Going back home

Its been 3 weeks but it still feels like yesterday when we were saying goodbye at Arlanda Airport with tears flowing on our cheeks.  Being home feels so good its back to reality. It is good because people have not seeing me for 3 months so everyone is asking a lot of questions about my trip, some would say how was Germany, Switzerland or Other would say how was Sudan.  So I say Sweden is not that know to our people in South Africa. Yes I was expecting lots of questions but I never thought others would ask, I guess I was wrong everyone is curious.

Back to work, very tiring especially since i got used to waking up late. The work is too much it is like they knew i was coming let’s give her work (Just saying) but everything is well.

No more 1 hour mass, back to 2-3 hours mass but it is what I used so it felt so great especially the first Sunday.  Again my Sunday school I missed them, not going anywhere anytime soon.

Thank you to the Church of Sweden for wonderful experience and opportunity it was so good for us. I am very thankful.

20140623_072834[1]//Tshegofatso Thipe is one of the 2014 Young in the world participant from South Africa representing ELCSA, Western Diocese, Moretele Circuit (Makgabetlwane Parish).  Tshego is an Office Management and Technology graduate from Tshwane University of Technology and She works as a CEO’s Secretary at Odi District Hospital, Mabopane. Her focus in church is mainly Sunday School, Youth and Music.

//Tshegofatso Thipe är en av deltagarna i 2014 års internationella utbytesgrupp. Hon representerar den Lutherska kyrkan i Södra Africa, ELCSAs västra stift. Hon kommer från Moretele Circuit (Makgabetlwane Parish). Tshego har en examen i kontorsledning och teknik från universitetet i Tshwane och hon arbetar som sekreterare på Odi-sjukhuset i Mabopane. Hennes främsta engagemang i kyrkan är för söndagsskolan, barn och unga och musik.

Waking Up from the Longest Dream and the Learnings from Sweden

Through the Young in the Worldwide Church Program, I was flown into a new society and culture. And as I reckoned my story was similar to that of Dorothy and his friends in the tale, “The Wizard of Oz.”

Unexpectedly, these were things that out of the blue just came out like fresh wild flowers and shoots of grass on springtime. These are the things that transpired only during those three months of exposure in a totally different society and country.

But going back to the Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow wanted to have a brain. In my experience, the journey has given me a new thinking and perspective at things I see in church, society and also, among youth.

Looking at things in a positive perspective was more evident in the everyday activity I have experienced. Like the scarecrow, the way of thinking was with me and it was just the turnout of events that led to unlock such way of thought.

On the other hand, like the Tin Man who was in dire longing to acquire a human heart, I also had my share of getting a new heart and feel for people I meet along the way. The heart to understand the actions and most of all, the heart opened for brand new relationships in church and from the community where I stayed.

Courage was what the Lion sought after that’s why he joined in such a tough journey to see the Wizard of Oz. This was the same virtue that I did not expect to gain all these months while staying in Sweden.

First, I had the courage to sing high notes and to sing solo in a big crowd outside the Holy Mass and for once, in my own solo concert. This was the courage I was wanting for me to get out of my comfort zones. One of the profound examples was to cook for many people for the “Filipino Fiesta” I organized for the youth in my second congregation.

Lastly, like Dorothy herself who was in a searching for her home, in my case, I found a home in the care and love of my foster families, host congregation, priests, church workers, program supervisors, the youth and kids. Their efforts have made my stay wonderful, meaningful, smooth flowing and life changing.

I suddenly caught myself in a deep thought, as if I am waking up from a very long sleep with the longest dream I ever had. All of the parts were worth remembering and with no regrets, I could say every single day, a learning/lesson was added into my life.

Three months in Sweden was a wonderful experience which taught me so many important lessons in life that I get to use as I continue with my life journey, ministry and profession.

  1. Plan Ahead – like Swedes usually do, I am very inspired to prepare at least six months before.
  2. Focus – Take one focus point and concentrate on something in order to attain a certain goal.
  3. Cook Food – I just was shocked that I can truly cook for other people and maybe, I just need more practice.
  4. Eat Light Meals – I just realized that doing away with rice once in a while is fine and nothing will happen. It could also be better to eat light meals during the evening and just take one full meal in a day.
  5. Always greet people with Hej, Hej Hej and Hej då to people – one thing I would miss about Swedish people.
  6. Open-mindedness – I was a bit conservative when I came but at the start, I vowed to be positive and to be more open to differences within the church, society and among youth.
  7. Gain More Confidence – I was never confident about my singing and with myself but Sweden taught me to use my talents to inspire people through my singing performances.
  8. Sing Swedish Hymns – I am really fascinated with the hymns that even though I don’t really grasp fully on the meaning of every line in the songs, the tune was enough to explain the feel and the inspiration contained in such a work of art.
  9. Time-consciousness – (Swedish Time) is probably what every young person in the world must put into their system being a show of professionalism and enthusiasm.
  10. Go out when it’s Sunny – “Idag är soligt” was my most favorite line because I loved it when the sun is up in Sweden because I can wear quite comfortable clothes. During my second congregation, I was able to wear short pants and slippers in some days.
  11. “Lagom” – Swedes are not of the extremes and it taught me some lessons to be at the middle or fulcrum of things.
  12. Speak your mind – When you have a thought, you can speak with no hesitation.
  13. Learn to Read Signs on the Road, Obey Traffic Rules, Walk Right in the Escalator and Wear Seatbelt – it meant I was like a Swede who is obedient to such safety rules.
  14. Life Must Go on Despite the Weather – Like the kids in the nearby school in my first congregation who always play outside during noontime, not thinking of the weather: snow, rain, sunny, that’s how they train people to be, to go on and mind not of the weather. After all, there is no such thing as “bad weather but only bad clothes” in Sweden.
  15. Take a Break and Fika – one of the most essential parts of the Swedish culture that I get to appreciate so much and will probably bring the tradition to my family, friends, relatives and fellow workers in the office.

//Klein F. Emperado is one of the exchange students in the exchange programme ”Young in the World Wide Chuch” 2014. During three months he will be spending time in Sweden, sharing life, faith and every day life. Klein is a Mass Communications graduate from Silliman University, Dumaguete, Philippines and also he works as Editorial Assistant for the said university. In the exchange he represents the Philippine Independent Church/Iglesia Filipina Independiente. His line of ministry is focused mainly on Liturgy and Music for the Diocese of Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

// Klein F. Emperado är en av deltagarna i utbytesprogrammet Ung i den världsvida kyrkan 2014. Under tre månader delar han vardag, tro och liv med människor här i Sverige. Under sin första månad spenderar han tid i St Mikaels församling i Stockholms stift. Klein har tagit examen i masskommunikation vid Silliman University, Dumaguete, Filippinerna och han jobbar idag som redaktörsassistent för nämnda universitet. I utbytesprogrammet representerar han den Filippinska oberoende kyrkan (Iglesia Filipina Independiente). Hans stora intresse och inriktning innom kyrkan är främst liturgi och musik för stiftet i Negros Oriental och Siquijor.

Världens Fest Special Blog

Celebrating the Grandeur of Helping Humanity

Through the grand chorale and orchestra, the three-day Världens Fest opened with a musical concert depicting Church of Sweden’s international work through the decades.

International work for the Church of Sweden has been a tradition imbedded in this church across borders.

During the three days in Karlstad, discussing the current issues in the world today was given focus through seminars, forums, concerts, worship services and Masses.

Talking about grandeur, Church of Sweden’s international work can be seen as grandiose in the eyes of a young person coming from a third world country.

As an international participant, I described Feast of the World as a celebration of unified cause for humanity.

In its truest sense, helping the world to become a better place for people to live in is a grandiose work. This work is what the Church of Sweden has been pursuing for several decades and it is a proof of an extravagant love for the world.

“To be a true Christian is to turn faith into action,” was the most striking statement uttered by the Church of Sweden youth leader. It was a living testament how the youth from the church looks at the important ministry not just for those who are living here in Sweden but for all humanity, regardless of race, creed and color.

People from different churches, different cultures and traditions meet to answer the common need of people who suffer from different problems in the society.

Make the church a safe space, a shelter, a refuge for those who are neglected by their respective communities

Not just Church of the poor, the needy, the common people but a church with the poor, the needy, and the common people.

Discussing issues, meeting people, sharing insights, united church moving towards caring for humanity

Open Table for the World

Reflecting upon the phrase “Open Table” which the Church of Sweden often uses to describe the way they conduct the Mass and answers who can take communion.

Before the Opening Mass began, a special table made of wood was prepared by children with special needs assisted by some church workers. That was a very touching moment which symbolized how the Eucharistic table is made alive through international work and in the table, it is where the world meets Christ and to partake of His meal.

The absence of the liturgical vestment on the altar table was a reminder of how the Church of Sweden works for people from different cultures, traditions, religions.

Also, the cups in different sizes and colors used during the communion rite was the symbols of the variations in each setting of the Swedish Church and yet still, they are one in the purpose to become instruments of care for the world and humanity.

Building God’s Kingdom on Earth

Humanitarian work for nations a modern day version of Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. Symbolized by the wooden cross hanging in the Lofbergs Arena, God’s reign on earth would simply mean all of the basic needs of the people are addressed, rights are rendered and issues are given solutions.

Though people may not see the difference today like the stonecutter who was getting some materials for the big church, the Church of Sweden also aims to build the Cathedral of God’s Reign on earth and the international work is a move towards the goal.

Flashback of the Congregation Periods

Three months of stay in Sweden for the exchange program went fast like lightning but Världens Fest served like a flashback of the times spent in the two congregation periods for the participants.

Such a feast became a reminder of the relationships and efforts made in the congregations and in the dioceses.

Personally, it also provided a time to assess and ask myself, “How far have I been in this program? Did I truly live the purpose of the program?”

Yet meeting the people from the congregations, diocesan level and some other people I met months ago gave me the answers. The good feedback from people gave me more inspiration to go on with the work.

Taking the farther leap of faith from being the ordinary exchange program participant was a tough yet fulfilling job. Part of which was singing for people of different ages and blogging my feelings, insights and reflections about Sweden’s church and society.

Doing the blogs from the heart was what I can only offer as payback for a wonderful and once in a lifetime experience.

Three months in Sweden has given me so much learning and was genuinely life-changing.

For my stay, I prayed to the Spirit and vowed to my self that my goal would be to touch lives, share my gifts, give hope for the Church of Sweden and not just utter the usual and old has been negative comments.

The Church of Sweden has taught me to look deeper at the church as more than a worshipping entity.  Through the experience, it has given me the fresh eyes to view the church in a worldwide perspective and that the relationship between churches is important to enrich, sustain and help one another through constant prayers and encouragements.

//Klein F. Emperado is one of the exchange students in the exchange programme ”Young in the World Wide Chuch” 2014. During three months he will be spending time in Sweden, sharing life, faith and every day life. Klein is a Mass Communications graduate from Silliman University, Dumaguete, Philippines and also he works as Editorial Assistant for the said university. In the exchange he represents the Philippine Independent Church/Iglesia Filipina Independiente. His line of ministry is focused mainly on Liturgy and Music for the Diocese of Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

// Klein F. Emperado är en av deltagarna i utbytesprogrammet Ung i den världsvida kyrkan 2014. Under tre månader delar han vardag, tro och liv med människor här i Sverige. Under sin första månad spenderar han tid i St Mikaels församling i Stockholms stift. Klein har tagit examen i masskommunikation vid Silliman University, Dumaguete, Filippinerna och han jobbar idag som redaktörsassistent för nämnda universitet. I utbytesprogrammet representerar han den Filippinska oberoende kyrkan (Iglesia Filipina Independiente). Hans stora intresse och inriktning innom kyrkan är främst liturgi och musik för stiftet i Negros Oriental och Siquijor.

Friendship and Home Feel Inspires Youth to Get into the Circle

It is so uncommon for young people to engage or even get near the circle of church groups nowadays. This does not only exist here in Sweden but it has become a worldwide trend.

There’s a possibility that this was actually the “not so good effects” of media, social networking sites and globalization, things which are actually related to secularization. Some would also point at misconceptions about church that the youth may see it as boring.

But there’s still hope, the Church can use several means to counteract with this worldwide phenomenon. One profound example would be the very typical Swedish Fika.

Fika is often described as light snack in between major meals but has more of a cultural and societal meaning of sitting down and relating with other people by sharing ideas, thoughts and good humor.

Good humor attracts young people to come into a group and that’s what they enjoy in every meeting.

Within a month of exposure in Västervik Forsamling, located at southern part of Sweden (Part of Linkoping Diocese), hope can be seen beaming and rising with the sight of young people gathering every Monday afternoon.

Aside from good humor, the young people also look forward to the weekly meetings due to the home feel and friendships they share with each other.

Fun is what they always share when coming together while playing games like mini-golf and bowling. Oftentimes, they share stories, insights and experiences which could help strengthen the bond between young people and the group, as a whole.

blog15 pic

For the youth group leaders, it could not be hard to draw more youngsters into the circle because of the shared friendship. Yes, if the Church has been commanded to be fishers of the young, the best net to be used is friendship.

Aside from their own home and school, the Church can also be should serve as a home, an abode where they can express more of themselves.

In addition, another factor that could encourage young people to join the group is to do away with the boring matters, their usual perception about church.

Various activities scheduled in a weekly basis boost the young people’s interest to attend youth group meetings. Incorporating the importance of an active lifestyle, engagement in sports and physical activity are yet very helpful ways not only to develop young people but this is also a proof that a church group is not a boring organization.

Engaging the youth in activities like sports, canoeing, mini-golf, mountain climbing, hiking spree, treasure hunting and other fun games, where everyone can participate and enjoy enlivens the life of the youth group.

Young people would also love to share about their interests and join in adventures and being open to such suggestions make them feel welcome as with their opinions and thoughts.

Presenting the youth group as an interesting organization can be the most effective way to draw more young people into the church circle.

In this way, doing away with the boring things would make the young people think that church is beyond going to Mass and is more of building friendships, family, support, comfort zone and safe place for a young person to be nurtured in all aspects of human growth.

At the end of the gathering, the youth members were called at the upper room for the evening prayer. During that point, one can’t help but be moved while witnessing young people singing youthful hymns, lighting candles, praying and reflecting as they end the weekly routine.

Honestly, it was unexpected because they all had been having fun, talking, playing, running around but suddenly, there was time to be silent and for prayer.

Within those days of seeing the gatherings, there is that familial spirit clearly manifested in the way they are treating each other.

Though the group is not really that big but I see their faithfulness and it was good than having none at all.  Again, there’s hope for the future with those young people in the church groups.

//Klein F. Emperado is one of the exchange students in the exchange programme ”Young in the World Wide Chuch” 2014. During three months he will be spending time in Sweden, sharing life, faith and every day life. Klein is a Mass Communications graduate from Silliman University, Dumaguete, Philippines and also he works as Editorial Assistant for the said university. In the exchange he represents the Philippine Independent Church/Iglesia Filipina Independiente. His line of ministry is focused mainly on Liturgy and Music for the Diocese of Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

// Klein F. Emperado är en av deltagarna i utbytesprogrammet Ung i den världsvida kyrkan 2014. Under tre månader delar han vardag, tro och liv med människor här i Sverige. Under sin första månad spenderar han tid i St Mikaels församling i Stockholms stift. Klein har tagit examen i masskommunikation vid Silliman University, Dumaguete, Filippinerna och han jobbar idag som redaktörsassistent för nämnda universitet. I utbytesprogrammet representerar han den Filippinska oberoende kyrkan (Iglesia Filipina Independiente). Hans stora intresse och inriktning innom kyrkan är främst liturgi och musik för stiftet i Negros Oriental och Siquijor.

Holding Fast to the Tradition of Educating People

For the Church of Sweden, educating people is more than a form of service to the community but a continuing tradition of nourishing not only the soul through God’s Word but the human body and mind as well. Thus, a holistic trend of education can be seen evidently pursued in most parishes.

In retrospect, Church of Sweden played an important role in society more specifically with education.

Centuries back, it was the Church that taught the most basics of reading and writing. Some narrations would include the four hour long sermons of the priest every Sunday containing not only Biblical reflections but also official orders from the government about laws and warning for some incorrect practices.

But the waves of time changed as with the development of schools and universities, separation of Sweden’s government and church and the secularization of the society. Yet, the Church of Sweden has found a way to educate people not only through the Sunday Masses but also through other forms taking place almost every week.

In every church, an Open Preschool Program exists for kids aged at least one year old. Toddlers usually come with a parent, who stays at home for a year but receives a monthly sum from the government. This is one of Sweden’s best practices of encouraging parents to provide personal childcare to their kids.

Facilitating the said program is an employed teacher by the Church. Activities would involve free playing time for the kids, sing-learn-dance time, the typical “Swedish Fika,” talking time for parents and educational field trips.blog14b

Then comes, the traditional Confirmation Classes which has been innovated not only as a form of teaching young people about Church and Bible teachings but also, on how to find meaning within their lives. Since it could be hard to instill purely about spirituality to the young in this society, a perfect diversion is to mentor them instead, give inspiration to take the right path to life and to provide a support system from colleagues in the confirmation group, church workers and from priests/deacons.

For almost all types of people and age groups, the Church of Sweden has its Various Ministries especially to the old Swedish folks, widows, alcoholics and even for drug addicts. Every month, activities take place in various forms, like church services, fellowship parties and outreach programs.

But there’s one thing, the Church did not forego since it began. It is the Education of the Soul through Musical Concerts. Yes, music soothes the soul and gives peace to the mind.

Providing free music concerts inside the church for people to avail is one way of feeding the soul. People who come may not notice that at every performance, they feel the Divine Presence inside the Church while listening to the soothing musical pieces.

The Church of Sweden is moving forward but the practices mentioned are but a few proofs that it has never turned its back to its original work years, decades and centuries ago. Its identity would always remain as one of the most important organizations in the Swedish society, responsible for providing information to the people and education of the body, mind and soul.

//Klein F. Emperado is one of the exchange students in the exchange programme ”Young in the World Wide Chuch” 2014. During three months he will be spending time in Sweden, sharing life, faith and every day life. Klein is a Mass Communications graduate from Silliman University, Dumaguete, Philippines and also he works as Editorial Assistant for the said university. In the exchange he represents the Philippine Independent Church/Iglesia Filipina Independiente. His line of ministry is focused mainly on Liturgy and Music for the Diocese of Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

// Klein F. Emperado är en av deltagarna i utbytesprogrammet Ung i den världsvida kyrkan 2014. Under tre månader delar han vardag, tro och liv med människor här i Sverige. Under sin första månad spenderar han tid i St Mikaels församling i Stockholms stift. Klein har tagit examen i masskommunikation vid Silliman University, Dumaguete, Filippinerna och han jobbar idag som redaktörsassistent för nämnda universitet. I utbytesprogrammet representerar han den Filippinska oberoende kyrkan (Iglesia Filipina Independiente). Hans stora intresse och inriktning innom kyrkan är främst liturgi och musik för stiftet i Negros Oriental och Siquijor.