The last few years I have had the privilege to celebrate my Dad’s birthday with him. Sadly, that is not possible today on his 96th birthday. Five years ago I recounted some of the things Dad has signified in my life. I feel the need of going over them once again.
He quickly exchanged that light-giving profession with the higher calling of providing the Light of the Gospel. His first six years as a missionary were spent in Chile. The rest of his life has been devoted to Peru.
Dad is my Friend and my Hero. These are a few of all the things he represents in my life:
I’m his first-born, and very proud to be his daughter.
His life as a true follower of Christ has been a role-model for me. One thing that impressed me very much years ago, was when Dad was slandered. I thought he should defend himself, but he said he’d just leave it in God’s hands, and that truth would prevail. The people that were planning on having his blood run down Main Street got the shorter straw. Dad is still here!
Dad is my friend. When I was fifteen and Mom worked as a house-mother at a boarding school for missionary kids, I stayed home and “took care” of him. Or was it the other way around? I loved it! I think that’s when we built our friendship. It all started when Dad lost confidence in me (because I had gotten me a boyfriend). He told me I had to rebuild it, and in rebuilding his confidence I built a friendship.
For those who wonder about the boyfriend thing, keep in mind my parents were “old-fashioned” Swedish and not used to the American thing of “dating”!
Dad has taught me to have faith in God, to trust him unconditionally. For that I am most thankful. I have seen his missionary ministry by faith, building and constructing, helping the needy, and trusting God for every penny. I admire Dad and I’m glad to follow in his footsteps.
I have been Dad’s student in Bible schools he has led and I have had the privilege of working together with him as a fellow-teacher in the Bethel Bible Institute he founded in Huancayo, Peru. And I have listened to uncountable Bible studies at church with him as a teacher.
My greatest experience with Dad as my pastor is when he helped me give my heart to Jesus as a five or six-year-old. He has been my pastor as a child and a teen-ager, and then later on when my late husband and I worked with him and Bengt was the co-pastor.
This is a hat Dad has worn with all honors. Since the beginning of the 90’s I’ve had a freelance translation ministry. He has helped me very much to keep it going. Really, he was helping us stay alive as a family because we all depended on that extra income, especially to pay medical bills for our daughter Eva-Marie who had cystic fibrosis. When Mom and Dad lived in Wisconsin we had “Branch 2” of Royal Palm Translations. I cherish those memories!
Not only has Dad been a translator but the last few years a very prolific typist. He has typed all the materials I have written over the years (and had only on paper copy) and that I have publishes on my Spanish web sites for free downloading. What would I have done without his help? By helping me Dad has helped many others. But those days are now gone, because his eyes are not very cooperative anymore.
When I was a kid Dad made me a dresser with each drawer a different color. When that dresser was “lost” due to circumstances, he made a replica, in the States, that now has an honored place in my home. I love it! Dad also for made the changing table for our babies. What a sad day it was, years later, when somebody had taken that treasured piece of furniture and made it a rabbit-cage! Dad also made a bunk-bed for our girls when we lived in Chaclacayo. So many people have benefited from Dad as a carpenter, and he has taught many young men and women to do carpentry!
SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER
When we started a church in Arequipa, Dad was my teacher. The interesting thing is that thirty years later, I would come to the States to work on revising and renewing the curriculum Dad than had used! What twists and turns life takes!
CO-LABORER IN CHRIST
Dad and I can count each other as co-laborers in Christ? We have worked together in Tarma, when Dad was building a church there. I have worked together with Dad and Mom in starting a church in Huancayo. We have co-labored in the Bible institute I’ve mentioned above. Dad is not only my father, friend and hero, but we’ve also worked together for the sake of Christ.
My first great memory of Dad and I in a missionary endeavor was when he took me on a journey to the jungle, far from the main roads, with just paths for mules and walk-ers. I was thirteen and Dad looked so young people thought I was his wife. He had a hard time convincing a lady that I was his daughter. Of course, as a missionary, I’ve been with Dad since I was two years of age and he and Mom took me to Chile.
I turned out all right, didn’t I? He must have done a good job as disciplinarian. Of course, as a kid I didn’t like it. He was too strict! Now I appreciate it. I don’t know how many times I got spanked, but he did it with bare hand on bare butt. Sometimes we’d have to go to bed without food, or just go to bed in the middle of the afternoon. I remember my sister Ingrid saying she’d rather get a spanking and be able to go out and play.
Because of Dad, I became a TV-star, even if only for a year. We had TV-programs in Huancayo, What does the Bible Say? For one year I had a program for children. All the family was involved. Agneta was a clown, Michimalongo; Ingrid was Bolinga. When she went to Sweden to continue her studies we had to come up with a story line about why she left the program. I can’t remember what it was!
Sorry to say, Dad did a better job as a father than a grandfather. My girls wished Dad had been more expressive in showing them his love. I guess they were jealous of all the boys and girls in Peru that got all his attention (that’s how it looked to them). But I am very thankful to Dad and Mom for helping us out with the girls. In 1977 they went with my parents to Sweden when we were going through a hard time. In 1989 Eva-Marie spent her happiest times with Dad and Mom when she got to work with young people in Huancayo, and Carina spent that Christmas with them. Dad is not only a grandfather but a great-grandfather! He has 19 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren… and more on the way!
Dad officiated when he gave me away to Bengt! That was a memorable day with over three hundred in attendance. And the mayor of the city did his part at the same service for the official marriage.
Dad has been very helpful to me and Bengt through the years. I don’t know how to thank him. He packed up our things in Chaclacayo, when we had left them for a family to use and they messed up. He helped us pack when we moved to Bolivia. And Dad came to Springfield to help us pack up when we sold our house and moved to down-size a bit. It was cheaper for me to buy Dad a ticket from Sweden than to enlist movers. Bengt was too weak to do the job. And Dad is a good packer!
I appreciate so much the way Dad took care of Mom. During the worse of my cancer treatments, sometime I felt a little “envy” because of the good way Mom was taken care of, and I was all alone. Dad surely showed what a loving husband is like.
I’m leaving the best for last. What better can be said of a father than that he is a spiritual leader? I am forever grateful to count Dad as my spiritual leader. I’m walking the path of God because he walked before me. Dad has appreciated my talents and let me develop them during the times we have labored together for Christ.
Let me wrap this up with declaring Dad my hero. I am sure Ingrid, Agneta, Pepe and Lars agree with me. Dad is our hero! How privileged we are to have Dad as our father. He’s not perfect; none of us are. But as perfect at a father can get, he is it. I hope God will hold on a little bit more in sending the angels to escort Dad to heaven. We want to keep him here for a while yet.
Happy Birthday to my Friend and Hero!