Grand Finale

I've been running around Tartu for the last two days. Now I'm back home and I can really call it a day. Over the two days we were able to sort out our huge shoe-box present pile and take 90 presents to the kids in need. My heart is filled with gratitude and amazement because we prayed and asked for 90 presents but in the end we got about 115. I have been reminded again that when God blesses, He doesn't fill half of the cup, He fills it so that the cup would overflow. Our cup truly overflows. 

As I saw the excitement and the joy of these little kids I knew instantly that our presents went to the right place. Those smiles and the thankfulness of their teachers made our effort well worth it. We're so going to do this again!

Now I have another problem. We need to figure out what to do with the extra 25 shoe-boxes. Oh, I wish I had more problems like this in my life right now!

The piles were truly impressive.

That's what blessing looks like.

With one of the piles. Great stuff.


Tuesday's Tune

I discovered The Staves this last spring. It's a band of three gorgeous sisters from Watford, UK. I really like their style. Apparently their name is getting bigger and more known, especially after they went on a tour together with Bon Iver (!!!) last year. I like many of their songs but I've chosen to share their Mexico, just because its video is so magical. So today's tune is The Staves and their Mexico.


We went berry picking today. My mom felt strong enough to come with us. Let's just say that the most ordinary activities seem very special to us these days when we get to do them together. Hard times make us appreciate the most simple things in a way we didn't even know it was possible. And we give thanks in all circumstances.

Another thing that made me really glad today was the realisation that I get to see Estonian autumn after three years of being away. It has always been the last week of August that I've gone to England. So this is the first time after my Newbold sage that I will experience autumn at home. I have no idea how many autumns I will see here in the future, but until my journey takes me to other places again I enjoy Estonia and its nature as much as possible.

So there was no chance I would have left my camera home today.

Mom, my hero.
red bilberry


We had a family reunion few days ago. Every time we get together with our family from my mom's side I realise again - we really are an extraordinary bunch of people. The family is quite big, my grandparents had five children (my mom, her sister and three brothers), plus their spouses, 16 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. My grandad and grandma are already resting in peace but the rest of the family is very much alive. So we get together for a day every August to celebrate life and family. I always look forward to these wonderful days.

This year we had quite a program. We started our reunion by having a tour in a famous Estonian observatory and space centre, one of my uncles has got a doctor's degree in physics and he has worked in that centre for decades so he knows people. They showed us a massive telescope Estonian astronomers use and a space centre where they built our first space rocket not long ago. Fascinating stuff, really. And then we had a big church booked in southern Estonia and we gave there an hour long classical concert - some of us are professional or semi-professional musicians and it has become our family tradition to make music when we meet each other. And then we went to one of my cousin's summer house and had a real feast with tons of delicious food and swim in a lake and sauna and all.

But it's always the people that fascinate me the most. I know my grandparents saw some tough times in their life but they always stayed faithful to God. And I keep wondering whether it's the blessing of their faithfulness that we, their descendants, have upon us. I don't know how else to explain the success and blessing that seems to be on our family. It's a bunch of extremely intelligent and at the same time humble and down to earth people who do well in life and who bless others around them. I love these people to bits and I'm impatiently looking forward to the time when Jesus has come back and when we once again sit around a long table and we invite Jesus to hang out with us and we have our family reunions again. With tons of delicious food and sauna and swim in a lake, of course. And without tears or sorrows, for the order of old things has passed away.


Tuesday's Tune

I start working officially for the church from the beginning of September. That is less than two weeks from now. And as this time approaches, it gets more serious and bigger for me every day. When I think of the work I'll have to do and the road I'll have to walk down, I get these lyrics in my head:

I've got a hard road to travel
And a rough rough way to go
Said it's a hard road to travel

And a rough rough way to go
But I can't turn back,
My heart is fixed
My mind's made up,
I'll never stop
My faith will see, see me through

So today it's time to go back to old stuff. Jimmy Cliff and his Hard Road to Travel is my companion these days.


Shoebox Presents

Our first shoebox presents. They were worth taking a nice picture of them.

Sorting and packing. Location: my bed.
It was a few weeks ago when I got a phone call from a journalist who works for a big Estonian newspaper. She had noticed our Shoebox Presents' project somewhere and was interested in more detailed information. So I told her about how the idea came from Newbold and how I wanted to do a similar project here in Estonia. Two days later a very nice and positive article was published in that newspaper. And well, after that things got serious. Every single day for the last two weeks I've got emails and messages from people I don't know, wanting to join our project. Of course, come and join us, I tell them, let's make the first school day of these kids happier and better. Let's spread love.

The only bad thing is that I've completely lost control over what's happening and over the list of people who want to join us and who've already given their present. The pile of presents in Tartu's church seems to get bigger daily. But I'm not even worried about the mess, in a week's time we'll sit down with friends and count the presents and sort them out and praise God for His goodness. Yes. And we want to do it all over again next summer.


I think this last weekend I saw the church at its best.

Studying theology is just about the best thing that has happened to me. But it has its own dangers, too. You sit in a classroom or in the caf with fellow theologians and you analyse and assess everything. You talk so much about the church and it's positive or negative sides, it's victories and failures that there's a possibility you somehow detach yourself from the 'fellowship of believers'. You become an observer. You become a doctor who's performing a surgery on a patient, carefully and caringly, of course, but without feeling what the patient feels.

But last weekend as I preached at two different church events I enjoyed the true fellowship. I really felt I was part of the body of Christ and that body of Christ was functioning the way it was meant to function. I wasn't a doctor - even though I was the one sharing the Word of God with others - but I was the patient. I was in pain and confused and everyone around me helped me to carry this burden. People around me breathed in the same rhythm as me, their hearts beat in the same rhythm as mine. I was reminded again why Christ established the church in the first place, I was reminded again that I belonged to these people and that they belonged to me. It was painful and relieving and beautiful.


They have the local conference session in Tartu right now. I was elected as a delegate as well but I chose to stay home with my mom. It is possible that on this very minute I'm being elected as the new youth leader in our conference, but I'm here with mom, and everything else has grown strangely dim. It's unbelievable what just one week can do to your life.
We enjoyed the sun in a nearby park yesterday.


Tuesday's Tune

I always feel terribly sorry for Bobby McFerrin when people say something like 'Oh, he's that Don't Worry, Be Happy guy'. No. No. No. He's not that Don't Worry, Be Happy guy (although that's an awesome song too), to me he's one of the most talented musicians ever. He's got loads and loads of incredible, positive, versatile, sparkling music. (I need to get my hands on his last album where he sings spirituals together with Esperanza Spalding) Today's tune is one of my all times favourite - Bobby's Common Threads. It has been my meditation music for a long time now. I've done a lot of Scripture reading and praying and crying with this song being on the background. And well, these are the times of Scripture reading and praying and crying for me...


I've always longed for good friends. I know it has roots in my childhood when we had to move due to my dad's job. And when you tell a 13-year-old kid that she has to leave all her friends behind in school and music school and church and neighborhood - all the girls she's close to and all the boys she fancies - and move to another place where she doesn't know anyone, then it pretty much feels like the end of the world. And thus there has always been a quiet and often subconscious prayer in my heart to find new friends and true friends. And the fact is - this prayer has been answered. Like, abundantly. God has always blessed me with awesome friends. And it makes my heart so very happy.

We're going through some real hard times with our family right now. My mom is very very sick and we don't know if she will recover or not. And suddenly I've realised again how rich I am when it comes to friends. I have people sending me texts and writing me messages, letting me know they're there, praying and hoping with us. I have people inviting me over for tea and chat, I have people who let me cry on their shoulder. And well, I have M. J. who booked the first ticket she could find and who's flying over in two days time from Asia just to be here with me. For she said there's no chance she would let me face this tragedy alone. Gosh, I didn't know people like this even existed!

So if you should happen to be in Tallinn's airport around Wednesday afternoon, there's a good chance you'll see two hugging and crying girls - a statue for true and selfless friendship.

I'm that lucky.


I talked to a friend about fighting the other day. And the thought hasn't left me since.

Here's what I think about fighting. We all need to fight some battles in our lives. Fact. And there are only so many battles one can fight. Although we might see the whole business in more heroic light when being young, there will only be a handful of real life battles we can fight. So the first important thing is to learn to pick one's battles. So that we would fight the fights that are actually significant.

But the other thing is how we see the fight. In the light of recent happenings in my life I've realised there are two opposite ways of thinking about fights. There are some people who are very eager to fight AGAINST all kinds of stuff. It somehow gives the fight a negative connotation and it often gives these people an idea that they can use every mean available to them to fight against this or that. And then sooner or later they start to see the whole world in this light, in the light of AGAINST, for if they're constantly AGAINST something, surely others are too. And from this place there's just one small step to living one's life with constant fear and hunger for conspiracy theories. We, Christians, have always been very keen on conspiracy theories - there's always someone who secretly wants to fight AGAINST us. And thus we need to fight back, we need to be AGAINST the world, AGAINST the bad guys, AGAINST this, AGAINST that...

I've made up my mind - I want to see the world in a different light. I don't want to have a big minus in front of my life battles, I want to have a positive sign in front of my life. So I've decided I'll never fight AGAINST this or that but that I'll always find a way to fight FOR something. I know that even this will lead me to fight against something, for fight FOR love is always simultaneously a fight against hatred, fight FOR justice is always a fight against injustice. But it will take away a burden from my shoulders to be full of fear and negative expectations. And the other thing - I don't ever want to fight against people. Right now I'm being fought against, it's being done in the name of God and with terrible methods. Yes, it feels terrible. And I've had to remind myself constantly of Paul's words - our fight is not against flesh and blood, no, never have we been asked to fight against other human beings. Only FOR them.

So may my fights be FOR love and justice and mercy and everything else that is precious in God's eyes.


I really like Youtube because through it I can learn about new music. Youtube introduces young awesome singers to me who don't have a record deal with Universal just yet and who're not promoted by Simon Cowell. But who are truly talented and who write awesome music. Today's tune comes from on of these great young singers - it's Irma with her Every Smile. This song often makes my day more positive. Beautiful.


I know it sounds terribly morbid but I really like cemeteries. I've always liked them. I remember some years ago I visited one of the little Estonian islands and wanted to go for a walk in the old local cemetery but my best friend refused to go with me, she thought it was a sick idea. I understand why people rather didn't go there but for me a cemetery has always been a symbol of peace and quietness.

Over the last couple of weeks I've found my way to the old cemetery here in Pärnu. I've needed a place that could remind me that whatever it is I'm going through or however permanent some things seem to be, that they, too, shall pass soon. It has helped me to put some things back in their right place and not to give them too much of my time and energy.

Today I took my camera with me. It felt kind of strange to take pictures in a cemetery but it didn't look like anyone minded.

An old iron fence

Oh, how I wish I could read this!

All night, all day, angel's watchin' over me, my Lord.

A begonia

Mother Mary

One living soul

A summer evening


Throwback Thursday

Once upon a time I used to work in a Christian radio station. They were cool times although I've always been terrible with all kinds of technical stuff. And as the radio work requires technical knowledge and skills, things were quite stressful sometimes. Let's just put it this way - there was complete silence on air because of me more than once. And more than once got the director of the radio station phone calls from panicking Mervi at 6.30am. The morning program starts at 7.00am... But things got a lot easier once I learned everything and got over my fear of technical and electronic thingies. I actually quite enjoyed talking to people and choosing music and preparing for the programs and doing all that. I even got used to hearing my own voice from the radio. That took quite a while, though.

The reason I'm telling all this is that I've got this nagging feeling somewhere deep inside. A little voice that tells me I should go back to radio ministry. I won't make any decisions yet but I've promised to give it a thought. The reasoning being something like this - my time here is limited. On earth as well as in Estonia. So I really should use all the means available to me to spread the Kingdom. And the radio is definitely not the worse place for it. We'll see. God willing.