On Monday afternoon I received an acceptance letter from Amsterdam, they have accepted my PhD proposal and have offered me a place in Research Degree Studies program so from August onward I can call myself a student again. Two days later I'm still trying to get my head around it. :)

The uni is called International Baptist Theological Study Centre and the simplest way to describe it is to say that what Newbold is for Adventist church in Europe, IBTSC is for Baptist church in Europe. That's the place where their pastors and academics come from and where the spirit of historical Baptism is kept alive and thriving. I kinda like it. When I thought about getting started with my studies again and when I talked about it with my senior pastor, we both agreed the mentality and the spirit of the place is important. Spirituality. Because it's not only about academic standards or the quality of supervision I'm after, I want to be among people who believe in what they say and teach. So when I received the preliminary information about courses and costs and credits on Monday, it said somewhere in that letter that all the students are expected to attend daily worship services. And I was like, yup, I like this place already!

Obviously, the question will remain - if it took me so little time and relatively little effort on my proposal to get accepted in an average university, does it mean that with more time and effort I could have fought my way into and could have been accepted in some posh age-old English university? I guess I'll never know. Some questions ought to remain without an answer.

I get all excited and a little nervous when I think about having to take two intensive courses in the end of August. Oh, student life! Libraries and essays and endless intensives... And the other side of student life as well - new places and new friends and new professors. And plane tickets and airports. Wow.

Amsterdam, baby!


I finished teaching about half an hour ago. It was the last intensive and the last class of this academic year. My name was written all over the students time table this time - I had almost a full day of SDA theology yesterday and today we finished up with a day long homiletics marathon. I'm dead tired and happy. Very happy indeed. Tomorrow they'll write me an exam in theology and will preach their sermons. My work is done.

It was on Tuesday evening when I did my last preparations and was packing for my trip to Tartu that I suddenly realised the importance of it all - I don't think I had felt it so clearly before. So I just kept walking back and forth between my bedroom and living room with newly found mountain of responsibility. This is so important, vitally important for me to be able to articulate some things clearly and correctly, I thought. And so it was that yesterday we took a whole 1,5 hours to go through Andreasen's theology so I sat on the edge of the lecturer's desk and just talked - it wasn't even teaching, much more like talking - to them about eschatology and sinlessness and last generation and perfect love and Jesus. And I think I almost pleaded with them to go and teach good and balanced and Christ-centred theology to their (future) church members, for their own sake and for their church members sake and for the sake of this sorry world.

There's one thing I read from G. Knight's book last week as I prepared for these classes that keeps ringing in my head. He talks about influential theologians and he says somewhere that the most influential people in our church over the past 100 years have been university lecturers and not so much powerful preachers or great writers. It got stuck in my head and is probably one of the reasons which has made me take this lecturing session so seriously. Not that I consider myself to be very influential or anything but it just reminded me the importance of lecturing and of the quality of my words as I teach future pastors and through them in some invisible way also their church members. Such serious stuff. My shoulders really aren't strong enough for such responsibility but the Almighty has seen fit to place me here so I do what I can.

But to balance the intensity and seriousness of the lecturing the Almighty has also seen fit to give me an amazing family - yesterday I finished the day with a fierce pillow fight with my cousin's little sons. Needless to say, I lost the fight. :)


It was about a month ago when I told you about going to a book heaven and having a substantial theological library in my attic - 50 boxes full of books. The story has a sequence.

It's actually a sad story. Because this old man who long ago used to be a pastor is sick and it seems like his health is deteriorating rather fast. Which has resulted in his plan to give us even more books - there are about 75 boxes of them in the attic at the moment. In any case, it was a bit more than a week ago when I. and J. (church's president and secretary) appeared on my office door, telling me they needed help with forming a sentence to engrave on a nice plate they wanted to give this man on behalf of the conference for his massive donation. Sure, I said. So the three of us put our heads together and came up with the sentence and the conference ordered the plate and it arrived in the end of last week.

So on Friday we (I. and me and A. - my new colleague in Tallinn) bought a cake and took our thank you plate and headed to this old pastor's place. I've only been there for a couple of times and I've only talked to the guy a little bit but very quickly I've become fond of both. I like his place. And I really like him. He talks to me in a bit of a fatherly voice but I can tell he's taking me seriously so he always asks about my reading list and Greek teaching plans so we can endlessly discuss books we've read and church history and lecturing (I love-love-love doing such things). We did all that on Friday too. We sat in his living room, surrounded by thousands of books, drinking tea and eating cake and discussing theology. And then suddenly he started talking about music.

He said we all have different means and methods when it comes to keeping our spirituality and our prayer life alive. And listing names in a prayer just doesn't do any more so he has embraced a new way of praying for important people. He does that through songs. He picks songs from our SDA Hymnal and connects each song with a person and each time he plays the piano he thinks of someone and prays for them while playing. "I've had to add a couple of songs to my pray-list in recent months - you've got your own song now, Mervi"...

I just sat there and stared at him, feeling both very small and very important at the same time. For some inexplicable reason I had made it to his play-list!

So now I walk around, being a lot wealthier than I was last week. I have my own song in the hymnbook. Someone has written my name all over it and sings it while thinking of me.

You can guess whether I opened my Hymnal this morning and sang that song or not...