Olga, Nils, Dagny and Robert.
They gave their all to China and the belief that they could help people by teaching them about God. They went there knowing that this was their calling, and it was to become both their life and death. Nils, Robert and some of their children would never return to Sweden, instead they were buried in China.
I remember when I first saw the photo of my great grandfather Robert’s grave in China. It was impressive. It rose high towards the sky, brick by brick, just like the cumbersome work of the missionary himself.
After having talked to a relative with more knowledge about the conditions in China I understood that this grave was no more. It had been torn down and the beautiful plaque stating Roberts name along with two of his children, was gone.
I gave up on the thought to go visit the site and try to compare the memories from all the letters and photos with what is left of it today.
You know how life is always going – can’t be done/ can be done, forever changing back and forth leaving you clueless most of the time?
Well, the missionary society that my great grandparents worked with, still exists. Once a month they publish a newsletter describing what happens with their work in China, Mongolia etc. This June, there was one article in particular that caught my eye.
It stated that there is a Chinese man – Liu Hong – in Yuncheng who has started to collect everything about the missionaries active in that region from 1888 and onwards. The first missionary to open a station in Yuncheng was Erik Folke, who was also the founder of this missionary society. My great grandfather Robert was assigned this particular station in 1895, and opened an asylum to help people in need to get rid of their addiction to opium. He and his wife Dagny also opened both a boy- and a girlschool there.
Liu Hong is part of the Christian congregation in Yuncheng and has collected and translated many items to tell the life stories of the missionaries who were working there. On top of that, they have organized a garden where they are now going to put gravestones with the names of the missionaries who died there – and both Robert and Nils have gotten their stones back!
Looking at the Chinese website describing this amazing project – of course I don’t understand anything it says – I can only marvel at the size of the collection of photos. And I recognize my own great grandparents in several photos. What a treasure!
From the newsletter I understand that this collection will be saved for 20 years – so that should give me plenty of time to plan a trip 😊, even though Life might take me for another turn before then…