So my church waved me goodbye yesterday. I don't really know what to say about that day. It sure was memorable.

Well, actually, it all started on Friday night with me crying myself to sleep when I recalled the memories from the time one year ago when I first came to Tartu. I still know exactly where my mum sat in the church hall when I preached my first sermon and was officially welcomed here. She was proud of me, she had a gleaming smile on her face - despite the fact that she was already serisously sick - and of course she came with flowers and a cake and we had a little family celebration later in the afternoon. That was a year ago.

And yesterday when I went up to preach I saw my uncle's family sitting at the back of the church. My uncle and his wife, and THREE of my non-Christian cousins with two of their little children. Some of them hardly ever touch a church's door handle so you can imagine my surprise when I actually saw them there. And man, I get emotional by only thinking of it - they came with a big bouquet of flowers and a box of cholocolate and so many kind words I didn't know how to respond to them all. And with my cousin's invitation to go to his summer house and have a celebration.

So we went. I was really tired and overwhelmed by all the emotions (gaah, give me some coffee!) but despite that it turned out to be another wonderful day with my uncle's family. We did some sightseeing in the Southern Estonia and then a lot of eating (too much, really - but hey, I was up and jogging early this morning!) and a lot of running between sauna and their lake. When we left late in the evening I thanked them for... well, for basically being my family. I told my cousin that my mum would be really glad if she knew how they've invited me to be part of their closest family circle.

So what can I say. God has taken and God has given. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

My last sermon.
My people.
At my cousin's. I'm in love with this place.
National Geographic frame. They have them in random places for people to take pictures with them. I approve of the idea. :)
With the biggest tree in Estonia.
Happy & tired
Too much food.
Some flowers.


It's time to tie up loose ends in Tartu. Which means that this week is the week of all kinds of lasts for me.

I just got my last sermon for Tartu church on paper. It's a strange feeling to think of your church and try to figure out what is the most important message you could possible leave them with. I'll speak about hope and faith and love this weekend. It can hardly get bigger than that, I feel.

Last times for me to go jogging here.

I'm scheduling last tea dates with my friends.

Last Bible study on Thursday.

As I'm completely stuck with the homiletics book I'm reading right now, I might pop by the uni's library today and find myself another book. For the last time.

One thing that kind of frustrates me is the fact that I found a new little cafe here in Tartu. It's just couple of hundred meters from my church and although I had passed this place for million times, for some reason I had never gone inside. Until recently. And now it's preatty much the only place I ever go for lunch (with a book always in my bag). It's the tiniest and cosiest place in town, a family business with the husband usually behind the counter and the wife in the kitchen. The food tastes like home-cooked, and I'm not happy with having to leave this place behind. Nope, not happy at all.

But things really aren't quite as sad as they may sound. Because my time table tells me that even though I'm having to move, my job will bring me to Tartu at least twice a month, and during the spring semester when teaching starts, maybe even three times a month. So it's cool. I'm always glad to come back. :)

Donavon Frankenreiter, "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright".


We had a pastors summer retreat this week. We spent a few days on a camping site near Pärnu (which meant that me and my dad could drive back home for nights so that I could sleep in my own bed - yes, I'm tottaly getting old, thank you very much). Although I couldn't be there for the whole time, I still liked it a lot. There were some things that made me very glad about hanging out with other pastors and their families.

First, I enjoyed seeing the generational shift happening. It's not that I have anything against elderly people, of course not, but there's something very exciting and inspiring about young people taking over and claiming their place in this church. The younger generation outnumbered the older generation by far on this retreat. And that changed the energy and synergy between people. I really liked it.

Plus the fact that some of these guys are very dear friends of mine. One pastor's wife (a good friend from my teenage years - I can't even begin to count all the hours I've spent on her couch) is a hairdresser and so it was that on the first evening she opened an impromptu beauty parlour and we all got our hair cut one after the other (including me - I'm slightly obsessed when it comes to the length of my hair) as others were sitting and commenting. Oh, do I love those kind of moments! There was so much laughter and joking, and no-one was in a hurry. Good people I have in my life indeed.

And then there was one more thing I thought about when I left the retreat and sat on the bus back to Tartu today. I'm not sure I can put it into words properly but I got the feeling that I was actually being taken seriously. I remember last summer when some people really hurt me just by assuming I wasn't serious about pastoral work. But I think some things have changed. I was asked to participate in a panel discussion on Tuesday afternoon with some other pastors, and we talked about the church and society and their relationships and where we should/could be more vocal about things, etc. I could express my opinion and build arguments and voice my concerns - a bit of a left wingy as I am. And I felt people took me and my viewpoints serisously. This actually means a lot to me. Because I am very serious about my job and occasionally I'm seriously concerned about our church, and more than anything I'm serious about having a good theological basis for everything we do or don't do in this church.

Oh. One more thing, I almost forgot. There was this little kitchen on the camping site and you wouldn't believe - someone from our lot was listening to Bob Marley's music there at one point. I tried not to look too excited about it, I only mumbled 'he was a prophet' to myself and whistled the tune and smiled. That's all.


I wasn't the only one to graduate from MA studies this summer, my little brother K. got his MA degree as well. But it somehow went unnoticed, I felt my graduation was celebrated a lot more than his. So we tried to fix it by throwing him a party. For his successful graduation plus his birthday. We invited a bunch of his good friends over, ordered a mountain of pizzas and had great time last night.

Happy late birthday & congrats, man! We're totally proud of you. :)

Stevie Wonder, Happy Birthday.


We had a baptism in our church yesterday. I remember writing about the Bible studies here a few weeks ago, well, this girl was one of the first guinea pigs who had to study the Bible with a rather clueless pastor who was just trying to figure out this Bible study stuff herself. I'm very glad to announce that we both made it, haha! She made it to the baptism water and I made it to the place where I feel just a tad more confident about teaching the Bible.

The weather was absolutely horrendous yesterday. Heavy rain kept pouring during the whole baptism ceremony and just as they stepped into the river, we heard thunder. This gave the whole ceremony a kind of an apocalyptic feeling. I loved it. I wouldn't have changed a bit. I was standing there on the river side with my feet totally wet and saw another life being transformed, and I think I almost heard the cheering and clapping of the heavenly hosts. Jesus is SO winning.

When I got back home, I was so excited I didn't really know what to do with myself. I sent a photo of me and this girl to a couple of friends to share my happiness and excitement. S. called me later in the evening and he was like, 'Well done, blondie.' Lol! First I took it as a joke but for some reason I kept thinking about it also today. Because I really wish these were Jesus' words to me. I really want Him to look at me and high-five me and say, 'Well done, blondie.'

In the rain.
The most beautiful of moments.
The brave ones. Of course, the rain stopped for a photoshoot.
Truly truly happy.


Every time I see my mum in a dream, it's the same, every single time. "Don't leave us, mum, don't leave us." Bloody hell.


It's been a week since I last blogged. As usually, small moments, some of which are ordinary and some of which are extraordinary, make life. I've had both over the past week, moments which will stay with me for a long time and moments which I've alread forgotten. Such is the kaleidoscope of life.

As to moments and events that I take with me from last week, one of them is definitely a little sauna party I had with my uncle and cousins on Saturday evening. It was good and relaxing, and at the same time it was something that reminded me that the pastoral role I've found myself in comes everywhere with me. When I go to my cousin's summer house, all I want to do is to put my feet up and sweat in the sauna after a busy day in church. And with a surprise I realise that all my non-Christian well-off highly educated cousin wants to do is to talk about existential and spiritual matters. And that in a house where people hardly ever talk about God, I'm asked to say a grace before a meal ("Well, as we have a pastor in our midst, would you mind praying...") And I'm still getting used to it. Not that I mind, of course not, but I'm still getting used to the fact that when I hang out with my cousins, I have "PASTOR" written all over me.

And then on Sunday I saw K., one of my very best friends, say "I do" and get married. It was so beautiful I could have cried, it's just that I couldn't cry because I had to translate the whole ceremony. I've probably already earned the title of a crying pastor, a crying translator would be just a tad too much, haha! The whole evening was really-really nice, full of love and joy and beauty. It's an old truth - people really are indescribably beutiful when they get married, K. and T. were no exceptions.

And yesterday was also memorable, in a very... physical way. My brother and sister-in-law are on a vacation so they took me and dad to an adventure park. Oh dear. I don't remember climbing many trees as a kid so it could be that I did more climbing and swinging and jumping yesterday than ever before in my life. They have six different tracks there which get gradually harder. I managed four. The last ones were either too high in tree tops or they were just physically too difficult. So I need to work out and deal with my hight-o-phobia and then go back sometime. :)

With H. Discussing the strategy.
S. looks like he could use some help.

Tuesday's tune - Duffy, Oh Boy. For a perfect song one only needs a brilliant voice and a guitar. Sounds so simple.


Tuesday's Tune

When I'm home alone and the doors are locked and the curtains are drawn, I secretly listen to Pharrell Williams' song "Happy". Maybe I even try a few dance moves but no-one knows anything about that. That's a secret. :) I like this video too, it makes me... well... happy. It's like the video to Humans of New York photo project haha. I think I like dancing children and minions the best, such cuties they are. No, actually, I like all of those dancing people. I also think that the world would be a better place if all guys wore shirts like those of Pharrell's. Yes. Definitely.


On a more serious note, I realised yesterday that I'm having to organise a baptism in 1,5 weeks time. Like the whole thing (my senior pastor is on vacation). It makes me nervous and excited and glad all at the same time. I occasionally send my senior pastor panicky emails with questions about how everything needs to be organised but other than that I'm really looking forward to it. I'm just so glad and thankful I get to do and see this just a few weeks before leaving Tartu. Stuff like that makes this job worth doing and this life worth living. :)


I need to get back to work now. I have two Bible studies to teach today. If I could only stop listening to Pharrell, that would probably help.


When you read Biblical stories, sometimes they can seem rather emotionless. Or laconic. We westerners have got too used to fireworks and heart-breaking drama. But when you find a way to look past this reserved language of old, you'll find poignant and most beautiful narratives, full of emotions and action.

I preached one of those stories yesterday morning in my church. It was a few years ago when I read through the book of Revelation for couple of times and I suddenly discovered the story in its first chapter. The story of the meeting of John and Jesus. Man, ever since I've thought of it as one of the most beautiful stories in all of the Scriptures. Just think of it - John was Jesus' young friend and disciple. They did awesome things (Jesus did, that is, most of the time His friends seemed to be simply puzzled or scared), John saw Him work and teach and die. And just when it looked like the adventure was over and their cause had failed miserably and it was time to turn back to fishing boats, Jesus came back, alive and all. Which gave these young guys even a greater purpose and task. And so they worked and preached and fought for the Kingdom's cause for decades. John saw the destruction of Jerusalem and must have expected an imminent return of Jesus. But nothing happened. His closest friends took off to far-away countries or got killed in Rome, and he got older and older. And then, when he was really old and tired, he got arrested and deported again so he couldn't even spend his retirement days with his people. Such a sad story really. And then one day on Patmos he hears this thundering voice behind him and although it has been fifty or sixty years since he last heard this voice, he recognises it. He turns around, and there He is - Jesus, his rabbi and friend. It's been long time since they last met. It's just that now John is an old fragile man and Jesus is this massive King of the universe who holds the keys to death and life. What a reunion that must have been! Two old friends back together after all this time...

I called my sermon Old Friends.

I might have or might have not gotten emotional for couple of times while preaching.

And I still can't get this picture and this story out of my head. Because this story reminds me that the greatest reunions are yet to come. Old friends will get together again.