Our Life in Sweden

Jonathan & Sofia Morgan

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Category: Sweden (page 1 of 4)

We’re on the Move

We’re going to be finishing Arabic school in a few months, and this means that we’re getting ready for what’s next.

For a while we thought we would probably stay in the Levant (this part of the Middle East) for the foreseeable future. But as you’ve probably noticed, things change quickly in this neck of the woods.

What we didn’t foresee when we started school was that so many from this region would be forced to make their way to our neck of the woods – Europe.

In fact, since we moved here, Sofia’s home country, Sweden, has received more refugees per capita than any other European nation.

Refugees with stories just like Malaka:

As we’ve weighed up our options, we’ve kept coming back to the fact that we actually might be of more use in Sweden, where we are residents, know the system and can help with the process of integration than we could if we stayed.

So in June, we’re moving back to Sweden.

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!


We’re back!

English translation below

Oj vad skönt vi hade det när vi var hemma! Vi lyckades klämma in julfirande i både Wales och Sverige och passade på att riktigt julmysa med våra familjer. Eftersom vi inte varit hemma på ungefär ett och ett halvt år så blev det många kära återseenden, många vänner vi inte träffat på länge som vi äntligen fick umgås med. Vi passade också på att göra de allra vanligaste sakerna; gå och handla i mataffären, kolla på TV, läsa tidningar, gå på promenad, äta favoritchokladen samt fika, fika och fika! Det var en underbar resa och vi lyckades vila upp oss lite innan vi satte oss på planet tillbaka till Sydafrika, där vi nu har landat.

* * *

We had a lovely time back home in Wales and Sweden, celebrating Christmas in both countries and enjoying spending quality time with family and friends. Because we’d been away for so long it was the everyday things that we were really excited to do; food shopping, watching TV, reading the newspaper, eating our favorite chocolate and having loads of coffee dates. We had a lovely trip and managed to get some rest before flying back to Cape Town, where we’ve now landed.

Our European Adventure: What I’m Looking Forward To…

At the end of the month we head off on a trip to Wales and Sweden. Of course, the thing I’m looking forward to most is seeing family and friends, but I thought I’d compile a list of some of the other things I’m excited about:


Reading the Guardian on Saturday: one of my former weekend rituals. So far, I haven’t found a paper here that I really love.

The banter around my family’s dinner table: we have a lot of fun when we’re together.

Innocent Smoothies: delicious recipes.

Winter in December! Last year we were in Cape Town and walked on the beach on Christmas day. This year it’ll be fun to have weather that I’m programmed to believe feels Christmassy.

Christmas dinner: every country has its own take on Christmas food. I really like what I’ve tasted from other countries, but this year I’m really looking forward to the food traditions of my childhood. Bring on the Christmas pudding and roast potatoes!

The ongoing political debate: I usually follow British politics from afar, seeing what’s playing out in the media. Being back home feels like you’re closer to the action.


Salty Liquorice: probably my favourite confectionary item. Like Marmite, you either love it or hate it.

Snow: a true Swedish winter is beautiful. Snow crunching underfoot, a dry chill in the air, warm cups of coffee by…

Candle light: the long winters have made Swedes masters at creating a cosy indoor aesthetic.

The trains: the trains in Sweden turn up on time, depart on time, are comfortable, smooth, and generally feel much more luxurious (even in economy class) than any I’ve taken in the UK.

Fika: an oft debated Swedish word that usually involves drinking coffee and eating cake. It’s repeated regularly throughout the day, creating a rhythm of rest.

Video: A Christmas Greeting

Here’s a little bilingual video that we recorded at Kommetjie Beach…
Här kommer en liten svengelsk julhälsning som vi filmat på Kommetjie Beach! Från oss alla till er alla en riktigt god jul!

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