This is part 2 of my brief account of my Europe Voyage. To read part 1, click here!
SWEDEN & DENMARK
One of my Sabbatical goals was traveling to the countries of my ethnic heritage (England, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands-didn’t make it), the last of which was Sweden. I was welcomed by my cousin Luke and his beautiful family (his wife is Swedish) into their home in Örkelljunga … and along the way I encountered many more towns whose names I could not pronounce! Luke and family taught me the Swedish tradition of ‘fika’– a coffee break between every meal. No wonder my late-grandma & I have such an enduring love for coffee! At the Emigrants Museum in Småland (the province my maternal great-great grandparents are from), I filled in some gaps of my 100%-Swedish grandmother’s migration story to Minnesota and later to a dairy farm in Turlock, CA.
Istanbul is the bustling metropolis where Europe and Asia meet. I loved taking ferries across the Bosphorus and literally being in-between continents. As a TCK (Third Culture Kid) growing up straddling nations, these in-between places are my sweet spot. It was here that I met up with Brenda from Singapore (pictured with me on the Bosphorus)—an international student who faithfully attended our Bible studies during her exchange program at the University of Hawaii 3 semesters ago. Our host was my friend Tabea (German) who spent her childhood growing up in Turkey and who speaks perfect Turkish. A highlight was a visit to the 6th century Hagia Sophia, a church-turned-mosque-turned-museum which memorializes (all in one “layered” building) Constantine’s Christian empire, the expansion of the Muslim world, and a modern secular democracy. The Hagia Sophia deserves it’s own entire blog post.
BOSTON / DC / PORTLAND
I re-entered the United States through one of our oldest cities and the site of recent protests, Boston. Taking a walk on the “Freedom Trail”, I encountered pre-Revolutionary War history. Everywhere was evidence of the racial injustice interwoven into the fabric of my Nation’s foundations. How grievous to observe the church’s justification of slavery, as well as the glaring absence of narratives on the native communities that once flourished in the land.
A 12-hour Megabus ride delivered me to Washington D.C. where I visited the Smithsonian Museums of African American History and Native American History. Both contained stories both overwhelmingly grievous and full of hope. My last stop was Portland, OR where I attended a symposium held by the North American Institute of Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS). In this forum, brothers and sisters in Christ representing the beauty and richness of Native American tribes of both US & Canada grieved historic trauma and celebrated the Creator’s restorative plan. By the end, I was full to the brim with experiences and encounters to keep me pondering for years to come!
Slowing down and staying with my family during my last month in Redding, CA allowed me space for reflection, time with friends, and the chance to attend a Schwab family reunion! My mom & her siblings grew up in Tokyo, Japan. They and their offspring have since settled in various locations across the globe like true TCKs. It was special to see my mom’s siblings and some cousins all in the same place again. More than ever, I recognize the importance of knowing who I am and where I have come from. What a perfect way to conclude my Sabbatical journey!
In summary, I traveled for 105 days, to 11 countries, taking 13 flights, sleeping in 31 beds, with 50+ train rides, and plenty of new friends! I traversed beautiful landscapes in Europe and the US, enjoyed rich reunions with family and friends, and experienced meaningful paradigm shifts as I’ve encountered new ideas (which I hope to recount in future blog posts–so subscribe to hear more!). My heart overflows with gratitude for all the Lord allowed me to do in this beautiful season of rest & learning!
And my peregrenatio journey continues…