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7. The girl from Norrland

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Marianne, born on 6th September 1942, grew up in the small village of Högbrännan (about 50 km north of Örnsköldsvik) in Ångermanland. She is the daughter of Elsa and Ludvig Eriksson. Marianne had eight siblings. Father Ludvig was a farmer but during the winters he worked with logging in state forests. The fields were meager and Marianne's childhood was marked by poverty. Their house was old, drafty and cold. They had no real heating system in their house, just a small stove in the bedroom – not to mention when they had to go to the outside toilet in the middle of a frigid winter. To this day Marianne remembers how distressed she was because of this. To fetch water in large milk bottles during the winters was not an easy task for her mother. You could only wash yourself once a week when mother Elsa had heated up the water. The living situation got better when Marianne was seven years old. This was thanks to financial aid directed to families with larger amounts of children. The Eriksson family could build a new house with a boiler and everything that belonged to the common standard back then.

Marianne says: Even as a child I longed to get away from the cold north. When I was five years old, I used to sit on the cottage steps and wistfully follow migratory birds as they flew south when summer was coming to its end. I longed to travel to countries with warmer climates.

When I was seven years old, the school nurse told me that I was very skinny and that I had a poor blood count. There had be something radically done about this. My aunt and uncle, Vega and Melker Häggblad, who lived in Djuptjärn (about 5 km from Högbrännan) were better off than the Eriksson family and so it was decided that I would stay with them. I stayed with them, with minor interruptions, until I finished sixth grade.

However, Vera´s and Melkers´s home was no rest home. I babysat their two children very often. I guess you could say that I was a bit of a nursemaid, despite my young age. I took a lot of responsibility for the household when my aunt and uncle worked outdoors making hay during the summers. It was not just food that was to be cooked, but the chickens had to be cared for and the eggs that they laid had to be washed.

Something that I had a lot of appreciation for was the Pentecostal church in Djuptjärn. I absolutely loved listening to the pastor, Erik Samuelsson, talking about when he and his wife were missionaries in India. He also taught us, youngsters, how to play the guitar. It should also be mentioned that during the 1950s there was an on-going revival in these parts of northern Sweden.

I also came in contact with another missionary family who had worked in Sierra Leone, a country in the Western parts of Africa. They told us a lot about their work and I often felt that missionary work should be a part of my future life. When I was 10 years old, I knew that I would become a missionary!

In the summer of 1955, I was at a youth camp in Kantsjö, a small village between Högbrännan and Djuptjärn. The main speaker was Wasti Feldt (later Wasti Feldt-Johansson). In the so-called “after-meeting” of one of the evening services, a prophetic message came to her. In this prophecy she told us about a little girl who used to sit on the cottage steps, watching the migratory birds and yearn for warmer countries. I wondered if it could be me that she was referring to. She also said that the girl and her family would migrate to a land far, faraway where the summer is everlasting. Then she told us details about my life that she could not possibly know, and thus I became convinced that it was me she prophesied about. This was a greatly impacting experience to me and one could say that it was an important milestone on my way to a missionary deed.


1954. Marianne, the tall girl just to the right of center, with her mother Elsa, behind Marianne, and some siblings and relatives. Dad Ludvig is not in the picture.

When I was 13 years old, I became a student at the Umeå Secondary School. This coincided with my dad and three of my brothers finding jobs on the construction of the power station in Stornorrforsen. We rented a small cottage in the village of Baggböle (situated 10 km west of Umeå Centre). It was a very small house and it had a complete lack of any heating facilities, so feeling cold kind of followed me. We tightly crowded up in a huge bunk bed. As an attempt to get some heat I used a sleeping bag. The lack of food and not getting enough sleep meant that I always felt tired. My family literally had to shake me out of my sleeping bag in order to wake me up in the mornings. I travelled by bus to get to the school in Umeå, but first I had to go for half an hour to reach the actual bus stop. During the winters it was dark and cold, both when I went to the bus in the mornings and when I came home from school later in the days. I often had to go through deep and thick snow. I have never in my life felt as cold as I did back then. No lunch was served in the school and I never had any food with me. Thus, I was always hungry. When my sister, who worked in Umeå, understood the situation, she told me to come to her at lunchtime – she could give me food. It was about half an hour`s walk to her, so I had to trot to get there, quickly throw the food into my mouth and run back to be in school in time when the next class began.

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