Sunday, November 1, 2015

Would you like to know?

I'm participating in a blog hop at Baptist Missionary Women
The topic is...
"10 things I'd like people to know about my field"

Here is my list.  Hopefully you will learn at least one thing about the field of Estonia.  There is much more that could have been said about all that I've learned since living here.  So if you have any questions - just ask.  Or better yet.....COME VISIT!

 1.  Seasons
We enjoy all four seasons.  Some are short-lived, so we savor each day of the fleeting seasons.  However, since winter is our longest season, we are usually glad to have it behind us by the time we get to spring.

2.  Daylight/Darkness
In the winter our daylight hours start around 9 a.m. and are over by 3:30 p.m.
Then in the summer we have about 19 hours of daylight.   During the longest days of the summer it never really gets completely dark.  We love it!

3.  Medieval Castles
Over the years we've enjoyed learning about Estonia's history.  Fortresses, castles, and swords are part of it.  It is not only fun, but educational to visit these historic sites.


4.  Singing
The Estonian's love of music and their country unites them in a unique way.
The Estonian Song Festival is held every five years in Tallinn.  Able to hold more than 100,000 spectators, crowds flock to the Festival Grounds to hear the 18,000 voice choir.  We were part of the crowd that attended in 2009 and again in 2014.  It is an amazing experience and I love the passion with which they sing.  You can read more about the Song Festival here .

singers heading in to the festival grounds
spectators finding their seats and waiting for the song festival

our view at the Estonian Song Festival - July 2014
5.  Technology
Estonia is technologically advanced.  They have been using online voting since 2005.  They also have free wifi almost everywhere you go - even on the buses.  Annual tax returns are filed on line by 95% of Estonians.  All schools are connected to the internet and learning computer programming begins in the first grade.   
Oh, and since many of us enjoy and use Skype, we have the Estonians to thank for that.  Skype was born here!
enjoying a Skype call
6.  American fast food 
Estonia has 2 American fast-food chains....neither of them are in our city of Kohtla-Jarve.  McDonalds has been here for a long time and Subway arrived in March of 2013.  Since the closest McDonalds is about an hour away and Subway is 2 hours away, we don't eat at either place very often.  Recently I heard that KFC and Pizza Hut might be coming our way in the near future.

our first trip to Subway in Tallinn
my favorite thing at McDonalds
7.  Language  
Estonian is the official language of Estonia.....but we don't speak Estonian.
So you may be wondering what language we do speak.  The answer:  Russian 
Approximately 25% of Estonia's population is ethnic Russian.  Large populations of Russians live in the capital city, Tallinn (as of 2011, 38.5%).  Many Russians also live in the northeastern cities of Estonia: Narva - right on the Russian/Estonian boarder (82%), Silamae (82%), and Kohtla-Jarve (69.6%).
Since we live in a city (Kohtla-Jarve) with a large Russian population, Russian is widely spoken.  We rarely even hear Estonian used out our way.

8. Currency
When we arrived in 2009 Estonia's currency was the Kroon.
In January of 2011 Estonia changed to the Euro and did away with the Kroon.

The cost of living is a bit high here for some things, but a few things are much more reasonable than what we would pay in the states.
9.  Fireworks
New Year's Eve is a big night for celebrating.  Fireworks are heard exploding all through the night.  We usually enjoy the festivities from our balcony.  One year we walked to the center of town to get in on more of the action.  
The truth is that it is quite common to hear fireworks at any time of the year.  It is kind of fun and exciting to randomly see them.  If the kids are awake, they usually run to the windows to find out if we can see them or just hear them.  Thankfully if they are asleep, the noise doesn't bother them.  It was something different to us at first.  Now, we enjoy it.

10. Religion  
Sadly, Estonia is a spiritually dark country.  They pride themselves on being the least religious country in the world.  In a 2005 poll, only 16% of Estonia's population believed in God.  Religion is considered a crutch for the elderly and the weak.

The ministry here is tough and slow.....but the need is great.  We appreciate your prayers!

Thank you for stopping by.  Greenland is the next stop in the blog hop.  Just click here to see what exciting things Carole has to share on her blog about her field at the top of the world.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Daniel turns 16!

I can't believe it's been 16 years!

Daniel started his day off with a run.  When he left the house at 7:00 a.m., the rest of us worked quickly to put up some festive decorations and get a yummy breakfast cookin'.  
Daniel and his Powerade tower
After breakfast we rode the bus out to Mega Green - a large mall on the south end of Orel.  Our first stop was bowling.  We were all proud of Daniel when he won.  
Celebrating at Mega Green

Daniel did not get a shiny new car for his 16th birthday.....but we did take him driving. :) 
 My Daniel absolutely loves coffee!  When we got home from the mall I made Daniel a special birthday coffee. 

homemade iced coffee for the birthday boy

The birthday boy chose a delicious broccoli/chicken pasta for dinner.  I added some hot peppers (because we like spicy food).  

Daniel's birthday dinner

 After dinner Daniel opened presents, cards, and received birthday phone calls.  Since Daniel likes basketball, he chose to watch Hoovey  - a basketball movie, based on a true story.
the birthday boy
Let's not forget about dessert!
Daniel requested I make a cherry pie.  The kids had picked the cherries earlier in the summer from the cherry trees at the church property.  I had them bagged up in the freezer for this special occasion.  The pie filling was slightly tart sandwiched between two delicious flaky crusts.  Adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream was a perfect touch. 

cherry pie

Since 16 is an extra special birthday, we decided that his birthday celebration would not end when he went to bed.  Each morning for 16 days, Daniel received a special treat from us and we presented him with a card that had come in the mail.  Many friends and family joined us in making Daniel's 16th birthday special.

birthday cards
 Those 16 years went by quickly.  It seems like just yesterday I was gently rocking my first-born in my arms.  Now he is a handsome young man that is 6-8 inches taller than me.  There has been a lot of growing, learning, and maturing over the years.  You know, changes that come with growing up.  One thing that has not changed - not even a little - is my love for him.    

Daniel - 16 years old

 Happy Birthday, Daniel!!!

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Monday, August 24, 2015

A quick trip!

This morning Ron, Andrew, and Sarah left for a quick trip back to Estonia.  They were picked up by taxi at 7:00 a.m. because the train to Moscow left at 8:00 a.m.  Once in Moscow, they will ride the Metro to another train that will get them to the airport.  Then this evening (about 6:30) they make the hour and a half flight to Tallinn where they will be picked up by the Smiths.

the happy travelers
Shortly before we left for Russia we turned in our required documents to renew our residency in Estonia.  We have been approved for 2 more years!  So Ron will be picking up our new ID cards.

Andrew and Sarah went because they both have to see the orthodontist.  It's been 10 weeks since their last appointment and we were advised not to stretch it out longer than that.

Please pray for their safety as they travel today and return on Thursday, August 27th.  Also, I would really appreciate your prayers for the other kids and myself as we remain in Orel. 

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