Hello from a Spring-like Tallinn! The snow is (nearly!) gone! Only the last sections of the huge piles remain, and they are getting smaller by the day. Winter was long this year, but we are greatly looking forward to summer, which we know will be light, and hopefully warm too!
The photo above was taken from Tallinn's newly reopened Seaplane Harbour museum, which is meant to be the best of it's type in Northern Europe. And having spent a day walking around, and on, submarines, aircraft, ships and much more, we would not argue with that fact! In this photo, we got to dress up in our choice of costume, much to the girls delight, and in true Estonian fashion, not only is there a camera to photograph us, but then it emails us directly with the photo!
It's been two very busy months since our last update, so here are the headlines as to what has been happening!
Following on from the last update
Anya started kindergarten on 1st March and has made friends there already, ironically one boy being an American whose family are also here to church plant! They are part of a team running the Serve the City events, and we have been getting to know the founding couple, Brett and Tammy Toft, who also came around for dinner at ours last Tuesday night.
Our Estonian classes continue, and we have intensified our supplementary internet courses to often doing them every night, and with the lighter evenings already, have often had to stop ourselves at gone ten.
We are continuing to gather, having put on an excellent Easter meal as a team, for a few people. A roast dinner was followed by an Easter egg hunt for the children, before separate discussions were had looking at what Easter is all about. For one visitor, it was her first ever experience of Easter.
Earlier that day, I had also spoken at Praise Chapel, a small local Estonian church where we have been getting to know the leading couple. And as also mentioned in the last update, I visited Hope Church St Petersburg again, this time preaching there, which was my first time doing so since being sent to plant in Tallinn. It was my second return trip to Russia, this time going on my new multi entry annual visa, so for this next year at least, I will be looking to go regularly, maybe every 6 weeks or so.
Prayer for Business
Last time I mentioned how things had opened up so that I had founded a new business in Estonia, which long term we hope to be able to help support the work we are doing in the nations. I'm looking to be able to combine ministry trips with business, so for example, when I was in St Petersburg in March, met with two schools in relation to study options in the UK. A third school has since been in touch (they were unable to meet with me then because of a vacation). Around Estonia I have also been having a little growing interest, but overall, still nothing concrete. Please pray, therefore, for God's favour upon this new business, and for contacts to emerge all over Estonia, and wider in places like St Petersburg, Riga, Vilnius, Helsinki and Stockholm.
And as I said before, being in business has continued to open up opportunities with others in Tallinn - I met with a Canadian business man last month, and also will catch up with another Dad from Mia's school when he returns to Tallinn in May.
One Year On+
We've now been in Tallinn for over 13 months. For those with 3 minutes to spare, I've put together a photo collect to reflect the changing seasons of Tallinn. And here it is;
Last time I talked a little bit about folks looking to join us, and since then the young Estonian/American couple have confirmed they are moving to join us this year, arriving at the end of August most probably, ready for her studies to start in September.
And the British young lady I mentioned has also booked up a trip to Tallinn, coming for a month from 22nd July, initially, depending on what work options open up for her. Please pray for her, and this other couple, that God would bless their plans over these next few months.
Today I also had confirmation of a UK church leader coming to visit us during his sabbatical this summer, coming for a long weekend and being part of our monthly Vision Sunday.
With summer fast approaching, the Hope:Tallinn team are looking forward to putting on a combination of indoor and outdoor events.
Social Action that impacts the city and effects the region
For a long time we have had a heart to bring genuine change for the good of this city. We believe that is what the church is for. And this was particularly highlighted when I was in London last November and met with a homeless lady called Anita, as mentioned in this previous update.
Two areas that are opening up are the following. The first is with Rachel and a women's refuge centre here in Tallinn. Many are women who have previously been trafficked into the sex industry. This centre empowers them to get regular jobs and rebuild broken lives.
The other development, which is still in it's early days, is with the charity Care for Children, which up to now has been working mainly in Asia. A mutual friend, after visiting us here, asked the director of this charity if they would consider working in Eastern Europe, and to our surprise and delight, said yes. So far in Asia, they have placed 250,000 children from state systems, like orphanages, into loving homes. They work at government level and God has opened some amazing doors for them in the past. So please pray as we are at a very preliminary stage here in Estonia, but our hearts are to help support a similar ministry in this region too.
Mia is part of her choir at school and does love to sing (and dance!). Recently, they sang as part of a kindergarten's graduation. This is, of course, all in Estonian. Mia has been taught the Estonian national anthem, and in this little video, standing on a large pile of snow outside our apartment, sings the first verse;
So the above gives you a little more ideas to pray for us all here in Tallinn. I am also personally having continued treatment for my back and leg, which is currently sessions of physio. It's been over 4 months since the initial injury and I pray it is finally starting to get better. I have at least three more physio sessions, which are good but quite painful, and maybe another 5 water sessions too before further assessment is made on my condition. I'm still praying for total health, especially with summer coming, and life speeding up even more in Tallinn.
Sorry it has been a long time without any updates - as always, because so much is going on, it makes it hard to actually share what God is doing! We value every single prayer, and thank you all deeply for the love and ongoing support you have been showing us.