I represent our church in the theological committee of the Estonian Council of Churches. And attending their meetings is one of the most bizarre things I've had to do so far in pastoral ministry. I mean, it's not bad bizarre, it's just bizarre. Today we had another meeting in Tartu, we sat half the day around a long table in a dim room with dark curtains and discussed theology. All the other members of the committee are men and most of them are, well, rather elderly. The committee is putting together a short book about communion and how all the different denominations understand it. There are many Latin and Greek words used and church history discussed around that table I am completely clueless about, and the best part is when the Orthodox theologian speaks. Then we get some old Slavic in there too. So the best I can do is to be very quiet and look smart. It has worked so far.

It matched my mood well, to sit in that gloomy room. Because it would have been my mum's birthday today, a happy day. Well, a happy day it wasn't. When I got home, tired and sad already, I received bad news upon bad news upon bad news. It was a terrible evening. And it's just so frustrating to know that the only person I want to call right now and talk about these things with isn't picking up her phone...

I did receive one bit of good news today as well, I admit. Someone from the national television wrote me and asked me to participate in their Christian program. In three episodes, to be precise. I have no idea where they got my email address from, I suspect these kind of things only work through personal recommendations. In any case, the lady was very nice and polite and told me about the topics and recording times. And she added that from one interview/reflection (apparently I can choose whether just to talk myself or have questions asked) which takes 20 minutes to shoot they're actually going to use a clip that's about 1 minute long. Hahaha, that, I would say, is a very modest entry to the world of television! But I'm cool with this one minute because I get to see what the inside of television looks like. We have shot many videos in our conference, both live and recorded ones, depending on the format of the program, but this is different. This is the national television. So as I've seem to have decided to work myself to death anyway, I'm gladly accepting the invitation.

Do I get a real tv make up then? (The most important questions obviously come first.)

As to music, this song has been on repeat these couple of days - Foy Vance's Be The Song. I don't understand any of these words but maybe it's that kind of a song. You don't need to understand the words.


Life is back to busy. Which is not a bad thing by itself but it's very difficult to maintain a balance between different things, I've realised. I was a bit too optimistic about the sleeping problems being gone for good so I try not to overwork. Because as soon as I do, I can stare at the ceiling for half the night and think about existential matters (well, actually, most of the time I think about matters far more mundane). Nights have turned into a sort of a test where the maths is rather staightforward - you work and worry too much = you can't sleep, you keep the workload and stress under control = you sleep. It's the hard knock life.

The second half of my vacation turned into work and I'm not very proud of it. All I have to say in my defense is that my conscience just wouldn't let me ignore the opportunities so I coached a church planting group and I wrote and recorded the morning devotional minutes for the national radio station. I did leave the city again after that but the holiday mood was gone. But I think I learnt the lesson - next time I have my annual leave, I either have to leave the country or hide at R's summer house again. By the way, I saw him a week after I returned from his cottage and he most graciously invited me back, "any time you need". I try not to misuse his hospitality but the truth is, I've hopelessly fallen in love with that place and I really really want to go back next year. Maybe I can spend my birthday there? Oh. Oh. That would be too good.

A strange thing happened last week. My hermeneutics paper was due last Monday and, I kid you not, for the first time in ten years which I've spent in uni, I failed to submit my paper on time. First time ever. But the weirdest thing is that I didn't even feel bad about it (maybe part of the reason is that my friend from Beirut wrote me AFTER last Monday and told me he was struggling with finding a topic for his hermeneutics paper. Ha!). So I'm trying to figure out whether the unexpected lack of shame and guilt is a good or a bad thing. I really don't know. In any case, I'm going to the Baptist Seminary early tomorrow morning (as I'm in Tartu anyway) and I'm going to sit down next to my own students and I'm counting on the academic air for inspiration so that I could finish this sorry paper and get it submitted.


I don't have books to recommend today nor music to post. But for the first time I want to talk about a movie. Two weeks ago I was on a bus from Tartu to Tallinn and I decided to watch a movie on the bus - we have those fancy buses here where you have your individual screen. I didn't care too much what to watch so I randomly picked The Grand Budapest Hotel. Heavens! It wasn't only funny, the visual side of it was absolutely stunning. Every single scene was like a piece of art - all the colours in perfect harmony. Phew! I'm not sure I had seen anything quite like it before. Wes Anderson skyrocketed straight to my movie director's pedestal. I totally recommend this movie. And not only because of its visual brilliance but also because Edward Norton and Jude Law grace the screen with their presence. Yes.


It did turn out to be one of the best and most refreshing vacations in my life. I'm very grateful for it because I really needed a good break. Here's what I did:

- I slept. The sleeping problem seems to be overcome now.
- I read. Dr A. N. had brought me wonderful books from England, and one especially I liked. An Albanian writer Ismail Kadare's book Chronicle in Stone, WWII memories through the eyes of a child. I found it difficult to put down that book, I almost read it in one go. It's amazing there are people who are able to write prose as if it was poetry.
- I faithfully went swimming every day. Well, you can't call it swimming really, it was more like an in-and-out-jump, lasting for a solid 5 seconds. The weather was getting gradually colder so the last morning I actually had to break the ice before I could jump in.
- I walked to the closest grocery store about 4km from my place.
- I heated the sauna every second evening. By that time it was all dark outside so skinny dipping might or might not have happened.
- I talked to God. I thought I desperately needed some answers from Him, and I didn't get any. But I got peace instead. And of course peace was what I needed the most, not answers.
- I cooked.
- I shared the lake with beautiful white swans and the house with not so beautiful mice. I thought we could easily share the house and not get in each other's way but the illusion was shattered one evening when I came from sauna and was only a moment away from stepping on a big fat mouse who had decided to die right in the middle of the bathroom. I didn't scream *proud* but I did utter a whole lotta words I never use in public *not proud*.
- I watched the fire place and the lake. I could do that for a long time.
- I spoke with some friends who cared to call me and ask about my decision to leave the civilisation.

That's pretty much all I did. Oh, and I did take some pictures.

Ready for winter birds.
Last leaves.
J. My favourite kid in the world.
"Any place you love is the world to you." Oscar Wilde
Hi. My name is Mervi and I'm an M&M addict.
Fireplace and candles and tea. Every evening.

One more thing. The drama I mentioned two weeks ago is over now. It's amazing how much you can learn about yourself and about life in such a short time.