such a mix of ages. all ages were present and all ages interacted with & accepted one another. a true example of how community is meant to be – living & sharing. together.

i know i sounds like i’m writing that everything was perfect, but it wasn’t. i mean, come on, we were 70 people together. there were challenges, conflict, drama, disappointment in all different ways. however, the strength of the community made it a safe and positive place where we could make it through any individual challenges we had.

so, the week was a big mix of work & play for me. responsibilities, but in a very relaxed and wonderful way. anyway, here are some pictures of the community spirit one can find when spending a week at this family camp. enjoy!

the nightly campfire. cozy, huh? a part of the day everyone looks forward to.

m & i sitting in the old, wooden chapel… working & planning some group times. i just have to say, the other minister i work with, m, is so great. we work together beautifully. we just click, and it feels as if we are coming from the same place in our soul, but with different perspectives & experiences, which just makes our work together that more rich and full. what an amazing blessing it was to share the ministerial duties and work together. after almost 4 years of not working side-by-side with another minister (pastor), i can’t believe the joy i have found in working in this way again. i can’t believe that i have the opportunity again… what a long, unexpected journey, what a fight it has been. and yet, how easy  & natural it has been at the same time. it’s as if everything has just opened up like a blooming flower…

there is this activity that swedes do called a “tipspromenad”, roughly translated/explained: “walking quiz” – a competition with multiple choice trivia questions placed in a certain area, where the competitors must take a pen & paper, walk a path, and try to pick  the right answer from the 3 choices. usually there are about 12 -13 questions and it takes a while to do the quiz since you are walking from question to question. here at camp, the questions are placed along a path through the woods. a great chance to take a walk every day. though, i’m not that successful with the quiz, since the questions many times have to do with swedish history, culture, or society – stuff i’m not that proficient in. :) there are also children’s questions, and i generally have more success with those. hehe. i’ll speak about the swedes love of simple competition later… wink. wink.

one day, yes, one day, there was gorgeous warm sunshine. but that was just one day. i enjoyed it, though.

and so did everyone else who was there that day. this is how i understand a typical swedish summer day to be. the dream swedish summer day. on the rocks & in the water… in the archipelago. so sad for lina & 2 of her cousins who came later on that evening.

games. games. and more games.

there is an american in the midst of all the swedes… me! and so, one evening, those planning the campfire times planned a night to have s’mores – a campfire tradition in the states. as an american, i believe that if you don’t eat s’mores, you haven’t been camping. hehe. so, i introduced my little tradition to the swedes: roasted marshmallows by the fire, placed them on some chocolate in-between 2 crackers. and there ya go, s’mores! (named s’mores because you want “some more” = s’more!) they were a hit & this american girl was satisfied!

daily gathering in the wooden chapel in the mornings… m & i’s responsibility. singing, praying, chatting, discussing, dreaming of how we can be people who make a difference in our lives.

swedes play “simon says”!!

ok. swedish competition. this is a crazy thing. swedes love games. all of them, all ages. at least the swedes i was with. and throughout the week we had an ongoing competition where almost everyone there was on a team (4 teams total). we all competed in different activities, always wanting to win, but also always cheering on everyone. it was competition, but not intense or mean at any time. it was playing & competing simply because it was fun. hmm… americans, are we ever like that? now, all ages took part in this. this was amazing to me. all ages patiently waited & cheered & enjoyed the time together… it was a simple and wonderful thing to be a part of (even though i am not competitive/game-playin person at all). for the sake of community, i found myself taking part some… and (shhh… don’t tell) enjoying it.

more campfire fun on a beautiful night.

the afternoon market. one afternoon during the week, everyone was invited to be a part of a market. you could choose make your our booth or just go around and see what other people came up with. let me say again, everyone was involved in this, and it was done so simply and yet was so much fun. it is like going back in time… just enjoying the simply things in life and having fun without all the fancy bells and whistles we think we need. i love that swedish society knows how to break away and get back to basics.

here were some of the booths/activities: 2 ten year old girls turned a table on its side and blew up water balloons to toss at points written & takes onto the table. i won 3rd price with this one & got a pice of candy! a mother who works in health care took your blood pressure and then her husband offered you fresh, sparkling water as refreshment. another kids set up sticks in a line to try to throw rings around. one man concocted a game where you pull 3 balls out of a box, hoping to get three of the same color. 2 teenage girls had a game where you toss a wet dishrag at one of them, getting her soaking wet. some sold coffee & handmade candy. and so on…

simple. fun. and we mingled about for an hour or so. amazing.

hanging out (playing) on the dock at 11pm. the black dots you see… they’re mosquitoes. sweden has killer mosquitoes. yuck.

our last gathering together on friday morning.

quality family time with my love: yes, we’re bundled up… swedish summer. hehe

i am a loner sometimes. ok. a lot of the time. i enjoy people, but i also enjoy time to myself, usually finding cozy quiet times with my love & i most fulfilling. however, this week at camp renewed my love for community, for communal living. feels like i got a glimpse of the true meaning of “it takes a village”.

yeah. there is something to be said for simplicity, beauty, and sharing life with others.