Biggest adjustment?
Honestly? It was money logistics. How do I get my books for class when my American credit card won’t work on 90 percent of Swedish websites…? That sort of thing.

linda-story1.jpgFavorite class?
That’s tough! They were all pretty great. I loved learning Christian Ethics with a group of Swedes. We were a small, close-knit class of five and, since we read both American and Scandinavian authors, there were lots of opportunities for comparison and reflection on issues that would likely be taken for granted in an American classroom. I learned about them. I learned about myself, and I stretched my thinking quite a bit.

Favorite food or meal?
FIKA! It’s the Swedish coffee time, and usually involves more than coffee. Pastries with cream, vanilla, and lots of cardamom are in easy supply—and I can definitely recommend them. Get invited to anyone’s home and I guarantee you’ll get a treat!

linda-story2.jpgMost memorable moment?
Let me see if I can even describe this! Sweden gets really dark in the winter (it’s way up there on the globe). So there are a lot of candles on dinner tables and in the windows everywhere in the dark season. One week, I saw that the local parish and scouts were offering the community an “Evening of Light in the Darkness.” I couldn’t believe my eyes! Thousands and thousands of candles lit the night forest and even floated on the lake. The whole community was there to enjoy—lots of young families with strollers, older adults and teens. Imagine the busiest neighborhood street on Halloween. So many people!

How did your Candler experience prepare you to study abroad?
Seminary is great for stretching and bending the mind. Thought you knew what was in Jonah, or Luke’s narrative of the Last Supper? Just wait until you really get into the text. At Candler, you get used to examining things you thought were obvious and finding something new. And that kind of reflection is always the point of cultural exchange, I think.

How do you feel your time in Stockholm will impact your life and ministry?
I hope it will make me a more creative pastor, more responsive to the changing needs and issues faced by people in my community and neighborhoods, and less apt to answer an issue with “it’s always been this way.” We’ll see. Check in with me in five or ten years!