I've been listening to Eva Cassidy lately. And the song I keep coming back to and listening to over and over again is her Autumn Leaves. I know it's meant to be a classical love song but every time I listen to it, I think of my mum. Which I do a lot these days. It's tough at work. And I just miss her so much, miss hearing her say that everything will be well again. She's the only person I'd believe.

Since you went away
The days grow long
And soon I'll hear
Old winter's song
But I miss you
Most of all, my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall


I could have just stayed in my room yesterday evening and watch Downton Abbey but something in me made me go out. Last night it was exactly 20 years since a ferry named Estonia which cruised between Tallinn and Stockholm drowned on the Baltic Sea. There weren't many survivors, most people died that night. So late in the evening yesterday, although very tired after a long day in church and after preaching two sermons in a row, I went to the memorial of Estonia and stood there with many other people and looked at the names of all these people who died way too early - all 852 names are engraved on the memorial - and saw all the candles and flowers and hundreds of glowsticks and a light installation which was really a huge clock counting the hours until the exact time of drowning... And it dawned on me again that life is a gift, a precious gift, we haven't chosen it, we haven't deserved it, we don't own it. Life is beautiful and painful and often so very unfair. But we're still ought to be thankful for the time we're given. I know I was extra thankful for my life yesterday as I walked back home from the memorial.


And thus here's my thankfulness challenge, vol 2. Today it feels appropriate again to list a few things which have made me happy over the past few days and which have made me appreciate this little thing I call my life. So. I love it...

...when my brother calls me for no reason.

...when I receive a letter from far-away country!

...when my senior pastor calls me just because he needs to talk to a colleague.

...when a good friend sends me his sermon and asks me for feedback.

...when my auntie asks me if she can crash the youth meeting just to hear me preach.

...when a kitchen disaster like me manages to cook something really nice haha! (a tomato-goatcheese puree soup it was this time)

...when my dad sends me fresh apple juice.

...when it's only 4 weeks left until my vacation in the UK.



I was totally sick in the end of last week. It's never nice when you have to stay in bed for couple of days - it makes you miss your people more than usual. It makes you miss your mum more than usual. And it makes you hate the empty house more than usual. But there's also this brighter side to things, as always. I got to watch more Oprah and Strange Addictions than ever before (yes, I'm educated now). I got to listen to Eva Cassidy and Emeli Sande endlessly. I got to have more entertaining conversations with my friends than usual. My brother did grocery shopping for me. My auntie kept bringing me food (way more than I needed). My church elder called me on Friday and asked me if I needed anything. And I got to switch off my brain for a few days, not having to worry about all my work and church stuff. So in a sense it was actually a mini-vacation. If only this terrible headache hadn't been my constant companion...

I'm back to office now. Things are better. But I can't tell you how much I miss a real vacation. It's like all I can think about. The end of October... Ah, just one more month to go. :)

This week's song. Today we're paying tribute to Leonard Cohen on his 80th birthday (which, in fact, was yesterday). Here's Jeff Buckley's version of his legendary Hallelujah. I get goosebumps when I listen to this version.

Oh, one more thing. I had the most awkward conversation with my church elder on Saturday evening. He told me I should get married. And that I should be careful with all that preaching and stuff because I might scare guys off like this. I won't tell you what I replied to him but I found it all highly amusing. So funny!


I think I forgot to post a song earlier this week. That can be fixed now.

This is what I'm listening to at the moment - Labrinth featuring Emeli Sande, Beneath Your Beautiful. It sucks being sick in bed but this song makes it better. Actually, I think it makes everything better. :)


Someone nominated me on Facebook to share five things I'm thankful for. I didn't feel like doing it on my FB wall but I really don't mind doing it here. So here are the things I am grateful for today.

1. My aunt and her family. She's been constantly inviting me over to their place since I moved to Tallinn and I've managed to go there at least once every week. Last night when we were done with late supper and even later evening walk and got ready to go to sleep, she gave me a toothbrush. So that I wouldn't have to take mine with me every time I go there. I don't know, they say that having a toothbrush at someone's place pretty much equals to moving in. So I guess I've moved in now. :) I'm very touched and grateful for her kindness. And it was interesting to notice yesterday how our relationship has started to change - it has become less of a 'how are you' and 'oh, little Mervi, haven't you grown since we last met' thing and much more of an equal relationship between two adults. When two of us headed out for a walk last night, she was like, "It feels really good to have another woman in the house sometimes." She has three sons haha so I guess she enjoys hanging out with me just as much as I enjoy getting away from the city centre and spending time with her and hers. Good stuff!

2. I've been reunited with my tea kettle and my favourite cup. My life quality has improved enormously. :P

3. My graduation gift from my dad has arrived. That's something I'm thankful for. You will never guess what he got me... A pile of books. Shocking, I know. :P Now I'm a proud owner of some new books by N. T. Wright, Eugene Peterson, Frederick Buechner, Anne Lamott, Cornel West, Shane Claiborne, and Michael Card. I have no free time in the evenings for a long while now, thank you very much.

4. I'm thankful for living so close to Tallinn's Old Town. I'm totally NOT grateful for that when the rock club (or more like a heavy metal club) just across the street from our church decides to enrich my musical world until midnight every Friday evening. But rest of the time, it's actually not so bad. Tallinn's Old Town is a bit of a wonderland. You should check it out if you happen to be in the area.

5. And I'm thankful for Google Maps. It's a great help for topographical idiots like me. Lol!


Sometimes I think that church members would see their pastors in a whole different light if they knew their Sabbath morning routines. It would actually be a really good experiment - to have some hidden cameras in their homes and see what pastors do early in the morning before heading to church. I wonder what their church members would think. :P

My morning was pretty hectic yesterday. It was my first Sabbath in Tallinn's church and man, I was n-e-r-v-o-u-s. I was up early, sitting on my bed and reading Psalm 23 to myself over and over again (and missing U. with whom we used to read that Psalm to each other when either of us got up to preach). And then about nine I would pace from my bedroom to kitchen and back, with Hillsong shouting in the corner. A nervous wreck. Would any congregation take such a pastor seriously? Haha, I doubt.

But I found out one thing that made me really glad yesterday - as soon as I get up to preach, I calm down. Even yesterday morning when I faced a congregation with only a handful of familiar people sitting in the pews, I calmed down. Nothing from my early morning anxiety was left. I think I really like preaching. It does me good.

And now starts the hard work of getting to know this church and its members. Phew, it'll sure take a while.


Today I saw autumn. We worked hard for the whole day in our summer cottage with our family and by the end of the day we had a bit more than 130 litres of fresh apple juice made. I think we're ready for the winter now. Absolutely. :)


My first attempt to conquer Tallinn failed miserably. I managed to stay in town for two and a half days, then I was done with it haha! I sat on a bus and went to Pärnu. For the better part of Friday night and Saturday morning I just sat on the beach, doing nothing. Recovering. It felt really good. Yes, me and sea are good friends, we like each other.

And then - Tartu. :) We recorded the first monthly video program of the new season on Saturday evening so I was actually obligated to go there. I thought about the program later and I came to the conclusion that it's just about as good as things can get for me: I can go to Tartu, I can see my good friends who produce that program, I get a tv make-up, and then I get to talk about theology in front of cameras. Blissful! And it was a good stay in every other sense as well. I sat again in my favourite cafes and I picked mushrooms with my cousin, we had the pastors monthly meeting and I went jogging three days in a row. It was almost like a relaxing vacation after my initial Tallinn shock. Sweet.

But now I'm back to Tallinn and very much determined to make my second stay a little longer than the first one. :P I've driven around the city with my dad the whole day today and now I'm a proud owner of some new cupboards and an electric stove. Plus my church elder - bless his heart! - had bought me a new desk and a curtain-rod while I was gone. (I almost teared up when he called me this morning and told me that he's got my back - and it wasn't only because of the desk that I got emotional. It's a long and complicated story and I can't share it publicly but what I can say is that these words came from a man from whom I would have never ever expected it. Some very strange and yet beautiful things are happening around me and maybe just a little bit because of me. Redemption. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. The pure Kingdom stuff, that is.) So things are improving, they really are. It will take a long time before this place is even remotely cosy but it's getting better. Next things on my to-do list: get some curtains and a carpet.

And now I sit behind my (new!) desk and listen to Damien Marley who tells me that "Jah told you in His own words, 'I'll see you through'". And I kinda believe him.

Plus my brother just called and invited me over for dinner tomorrow evening. Yup, He'll see us through.


Let me moan and groan a little bit. It was a terrible day yesterday - it started really badly because I had to leave Tartu. It got worse when I arrived in Tallinn. And when I saw my apartment in the afternoon, I was floored. So I spent most of my day complaining - first I banged my head against my senior pastor's desk and declared that I didn't want to be in Tallinn. Then in the evening I poured my sadness on Q. who bravely put up with it and gave me a lecture on necessity of suffering haha! But then when a good friend invited me over for the night and rescued me from my sad apartment, and when we had tea in her lovely place and talked until it was too late, I didn't feel like complaining any more. I think friends saved my life yesterday.

And I realised one thing - when everything is strange and unfamiliar around you, it's the familiar music that makes things better. I must have listened to this song for about ten times yesterday just because it was something I knew in the middle of everything I didn't know. It's Swedish jazz singer Lisa Ekdahl and her version of Tea For Two.

Talking about tea. Can I complain just a little more? My favourite tea cup is in Tartu, my tea kettle is in Pärnu, and I'm in Tallinn. Maaaadneeeess!

Nah, it's ok, everything's going to turn out just fine.

But one funny thing from yesterday. I was hanging out in my senior pastor's new office when he realised that he had been sent an email which he had ignored. It was an invitation to Barack Obama's lecture which is taking place today and which all the leaders of different churches had been invited to. And as he had ignored it earlier, now he was too late with replying, phahaha! When he realised it, it was his turn to complain and my turn to chuckle. :P So yeah, Mr President is in town. The Air Force One touched down early this morning, the town is flooded by policemen, there're helicopters circling in the sky all the time, and as I walked back to church from my friend's house through the city centre in the morning I realised that there's probably a tough guy on every roof top with a big... uhmmm... nothing, never mind, I don't want to think about it, I still need to go out today. Haha!