With the clocks changing last night (our first change for a year as Russia did not change their clocks last October) it means now, approaching 8pm, we still have a blue and sunny evening - and it's only going to stay lighter later from here on. Quite how it will compare to the White Nights of St Petersburg, which saw sunshine at midnight, we wait excitedly to see!
We're coming to the end of our fourth weekend in Tallinn since arriving on 1st March. Next Sunday is a month already, but before then we have a busy week, and before that we have a few things to share from these last few days.
This morning we went to a new church - 'Missio' co-led by Heigo, who I met with a week ago, and who through a couple of mutual friends, we'd been put in touch with a month or so before leaving Russia. I shared for about 10 minutes at the end of the meeting about what we are here for, but the main focus was saying we want friends and help! Though a small church (two small churches actually merged a year ago and there were about 25 there today) it had a great family feel and a real hunger and sense of the Presence of God. We connected with the other co-leader, who head's up Alpha in Estonia. There is an Alpha conference here in April. There was also another visiting American there, who shared an update on what he is doing. He's been here for 3 years and working with something called Serve The City. Its aim is simply to get people serving this city in practical ways (eg soup kitchens, medical aid) and while serving together, Christians and not-yet Christians build relationships and forge good friendships, while benefiting the city at large. He said half his volunteers and half his leaders are not yet believers. His name is Brett and we'll be meeting with him again, I might grab a coffee with him this coming week, and we'll look at ways to get involved more.
We also met an Estonian teacher there, so when we're a little more organised and the finances have settled so that we can see how we're doing, we'll know who to ask for lessons!
Dropping my mum back at the airport yesterday on the bus, I was joyed once again by this city to be able to go there and back, including her checking in and going through customs, and with the two journeys and waiting for each bus, still it was all done in just 40 minutes. True, we live near the airport, but the city has this manageable feel to it that never ceases to surprise.
On Friday, at the playground, Rachel did meet with one of the mums she'd connected with last week - the other had contacted her before to say she couldn't be there due to illness of her child. Please pray for those we meet regularly with, especially these parents at the local play ground. Later on Friday, in the local Stockmann supermarket next to us, we took the girls to play in the play area and after some encouragement, Mia got playing so nicely with a younger Russian girl - and then Anya, now left to her own devises by her sister, quickly made her own friend, a girl a bit order than her. So for about 30 minutes they were all playing so nicely. We left contact details with Mia's new friend, also called Anya, in case they want to play again. It might sound quite organised friendship making by us, but with everyone she's ever known either in England or Russia, we really see that Mia needs other friends who she can just be a little girl with!
And finally, in the last entry I mentioned that I would talk a little about the wider scene, things that we'll be involved in that aren't necessarily just in Tallinn, but wider, building largely on the contacts and community that makes New Frontiers a true family on mission together. In mid April I plan to be going south to a small town in central Estonia, home of an Englishman named Simon and his family. This is a regular monthly meeting of prayer and encouragement and comes out of some other contacts, one being David Jones, who is in Latvia and will be at this meeting, and another being Arnoud, a Dutchman who lives in very Southern Estonia, on the Latvian border. Arnoud and his wife and children are actually coming to see us in Tallinn on Friday. We are really looking forward to spending the day with them, getting to know them, hearing their story, and learning what God might be opening up for them in their future. We don't know what God has in store but it'll be great to meet others who've been living in Estonia for some time with the same heart for mission and church planting as we have. So please pray they all have a safe journey and that they have a great day in Tallinn!
In May I will also be travelling wider still - probably for one weekend to St Petersburg (though this is yet to be confirmed for certain) and once for sure to Riga, on the first weekend of May, for the NEW EUROPE conference, which is really the Riga church plant hosting a weekend for those interested in church planting, or being involved in someway, in the New Europe area, ie Eastern European countries. I've been building a good relationship with Matt in Riga for a year now, so personally it'll be great to see him and his home city. As a family we've also talked about taking short trips to Helsinki and Stockholm, all possible in a day from Tallinn, and much more doable now than when the girls all start at school in August. Both these cities have church plant teams arriving in the next year or so too.
In this coming week, as well as Friday with this great family, we have an Estonian lady coming for dinner (probably tomorrow night) and are also going for dinner at Barry and Brenda's next Saturday afternoon.
And between here and then, there is a whole week of possibilities. A week to meet new people. A week to build on relationships already starting. A week to see what God is doing and doing our best to do the same! And everything that happens (well, the best bits anyway!) you can read about right here, as we enter the last week of our first month, and therefore the last few entries of this Breaking New Ground series. You've been reading in your hundreds, and this we find hugely encouraging. We thank God that you are praying for us. And do keep praying - pray whether some of you can come visit. Pray whether God would have you involved here in the short-term or moving here for the long term. Pray all sorts of prayers - God is waiting to answer your most extreme prayers and bless you with even more. Until next time...