Sabbath in Leksand/Baptism

Trip Start Jul 16, 2008
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Trip End Jul 29, 2008


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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Today was a full day.  Breakfast each day is a buffet from 8 to 10 am.  Most people come and stay almost the full time in socializing and sharing of life's experiences.  The view over the lake, actually one of Lake Siljan's bays is beautiful and peaceful.   
The first meeting was a PowerPoint seminar on the subject of Integrity by Jim Franks.  Afterwards we had lunch on what we called "the hill."  This is the location of the two self catering units that we had rented for two of the families.   
In the afternoon we had a regular Sabbath Service with two sermons, one by Britton Taylor about Prayer.  People commented about both Britt Taylor's messages as being most practical and relevant.  Then Jim Franks spoke about the story of Barnabas, the son of encouragement and the importance of having such people who are gifted in lifting other people's spirits.   
We were blessed to have Anthony and Marguarita Miles from Oslo provide special music at three of the meetings as well as piano accompaniment for hymns.  We sang five hymns at each of our meetings. 
Most of the people attending here cannot attend any kind of church service throughout the rest of the year.  We tried to make this concentration of services/seminars make up for some of that.   
Our Asian brethren from Norway and Finland were very appreciative of getting together as well.  For some it had been years since any kind of meeting.  The two families were Klo Gay and Margaret Doh from Kemi, Finland and K Paw Gay and her husband Hteser from Trondheim, Norway who also brought along their children Elvis and Has Mee Hoo.   
At the Summer Gathering people have come from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Poland, Germany and the United States.  There are nine primary languages spoken along with 12 total languages.  English is the  lingua franca making it possible to communicate.   
About one hour after services we had a sit-down dinner which everyone really enjoyed.  Most of our meals have been up on "the hill" and required the hands of a several of the ladies to prepare serve.  At this meal everyone could sit down and just enjoy it.  We really thank all of our ladies who helped. 
After dinner we all went down to the meeting hall for a presentation by Stefan, a student from Gothenburg University.  He had just returned from a LifeNets project in Ukraine with three other United Church of God members.  They spent two weeks with our Vinogradov Street Children teaching English as a Second Language and helping with a summer camp session.  He showed some very fine photos of the activities in Ukraine.  The others who participated in this project were Dan and Cindy Harper from Cherbourg, France and Ken Zahora from the Lafayette, Indiana Church area where I am pastor.   
We have worked with these Street Children since 2001.  It's been one of the most satisfying and meaningful events for my wife Beverly and me because we feel that our support of these children has turned throwaway kids who would have no future now would become human beings with dignity. We have been able to see the marvelous fruits in the past seven years and we were so happy to realize a project this past summer.  You can read a posting about this project on the LifeNets Web site at http://lifenets.org/vinogradov/summer08/zahora/thoughts.htm
After the presentation we had a special event:  the baptism of John WŽnnstrom from Oslo, Norway.  He is actually a Swede working in Norway.  This was a most encouraging and event not only for John but for all of us.  Johnnie Lambert and I performed the baptism in the lake.  We came back up on shore and held the laying on of hands ceremony with all the ministers present.   
Then back up "the hill" for refreshments and socializing that continued late into night....but it doesn't seem so because it's so light outside.  Even at midnight, it is not totally dark. It was wonderful as people were talking to one harmoniously with a great spirit of unity.  The feeling is that we have a wonderful new start and that we want to continue this......
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