|1st WAR CRY after Ljungholms' reopened|
the SA work in Moscow, Russia
The Cantonments (Sven’s term)
21 Bonchurch Drive, Wavertree, Liverpool, L15 4PW, UK
On 24 November, 1992 Queen Elizabeth II gave a speech in London to mark the 40th anniversary of her Accession as Queen of England and the Commonwealth realms. The speech immediately became famous for her reference to the year 1992 as an ‘Annus Horribills’ which means ‘horrible year’ in Latin. She went on to say how it was not a year that she would look back on with undiluted pleasure as undoubtedly it had been an unusually unpleasant year for the Royal Family. If I am honest, I would describe September 2014 – October 2015 and beyond similarly. Don’t worry, I won’t go into all the graphic details, month by month here but we testify to the faithfulness of God and even in dark, tough times, we have really known ‘Emmanuel, God with us’ and we thank and praise Him for that.
I don’t think I managed to get a Christmas Newsletter out last year and so just incase any of you have not already heard, my precious Mum suddenly took ill at the beginning of October, 2014, fought for eighteen days and was called home to be with her Lord and Saviour on the 20th.As painful as that fact still remains I thank God for the assurance of eternal life and the place I know was prepared for her in Heaven.
2015 has certainly been a year of an interesting part of our tapestry developing with so very many different shades of light, dark, vivid colours and lots in between. Our year of activities began on the 3rd January with a mission trip to Latvia where Sven and I traveled by ocean freighter, drove across Sweden, boarded an auto ferry to Lithuania and drove through Latvia with a car load of resources for the Corps at Dauvagspils. As is not unusual at that time of year the weather was bad as were the road conditions especially in Eastern Europe. However, it was when we were on our return journey and had arrived in Sweden, the weather had improved as had the roads and I think I probably relaxed in my driving and in doing so skidded on black ice and crashed our Land Rover into the barriers at the side of the motorway. Fortunately neither of us was hurt and no one else was involved, however, I made a mess of our car! Two days later, around midnight we were in the middle of the North Sea in a force 9 gale. When Sven was retiring to our cabin, a massive wave rocked the Russian freighter that we were on, took Sven off guard in his wheelchair when he caught hold of the door handle to our cabin, arm yanked violently and dislocated the elbow of his good arm and cut his eye filling at least one duvet and three pillows with blood. The ships medics called to Denmark for advice and they considered airlifting us off the ship to hospital. I am eternally grateful that they didn’t but chose to have an ambulance awaiting our arrival at Harwich to take Sven straight to hospital where they plastered his good arm which meant he could do absolutely nothing for two weeks … They were frustrating days to put it mildly!
In March I started the final part of my degree studies that I had put on hold while Mum was dying and actually concluded and passed a BA in Pastoral Care with Psychology on 12 May, Mum’s birthday!
A few days later we boarded ship again. This time it was a cruise ship and we visited some of our favourite places in Eastern Europe. It was a great holiday that was highlighted by a visit to The Salvation Army in Tallin, Estonia, taking along with us numerous suitcases full of resources to help with their mission and then a few days later, St Petersburg, Russia. It was a Sunday and we went to the Corps, unknown to us at the time it was the Corps Anniversary, twenty years to the day, literally when Sven and his then wife, Kathie and 4 others re-opened the work of TSA in that city. The hall was full and they expressed their delight to have the unexpected visit of Sven and were very grateful to God and Sven for all they achieved in those early years and since.
July brought the International Congress ‘Boundless’ and again Eastern Europe featured very strongly for us as Sven had arranged to resource some Corps with uniforms, instruments and other equipment to support their ongoing work. It was wonderful to meet some of the young officers who are serving faithfully in difficult circumstances and hear some of their stories. Some of you will have donated some of the gifts or helped finance the cost of extra luggage for the air flight home for them THANK YOU!
Visits to the States is always high on our agenda in any year for us to spend time with Sven’s Mom and kids. Back in March it was necessary for us to go and move Sven’s Mom into more suitable accommodation that could care for her needs. We went back in July and visited her in a respite care where she had been for sometime. We linked this to a few days cruise to Bermuda with Sven’s son’s and their families. It was a wonderful time and I absolutely fell in love with Bermuda. If ever I go missing you may well find me there. Since then it has been necessary to move Sven’s Mom again this time into a nursing home near Kaari, Sven’s youngest daughter. She appears to have settled in well and it will be wonderful for her to have family nearby and for some of her Great Grandchildren to be able to visit. Unfortunately, Sven and I were unable to assis this time as I was awaiting and recovering from major surgery. We are extremely grateful to Tina and Kaari, Sven’s daughter’s for making this move possible. Sven will be going to visit his Mom early in the new year.
I took ill back in June and after numerous hospital visits and tests discovered I had a benign brain tumour that needed to be removed. This was done on the 12 October and I am now on the slow road to recovery. It has been something of a rollercoaster ride and still is to a degree. However, through it all we have been very aware of the faithfulness and presence of God with us and I would sincerely thank so many of you for your love, thoughts and prayers through it all. I hope to return to work on the 4 January, 2016 and am really praying into my ministry in the Lifehouses for when I do. Prayer is something that God has laid deep on my heart in these days and I believe He has enabled me to use my days of recouperation to pray for many, and my ministry. It is part of my dream to introduce ‘Celebrate Recovery’ and ‘Exploring Christianity’ to the men I am chaplain to and possibly staff too and I would ask you to earnestly join me in praying for these ventures along with a visit of some men from ‘Tough Talk’ who will share something of their testimonies of changed lives from drugs, alcohol, crime and much more, to Christ. Please pray in 2016 we will witness ‘Transformed Stories and Transformed Lives’ in Jesus’ Name.
Sven always keeps himself busy in mission and ministry and it is great to see how God continues to use him in so many different ways. One of his exciting projects at the moment is him writing a book: ‘Return to Russia with Flag Unfurled’ where he recalls something of his grandparents experiences when they helped pioneer the work of TSA back in 1918-1919 and then something of his and Kathie’s stories from the early 1990’s.Next year, 2016 will bring about the 25th Anniversary of TSA in Russia and so his book is a timely reminder of the fact ‘God can do anything you know … far more than we can ever imagine in our wildest dreams’ (Eph 3: 21 Msg Para) My prayer as Sven writes and others read is that he will keep dreaming God sized and shaped dreams for TSA in Russia until the day he dies. That his imagination in prayer will overtake his memory and that God will reignite through the fire of His Holy Spirit the passion and commitment of those early day Salvationists in His people today.
Through November God challenged me with the story of Joshua and to circle my Jericho in prayer. I have been reminded that prayers go unanswered because they go unasked and in these months of recouperation God has placed so very many prayers on my heart.
As I approached Advent I knew God was leading me to consider the miracles of this season and to pray for miracles. On Sunday’s Sven and I listen to Dr Charles Stanley on the TV and just a few weeks ago he preached on the story of Joshua and said: ‘Obey God today because He perfectly has tomorrow in mind’. During my days of illness there have been times when it has been difficult to acknowledge that God ‘perfectly has tomorrow in mind’ and I have wondered if ‘tomorrow’ would ever come. However, as we face a new year, Sven and I will strive to obey God in every area of our lives, leave the consequences to Him and watch Him work His miracles in us in 2016.
All that is left now is for us to wish you and those you love a blessed and joyful Christmas. Praying you really will know Emmanuel, God with you. We cherish your friendship and thank God for the part you play in our lives. Albert Einstein wrote: ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle’ May we be overwhelmed by God’s miracles in 2016.
GBY real good! With our love and prayers,
Sven, Glad & Mr Ben xxx
"Thank you for your Christmas cards!"