One of the hardest things to bear when I go home is the silence. It's everywhere and it's something that's very hard to fight. Things were so very different when mum was still with us, our home always seemed to be full of talking and laughing and music, a lot of it. Now everything seems to be quiet. Even talking and music sounds different. It sounds silent.

I think the only day in a year when we actually overcome this sad silence is February the 24th. Or at least it felt that way today. Because first, it's my dad's birthday, and it's easier to face the silence when we're all there. All of us kids went home for a day and just about everything is better when we're together. And secondly, because it's also Estonia's independence day and that's an extra reason to celebrate. So this is how it looked today - we spent most of the day in the kitchen (which is way too small for everyone to be there at the same time) and S., the chef in charge, made sure everything was running smoothly and the full menu was prepared, and then the radio was blasting in the corner and we kept singing along all the national songs they played (I don't know if every nation has something like it or whether it's uniquely Estonian thing but honestly, there seem to be hundreds of patriotic songs, old solo songs and pop songs and most beautiful choral pieces in the world, and then of course recordings from our song festivals, so on the independence day they play them endlessly without one song being repeated, or so it seems, and we know them all by heart. It's like these songs are part of our flesh and blood and Estonian-ness. It's really quite something.) But then the tv was playing in the living room and every now and then someone had to run and watch or listen to something from the tv where they showed the military parade and the ceremony with the president giving out the badges of merit. And after we were done with cooking and singing and after the long birthday lunch we would gather around the tv again and watch the presidential ball (we actually stood up and sang the national anthem, crammed around tv) and listen to his annual speech. And it felt like for one day the house was full of voices again.

But as we got ready to leave, the silence crept out of the corners again and we had to leave dad home alone, fighting the stillness and silence and sadness...


I think it's appropriate that I post an Estonian song today. It is not a patriotic song or anything, it's just a simple love song. And I like it. I remember teaching Estonian some five years ago in Tartu Uni, and I played one Estonian song to my students every week. This was one of the songs I played to them. It's Liisi Koikson and her song Sinu Hääl (Your Voice). Here's a rough translation:

I send greetings, can you hear me?
Is it morning there or do the evening winds blow?
How is the weather? Hot?
It rains here, and apples ripen
I wish you well in my mind
There are just couple of lines left
I could even walk on water
But why is it so hard to tell you...

To tell you that I care for you
And that your voice, your voice makes me so happy


I've never paid much attention to it but I do this year - the Lent starts today. We're 40 days from the Easter and as the tradition goes, one needs to stop eating meat until the Easter. The truth is, it coincides well with my general dietary direction. I've noticed lately that I've started to become more of a vegetarian, even a vegan. It's been a couple of weeks since I last bought butter and cheese (I replaced regular milk with almond milk even earlier) and I've been buying more vegetables and fruits. Sometimes I try to keep away from sugar but I'm not very consistent on that front - I need a good bar of chocolate before preaching haha! I hope I never become that kind of vegan who would feel a need to let everyone know about her diet all the time. I'm actually not against eating meat per se. Nor am I against dairy products per se. What I'm against is mindless consuming/eating and veganism is a great remedy for that. Just because you really have to think about what you're putting in your mouth when you're a vegan. And I like thinking. In general as well as in connection to food.

I think the best way of putting it is that I'm a part-time vegan. Yes, I like that. I totally wasn't a vegan last Sunday at my auntie's when her husband (who's from Moldova and a great cook) prepared a lunch of a feast and invited me over. And I definitely won't be a vegan when I go to Newbold and go eat in Daruchini. But on a regular day, why on earth not. :)


It's been ages since I posted any music. I think I've already told you about this 'wonderful' pub just across the street from my church that enriches my musical life with all kinds of rubbish. I don't know whether it's the music or the time (until 2-3am on weekends) that irritates me the most. Anyway, they've put a loudspeaker outside, they probably think it's a brilliant way of attracting tourist. I think it's just dumb. But last Saturday night when I was succeeding in ignoring the loud music outside and I was about two seconds from falling asleep, I heard the opening chords of Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud and I smiled, completely involuntarily. That's when I realised I actually liked the song.


I had my first full-time teaching session last week in Tartu. It meant two classes of SDA church history and one class of my beloved homiletics. We have a saying in Estonia - sometimes you feel like a fish in the water, meaning that there are times you do what you were meant/made to do and it's the most natural thing for you. Well, I was the fish in the water last week. I don't think I'm ever quite as alive as I am when I teach (or, maybe, preaching competes with it).

And people are so nice to me. I don't only mean my students who are a great bunch of people. But others as well. I still get some 'who's that kid?' looks from older lecturers and on Wednesday evening when I sat in the cafeteria and waited for my homiletics class to begin an elderly gentleman (I've no idea who he was) asked me which classes I was taking in the seminary, but even that is ok. I feel like a real stereotype buster when that happens haha! The seminary has a new principle, inaugurated just a month ago - I already knew her a bit before the teaching began but now that I've been there for two times I think we're becoming good friends. Well, maybe that's too much said but we sure have a lot of mutual respect and understanding. Her husband is the pastor of the biggest baptist church in Tartu and also a lecturer in that seminary and I happened to have lunch with him in the seminary's caf on Thursday and he's really sweet too, getting slightly fatherly and telling me I need to continue my education and all that. Ah, good people!

And when I was done with teaching on Thursday and was sitting in a cafe in central Tartu, having dinner and waiting for a friend to join me, I saw a bunch of students coming in and sitting at the table next to me. They all spoke English to each other and I could tell English was not their first language. So there really was only one option - they were the international students from Tartu Uni. And I got all sentimental watching them from the corner where I was sitting, thinking that there was a good chance these kids had just come from their Estonian class. And God knows, if my life hadn't turned upside down five years ago and if I had stayed in Tartu Uni and continued teaching in the uni's language centre, I might have been the lecturer whose class these students had just come from. But now, instead of teaching someone the formation of 14 cases in Estonian language I teach the formation of Adventist doctrines...

The weirdness of life.


Oh, right. Happy V-day! Look what I got today. It is no small thing to get a V-day card from a nine year old friend!


I spent Saturday night at my good friends' place. A. and L. are wonderful people, my kind of people if I may put it this way - they are kind and intelligent and mission-minded and down to earth. I always enjoy visiting them. We drink a lot of tea and talk about church business & books. :)

And I enjoy being around my little friends S. and E. too. S. is one of those special ten year old kids who actually reads books, voluntarily and in large numbers. He's got a big piece of wallpaper hanging on his wall where he with his mum write down all the books they have read any given year. Every time I see it I feel inspired and I want to do the same at home. I don't know why I haven't gotten that far yet.

And what can I say about E. who's three... Yesterday she declared she was taking her dog Figo and was leaving home and was moving in with me. Then five minutes later we weren't friends any more. I guess we still have to work on the stability part of our relationship haha!

Here are some pictures of our little trip to Winter Wonderland yesterday morning.

Winter Wonderland
Winter portrait
With my friend S.
We're being photobombed!


I think I'm the un-funniest (is that even a word?) person I know. Like, I don't have a funny bone in my body. I can joke around with good friends and laugh a lot when I'm relaxed but just don't ask me to try to deliberately make anyone laugh. It's a nightmare for me. I can't do it.

I remember once I was at my good friend's wedding and she asked me to take part of a play there and I just couldn't say no to the bride. The play was obviously suppose to make people laugh. Naturally it turned out to be one of the most embarrassing moments in my life, I still can't get over it. It's not only that I failed to be funny but in the middle of the play I stumbled upon something and I slipped and grabbed a big sunshade we were using (it was an out-door wedding) and that sunshade almost fell over. I created quite a mess really. And my mum thought it was infinitely amusing - that the only funny moment I managed to create was the moment I wasn't even trying to be funny. It's kind of sad now that I think about it, lol!

But today I think I actually said (or rather wrote) something that could be classified as funny.

The thing is that I'm part of a board for our church's monthly magazine in Estonia. Which means that before publishing the magazine the head editor sends its content to me and two other members of the board (the conference president and the conference secretary) for reading. And then we read and make comments and sometimes argue and in few cases even decide not to publish some articles. Anyway, my job today was to read February's magazine and then comment on it. And after I had done it the conference secretary called me and asked me to add a few comments which he had thought of but couldn't post for some reason. And one of those comments had to do with a map of Estonia that went with one of the news. It was a map showing different districts and it was done using light colors for different areas, yellow, pink, green, etc. But the thing is that only the covers of the magazine are colorful when they come from printing house, the rest of it is just black and white. So I wrote to the editor and the conference president and the secretary an email and said that they should use other ways of distinguishing the areas on the map because in the end the colors won't show anyway and by sticking to these light colors "we only end up with fifty shades of grey".

I actually laughed out loud when I sent that email.

Now I'm waiting for the conference to fire me. :D


Although it doesn't feel that way, when I think about it there's still a fine balance between good and bad stuff in life. Obviously the bad seems to dominate at the moment. It's been hard to accept my church elder's death, it's tough to prepare to preach to my people this coming weekend, it's hard to think about the funeral, and it's actually creepy to pass the carpentry workroom in the church basement.

But then again...

On Sunday I booked my tickets for my spring visit to Newbold and there was a lot of relief and gladness in my doing it. Maybe I've never felt so emotional booking plane tickets before. And maybe I've never needed a get-away trip as much as I need it now. Who knows.

In any case I'm really excited about this. But it won't be a 'put your feet up and do nothing' kind of week. Although it counts as an official vacation, it will be a rather busy time for me. I've promised to speak at The Experience (ah, my baby!), I've been in touch with Dr A. N. and we've decided about the location of our next date - the National Gallery this time (I think it's a respectable continuation for our outings in the British Museum and Oxford's Ashmolean Museum), a weekend trip seems likely (playing dominoes!), maybe even a musical in London (it's just so heartwarming when you have a friend who has taken it to be their mission to open your eyes to the beauty of life because, obviously, if you haven't seen a musical you haven't lived, lol). And then on the 14th of April - the diversity lecture in Newbold. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand it's such a privilege and I feel very honored - even more so now that I know I'm the first one they've ever invited to speak from abroad. And on the other hand my good friends insecurities have a merry party and I'm seeing nightmares about embarrassing myself in front of the whole academic staff. Ah no, I'll be just fine. Life would be dull without a little risk and excitement.

But I'm back to work again, that's enough blogging for now. I need to keep a balance at my work place too.

Eight days until my first homiletics class, and counting. :)

"You can maintain your balance, poise and sense of security only as you're moving forward." Maxwell Maltz