Welcome! It's wonderful to see you here!

I'm a passionate writer - and therefore spend most of my time writing thriller novels. But I also live an interesting life in the nations. This blog is here for that aspect of my life - our life - I live with my wonderful wife and two daughters.

I believe in encouragement. I live for obedience. I believe in learning from our experiences, and this blog exists for both of those, and more.

So that you stay connected, getting every new update, please add your email address to receive all updates directly, or follow the RSS feed.

I was part of the leadership team in St Petersburg, Russia - which planted Hope Church in 2009.(www.hopechurchstpetersburg.com).
In March 2012 Hope Church sent my family to plant into Tallinn, the Capital of Estonia. I therefore lead this small but growing church plant team. Here is the website for Hope Tallinn (www.hopetallinn.ee)

For details on our journey here, read the series called Adventures of Faith which is linked for you on the right hand column, just below. That details our original journey to Russia and then onto Tallinn 4 years later.

Author for fiction novels - Cherry Picking (2012), The Last Prophet (2015), The Tablet (2015) and The Shadow Man (2016) are available on all major bookselling sites. Please visit: www.timheathbooks.com

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tallinn Summertime Update - Part 4

 Well it's been quite a time since the last update.  Nearly a week has passed now since we finished filming the Tallinn episode of House Hunters International, which is the most popular program on the American  Home & Garden network.  We can't say any more about this until after the show has aired in the US this Autumn - after that, I will do a special update talking about all things television!  Here the crew (all from the UK) are shown setting up in one of the three properties we visited.  It was a fun, tiring but worthwhile experience - we look forward to seeing what gets produced in the episode that will be shown to millions of Americans.
If it's not too embarrassing (it does have that potential!) then we might share the link to you all at some point - if you ask nicely...

Church Plant: What has been really exciting over these last two weeks, which could have got lost in all the excitement of filming and our car arriving (more on that below) was the first get together of the three families that are part of what will soon be the church plant!  We had a BBQ together and as well as there being 6 adults, there were another 6 children (five of which are girls!)  Already we are an international bunch - There's English, then there is a Dutch family who've moved to join the core team (Arnoud, pictured below on the left) and there's an American family who've just arrived for two years in Tallinn (Nathan, below right).  Elisabeth (Arnoud's wife and pictured at the table with their youngest, the one little boy at the moment in the church plant) and Laura (nearest camera) make up the rest.  And that's before a Russian girl moves to join us and before an Estonian girl (as yet praying about whether she'll be in Tallinn) might join us.

 The girls had a great time playing together - it wasn't quiet but it was fun!

We're starting to meet on Sunday afternoon's now we are all together and it's August already.  It's very relational during the summer - making the most of the outdoors and the sunny sandy beach!
Last Sunday (actually just two families) we went onto the beach, and wanting to play volleyball, I got myself and Arnoud invited into a game where four young people were already playing - church planting can be so much fun at times!  It was great!  Being outdoors generally is just great for meeting people - we said how we met lots of people in the first few weeks, and now, in our new area, we are starting to see that again.  Last night, I 'had the idea' to go out to the field in front of our flat and play football together.  Very soon, a three year old Estonian boy came running over and was kicking the ball with us, his mother chasing after him.  Thirty minutes later, we'd properly met one of our neighbours.  Numbers were exchanged and Rachel and this lady will meet to practice Russian and English together.  This lady's parents also live in the building next to us.  And we know Arnoud & Elisabeth have also been meeting people just like this - it's always exciting to see how God does it, and we pray for much more of it.  It's got to be God that reaches the people of Tallinn - as the Capital city of the most secular nation in Europe, it's not an easy job for man - but it's nothing for God!

And after four years - we have a car!  A real praise point to finish.  
We said how Love Russia had contacted us some months ago about whether we wanted a car.  Not only had we been looking at that very issue ourselves already, we'd been praying for a 7 seater car so as to be able to fit visitors in etc.  Well, the car they generously gave us was indeed a 7 seater Hyundai and here it is!  Not only did they do this, they met us for dinner on the Thursday night before they flew back to the UK, having cleaned the car, done all the major repairs on it and even left a full tank of diesel!!  They have been amazing!  And we are so thankful to God for their hearts and support and generosity in this.  Having got used to travelling by bus, and with free travel for an adult when travelling with Anya (as she's under three) we are certainly not just going to drive from now on.  But with shopping, and crossing the city and longer journeys, it's a real blessing!  I've now been able to register it (an afternoon's coming and going but got there in the end!) as well as getting it insured under it's new Estonian plates!
We also signed up at a local doctors yesterday, which as well as being needed for the girls, and especially for Mia to get her pre-school health check (like in Russia, it's required here for all children), having a local doctor was also needed for Rachel and myself in order to obtain our Estonian driving licence, which we can do next month.  Yesterday we underwent the medical checkup and got our certificate to drive.
It's often this paperwork that can make moving to a new country so confusing - especially when you don't know the main language!  We press on anyway.

Settling in doesn't come easily but we are slowly getting there.  We are exploring the country a bit these next 5 days as we take a 'stay at home' vacation and catch up with ourselves, as well as having some focused family time before Autumn kicks in.  It should be great!  Later this month we have some more visitors - including Kevin Jones coming across for the day from Helsinki, where his family have been 'checking out' the place this month in view of moving there next year to church plant.  Dave & Hannah Henson will also be over in Tallinn for a weekend, no small event following Dave's serious back issues earlier this year.  Our time with them will be great and we are looking forward to showing them more of Tallinn and praying together at the start of this next phase for the church plant.

Hot of the press - As I was writing this during the morning, Rachel was again meeting another local neighbour while out with the girls at the play ground.  This lady apparently approached Elisabeth and Rachel and asked if it was a kindergarten! (Yes there were 5 children playing, but still, not sure it would have really counted as a kindergarten!).  They've swapped numbers, connected on Facebook already so please pray that a good relationship will grow and she'll be interested in what we are all in Tallinn for.  This is, after all, what we are here for!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Four Years In.....and counting.....

July 2008 - Leaving the UK
Feb 2012 - Leaving St Petersburg

Dates and timing are important - I think so anyway.  It's good to reflect on what has happened, and when you hit certain dates, like today, it's really good to declare all the things that God has done.

It's been four years since we flew out from Manchester airport, via Heathrow, for St Petersburg, Russia.

March 2012 - Boxes arrive (and remain packed) to our
rental flat in Tallinn

In those four years we have done three major moves - the first being to St Petersburg, of course, when stepping out onto the tarmac at the airport, it was my first time I'd ever been to that city - quite a way to do it!
And then, three years and seven months on, we moved again - another move, another nation - to Tallinn, the Capital of Estonia. 
July 2012 - Boxes arrive (and get unpacked!) at permanent
home in Tallinn! With the help of friends from Elava Vee.
Here we spent five months in our rental flat, getting documentation ready and having just a little hassle from the banks trying to arrange the home loan we needed, before, finally, ending our four years of renting by moving into our permanent home - with no more moves again for a long long time, we hope!  
Moving so often and so far has proved a great way to 'de-clutter' ourselves, each move providing the opportunity to give away items too big to transport - from sofa's, TV and beds, to a washing machine and garden furniture.  That meant when moving from furnished rental properties, we had quite a few gaps that we've had fun replacing!  We managed this only by selling our UK house a couple of months ago, and once the mortgage was paid off (thankfully this was relatively small), and another loan paid back, there was still a little to make these essential purchases - we look forward to things settling down so that we know where we stand with our cashflow - but having seen all that God has done these last four years, we have total trust and confidence that it's all safely in His hands, anyway!

Setting up base camp - What is exciting, and why we are where we are now living, is it was God that showed us this flat, and dared us to believe Him that we could get it, not just to be a blessing to our family (though it is that as well, because God is a good God and simply loves to bless) but so that it would be (one of the) great venues to help facilitate the church plant here in Tallinn.  We look forward to hosting many things, to putting up many visitors, to having many people over for food, which starts tonight, actually!  God has given us a haven because He knows all the things that are to come, and at the end of the day, some days especially, I sense we are going to need a haven to recharge our batteries in.

Of course, the significant part of these last four years was being a part of the great church plant team that started Hope Church, St Peteresburg - which in just over a months time will be celebrating it's third birthday and is already gathering well over 100 adults on a Sunday.  Arriving on the 1st August and joining Dave & Hannah Henson, who had themselves just arrived a few days before, little did any of us know as to what would soon unfold over the coming months, and now years.  What was clear, even back then, was that God had spoken over the future church in St Petersburg and said that it would plant into Tallinn.  So I guess, to some degree, it's not a total surprise that we are now in Tallinn!

As well as the three moves, there has, of course, been the need to learn new languages - Russian is still a work in progress, though very proficient now, and Estonian - well, we've started at least!  We thought Russian was hard - Estonian is in it's own level of complexity, matched only with Finnish, these two languages themselves being quite closely related.  So please pray for us that we would also pick up Estonian, and, come the next four years, maybe could also then write that we are a little more proficient too with this difficult but beautiful language.

Welcome to our new flat - 3rd floor on the left
Postal address;
Helme 16/2, 39

Mia and Anya enjoying the balcony, outdoor space at home that we've not had in the last four years.
What's been great over this time is all the great cultural stuff you pick up - like savory pancakes (which we are cooking again tonight) and how the Russian's cook шашлык (shasklik) on the BBQ - and we did that last night as well!
Life in another culture (or two) certainly isn't all bad!  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  We feel all the better for having experienced what we have - it's vital that when you enter a new culture, you engage in it and, in time, actually learn to enjoy and appreciate it too.

Mia was two years and eleven months old when we left England, so has now spent more of her life abroad than in the UK - home is a fluid term for someone now so used to moving around.  Anya, at three months old when we flew her back to Russia, doesn't know what it is like to live anywhere other than where she is now - at nearly two and a half, it'll be Estonia, and therefore Tallinn, that shapes her childhood years - and this excites us, to see how their outlook and lives will grow and change with this different upbringing to mine or Rachels.  Anya is doing well, talking lots - she's very funny!  It's hard to know how things are effecting her, if indeed they are - she is a loving and sociable little lady.  Mia is also a very outward girl (nearly 7 year old!)  And last night, while reading Acts chapter 10 with her, she then asked if she could be filled with the Holy Spirit like they were in Acts - so we both prayed with her, and after she started crying and saying how it's a shame Jesus had to die for her, and why couldn't there have been a lamb!  

And it was four years ago since this blog was launched - we arrived in Russia with Microsoft email addresses and a blog, yet in our flat neither worked - so we started again on Google.  And three years ago I turned on the option on the blog to record the statistics as to who was reading the blog from where - and this has grown to be a huge encouragement - as we've seen people standing with us.  As our sole means of communication now, it's great to have seen a huge jump in readers since we made the move to Tallinn.  In fact, of the over 8000 viewers on this blog since July 2009, 52.5% of these have been in the last five months, since our move to Tallinn - that's an average of 859 per month!  And the top 10 countries are (in order from 1-10) UK, USA, Russia, Estonia, Ukraine, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Latvia and Finland.  These make up 90% of the following, with South America and the Far East making most of the rest.  So where ever you are reading this from, thank you!  Thank you for praying for us, for walking with us, for joining us on this journey.  We are just four years in...there is a long way to go yet!

Unity. Team. Spirit.  Three words that came out of an afternoon seeking God for what shape the church plant will take - more on that later - some photo's of the coastal scenes captured on that sunny July day are here.

News Flash -  This Friday (3rd August) we are being given a car!  A real answer to prayer, and though the bus system is very good (and we'll continue to use it as much as possible) a car will just give us some extra freedom, as well as making doing the shopping lots easier!  Friday is also the date when, 13 years previously, God first spoke to me about the former Soviet Union (yet more 'dates' and more on that next time!).
This Saturday 4th August, until Tuesday 7th August, filming starts for our episode on House Hunters International!  We've seen the schedule now, and as well as being lots of fun, we hope, it's clearly four busy days of filming!  We're also trying to organise a BBQ on Saturday night for the three families so far with us in the church plant, exciting seeing a team come together....

Prayer Points;

  • That these days of filming will be smooth, fun and above all, glorifying to God and what He is doing with us in Tallinn.  It's also potentially a very good profile raiser for the church plant as well as my novel.
  • That our families of those in the church plant would settle quickly into our new homes and be ready for an exciting Autumn.
  • That our Estonian language learning ability would be given favour by God.
  • That what God has done in these last four years would be nothing, compared with what He is about to do!

Stay connected - there are loads of ways of staying in touch with this blog - 'Join this site' by clicking on the button at the bottom of the right hand column, subscribe by email by entering your address in the box at the top or feeds from the site again on the right hand column.

Coming soon; 
September onwards -  More regular entries as life settles into more of a rhythm.
Church Planting series - where I look to dispel the myths, with lots of input from other city church plants we are in relationship with.  Don't miss it!

Contact Details;
Address: Helme 16/2, 39, Tallinn, 10614, Estonia
Email: timinrussia@gmail.com (timintallinn@gmail.com currently disabled by google!)
Facebook Group: God Loves Tallinn
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