Today is the Sabbath.
Before the church service at 1:00 pm at the apartment, I went for an hour walk back towards the city center of Tartu. I've hardly had any exercise on this trip. It was wonderful outside. Overnight there was a dusting of snow. The air was fresh and the walk is very interesting past the old architecture, ruins of old churches, the University and new Tartu. I have been to Estonia an umpteen number of times and never tire of the culture and history of this area of the world.
Johnnie did some work on the last mailing that he was giving to Andrus Ripps to take to the Post Office. The booklet about Heaven and Hell will be mailed out on February 15th. Johnnie Lambert is staggering the mailings so that not everything comes at once. He was going to send out the January - February Good News, but it did not arrive in bulk from the US and it will have to wait until Passover time to be mailed out with the March April issue.
Postage rates have almost doubled after the first of the year and that will be a challenge for us to send mail not only within Estonia but to adjacent Russian speaking areas as well.
Services were about to begin. We have eight of us at the apartment plus Toomas Schvaak in Tallinn and Imbi Kuuskalu in Dublin, Ireland connected by Skype.
With Imbi Kuuskalu in Ireland in Estonia, we will not be able to have the usual Estonian translation from English into Estonian for the sermon. The translation tended to belabor the sermon because it was of the consecutive kind. Anyway, today I have to give the sermon and it was decided that I would do it in Russian. Russian is my third language in order of ability but it will work. I have more than the usual amount of scriptures in my sermon about "Learning to Live with Joy" and that actually helped because the scriptures carry the sermon. Also, I made sure that I looked up and was conversant with key words. I'm OK preaching in English and Ukrainian but Russian challenges me to the full. Language is always a challenge in Estonia and invariably leads to problems with understanding and/or misunderstanding. The sermon actually went quite well as the subject was good for them at this time of year of much darkness outside and for interactivity. Between my main points we engaged in discussion about how we manage joy.
I have a Russian translation on my e-sword Bible and cut and pasted the 13 scriptures from the sermon inito a WORD document. Then Johnnie looked up the same scriptures in a Estonian Bible and cut and pasted and printed them out for everyone to look at on the big LCD screen during the sermon along with a handout he printed. Three active languages were in motion during the service.
The people who came to the Service were Helgi, Helga, Leili, Katrin, Andrus and Elle. With Imbi and Toomas and Johnnie and me there were ten of us.
Johnnie's apartment has produced a positive change in relation with these people. Having a home-type atmosphere for our meeting, for eating has bonded us closer. Estonians are hard to get to know and may appear unfriendly or aloof until a certain critical mass in bonding is achieved. Then they melt and become gregarious and warm. This is what Johnnie's apartment has helped accomplish. We had animated discussion with all of them.
After services Johnnie and I were going to go up by bus to Tallinn and stay in a hotel. Johnnie has an early flight to Prague in the Czech Republic and then on home to New York.
The brethren helped clean up and put things away as we packed our things to leave. Katrin was especially helpful.
Andrus was going to drive us to the bus station, but unbeknownst to us started driving us all the way to Tallinn that takes two and a half hours. There he picked up his 11 year old son and we found out hotel, found Toomas and all went to dinner in a medieval restaurant that the atmosphere of medieval times as well as an approximation of how food was prepared back in the middle ages. There were only candles to light the tables.
The credit card machine did not work, but I guess they didn't work in medieval times either. The atmosphere in Old City Tallinn is just marvelous. I think it's the best of all the Old Cities in the Baltics. On this trip I've been to three off them - in Kaunas, Riga and here in Tallinn.
Afterwards Toomas came to our room and we talked about the progress at the radio station and fulfillment of literature. Toomas is a big help. We asked him to do some radio commercials for us in Estonian on the radio and to help us get an email address in Ukraine for people to write to. I'm going to get a PO box in Kiev for people writing in requesting the Bible Study Course.
Then Johnnie and I took a sauna and to bed. Sunday he goes to Prague and I fly to Kemi, Finland to see the Klogay Doh's in Kemi way up near the Arctic Circle. Toomas is flying to Switzerland on his job working to coordinate European library materials in the European Union.
This is the first time on this trip that I've stayed in a hotel. It's been trains, planes, floors, couches all at other people's places.
See you tomorrow!
Sabbath in Tartu, Estonia
Saturday, January 20, 2007