I celebrated my 18th birthday in Sweden, on a Mission Tour in some churches in the southern part of the country. My parents and my three youngest siblings were in Peru. My sister Ingrid was in Sweden. A few days before, she and some friends had a little party for me. I thought that would be it.
I came to Sandbäck (my Swedish friends will know where that is) and was housed in what was called “the room for the evangelist”. Most churches had a room where they housed visiting preacher. Here is how I describe that particular room in a letter to my parents:
Here in Sandbäck I ended up in the room for evangelists. It is terribly cold and nasty smelling; straw mattress and toilet in the basement, where it is completely dark. The lady janitor is not the cleanest and the food almost makes me choke. The plate was dirty and the food was cold. On Friday (my birthday) there are not going to be any meetings and I do not know how it will be to sit the entire day alone in that room. It will be a sad 18th birthday. But God may be thinking that I need to be tested.
The pastor, Owe Carlson, took pity on me and found a home where I could stay. Here is my account in another letter:
On my birthday, I received a small gift from the friends where I was staying and they arranged a party for me. When I came home from children’s meeting they had the coffee table set and some visitors had already come. Of them I got a candlestick, probably handcrafted. We had a very nice evening and I am so grateful to God that he arranged things so nicely for me. In the children’s meeting I received three tulips and the children sang for me.
The next part of my letter makes me smile:
Yes, now I’m here. 18 years old. It’s terrible how time has passed so quickly. Soon I’m going to be old. How boring! It’s so much fun to be doing these mission services at such a young age. How wonderful to be Jesus’ messengers on Earth!
I wish that 18-year-old could have peeked into the future and seen herself as an “old” missionary. I was young and very happy to be doing mission work for Jesus. I feel just as young and happy today. And my life, for sure, is not boring!
It was sad to be a young girl staying in that “room for the evangelist”. God made me happy! He arranged so that I could move and be with “new” friends who threw a party for me.
I’m excited to see what’s going to happen on my birthday this year. Here is my invitation for a birthday breakfast. Too bad most of my readers are in far-away countries. If you are in Springfield, welcome to the party!