2015 Year In Review

Hey You!!

Did you ever blank on someone’s name, and resort to calling them “you”? Well, If you’re receiving this email, it means that you are not just a “you” to us, but a special part of our lives, even if I (Rob) still can’t figure out how to merge a [NAME] field to make you feel even a little bit more special. Comfort Ye! We have not forgotten any of your names! Note to self: Learn how to merge fields in my email so people feel more special.

So, please do grab a cup of your favourite beverage and celebrate the end of 2015 together with us.

#1 This One Thing.. Family

One of the biggest parts of our lives is family. We have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with family, friends, and supporters here in Chiang Mai, as well as during our trips to Sweden and the USA. It doesn’t matter how tired we are at the end of those visits; we are soon ready for more!

 

#2 Our Boys Our Joys

When Veronica and I see the way Rasmus and Lucas allow God to work in their lives, it is an inspiration to us. We mostly appreciate the way they enjoy each other’s company. And we also love taking them on Mommy and Daddy dates! See some more pictures of the boys here.

 

#3 Today’s Reader

Rasmus loves reading books. At age 1 1/2 he helped us win a year’s supply of diapers in a Pampers video contest when I once filmed him in his diaper, reading a book. It might be noteworthy that the book he was reading was upside down. Who knew he would be such an avid reader today? I am pretty sure he has already surpassed me in the number of pages he has read. For those of you who know me, I guess that doesn’t say much. But I’m still really impressed!

 

#4 Artist and Mathematician

Lucas’ favourite past-time is drawing and counting. He is rarely seen without a pencil or pen in his hand. We framed and hung one of his pictures on our wall to remind us of the creativity God has put into him. And he is also fond of making mathematical observations everywhere he turns. The other day he was explaining to Veronica how simple 10 + 6 is the same as 9 +7. Duh Mom!

#5 Grounding Our Connections

We believe that to stay grounded and know who you are, and where you come, from means making time to reconnect with good friends. Last summer, in Sweden, we carved out some calendar time to spend with our good friends, the Thiessen family, who work in Nepal. It’s so cool to see them all change and grow every time we meet. You can see a few more pictures here.


My Food Ebook FOR SALE!

Do you like eating food? Do you like supporting mission? Then how about buying my ebook called Food Portfolio? It’s full of foods and drinks I have enjoyed living overseas. You can feel good knowing your money is going to something bigger than food and drink! Note! It is only available on iPad. Sorry Android users 🙁
Buy it here.. Now


#6 The Age Of Travel

I think our boys have collected nearly 100 flights together since they were born. We are a family of travellers, and the boys have their own system down pretty well. They pack their own little carry-on bags with all the necessities. I imagine if they ever owned an airline together, Rasmus would prefer that all seats be First Class, and Lucas would make sure their flights were the fastest on earth!

#7 New Home

No, these guys are not our new roommates. They are the movers who helped us put our furniture into our new rental, in a really great neighbourhood close to work, school and friends. Thank you God for finding the perfect home for us! I love how relaxed Thais are, when they can plop themselves down into someone else’s furniture, as if it was their own, and light up a cigarette.

#8 Party Time For Al

Date nights are something we have missed since moving to Thailand. But now that we have developed some deeper friendships, the boys get to enjoy sleepovers, and Veronica and I get to spend some quality date nights together.

#9 Classical

One of Veronica’s passions is her violin. This autumn she got to perform in a beautiful theatre in Chiang Mai alongside some well known Asian pianists. What a classy event that was! I recorded the entire concert. You can listen to it here.

#10 Photography

One of my passions is photography. I get to do cool photo shoots like this one – a graduation photo of a missionary  ‘kid’ from Chiang Mai. And the cool thing is I get to do what I love and sometimes make a little extra money on the side. You can see more of my grad and family photos here.

#11 A Rare Treat

Usually, Veronica’s and my work schedules keep us separated. The romantic in me often laments how nice it would be if we could work together more often. Well, last spring we got to work together on part of a film I was involved in. I was directing a live animation scene in a green screen studio, and Veronica got to be my script advisor. The thing that made me most happy was when she said she actually really enjoyed the entire day! You can watch the film here & photos here.

#12 Clovis

A family newsletter just isn’t complete without the family dog. Clovis, our beautiful Thai dog has proven to be a real gem. She has gained control over her addiction to chewing up welcome mats and plant leaves, and instead has turned her hobbies towards killing snakes, cockroaches and rats around our graden. She still is clueless as to what the words “Clovis! Come!” means, but other than that, she’s doing pretty darned well!

You can see Clovis kill a snake here!

God’s richest blessings & Merry Christmas to you!
Rob, Veronica, Rasmus and Lucas

Resolving un-met expectations…

Last weekend, we went on our first adventure into the nearby hills. One should always keep expectations low in these parts. I was expecting to find the ‘perfect spot’ for our family to hike to where we could sit and take in the beautiful view.

This is one of th dead-end trails we took on our hike that day.
This is one of the dead-end trails we took on our hike that day.

Well, it didn’t happen quite the way I had hoped. Once we got a few Km’s out of town I began taking smaller and steeper roads until we came to a dead end and the head of a trail.

Lucas awlays wanted to run ahead. I was a bit nervouse coz I didn't know if there were snakes nearby.
Lucas awlays wanted to run ahead. I was a bit nervouse coz I didn’t know if there were snakes nearby.
Veronica shared some goodies with the boys.
Veronica shared some goodies with the boys.

We walked about 200 meters and came to a house. The man sitting on the balcony directed us back the other way, smiled and waved. So we tried one more trail, which led to another dead end. So we decided to drive back home, having un-met expecations of finding a great view.

Magnus enjoys a short rest in the shade. Sunscreen is vital!
Magnus enjoys a short rest in the shade. Sunscreen is vital!
Finally, we got a fairly nice view from the Orange Cup Cafe.
Finally, we got a fairly nice view from the Orange Cup Cafe.
The open-air cafe had a corrugated tin roof as its covering.
The open-air cafe had a corrugated tin roof as its covering.

But on our way, we stopped at road-side cafe which had a huge orange cup hanging from the tree beside the road. There we enjoyed ice cream, ice coffees and a lovely chat with the woman who owned and ran the open-air cafe.

The boys share a yummy ice cream drink.
The boys share a yummy ice cream drink.
Everywhere you go in thailand, you'll find big green leaves!
Everywhere you go in thailand, you’ll find big green leaves!

A day at the Zoo

The elephant up close impressive creature --- Elefanten på nära hål är en imponerande skapelse
The elephant up close impressive creature

As part of our language course, we were all invited to the Chiang Mai Zoo. So, last Friday Veronica and I and Lucas joined the 15 or so other students for a random zoo experience. I say random because, for us, it felt random to be rushed from one exhibit to the next, sometimes at an almost panicky pace. The Thais, in this case, seem to enjoy staying in one large group and moving quite swiftly from one place to the next. If I let it get under my skin, I could have had a quite unenjoyable experience.

So Veronica and I decided to chalk this one up as a “Thai culture’ field trip rather than “zoo” field trip. And behold! the sting went away. It became a fun few hours of learning how Thais think and behave. I can’t say it felt very natural to find their rhythm. But, hey! We can’t expect to enjoy everything in life, right? I suppose that’s what will help us not just survive our new culture, but also learn to love it and enjoy everyday life in this good land.

Enjoy my photos from the zoo.

We all were carted around like cattle --- Vi slussades runt som boskap
We all were carted around like cattle
Some of our thai language teachers --- Några av våra språk lärare
Some of our thai language teachers
These lions were very alert --- Väldigt vakna lejon
These lions were very alert
Lucas enjoyed being entertained by this sea otter --- Lucas låter sig roas
Lucas enjoyed being entertained by this sea otter
Finally! We got to rest for a few short minutes! - Äntligen! En paus
Finally! We got to rest for a few short minutes!

Some thoughts on boundaries

boundariesI took this photo in our friends’ back yard in Kathmandu. There’s a garden just on the other side of this gate. Look closer. It doesn’t even have hinges. It’s just leaning against the fence, held in place by a crooked branch.

If you push on the gate it nearly topples over. But, it gives the appearance of “PRIVATE GARDEN. KEEP OUT!” Or perhaps, “Welcome to the garden.” Either way, it’s making a boundary statement.

I’ve been taking an inventory of my own boundaries in the form of fruit trees in my life. Fruit trees are the things I choose to do every day. I want to see if my fruit trees are bearing good fruit. If they’re not, then I need to take some action. So I’ve been asking myself questions like: Does my character reflect God’s character? Do I have peace? Do the things I do bring meaning and purpose to my life?

The photo of this gate reminds me of how I need to make and keep certain boundaries if I want to see that kind of fruit in my life. So the next set of questions I’m going to ask myself sound like: “When’s the last time you went on a walk with God.. without your phone in your pocket and your headphones stuck in your ears? Compare that with how often you check your Facebook status.” or “How are you prioritizing your time with your family? or “How many times do you complain every day, compared to how many times you say something positive?”

I suspect I’ll be pruning some branches, putting up some fences, maybe even chopping down some fruit trees entirely! And, the boundaries don’t need to be ten feet high. They don’t even need hinges, really. They just need to be clear enough for me to understand them and respect what they stand for.

How raw milk made me a better person

group travelWe were five adults and five children, stuffed into a minibus that leaked oil profusely. For eight hours we virtually flew along winding, Nepali, cliffside roads at breakneck speeds. We passed just about every freight truck we could find on a blind curve. We slammed on the brakes, so we wouldn’t read end the travel bus in front of us. And, oh yes. The toilet stops. Driver! Stop! – I discovered that squatty potties and Swedish children are not a great match. So many small, individual, harmless events, that tend to gang up on you after a while.

It’s like being on a game show, where the goal is to be the last one to snap. Nobody wants to be the first one to snap; to say something they probably shouldn’t.. no.. something they definitely shouldn’t say. But the compilation of all those small, harmless events, one after another, begins to grate on one’s nerves. Finally, your patience barrier bursts, and you lose it.

On this trip, the first one to snap was me. But I gave it a good run for the money! I was able to hold my tongue the entire trip, till we returned from our week-long journey. And it was back in Kathmandu, in the kitchen, standing over a pot of raw milk, boiling on the stove, that I snapped. I won’t say who I snapped [at], or what I said. But I lost it.

Now, I had a choice to make. Do the right thing and say “Sorry”, or let pride and stubbornness put mortar to the ‘brick’. Do you want to know what I chose?

You can ask me.

10 things Nepal has that we don’t

Where did my stuff go?

Veronica sitting on the back stepsOur ‘stuff’ takes so much of our time and attention. What I mean by ‘stuff’ is our techy stuff, like our iPhones, our computers, social media, uhm.. even blog posts! So, when we got to Kathmandu we decided we would try and let the modern world take the back seat for most of our travels. And here’s the result! Veronica, sitting on the back steps of our friends’ house, with nothing to do but chill. Niiice!

It blows my mind how much more relaxed and focused we became when we set aside our ‘stuff’. And, it’s also shocking how much time and energy – especially the mental kinds – we actually spend on our ‘stuff’.

Of course, other things still demand our attention: whining children, hectic pre-meal activities, and putting kids to bed. But, by just putting one tiny device like a phone, or a camera, on the shelf for a day, or two, or more.. brings balance and perspective.

The Challenge: Try putting some of your ‘stuff’ on the shelf for 24 hours, or longer if you dare! Then, see if you don’t start crying, like a baby in its crib, without a bottle! Or if you start to feel more relaxed. I bet if you do it enough times in a row, you’ll start to feel more relaxed. We did.

Nothing to do but wait

mother and boys sitting on sofa
Veronca and the boys sit on the Thiessen's sofa in their flat in Kathmandu, Nepal, after just arriving on our four week journey.

 

This photo sort of sums up where we are at the moment as a family. After four weeks of traveling through Nepal and Thailand on various missions – visiting friends, leading retreats and investigating ministry locations and opportunities – we are now resting and waiting on the Lord. It’s a hard thing to do, rest and wait on God when you want to see the next step we are to take with our lives.

During a prayer time, we clearly heard God say that he wants us to wait for now and just give our minds and expectations a rest and let him do his thing. “God! It seems everybody is waiting for an answer. They all know that one of the reasons we went to Asia was to see if there were any possibilities of moving out there!”

But God showed us that he wanted us to simply wait and not worry about what people think. I think about when Jesus took his time to reach a person he was asked to heal – Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter –  They both died before he got there. But then he raised them from the dead! And there is God’s encouragement to us, that he will not leave us stranded with no road map and directions.

So, this month will be a time of resting and waiting. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy the stories and pictures I have to share.