So much has happened in this time, that had we not written things down along the way, I think much of it would have been forgotten by now. As I said in the opening entry, I really felt that it was important to record all that took place - testimony is important after all - in the hope that it would encourage hundreds of others to go and do the same in their own city, nation or nations that they move to!
These last two days have been fun - and very relational. Yesterday we had the day with a wonderful family, who'd traveled up from Valga, which is 3 hours south of us, on the Latvian border. It was a very encouraging day - their oldest is just three months older than Mia, so they were getting along great! They have three children - two girls, 6 and 4, and a totally contented little boy (he was so peaceful!) who is 1. Though we've been in some written contact before, and I think one Skype call, this was the first time we all met each other for real and it was a really fun day for all - we went onto Tallinn zoo after lunch, many of the animals however were not around - the ones that were excited our girls a lot! (The funniest point was when Mia, in her excitement, pointed out a Seagull like it was some exotic caged animal!). They've lived in Estonia for two and a half years and both their girls are already fluent in Estonian, like Mia is in Russian, so it's funny to think that with enough exposure, both Mia and Anya too could be speaking that well by 2015.
Today, on another blue sky but still chilly day in Tallinn, especially with the wind, we had a great time hanging out with Barry and Brenda from EVK. We went up to their house by bus, which is outside of Tallinn about 14km north, the bus ride taking us past such truly beautiful scenery as well as the sea. We passed some huge houses (I referred to it being like the Beverly Hills of Tallinn!) and when picked up by Brenda from the nearest bus stop, the 5 minute drive to their little neighbourhood was wonderful - they live in a beautiful house in a small community of about 200 homes - all about 500 metres from the sea. With the sea on one side, the other three are covered with forest. Stunning! It was great hanging out and getting to know each other more - the girls felt so at home with them that it almost got too much!
Barry had mentioned before whether I wanted to do any of their Wednesday night teaching sessions, and chatting that through today I've agreed to take this coming Wednesday's session - I want to start on the book of Ruth and use that great story to cover some practical areas. I've said it's really four parts so we'll see how this week goes as to whether they ask me back for more....
So that's this first month - there has been so much that has happened, and we have really felt blessed to have been a part of it all. We feel truly honoured that God has got us this far, and we know what he has started he is well able to complete.
The 'Towards Tallinn' series recorded the challenges we faced leading up to moving here, just as this series has covered the first month. Of course, the challenges don't stop here - it's through them that we grow the most however.
These next five months will see some of our biggest challenges come to the focus of our prayers as deadlines approach and things need to get done - and for these I now highlight so that you can pray with us for break-through. Taking new ground is never easy - you only have to see the battles Israel had to fight to possess their promised land. And with church planting there is a real spiritual element as well. Years back I called this blog 'Hearing My Heart' because I wanted it to be a place for that very thing. That in the written word, it would be a place to truly express who I am and what God has put on my heart to share.
And as a father these realities of faith that we're walking into in these next five months throw me time and again onto God as only he knows the way through. He could use the sale of our house in the UK to go quickly and well which will provide for most, if not all, of our needs these next few months. Without a quick sale, or without a good price, we face some challenges - which we really ask you to pray for. Our moving to Tallinn was always in two stages - this first stage where we are renting, but it's the second stage, moving into a purchased property that offers the stability and permanence, though at a challenge. In July we have to pay the balance of the purchase for our new flat - having paid 15% already (which was borrowed and needs returning!) we aim to finance most of the rest through a home loan here in Tallinn - but that is likely to at most be 75% of the value - the other 10%, close to twenty thousand euros, we'll need to have found ourselves (again, the quick sale of our UK house should provide both this and the deposit money borrowed). We have to put the kitchen into the flat, which we have lined up. We'll also need some furniture, as having rented and moved to two countries these last four years, most of the big items we've given away before each move. And once moved, though not totally essential, we'd really like a car.
Once again, a quick and decent priced sale of our UK house would basically solve all of these - this isn't me asking for money! Just your fervent prayer in this house sale situation!
As for those churches and individuals that do support us monthly, or by one off gifts, we thank you so much - this support accounts for about 75% of our income and we really couldn't be here without it - we'd be totally stranded in fact! And inevitably over these last four years we have seen a drop off in this kind of giving, which is totally natural and normal, but as we start life again, and look to build things here in Tallinn, it might be that there are those around the world that as a family, or as part of a church, do want to start investing a little each month into the work here in Tallinn. These next 18 months are certainly going to be our most vulnerable time and if, after praying about this, you do feel that there is someway you could get involved in this way, we'd love to hear from you and help you to do that.
You can email me on: firstname.lastname@example.org
So what are our highlights of this first month;
- Meeting Leo and Shani on that first day
- Enjoying our new flat and receiving our furniture here
- 'Bumping' into so many people in the local shop and play-ground
- Getting to know the churches more - 'EVK' and 'Missio' - and the relationships that go with these!
- Meeting with Tiina, an Estonian lady
- Seeing others interested in what is going on here
- Starting our Estonian (which we learn't today was a little old fashioned!)
We thank you all so much for following us on this adventure - this is not the end, nor the beginning of the end - it is merely the end of the beginning.
Tomorrow I will put an entry together that includes all the posts this month, as well as from our journey to Tallinn and our original journey to Russia. Thanks for reading - and see you in Tallinn soon!