Our Life in Sweden

Jonathan & Sofia Morgan

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Category: Inspiration (page 1 of 4)

Things we’ve learned

This year we have some big changes ahead of us, which we’ll fill you in on in another blog post. All this talk of change got us reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned in the two and a half years since we left Europe. Here are some of the big ones:

Coaching vs Handouts

One of the big assumptions that we westerners make about the majority world is that they just need more stuff (money, clothes, etc). Oftentimes these places are rich in resources but poor in education and good leadership. Coaching encourages people to ask ‘what do I have’ instead of ‘what do I lack?’ and sets them on a course towards seeing themselves as agents of change.

Work yourself out of a job

It’s challenging to be surrounded by so much need and it’s easy to start to think that you are the answer, especially when you might have been privileged with education, experience and skills. We’ve learned that if you want to see lasting change, it’s better to go slow and make sure you pass on your knowledge to someone who’s going to be around long after your visa expires. Preferably someone from the community who speaks the language and knows the culture.

Never stop learning

When working in a culture that’s not our own we’ve realized it’s important to have the attitude of a learner. That means asking questions more than you try to give answers. It also means spending a lot of time hanging out with people, although it doesn’t always feel “productive.” One of the things we wish we’d done from day 1 is to have learned one of the local languages. Doing this would have helped us build deeper relationships and understand the culture better.

Bottom-up change

The best, most long lasting change is bottom-up, rather than top-down. It’s when people and communities take responsibility for the neighbours and circumstances around them. Top-down change is about coercion, about doing something because there’s a rule that says “you must…” Bottom-up change encourages communities to grow. It draws out leaders on a micro level.

Servant leadership

We’ve already touched on it a little, but our favourite type of leadership is servant leadership. It’s no mistake that Jesus told his disciples that the one who wants to be first should be the servant of all. He knew that leading through humility, through putting others first, has power. It speaks into people’s hearts rather than just their sense of obligation.

Have fun

It felt as if we moved to Kommetjie just at the right time. A hectic work season, intense house situation as well as having lived in a township – where you can’t escape the harshness of poverty, all got too much for us. Our surfing friends here inspired us to enjoy life to it’s full and we realized that we couldn’t sustain our work if we didn’t have an outlet. Now we try to look for fun and adventure wherever we go.

Pray a lot

We’ve prayed a lot more this year for the things that have been on our hearts. It’s been a wild journey and we’ve re-learned that change happens when we pray with passion. Although we’ve seen many answered prayers, circumstances changed dramatically, the best lesson has been that we’ve experienced a change inside of ourselves – new perspectives, clarity, peace, hope and joy have all come as a result of praying. God is good!

 

The power of Vulnerability

A few friends of ours here in Kommetjie are learning about how to do community well together. How to have deeper friendships and how to grow in our faith.

The TED talk speaks of vulnerability as the pathway to belonging and creativity, and has really inspired us:

The Power of Vulnerability

Top 5 regrets in life

The last couple of days I’ve been thinking about this interesting article I read a while back in The Guardian. A nurse, working in palliative care, recorded the 5 most common regrets in life of her patients:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Sharing this article is not meant to bring anyone on a total downer, but rather say that it really spoke to me when I first read it. I found myself thinking – as this is my only life I want to try to dream big, be less fearful and willing to take risks in order to live my life to the full. I might fail a few times and risk being misunderstood, but at least I went for it and hopefully I’ll hold less regrets by the end of this earthly life.

Enjoy reading the whole article HERE! [1]

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Kom att tänkta på en intressant artikel som jag läste i den brittiska tidningen, The Guardian, för ett tag sedan. Artikeln handlade om en sjuksköterska som vårdade patienter vid livets slutskede och svaren de gav henne på frågan ”om de beklagade något eller om där var något de skulle gjort annorlunda i sitt liv ”.

Här var de 5 mest vanligaste svaren:

1. Jag önskar att jag hade haft modet att leva ett liv sant mot mig själv, inte efter vad andra förväntade av mig. (De flesta upptäckte vid sin dödsbädd hur många saker de missat att göra medan de var friska)

2. Jag önskar att jag inte hade jobbat så hårt. (Vanligast bland männen, som oftast hade familjens ekonomiska ansvar)

3. Jag önskar att jag hade haft modet att uttrycka mina känslor. (Genom att undertrycka sina känslor utvecklade de inte sin hela potential, utan slutade ofta sina liv bittra och sjuka)

4. Jag önskar jag hade hållit kontakten med mina vänner.

5. Jag önskar att jag hade tillåtit mig själv att vara lyckligare. (Allt för många insåg för sent att lycka är ett val. I stället för att bryta upp hade de fastnat i gamla destruktiva mönster)

När jag först läste denna artikel uppmuntrade den mig till att försöka drömma stora drömmar, fokusera mindre på rädslor och våga ta fler risker. Det verkade mer spännande att riskera att misslyckas några gånger och kanske riskera att bli missförstådd än att vid livets slutskede känna att jag inte levde livet fullt ut.

HÄR[2] kan ni läsa hela texten översatt på svenska!

[1]: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying
[2]: http://allas.se/doende-angrar-att-de-jobbat-for-mycket/

Photo by Hamid Najafi

Practicing Thankfulness

Can I tell you a secret?

For much of my adult life I’ve found it hard to feel content. I’ve lived in enough places and been involved with enough different things to know that it wasn’t my environment that was making me feel this way.

It was about me.

I was someone who couldn’t enjoy the moment, I couldn’t appreciate what was around me, even when those things were beautiful and exciting.

Early last year, Sofia read a book called One Thousand Gifts, which is about practicing thankfulness, and how it can make us more settled, happier people. As she told me about the book, I realised that this might be my opportunity to get out of this rut.

Each morning I began listing a couple of things I was thankful for, and would then thank God for those things. At first it felt a little contrived, having such predictable mornings, but I soon began seeing the benefits…

I noticed that when I was in conversations with people I would recognise the positive things they said more. I found that where I used to be drawn to worry, or criticism, I would see beauty. It has become easier to offer words of encouragement.

Because I’m noticing what I have, rather than focussing on what I don’t, I’m not comparing myself with people as much as I used to.

Have you tried practicing thankfulness? How has it affected you?

Baby dumping around the world: South Korea

Baby dumping isn’t just a South African problem, but happens in many other parts of the world. Here’s a story of what’s happening in South Korea;

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