Our dear, amazing friend, Rose Marie Norehed, passed away on March 19th, after a valiant fight against leukemia. We first met her in 1998, when we moved to Gamboula, C.A.R., to join with the Swedish missionaries in their ministries to the local populations. Her warmth and joy were contagious, and her love for the Lord enormous. Over the years, as she came and went from Africa, taking time out to care for her father and attend to a health issue or a job issue now and then in Sweden, the thing that struck me most was her relationship with the locals. She loved them dearly and they knew it and loved her right back. What could be more powerful, more like a Jesus follower/imitator? It seemed to me that she had a steady stream of friends into her home. Whenever I would wander by or be on that side of the mission, there would be a pair or two of flipflops sitting on the porch outside her door, signifying someone was inside with her. She sometimes would share about a specific need or problem, for prayer and maybe input, especially if I already knew about the situation, but most of the time, she was just there for whoever wanted to visit and pray. She was a Sunday school teacher and a midwife, an energetic helper wherever two hands and a heart were needed, a person who loved to laugh and sing, a person who loved the Lord and loved life. We corresponded sporadically as she battled leukemia in Sweden, and she was always concerned with what was going on outside her world, always trusting that God would take care of her. She had such a lovely Swedish lilt to her speech, an everyday melody that would bring a smile to your face, even if your ancestors weren’t from Sweden! And, oh!, her hospitality was tops! On her own 60th birthday, SHE baked and provided cinnamon/cardamom pastries with coffee and then a full meal complete with a special cake for dozens of friends and colleagues. But just the everyday fika (coffee break) would be a treat for anyone passing by at 10 am or 3 pm! She was fun to be with, always ready with a hug and a prayer if you needed it.
RoseMarie is whole and joyful right now, with our Lord who she loves so dearly, but we do miss her. There will be moments when we return to Gamboula, I am sure, when her home or some incident will whisper her name to me and cause me to pause. She was a lovely woman and fun loving friend. Peace to her memory.