Life It Self!

Life is a series of struggles, happiness, challenges, fears and changes. As of the moment I am facing all of this as I was sent to Sweden as a participant of the exchange program. Being part of “Young in a World Wide Church” is a big challenge, opportunity, and honor for me. As we were sent here in Sweden, I expected how different it was living in a first world country unlike living in a third world country just like Philippines (place where I came from).We are supposed to share, observe, learn, and make ourselves worthy for the chance being here, and that is a big challenge I accepted.

When I lived in Västerås, usually I am being asked by the Swedes I am encountered, “What is Sweden for you?” but before I could answer, they always said two words, “COLD AND DARK?” then they will laugh. It is true that Sweden is cold country and sometimes you won’t see the sun shining during the day, but what I observed is Sweden is the best example in terms of EQUALITY. We cannot put away the fact that there are a poor and rich people in one place, but what’s best in Sweden is because this “gap” is little and all the things are equal no matter how rich or poor you are. I also observed that Swedish people are warmed hearted. It is true that some people are so formal in terms of meeting each other. When you first time meet them they will shake hands with you but when you meet afterwards, hug is the best way they say “hi” to you. Swedes mean what they say. They are man and woman of their words. They are organized who stick with their plans and decisions. Time is the most important thing for them. When you say so, you must do so. They gave importance to their family as much as they can. Sweden is a cold country but it doesn’t affect the heart of the people living on it.

It is an easy task to live a happy life that you are currently used to. What’s hard is when you are starting all and over again, just how you learned the alphabet. You don’t know every people, places, language and culture. You have to learn again the customary way of living, the dos and don’ts, and culture of the place so you could adjust from the society you were belonging now. You will meet new people and you can learn from each other’s knowledge and experiences. That’s the aim of the program, to learn from each other’s experiences, observations, opinions, differences, and to make the relationships better and strong.

We are different in terms of languages, denominations, cultures, foods, weather and a lot more things but what makes us common is the meaning of life itself. I always remember a quote from one of my favorite book series, Hunger Games Trilogy, delivered by a guy named Plutarch in the story- “Nature and Wisdom Never at Strife.”

// Fatimary Gopez

Thank you!

It’s been thirty-six days since I’ve been here in Västerås, but the best thing is I’m not yet homesick. Wanna know why? It’s because of the acceptance this place given to me. I am not a Swedish, yet you treat me as best as your family. It was a very nice feeling being with every one of you, even if it’s in personal time or serious time (or let’s say working time at parish).

It fills the incompleteness of my heart being apart from my family in Philippines. For everything, thank you so much. For Mrs. Elisabeth’s delicious dishes and meals offered to us every breakfast, fika, lunch and dinner at Granberg’s house, thank you so much. For Mr. Bengt’s engineering knowledge and historical things he shared to us, thank you. For the nights of movies and goodies with David and Elin at Thorgren’s house, I enjoyed it so much, thank you guys. For Mr.Michael’s programming topics, engineering pens, Thorgren’s Pizza and for familjen2.0, thank you so much. For Mrs. Maria’s dancing skills like the UP, UP, UP, UP and beautiful experiences with the wonderful family of yours, thank you so much, you’ve been a very joyful and lovely mother to us. For Inga Lena’s handcraft things, thank you. For Stina who brought us to nursing home and a place where they took care of cancer patients just like my dad, thank you fast walking priest. That means a lot to me. To my bestfriend Lena, I’ll be missing our cooking and baking moments, thank you so much for sharing things with me. To Carita whom been patient enough with my little naughtiness (uhmmmn I’m not naughty, I just tease you sometimes to make you smile and laugh, I’ll be missing it), well thank you so much for being a good supervisor, for translating every time we don’t understand things that’s been happening, one more, for the blueberry/ raspberry cake, you let it replace the strawberry cheesecake as the best sweet I ever ate as of now in Sweden. To cute Alvin whom really nice every time he says what he wants like PICKS!!! Errr. Thank you. To Magnus’ ideas were Carita should bring us and for the Marabou and Pringles, thank you so much. To my SEXIEST, beautiful and kind supervisor whom always laughing and eating goodies with me, thank you Mia, I’ll be missing working and having fun with you. To Önsta Gryta Forsamling and whole Diocese of Västerås, thank you so much for accepting us and making us feel that we are welcomed in your place. For every knowledge, learnings, experiences, and loved you gave to us, I’ll be happy to bring it home and proudly tell everyone how nice I spend my days in Västerås.

GOOD BYE doesn’t mean “LETTING GO”, it means so much good things happen, but it’s time to say bye for now. Furthermore we don’t know what God’s plans for everyone. Maybe we will see each other again or maybe not anymore, but what’s best is we’ve been part of each other’s life and full at least one page of our lives’ book of experience. As I say GOOD BYE, I pray for everybody’s peaceful and joyful life. God bless us all and thank you so much.

-Checking out FAM!


This blogpost is written by Fatimary Pantanilla Gopez from the Philippines!


Life is a Challenge and a Journey!

I have stayed here for more than a month now. Living in different families is difficult because I never know if I could fit in them, but Swedes are nice people, they might love to have space from others but they are very sweet to their families and they are very welcoming. I am really touched on how they treat each other at home.

In this place which is a total opposite of my home country I struggle to live, I am trying my best to impart the things I have learned from one of the influencial people in my life, he said that the Church has four pillars: first areThe Bishops, Priest and Deacons, second are The Women , third are The Men, fourth are The Youths, they are the ones who serve the Church unconditionally and these four composed the Church, if one is missing, the Church will be unbalanced. They are bind together by their faith in God which makes them work as one.

As a youth leader I always think that nothing is impossible because from the word itself ”I’M POSSIBLE” in God everything is possible if we really have the Faith and Trust in Him. That message keeps me going in my everyday life and since I only have few days more in this congregation I am really thankful that I have met and gained new friends and have this wonderful experience which will hone me to be a better person and a server to God!

”For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”

Jerimiah 29:11

Although I hate goodbyes, soon we have to meet our new friends from the next congregation :)

Tack så mycket for the warm welcome and for letting us stay in Önsta Gryta Forsamling!

Mabuhay ang Church of Sweden!

Mabuhay ang Iglesia Filipina Independiente!

Shiara 2

This blogpost is written by Shiara May Ganotice from the Philippines. Shiara is a Diocesan Youth Auditor in the Diocese of Eastern Pangasinan. She is also a registered nurse in the Philippines and she loves to travel and explore different cultures!

From Brazil to Sweden!

We, Cátia and Isabella are in a city in the north of Sweden called Umeå, which is part of ​​the Diocese of Lulea. A relatively large city with a large hospital and a great University. We are participating in the parish TEGs FÖRSAMLING. We have met nice and special people during these four weeks in Sweden. Each one with different functions, but with the same ideal as us to serve the church. It is interesting to see how people are happy to know that we, two participants in the exchange program from Brazil, are here to spend time in the parish with them. We really enjoy when people talk to us and when they are asking about Brazil. We were so happy to see people’s emotions when we read Bible stories in Portuguese. They thanked us for reading, even though they did not understand the language.

A first great impression about the TEG church was the size of its structure and with different environments, but with few people in the services. The Cults are approximately about 30 people, a situation that is a bit uncomfortable and frightening for us. The reality of Sweden is quite different compared to Brazil. The Swedish people have a comfortable life and they are not depending on others to do things.

It is interesting to see how the Lutheran church in Brazil is different from the Lutheran church in Sweden. Before we got here, we did not know about the differences between our churches. We did not know about ​​the Swedish culture. All we knew was that Swedish people likes to FIKA (to have coffee and buns), and we find it very interesting and good!

We have many weeks left in Sweden and we believe that it will still add a lot to us. In just a few weeks we have seen so many different things!

We miss our Brazilian friends Camila and Thomaz but also all the other friends that we met in Sigtuna Folkhögskola during the introduction course in March. It’s so cool to feel the value of friendship. In Sigtuna we had difficulties talking to the others because of the English language which is hard for us to understand and speak. It was the first contact with English outside our country. But it was so nice to see how we found each other even with these difficulties. It’s also nice to see how we evolve in the language in Sweden, we learn more and more every day.

Now it is time to move forward and face the next challenges waiting for us in our next parish!

“For every creature of God is good.” 1 Timothy Chapter 4, verse 4

Thank you!




Cátia Liane Ücker and Isabella Gnas are exchange participants in the international group of 2015 and they come from the southern parts of Brazil. They have been spending their first month in the northern parts of Sweden and have hopefully been able to see some snow!


The Journey with God!

Life is capricious. It is a journey set forth to us by our omnipotent God to be traveled upon. In the process of our life’s expedition, we face blissful moments, heartbreaks and pain yet survival with God’s grace and complete submission to His plans should be done.

As I walked in my life’s path, I have sprung like a wild white tulip in the mid-spring. Growing slowly in the mildly cold atmosphere and cheerfully surrounded by a variety of other flowers. Yet, as the blustery weather breezes in the wide plain, shrubs and flowers struggle and sway. In the ecstasy of my status quo, I have been challenged by tough situations I never imagined I could face in this young age. And the boldness and sturdiness of this wild white tulip has been slowly honed. In the middle of my mist, God put me in a situation to save me from too much outdoor strain as a man picked up the wild white tulip and put it in the vase and bring it to a greenhouse garden.

For everything happens for a reason, here I am now in the Land of the Midnight Sun and the terrain of mighty Vikings in Old Age. As a just graduated student of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, I was just learning about European Union and the Scandinavia from the four walls of the corner in the first semester of my fourth year in the university. I never thought as I wondered the splendor of the society in the Scandinavia that I would be given this very chance to actually see the veracity of the Swedish society. Furthermore, I was not just blessed with experiencing the Swedish way of life but also immersed in a global position where I also discover the genuineness of the culture of other countries in the African and South American continents as they were represented by the different young leaders from South Africa, Lesotho, Brazil, Tanzania and Costa Rica. All thanks to God for putting me in very tough situations and actually making me head to the Scandinavian region of the European Union. As I’ve chosen this adventure and sacrificed my recognition ceremony, graduation ceremony and wedding ceremony of my friends back in my country, thy boat’s in sail to discover more things and empower thyself  in this social welfare state. May I survive in this journey of mine as I face the serenity and at some point the tough waves of life.

Tack så mycket our Great and Awesome Lord- och tack så mycket Svenska Kyrkan!

Jessie Ladeth Contento

This blog post is written by Jessie Ladeth Batiancila Contento, one of the Exchange participants from the Philippines this year – 2015.   Jessie is the President of the Diocesan Youth Executive Council of the Diocese of Cebu. During his stay in Sweden he is very much eager to learn more about the Swedish society, politics and religion.