Stockholm. One of the few places in the world that I really feel at home. Part of this feeling of home is the people. Over the last 4 years, I have had the privilege of being part of a youth cafe (ungdomsgård) in the heart of the city. It is a calm, relaxing, safe place in the middle of a very tightly structured and task orientated city. It is, as described by a good friend there yesterday, 'A place where all perspectives can be discussed freely and safely, a great place to meet people. Fika is free and staff are sweet'.

The one who took the picture above is rather special to me, since I last saw him in 2016 he has lost 46kg/101lbs, and been completely clean from alcohol 1 and a half years; and is also truly making some roads into a more peaceful life. It is nothing short of miraculous. He's got a huge heart and I believe will inspire many. To the right of me is the one who I met on Plattan who initially brought me to the Cafe.

The person that took this picture has had an incredible journey to be in Sweden, that he speaks Swedish at such a high level after just a couple of years is outstanding and I always greatly appreciate exploring the big questions of life with him.

I've been so blessed to do life with so many here. There are far far more stories, hopes dreams and talents than what I have mentioned here but I thought I'd just introduce a few of them through photos. As I watched a group of three walk arm in arm back to the city centre I couldn't help but shed a tear, knowing I probably wouldn't see them again for another 2 years. I'm super thankful that I have had another opportunity to be involved again. 

Much Love,

Quick Details: 

  • Thanks to all those supporting us with Emilies Australian Visa challenges. It was granted and we plan to leave Stockholm Monday. Flights are paid, visas are paid. PRAISE GOD. Please pray for my friend Kristin, who is facing quite a few passport and visa challenges getting to Africa.
  • In Townsville, Emilie will be working with children again and a bit of administration and I'll be continuing the implementation of a computer system.
  • We are exploring the idea of opening up our house to others as we have a spare room at the moment. It seems a great way of bringing in a little finance as well as making friends :D
Em and I are currently in Europe for a short break to tie up some loose ends and legalities, attend a couple of weddings and see family before we hopefully (visa pending) head back to Australia for another two years. One of these weddings took us on a journey through Saxony's beautiful capital, Dresden.
One of the staff from YWAM Dresden showed us around the newly constructed 'Old City'
Upon arrival, I noticed that most old buildings were partly or fully black. Upon enquiry, I received an unexpected history lesson. During WW2, about 7100 tons of explosives were dropped over a few days by the allies, ~20 - 30 thousand people were killed and the city was levelled, what was black was what survived the firestorm. Dresden is still rebuilding 70yrs later as the city's restoration and development was restricted by the communist regime until it's fall in 89. Whether it is black due to fire or from the sandstone ageing I still don't know. They are, however, undertaking quite exquisite restorations! 
'Dresdner Frauenkirche'  or 'Church of our Lady' pictured above and below was rebuilt between 1994 and 2005.
The black stones above were salvaged from the original cathedral and reused in its rebuilding. A stunning, literal depiction of beauty from ashes. 
 Looking from the outside I noted something, if countries actually followed the biblical command, 'Love thy neighbour as thyself', things would have been different throughout all of Europe. Violations of this advice were made repeatedly by many nations decades before these events and others like it ever took place. Visiting Dresden was a stark and rather brutal example of why this command is so important, and why we, as humans individually and collectively, would do well to heed its wisdom. 
Much Love,
#beautyfromashes, #dresden,