December 3, 2006 3:15am
A rainy Saturday, but a cheerful Satur-night! Worked out this morning at Klubb Activ, then walked around Slussen for a bit with Jas and Malin. It’s all holiday bustle here, as I am sure it is at home as well. I ventured into an Advent Bazaar at one of the Swedish churches, didn’t find much of anything particular, but it was sorta fun to go to a rummage-like sale in another country! Had a pretty chill afternoon… watched Grey’s Anatomy and took a nap too.
Tonight Jasmina, Erin, Jenny, Maddy, Martina, Giovanna, and I met up with Malin at Ropsten and headed to her house to hang out. We grabbed pizza for dinner and then played some games. We all were invited to a Christmas party at a certain club in Stockholm, the only condition being that you have to wear red. I wore my new black dress with a red belt. Maddy and Martina wore black shirts/dresses with red belts too. Jas had a red dress with a black belt. I guess you could say that belts are pretty “in” here! After hanging out at this club for a while, a few of us headed out looking for another place to go dancing. We were about to head to the T for home when we were wondering around Őstermalm and literally ran into Putte (our assistant coach). Then, along came Landry, some other coaches from Alvik, and Anders too. Kinda strange to be out and run into your coaches. We were all headed to “East” – one of the most popular night-life spots of Stockholm. We were able to get in right away (despite very long line!) because one of the security people at Fryshuset also worked at this club. Lauren and some other girls from Söder Basket were there. I hadn’t seen Lauren in a while (come to find out, she had gone back to the States for Thanksgiving to visit her family), but it was rally great to see her. Perhaps she will come to the men’s game tomorrow with some of us. Anyway, it was a really fun night hanging out with so many of my teammates and I had fun “feeling cute” too. I know that clothes and looks don’t matter, but every once in a while I enjoy an occasion to get dressed up and go out looking pretty : )
Will be time for church soon, so time to get some sleep (I slept for 11 hours last night… isn’t that terrific! I think that’s why I’m still up ;) ).
December 3, 2006 3:09pm, 8:43 pm
Wonderful, wonderful December morning. Attended the 11:15 service at Immanuel Church and had a wonderful worship time. It being the first Sunday of Advent, the day is special anyway, but I always love the lighting of that first candle and then the teaching that almost always has to do with waiting and hope. The music was fun and energetic, and though the pastor can seem a bit quiet sometimes, the message he gave was presented very well. Today was the first time since I’ve been here that I’ve been at a service with Communion, so that was extremely special as well. After the service, I met some other members of the congregation during fika. Maria and Susan were both Swedish women married to men from other parts of the world (India and somewhere in Africa, I think), so they had begun coming to the international services instead of the usual Swedish service. It was very interesting to hear the differences between the two and why, now, they prefer the international community… mostly it seems it is for the diversity, energy, and enthusiasm with which makes up the community. Another woman I sat with grew up in Kenya, but has been in Stockholm for the past 16 years. She did graduate work and received her doctorate here in bilingual studies. She now teaches, as do the other two women. And no, I didn’t only sit with females. The other guys at the table were from different parts of Africa, but from what I could tell, had been in Sweden for a little bit now. One of them taught me a special tradition involving pepparkakor. I’ll show you when I come home. I also met this guy Chris, he’s from Minnesota and has been in Stockholm for four years after finishing seminary in the States. He let me know about the Young Adult fellowship group that meets… so, if practice doesn’t conflict, I would like to try to meet some more folks, as well. All in all, week two at Immanuel Church proved to be even better than the first. Praise God : )
This afternoon I headed into Gamla Stan to find the Christmas markets. Oh, it was beautiful. If there had been snow on the ground it would have been absolutely picture perfect, but it was still so picturesque and enjoyable even without that blanket of white. All the little stands were wooden and painted a barn-color red. There were stands with food, stands with toys, stands with chocolate, stands with homemade goods, and stands with… if you could only ever shop at these Christmas markets, I bet you could find something for everyone on your list!
Today I also visited the Swedish Horse Museum… it’s really just a tiny museum connected to a store located adjacent to the market, but nevertheless, I’d been wanting to go to this museum (and it happens to fill my quota for this week of museum attendance). Turns out the collection of wooden horses was pretty interesting, though as much as I enjoyed looking at the horses themselves, I loved reading about their history. The Dala Horse is that traditional looking, wooden cut, red horse that has come to be a pretty traditional souvenir gift from Sweden. One of the museum placards explained why Swedes may have had a particular affinity for horses… “Swedes were stubborn, hardworking and grumpy as their horses, independent and not always of the same opinion of the King… the horse was a symbol of free spirit.” Doesn’t that paint a beautiful picture, bringing into focus the relationship between a Swede and his horse? Anyway, the first wooden horses were made back in the 1700s, but only a few remain from those early times because it was not uncommon then to actually burn (or just get rid of) the handcrafted horses after some time. It wasn’t really until the World Fair in NYC in 1939, at which time some of the horses were brought to the United States that these little pieces of wood were seen more as a form of art and then they grew in popularity and value. Today there are artists who continue to handcraft the wooden horses and paint them in similar styles as crafters did a couple hundred years ago. I’m not exactly sure why I find these little wooden horses so intriguing, but perhaps it is because I feel like there must be a story attached to each one.
This evening Erin and I went to watch the men play at Akropol. Eeek. We won, but a sort of mob happened in the last minute of the game. Akropol is in the “ghetto” of Stockholm. One of their fans, a middle-aged man, jumped over the railing (that separates fans on the second-level from the game on the court below) and rushed the court. He was upset at a gesture that one of the 08 men’s players made. He had to be restrained, but all the home fans became very fired up. There was threatening comments made and coins, cans, and plastic chew containers were thrown on the court. A set of the 08 fans, including Erin and I, as well as the entire men’s team and coaching staff had to wait around in the building for quite some time after the game until the crowds’ drum-playing and rallying wore down. There were tons of kids that were super into it. That was kind of scary for me because why should these kids be all angry and feel the need to get-back-at the other team after a loss? Anyway, it was quite a strange event that happened… strange especially because we’re in Sweden and everything, at least for the vast majority of the time, is very safe and docile. Eventually, we were escorted by police to the parking lot. We all made it out safe thankfully, though I’m not sure anything would really have happened. Anyway, let’s just be glad it all turned out alright. Hopefully that was the first and last time we’ll be a part of something like that.
Don’t worry anyone, it was still a terrific day and I’m still smiling!