What a fun week it has been. Today in Tallinn the Christmas market opened. This is now known to be one of the best markets of its kind in Europe and will be around for the next six weeks or so, usually finishing about a week into January. It is located in Town Hall Square, which is the centre of the Old Town, Tallinn's very beautiful medieval section. All that we need now is the snow to come - which is forecast for later this week - plus Father Christmas ('Jõuluvana') to turn up (which he does next weekend), when I guess the Christmas tree lights get turned on properly as well.
The market sells a wide range of local products - from the very traditional wooden items to the woolen clothing that will keep you very warm for the winter weather to come.
They also sell cups of Glogg, the local mulled wine as well as other local Estonian food's cooking away on large open grills. The smells and sounds, especially once it gets dark (which it does by about 4pm already) is really special. The snow covered winter market from our first visit to Tallinn in January 2011 is one of our best memories.
We will be no doubt returning a few times to the market, and once the snow comes, will be able to share further photo highlights from this special place.
This week was also Thanksgiving - and with great American friends around us here in Tallinn, we were invited to share dinner with them. It actually became a church plant meal as the three families were able to be together with three other people there too. Nathan and Laura did a wonderful job of hosting us and cooking a delicious dinner, it was special for us all to be a part of this holiday with them.
With the temperatures now on their way down (the minus figures are coming back again this week, as well as the snow) we took our visitor, Sarah Watson from Stockport, to the beach today, though she declined the opportunity to go for a swim! Once again we are thankful to God for the place He has rooted our family firmly into - we are looking forward to seeing all that God will do in Tallinn.
This coming week - and something I'd love you to pray for - I am flying to London for a conference. My last trip, two nights, was quite hard on the home front as both girls really seemed to not do so well with me being away. Due to the way the flights work, I will be away this coming week for six days. They both now know I am going away, and I hope the promise of me buying them a gift to give them on my return will help them when I'm gone, but I would really value your prayers for Rachel and the girls while I am away - at least we still have Sarah with us until Thursday, which is a great blessing. I arrive back on Sunday, about two hours before we have a church meal at our home.
The conference itself is something being run by David Stroud and his Christ Church London team. He has invited a church leader from New York and the conference is called the Global Cities Conference. Please pray that I learn everything I need to learn from these three days that I am with them. The first day is much smaller, with a round table discussion, and the last two days are larger with a classic conference feel. I want to meet with God. I want to be encouraged by others ahead of me in similar settings. I want to gain all I can. And I want to bring back, and help implement, everything I can for Tallinn too!
Finally, tomorrow is Vision Sunday for the Hope:Tallinn church plant. Please pray that it would go well (maybe you are reading this after Sunday, so thank God it went well!).
Until next time! Be blessed. (Below is a video taken today, while it was still light, from the Christmas market).