Sunday, August 24, 2014

1 Year!

I cannot believe that we have been living in Stockholm for one whole year!  The saying "the days are long but the years are short" couldn't feel more true.  

I was thinking about what I wanted to say about our year here and I thought about all the things I wish I could have told myself a year ago before starting this adventure so I decided to write myself a letter.  Here is what I would say:

Oh Kara,
You are about to start a crazy adventure.  I know you are terrified and that this is a huge leap of faith and WAY out of your box but trust me, this is where God wants you and He will take care of the details.  The waiting in Olathe is much harder than actually moving here.  Most things will be easier than you think they will be and I can only believe that is because we were covered in prayers from family and friends.  There will also be things that are much harder than you think, like buying butter and sheets at Ikea.  

There will be times when you will try to be brave and keep things just between you, Jake and God but God will remind you that you that He has placed people in your life for a reason.  They are there to build you up, pray for you and love on you.  On those hard days don't be afraid to call those you love and just let it all out knowing they are virtually hugging you and lifting you up in prayer.  Just talking to them, getting texts and phone calls from your best friends will make all the difference.  

You will travel to more places than you can even imagine in the next year.  Through your travels you will learn so much more about yourself and how much you appreciate your husband Jake.  You will figure out how to communicate better and how to slow down your anger when things get stressful.  You will remember you are a team and that as much as you don't want to admit it sometimes you really enjoy that he pushes you to go on all these crazy adventures.

You will make new friends and lose touch with a few friends back home.  Losing touch with friends will be the hard one to swallow.  Some friendships will be hard to maintain and that will weigh on your heart but others will be strengthen and you have to trust that lifelong friendships will be made even better during this time.  I've heard some people say that God gives you friends at different seasons in your life and then once that season is over he gives you different friends.  I'm not sure I believe that 100% of the time but try to trust that the lifelong friends will make it through the 5000 miles.

You will miss teaching, a lot.  It is such a part of you that you will crave getting to sub and eventually be back in your own classroom but for now trust that God has a plan that is bigger than your plan.  Plus think of all the awesome stories you can tell your kids once you are back in the classroom.

Overall you will love this adventure.  It will stretch you in new ways that wouldn't have been possible in Olathe which is why God brought you here.  He had big things planned for you and you need to trust Him.  Trust his timing and his plan and try to give your worries to him.  You will learn that worrying about things is worthless.  If you worry and nothing happens you've already mentally gone through the painful scenario.  If you worry and something bad does happen, now you've gone through it twice.  At the end of your first year in Sweden you will still be working on giving things up to God daily but that is okay because it means you are relying on Him daily.

The verse Ephesians 3:20 seems to sum up your year, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us."  God will continue to work in you and through you and do more than you can ask or imagine.  Continue trusting His plan on this great adventure He has given you.

P.S. How long do you think you will claim to not like change and that you aren't adventurous?  I'm not sure you will be able to say that for much longer after this year :).

The last six months have been full of traveling and adventures.  One question we always get asked is, "Does Jake ever work?"  The answer is of course he does!  That is why we are here.  We have been averaging about one trip per month but most of our trips are only four or five days and we always put them on a weekend when we can.  Which means most of the time Jake only has to take off two days of work for each trip.  Before we moved here Jake had quite a few days saved up because he hardly ever took time off but now that we are here and able to travel we are trying to take advantage of being so close to so many fun places!  So don't worry, he is still working :).  

I also want to mention that taking time off over here is much different than in the US.  I've mentioned before that in Sweden you get 14 months of parental leave to share between the parents for EACH kid.  Plus you get pretty much unlimited sick days whenever your kid can't go to daycare or school because of an illness.  On top of that you get five weeks of vacation a year and typically most Swedes take off three to four weeks consecutively in the summer.  In fact, there is a law in Sweden that if you request three consecutive weeks of vacation off your boss has to give it to you.  He can deny four weeks but three is a must if you give him enough notice.  Most Swedes take off the month of July.  Several businesses and shops are closed around the city in the month of July.  So yes, Jake's takes off about two days a month but that is nothing compared to Swedes especially in the summer.

We have been very fortunate to travel as much as we have and trust me we are trying hard not to take it for granted.  We have been told several times how lucky we are and that this is a once in a life time opportunity and we agree.  But, I also need to confess something . . . traveling is hard.  It is very time consuming planning trips.  Granted, we could plan less but when you spend money on a trip you want it to be worth the money you put into it.  I don't know how many hours we put into planning trips before we go but it is a lot.  It could be about the same number of hours as the actual trip takes to be quite honest.  Traveling can wear you out both mentally and physically.  Please do not mistake this confession as a complaint.  I am not complaining that we get to travel I'm just simply stating that great instagram pics of wonderful times on our trip don't always include the hours of hard work put into the trip before we even leave our apartment or the tired feet and bodies we have at the end of a long day of traveling.  And there are definitely some days when I would trade it all in just for time at home with friends, family and Mi Ranchito but then I remember that this really is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I'm going to suck it up and travel!

If you want to read about what we did our first six months you can find that over here.  We went to the northern part of Sweden over our 6th month anniversary of living in Stockholm.  If you want to read about our time skiing, dog sledding or our stay at the Ice Hotel click on those links.

In the last six months we had added lots of countries to our list of new places we've explored. We had a great time in London taking lots of pictures of the Tower Bridge and seeing Harry Potter.  

We went home in April for a quick visit.
Most of my time back home involved meeting cute babies and eating great food while visiting with friends.   Jake's time home was even shorter because he went to the British Virgin Islands to learn how to sail.  

Right after we got home from the states we headed to Ireland for four days and Jake is already talking about going back.  

Then Jake's parents arrived and spent time with us in StockholmUppsala and in the archipelago

On June 21st, we celebrated Midsommar and our 6th anniversary in Nyköping and I realized I never got around to writing a post about that so we shall see if that pops up on the blog sometime but here are some pictures.

I shared that so far summer has been the hardest season for me while living in Stockholm which I did not expect.  I will say after a few phone calls with my best friends and changing up my workout by running outside I've been handling summer much better.  

You got to see a quick tour of the guest apartment right after Jake's parents left.  

In July, we went to Munich and Stuttgart, Germany and then headed to Mulhouse, France to watch the Tour de France.  

Jake's Uncle Bob visited us at the beginning of August and we went on a biking and camping trip across Visby and had a great time.  
We have been busy but we are trying to soak up as many of the adventures as we can.  We have also started planning some trips for the fall that are places that have been at the top of my list to visit!

Some of you might be wondering when we are moving back home.  We originally signed on to stay for just one year.  I could barely wrap my head around that so committing to a longer time frame was just out of the question.  I told Jake that after living here for six months he would be allowed to bring up the discussion of staying longer but until we passed the six month mark he couldn't even bring up extending our stay.  Well, around the fifth month I brought it up :).  Like I said earlier the transition was easier than I thought it would be so I wasn't as scared to stay longer now that I had been here long enough to know what it would be like.  In March we told Jake's company that we would be up for staying another year if they needed him here and thankfully it wasn't a problem.  We've really enjoyed living in Stockholm but we've also really enjoyed traveling and we haven't crossed off all the places we'd like to before moving back.  We know Olathe will still be there whenever we move home and so will our friends and family so why rush getting back.  Whenever we go back home to visit it feels like we've just been on a long vacation.  Everything looks about the same and feels the same and we didn't want to move back after a year and then a month after being home regret that we didn't stay longer.  So we have signed on for another year and plan on coming home in the fall of 2015 which means if anyone thought they ran out of time to visit us you have another year!

I feel like I say this all the time but phone calls, text messages, letters, emails and skyping just make my day!  I love hearing from people.  It just makes home feel that much closer so feel free to get a hold of me!

Thanks for reading all about our adventures, for praying for us and supporting us.  We could not do this without all of the support.  I can't wait to see what is in store for the next six months!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...