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.

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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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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tallinn Update: The Gathering Phase

The weeks have raced by already and so much has happened!  Like I've said many times, when the most is happening, you tend to have the least time to share about it with others!  
And that's part of church plant life, and life in a new culture really.  Sometimes you are on top of things - other times (which seem like the majority, especially in the first year) you are just taken along by life, doing what needs to be done, going from one place to the next....

It's now September.  School has started.  This happened on the 1st September, which like in Russia, is the start of the school year, and even though that was a Saturday this year, that didn't change things!  
In the short video you can see Mia being called up, where she received her Estonian language school book and her cap...she was just a little nervous, she told us after!
She then had her first lesson, which gave us time to meet some parents.  September 1st was also our 11th wedding anniversary, but like the previous four years, it does get a little swallowed by school (oh, and the fact that September 2nd is also Mia's birthday!).  We actually went back to the home of one of Mia's class mates after the events on Saturday.  They are an American family, very new to Tallinn, and also here to church plant.  You can see four more photo's from Mia's first day, including her answer to prayer uniform, by clicking here.

As mentioned in my last post, we had a few days exploring some of Estonia in August.  One day we went about 45km west along a coastal area that has stunning cliffs (picture 1), beaches (5) and a waterfall (2), as well as stumbling across a great Spa hotel that just happened to be on 'Happy Hour' at the time we arrived, which meant we could go swimming for half the price!  I couldn't help notice the conference facilities (that could host more than 400 people) and think "One day, we'll fill this..."

We also went a little east of Tallinn on another day and found (we think) the highest waterfall in Estonia, that actually freezes in winter (Pictures 3 & 4).

We also had Kev Jones over for the day from Helsinki.  Kev and his family had been in the Finnish capital for the month of August getting to know the place.  They are now aiming to move there permanently sometime in Spring 2013 to plant a church.  As well as being a prophetic call over Hope Church in St Petersburg, personally the nearby capital cities were part of what God impressed upon me when He spoke about us moving to Tallinn

So it's on the back of the prophetic that I've been building relationships, with the view to encouraging what God is about to do in these nearby cities.
So it was a great day showing Kev around, talking about how things have gone for us here, praying together.  We are excited to see what happens through them all in Helsinki in the years to come.

We also had Dave & Hannah Henson with us for a long weekend, actually arriving the day after Kev Jones was here (which was then followed by our friends Chip & Helen with their two children arriving on the plane the Henson's flew back on!).  
Dave's mobility issues following the serious back operation he'd had, meant we did less rushing around and more talking about things, which was also a real blessing.
Gathering together on the Sunday afternoon with those already involved, it was great to be released into this season of gathering others.  Taking the lead from Jesus, who gathered and taught to crowds before calling out from those same crowds his disciples, we are now setting out to do the same, with a emphasis on gathering, and not a 'religious' meeting.  So using meals (Taste the Nations starts this Sunday!) twice a month plus another gathering event (eg we played volleyball last week), we'll end the month with a Vision Sunday, which will give some teaching and come back to the big thing we are called to.  
Midweek we'll be praying together (with the first prayer meeting happening tonight!).

Elena arrived at ours early on Sunday morning from St Petersburg - she is looking to join the church plant and is here finding out about a job - she should hear today so please pray that something comes through.  She doesn't yet speak English (she will work in a Russian kindergarten) but has a great heart for Tallinn.

The Gathering Season - so with thoughts of this new season fresh in our mind, we hit the busy school weekend and new school week, and have been struck by how many people we are meeting!  Rachel especially, who has been picking Mia up, has had some great conversations at the school with a number of parents.  There are about two or three international and Estonian families who have expressed an interest in church.   
At our local bus stop as well, she met another mum with her daughter.  Mia pointed out she was wearing the same uniform, so Mia showed the girl her logo and they became friends just like that.  This girl has started in the other class in her year (there are two classes each year that take children from 7 years old all the way up to graduation age!).  This is a Russian speaking girl and mother, and having met them again today (Mia holding hands with this girl and chatting away in Russian) they are already talking about taking it in turns to take the girls in.
Jesus said "Put down your nets" and in just doing so, the act of obedience, they caught a great catch.  And so it seems, just positioning ourselves to start gathering, God is already gathering people to be caught up in the crowd, from which a church will emerge.....it's going to be an exciting season.

 It has been an intense week already, even if it's only Wednesday.  Getting Mia ready for school (which included an evening of double covering all her books!) we've had to very quickly work out what we need to do.  
With Estonia being a very cyber country, it means the school has it's own e-school, where as parents we need to register and once signed in it shows us homework for Mia, the teacher sends us messages as well as getting other notifications.
There is also the contact information for all the other parents and access to enroll in after school clubs and sports.   
The academic day is relatively short at the moment, with Mia's latest class finishing at around two, but yesterday, having done her swimming and ballet trial, she didn't leave until gone 5 - needless to say, both Mia and Anya, not to mention Rachel, have been very tired!

Please pray for them - Mia does love school now (despite the tears on Monday morning stating she didn't want to leave us - this was contrasted by moans that same evening saying she wish she was still at school as she loved it so much!)  Anya has also been 'difficult' this week....but she is making great progress with her potty training.  It's impossible to know the effect all this change is having on their behaviour, and what is just bad behaviour!  Much grace needed at times - thankfully much grace is always available, when we remember to ask for it!

Much more to come soon!

Also coming up;
Church planting series - hear from friends around the world also planting churches (at various phases).  First up, Chris Taylor in The Hague, Holland.

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