Poppies. [Saaremaa island]
I spent two long days on Saaremaa island at the meeting of the youth board of Estonian Council of Churches.

Before going, I wasn't quite sure why I was supposed to be there. I mean, I know how it worked technically. Our church needed to send a new member to this board to represent Adventists, my senior pastor recommended me and our conference board approved. That's how I got there. But like practically, I wasn't quite sure why it was necessary for me to be part of it. Just recently I've got this weird feeling of urgency when I've prayed for certain things, for all I know I might not be in Estonia for very long. And that's why I don't want to waste my time on meaningless things. And being a member of a fancy board for the sake of being a member of a fancy board is totally meaningless. So in a way I was looking for a reason for being there.

The event itself was totally cool. The first day was more relaxed. We were supposed to go sightseeing but as the weather was really rainy and cold, we decided to spend time indoors. Which meant we spent a whole afternoon in a spa haha! I found out it's the easiest way to make new friends - go sit in a sauna and go swimming with a bunch of people you've never met before. Add some football talk and evening worship, and by the end of a day you'll feel like life-long buddies. But on the second day we meant business so I got a general overview of the projects the youth board is running and of the future plans and the overall vision. It turns out one of the new things the youth board has initiated is an ecumenical monthly radio program for youth. I sat there like, uhmm, I've worked in a radio for more than three years. The board's chairman is like, well, this is exactly what we need, do you want to be part of this initiative, I guess this is decided then.

Looks like I'm going back to radio from September.

Yesterday on my way back to Tartu I had time to think about it (took us five hours to get back, I didn't know Estonia was that big). And I thought, so THAT's why I had to be there. That's why God arranged this thing. There is a way for me to be useful after all, there's a way for me to use my time meaningfully while being in Estonia.

I like when stuff like this happen. It's great to be part of this invisible Kingdom thing. Makes me happy. :)


Aaaaand here comes the last graduation photo. I think that's quite enough now. :)

My people.


It's the Midsummer which is kind of a big deal in this part of the world. Bank holiday and everything. As my senior pastor (bless him!) is quite strict about not working on bank holidays (unless in case of emergencies, of course), I've been able to come to Pärnu for a few days. I'm glad I could come here, especially because it was 6 months from my mum's passing yesterday so it's good I get to spend some time with my dad and by myself, not having to see anyone else.

Every time I come here, I get into a holiday mood. I play my violin and listen to music a lot louder than usual, I bake bread and go out for walks every day. It has almost become a ritual - to go to the seaside as soon as I arrive. It's like I have to check whether the sea is still in the place it ought to be. Yes, I'm a bit of a control freak. :P

And yes, the sea is exactly where it's suppose to be.

It is there!
A view to enjoy.
Even clouds and trees are big and tough on the seaside.
The colours!
A lonely duck.
A breakwater.
As to today's music, here a song that always makes me happy - Free Design and their Love You. It's one of those songs which doesn't make much sense and yet makes perfect sense. I heard it in a car commercial a few years ago and liked it enough to find it on Youtube (although I did feel quite stupid googling words 'Toyota ad music' haha!)

Run through the meadow and scare up the milking cows
Run down the beach kicking clouds of sand
Walk a windy weather day, feel your face blow away
Stop and listen: Love you

Happy Midsummer!


Some of my graduation flowers.
In my blog, I try to be careful about not writing about people I work with or my friends here. It feels unethical to talk about them behind their back, especially considering the fact that I don't advertise my blog among my Estonian friends. Well, today I'm breaking my rule.

I want to say a few words about my senior pastor.

He's, like, exceptionally cool.

When I came home from Newbold last summer, it felt like the end of the world in a way. I was so sad for the fact that I couldn't study any more and that I suddenly had to do something completely different. I had no idea I was actually being enrolled in a different kind of course where I would gain so much new knowledge. And my senior pastor is my professor. Seriously. It's only now that I'm starting to realise how lucky I am for being able to work with and learn from him. He's just six years older than me but he's been to the pastoral ministry for about fifteen years already, and it shows. He's got the vision and he's got the skills for the job. And I'm watching and learning.

It turned out that we both graduated from our MA studies this spring. His took twice as much time as mine but we both finally managed to finish our studies. My graduation was on Sunday, his graduation ceremony was yesterday. And that could possibly mean only one thing - paaartyyy! So today after the church service we gathered at his family's place with a bunch of friends and had a wonderful afternoon with a lot of food and even more laughter.

One day, possibly after my internship, I'll look back at this time and thank God for enrolling me in this class. I don't know what will my grade be for that course but I'll sure walk away with priceless experience and knowledge.


I don't want to flood the Facebook with my graduation pictures so I post some of them here. There are other people who took pictures of my family and friends and I'm hoping to get them at some point too. But here are a few of my own.

I felt like I represented all the minorities in the world. No, wait. Not all of them lol!
With T. before the ceremony. Every student needs another (older) student to look up to. Here you go - that's T. I've always admired his dedication and discipline.
I did it.
The ceremony.
My brother and my dad. Half of the family was missing. One day...

Of course!
And thus we all ended up in Daruchini.
Even G. R. graced us with his presence. :)
J. & S. (what were you doing, man?)
And when all is said and done, it's selfie time!


The whole graduation thing is still too overwhelming, it will take some more time for me to get my head around the reality. But until I recover from my emotional hangover, I'll look back at my 3+ years in Newbold. Here is my top 20 of my Newbold moments (they're not in order of importance).

1. Waffle Wednesdays. They saved my life in more than just one way. Sometimes consuming enormous amounts of waffles and cheese and maple syrup is the exact thing that keeps you sane and healthy haha!

2. Playing hours and hours of table tennis with T. and U. and J. and S. in the end of my first year. We had just finished our exams and no-one was in hurry any more. Guys talked about their exams and it sounded terribly complicated to me. I couldn't believe I was considered worthy to play table tennis with MA students. :P

3. Preaching at the contemporary service. That experience still stands out for me. And I still remember parts of the sermon by heart - "I was born in a country that doesn't exist any more" was the first sentence of it, I think.

4. Chocolate parties with S. and A. when S. was leaving Newbold to go back to Sweden again. Chocolate party always seemed a brilliant idea before having one, and a terribly stupid one afterwards (sugar overdose, stomach ache, sleeping problems etc). But they were always good times. Not so much because of good chocolate but because of good friends.

5. Choir trip to Scotland and Ireland with the college girls.

6. An epic boat trip with The Experience team and JUMP team and our very own H. He had bought mountains of good food and we spent a whole spring day on the river. That was sure one awesome treat.

7. The Experience. How the student centre morphed into a sanctuary every single Thursday evening, how our love and effort worked wonders and how Jesus showed up and did beautiful stuff in the lives of these young people... That's probably the most memorable and valuable thing I take with me from Newbold.

8. Beating J.'s Greek exam result with two points. I'll never forget that and I'm trying to make sure the rest of the world won't either. I've never had so much motivation to study for an exam ever before. :P

9. Pressing the Submit button after finishing an essay.

10. Teaching Greek. It probably looked and sounded a lot more glamorous than it really was. In reality I just spent all my Sundays sitting in my room, staring at the participles tables, desperately trying to make some sense of them. But the experience in a whole was a rewarding one, when I read all their exam papers, I knew they had done well, and I knew I hadn't done bad either.

11. Hearing Dr Cornel West speak in Cambridge.

12. The graduation day. It was emotional and beautiful. So many important people were there and I loved the fact they were all glad with me and for me. And the afternoon was great as well, S. had booked a table for 5, how we ended up with 15 people in the restaurant I really don't know haha! Awesome.

13. The hours I've spent in Dr A. N.'s office, plus our epic London date. Young people need good role models and mentors, I'm more convinced of it than ever before.

14. Countless tea dates with different friends in Stags. Some laughing has happened in Stags, and some crying, and many heart to heart conversations. Friendships have been made stronger there and life has been preached into my heart. I'm always up for a cup of tea in Stags with a friend. Always.

15. Seeing lecturers getting emotional or switching to preaching mode in a classroom. That's when you realise theology isn't just another academic discipline, it's something that goes deep and personal, it's a joy that has surprised many people - including my lecturers - and it's a joy that has surprised me personally as well. There aren't many things as beautiful as seeing the gospel touching people.

16. Oxford trip with Lewis & Tolkien class. I was pretty much begging the lecturer to take me with them and he was kind enough to let me go with them. I think during that day I never stopped having this massive smile on my face. It was a dream coming true.

17. Having our long late-evening prayer sessions with A. I knew prayer before but sometimes I still think it was her who really taught me to pray. I'm ever so thankful for it.

18. Going to John Mayer's concert with MJ last autumn. I almost went deaf but it was an epic London trip nevertheless. Such a good memory!

19. Watching The Record Keeper. Oh no, she didn't just say that! Oh yes, she just did! :P

20. Homiletics class. This class literally changed my life. Literally.


Having some graduation shopping fun with my little brother (who actually stopped being little long time ago) who will be graduating from his MA studies in a few weeks. Doesn't he look dapper! Truth be told, I hate shopping but I don't ever mind hanging out with my folk. It doesn't happen often enough. I wish we had more times like this.


God willing, I'll be back to Newbold tomorrow. Hours don't pass quickly enough.


My latest church service experiences surely represent the two extremes. It's quite overwhelming actually - to see traditions so very different. I'm yet to make up my mind about how I feel about the whole thing - about the fact that people behave in very different ways when they encounter the divine.

On Saturday evening I attended an ecumenical worship service in Tallinn. It was the Pentecost this past weekend so all the representatives of the Estonian churches were invited to join a youth service. I've found myself to be a member of the youth board of the Estonian Churches Council now so I represented our church there. The service took place late in the evening in a popular club for rock concerts - it's called Rock Cafe. And they sure picked a right place for the service because they needed a fancy sound system. Man, it was loud! And very youthful and cool and very Hillsong. The representatives of different churches sat in the first row (next to the loudspeakers) on the only chairs in the room with about 300 teenagers jumping and singing behind us. Phew, that was some experience indeed!

And this morning I saw my very first full-length liturgy in the Russian Orthodox church. The local church here in Tartu celebrates its 100th anniversary and again all the pastors were invited. I stood there in the orthodox church for 2,5 hours (I had opted for high heels in the morning - terrible choice) and took it all in, mesmerised - I had never seen so many big beards and white and golden robes, and the smell of incense, melting wax candles, icons, kissing of the hands of the metropolitan, old liturgical songs sung both in Estonian and old Slavic, the cantillating of the gospel texts, the procession around the church, the sprinkling of the holy water... Wow. I'm still well under its spell. And yes, my feet still hurt lol!

I wish I had had my camera with me both times but that would have been inappropriate. So I only dared to take a few pictures with my phone.

Clubbing with the archbishop of the Estonian Lutheran Church.
The procession.

I'm back to my office now and listening to my favourite stuff - Arvo Pärt's Te Deum (he's Orthodox, by the way). Somehow it helps to preserve the spell of the morning liturgy.


I need to share this with you, this is just too funny.

That's how I spent my morning today. I sat on a tiny little green chair in the local library's children's section and did my sermon research - which meant going through one of the most legendary Estonian children's books which three generations have grown up with.

I'm going to preach to kids on coming Sunday.

That's pastor's reality. I would have never guessed. :P


I'm sitting on my two sermons which need to be ready and preached this coming weekend.

Yesterday I found a big box of candles and candlesticks which we used in our church hall a few weeks ago. I stole couple of candles and now I'm burning them in my office. Helps with the mood.

And I'm listening to this one piece over and over again as writing my sermons. It's by a contemporary Russian composer Vladimir Martynov, the piece is called The Beatitudes and it's being played by Kronos Quartet, probably the most famous string quartet in the world.

Also helps with the mood. :)


I got a little break this weekend. It was great for I didn't even realise how much I needed one. Somehow things just worked out - I happened to get a day off. And then my uncle happened to have a birthday. And my cousin happened to invite everyone over to his summer house after the birthday lunch. Then there happened to be a serious family sauna party (they're all crazy about sauna, I barely survived this part of the program). And the weather happened to be really nice. People happened to be in a good mood. The lake happened to be warm enough for a swim after the sauna. The view from the porch happened to be just beautiful. Someone happened to have a big cake. No-one happened to be in a hurry. So it happened to be a wonderful day. When I got home a bit before midnight all I could say was, 'Thank you, sweet Jesus.' :)

Pictures are always worth more than words.
My family.
My cousin's sons. The sweetest kids I've ever met.
There must be someone living under the bridge!
Mid-summer flowers.
Tea and cake are always needed.
Ready for tea!
View from the porch.
View from the porch, vol 2.