I had been traveling so much I had somehow forgotten what the usual, non-traveling everyday life looked and felt like. But once I had settled again and unpacked my suitcase and was also back emotionally, I realised – with a rather unpleasant surprise – that everything was really same old, same old. And that all the things that had triggered my breakdown in April were still very much present and actual. None of these things had miraculously evaporated over the traveling weeks. So these past weeks I’ve done my best to balance between the light and the shadows, between joy and sorrow. Sometimes I’m doing well, sometimes not so well, the most important thing is that I’m balancing.

And so it was that I looked forward to Dr A. N.’s visit excitedly, almost impatiently. She’s one of those people who has always managed to speak light into my life, and I was hoping for it to happen again. So on Monday when I knew she’d arrive, I could barely sit still during the conference’s executive board marathon meeting. She did come, she sat me down in an Old Town restaurant, and she spoke a lot of life and light and sense into my existence. Again. But we didn’t just sit in restaurants for three days (although we did a fair amount of that too) but we also went to an art museum, looked around Tallinn, and then headed to Pärnu for about two days. I had so organised things that my dad would join us for a day and take us to the best bird watching locations on the Western coast. Both my dad and A. N. are fanatical bird watchers. So yesterday we drove around the coast from early morning until late afternoon and it was rather funny to see how both of them switched on the bird watching mode and ran around with binoculars and consulted the books and were totally excited about seeing this or that bird. I tagged along, kicked stones, and took pictures. I was clearly left out of their world haha! A. N. would joke that not all people are lucky enough to be born with the bird watching gene. I suppose she’s right. But it was a lot of fun still to hang out with them and have a little glimpse of this hobby of theirs. Great times. And then we would do some more restaurant visiting and would endlessly talk about life and academia and people and Newbold and GC and books. 

A. N. just left an hour ago, heading back to Newbold. It all feels like a deep breath of fresh air. 


And here’s the traditional blog news: music and books. I’ve been listening to Kirk Franklin a lot, especially on those days when I’m not doing very well. His music helps, My Life Is In Your Hands in particular (and it’s not only the song itself that I like but also the unfading memory that goes with it – how me and B. would blast this song on Thursday evenings in Newbold student centre when setting up for yet another Experience). Book wise – I’ve just finished Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark (book no 22 this year). I had seen the movie – Schindler's List – a long time ago but I wasn’t quite prepared for the book. The book is so much more detailed and intense and sickening than the movie (although I think Ralph Fiennes did an excellent job playing the Nazi lunatic Goeth) but it is also somehow more inspirational – the audacity and absurdity of the idea of saving lives and the elegance with which Herr Schindler pulled it off against all odds is just breathtaking. It’s equally terrible and terrific book.


I think I've met more new people over these two weeks than I usually do in a year. It's been intense.

Last week I was in Denmark, preaching and teaching at their Union's camp meeting. It was the first time for me to speak at a bigger gathering like this, so it was all wonderfully new to me. I realised somewhere half way through the camp meeting that when you're the invited speaker, you have a full-time job. It's not only about preaching sermons and having workshops, it's equally much about being aroud people, socialising, listening, smiling. For someone as introverted as me, it can be terribly tiring. I was glad we stayed in a rented summer house with M. and A. a couple of kilometers away from the camp site so I could escape there every now and then and just be alone.

But I'm not complaining, don't get me wrong. It was also immensely rewarding, being with people, getting to know them a little and seeing their heart-felt gratitude. I don't think I've ever heard so many kind words and thank yous as I did there. Something really seemed to touch their hearts, and if you asked me, that something was a miracle of God. Given the state of my health as well as my limited preparations plus the never ending sleeping problems, it must have been magic that happened. I didn't feel I had much to give, but people seemed to receive a whole lot more than I gave. It reminds me of the story of five loaves of bread and two fish. I gave crumbles, people seemed to receive a whole meal. It was the invisible miracle of the Kingdom of God that must have happened.

I also had a privilege of meeting two other guest speakers, pastor Bill Knott and pastor Matthew Gamble from the US. M. G. was the speaker in the youth tent, he's the kind of guy who can make anyone laugh at any time. Unfortunately I never got to hear him as we spoke in different tents to different audiences and also our workshops overlapped, but I heard good things about him. But I got to spend more time with pastor B. K. who must be one of the kindest and friendliest people I've ever met. We could sit in the dining hall during the lunch time and discuss homiletics and literature and women's ordination endlessly. He also encouraged me to take writing more seriously, and I'm infinitely grateful for this encouragement. Just today I happened to pick up an issue of Adventist World magazine, and this time I read its editorial differently. Suddenly there was a real living person behind the title of the executive editor, a person I dare to call my new friend.

With B. K., M. and M. G. Or as we joked - ABBA
And this week it's Slovenia. I'm attending the GC's Education Summit. Part of it is interesting and useful, part of it not so much. But I guess that's always like this with conferences. I'm staying in the same hotel where I stayed a number of years ago at the European Pastors Counsil. Memories flooded back that evening I got here - I remember that event so clearly. It was the summer when I was half way through my MA program in Newbold, the last summer my mum was well, the last summer life was easy-breezy-beautiful. It has been bittersweet being back here. But what once again balances the sadness is people, inspiring and wonderful people. It's the first time for me to meet the real power ladies of the SDA church. Today I had lunch with Ella Simmons, I sat very quietly and listened carefully to this graceful and fierce lady who, against all odds, has made her way right to the top of the church's administrative hierarchy. I've also met Andrea Luxton and Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, the president of Andrews University and director of Education at the GC. Truly admirable ladies both. It is so good to have people to look up to, people who inspire and make you realise - everything is possible. Everything is possible for those who work their butt off and stand their ground.

So again and again I come back to the realisation - I have been blessed with wonderful people in my life. Some contacts are brief, some grow into friendships, but all of them are appreciated.