Two nuns beyond the Artic Circle

The religious Amanda and Carla (Congregation of the religious of Mary's Lambs) live in Lannavaara, Northern Sweden. Silence, prayer and very low temperatures

Lannavaara, one hundred inhabitants in Swedish Lapland, is located 250 km beyond the Polar Artic Circle. For the past two years Sister Amanda and Sister Karla have been living here to pray, in the silence of this “barren land”. “There will soon be three of us, because a new sister is about to arrive from Norway”, is the first thing Amada Mobergh, Swedish, 56, enthusiastically said. Her story is full of love for God, whom she discovered at twenty. “I converted, after having been raised in a very secular environment in Stockholm”. When I found Jesus I also discovered my vocation”. In the thirty years spent in the United Kingdom, in the congregation of the Missionaries of Charity, the desire for a more contemplative life became irresistible. “I was very afraid and sad because I loved my congregation, I was grateful for the many years lived together. But I had to understand if that desire was the will of God, a whim, or a temptation. Miracles. It happened in 2011. “When the bishop of Stockholm gave me permission to return to Sweden to start this new life, he told me he was happy but that he wouldn’t have been able to support me in any way” since the Swedish Church is small and poor. So Sister Amada spent a month visiting four monasteries in Southern Sweden to understand how to get around “without money, a home, and without knowing anything of the local environment”. For a set of coincidences that the religious called “miracles”, she received a phone-call from the deep north at the end of the stay: there was a house on rent. “The Sisters gave me the money for the train trip and I immediately left for the north”. The house turned out to be not suitable, but the “miracles” continued until Sister Amanda found a temporary accommodation for herself and for Sister Karla. “We arrived December 24 2011, the temperature was -30. I immediately understood that this is where I had to be”. After a few months they visited the old school of Lannavaara, “surrounded by wilderness”, perfect, unused for years and expensive. Other miracles: “We moved there even though we lacked the money to buy it. We worked day and night to make it liveable. One day a man from Norway passed by, enthusiastic about our experience. He had never heard of a monastery in the far north”. After a few weeks we received the exact sums to purchase the school. “Every day God helps us go on with His Providence. His daily miracles enable us to go on”. Lives for God. “Silence, solitude and prayer” mark the days of Amada and Karla. “We pray together, and during the evening meals we converse. It will be the same also when there will be three of us”. “My suffering is to see there are no sacraments in Sweden. There is spiritual poverty, distance from God and from the Church”. This is the meaning of life here in the monastery Saint Joseph: “to pray and to offer one’s life to God following the example of Mary for the conversion of the souls, especially of Scandinavians and of the Catholic Church in Sweden”. The experience of darkness that here lasts almost 7 months helps “the prayer of all those who live darkness within themselves, to find the light of Jesus”. Daily life. In addition to prayer there is also work and reception. Sister Karla is extraordinary talented in wood-chiselling; the nuns also grow and sell aromatic herbs and candles. “We never go out”, but the news has spread of the two nuns living there. For the first Christmas in Lannavaara “we crafted small nativity scenes and visited all the homes in the village to give them as presents and show people we are Christians with a soul”. We received a warm reception and since then people go to the monastery to have a coffee, prayer, and meditate on the Word. Another gift of God is the English priest who lives in the monastery six months a year. When he isn’t there a priest from the parish comes to celebrate the Eucharist, or else the nuns go to the parish: 430km distance. “It’s very dark during the winter, the streets are covered with ice, snow, wind and deers and all sort of wild animals cross the streets. It’s risky, but we got used to it. All you need is to pray and go on”. The future. On May 1st 2015 the Sisters obtained the diocesan recognition as “Congregation of the Lambs of Mary”. Are there difficulties? Loneliness? “Yes, at times we feel as if nobody cares if we are alive or dead. But we’re never discouraged”. Loneliness is part of human experience, “wherever we are in the world, inside or outside the Church”. Indeed, “I have received so many graces from God and from the Church that it would be wrong to complain or get discouraged. And I want to offer my life to render thanks for all of this”. Now their wish is to transform the old school into a veritable monastery. An English architect has given them the project and the town Council approved it. A new miracle is on the way.

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