|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.
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|
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.
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....
- 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.
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!
Address: Helme 16/2, 39, Tallinn, 10614, Estonia
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