Thursday, November 22, 2007

1 picture = 1000 words

hey everyone,
just wanted to let you all know that i put up the pictures from our U.S trip yesterday. even thought every othe picture is of emma, i still hope you have a chance to look through them, there might even be one of you in there!
it was such a great time for us, thank you for making it such an enjoyable trip!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nomadic church II (updates)

In the last couple of days we have been in contact with our land lords trying to figure out what has cause the current situation, are there any potential ways for us to continue renting the facility and if not then can we postpone the deadline of moving out.

So far we have got that far:
1. What is the reason why they want to kick us out? They really haven't explained it to us. The most that i heard from them has been "We just dont want to have you as renters any more. We are tired of telling you all the time what you can and what you can't do in this facility".
2. Right now it really seems that there isn't any way for us to continue renting the building. A good example of it was also the fact that the building crew continued working on installing a new heating system to the building on Sunday during our worship service. The working noise was so bad that it was even hard to hear the sermon. And to make things worse, the land lord himself was working together with the builders, so it wasn't like he didnt know about it.
3. We will hear by the end of the week if there is a possibility for us to postpone the deadline of moving out. Right now we have to be out by the 1st of December. That would mean that we would only have one more Sunday here. And it is HARD to find any place to be in that short of a time.

So thats the current update.
At the same time we feel peace in our hearts and know that it is time for us to move on from here and God is leading us that way. He really must have a much better place in mind for us, we just have to find it. So you can continue praying for the whole situation.

Actually, tomorrow we will go and see one place that has opened up for rent. It is an old night club in the center of the city. We dont know more about it but just that the location is much better than the one we currently have. Maybe that's the next place for Risttee church?

Nomadic church I

It was our last morning in US. Anna and I were all excited about returning to the ministry in Estonia with the new insight from the conferences and encouragement from our friends when I received this letter from my brother describing a new situation with our land lords (many of you already have seen that email):
Dear fellow brothers,

Dima, our landlord just came into our (Risttee and GU) office with an
official paper that we will be kicked out as a church in 2 weeks. He asked me to
sign under it, but i didnt. He insisted that decision has been
made already.

He said that he will put it into our mailbox and they still have their
decision made.

I tried to understand whats the problem or why they decided so. He didnt
give a clear answer, but said that its the people here. What exactly, i
hope he will tell to Peep when he comes back.

We have 2 weeks to figure out is it God who is moving us again, or is it
just a problem, that we must be able to solve. One thing is sure, we
have to start praying and those who have skills, starting interacting
more with Diima.

Have a life-changing day!
Märt Saar

Making the shift

Estonia sure seems to be grey and dark this season of the year. Specially if you make the transition from a hot and clear skies sunny Sothern California. It took us 29 hours to travel from door to door, but it went surprisingly smoothly inspite of travelling with a enormous amount of baggage and a 8-month old baby. We didn't loose our luggage but the airlines broke the stroller that we had bought just one week before we flew to the states.
Last night Emma was up and crying for 4 hours straight. And when the baby doesn't sleep then the parents are up also (at least mommy is!).
But it is good to be back.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

30 years

Today is my birthday.
30 years.
Thats what i call entering the Jesus-age. Which means that it is time to live in a way that leaves a mark in the world.

It is weird to think that if i live for another 30 years then im already 60 years old. But which is even more weird to think is that Emma will be then 30 years old of a woman.

Day 19: Traffic and Exponential

I have spent almost 3,5 hourst today in traffic. Its awful. I dont think i am strong enough of a christian to live in LA. I would be experiencing road rage every time i'm on the road.

Appart from the traffic the Exponential conference that is about creating a culture of generousity in your church has been really stretching for me personally. That is something that I really want to see in my own life, in our family and in Risttee church! I'm ready for God to continue his work in me also tomorrow. Besides im very excited to hear for the first time in my life Rick Warren and Joel Ortberg talking.

Out of everything in the conference today the thing that talked to me the most was the video of Malawii Miracle - the project that WACC church did to raise money for building an hospital in Malawii.

Day 18: I'm not a whiner

I'm very proud of myself. Today we were in the outlets shopping for 5 hours and my duty was to babysit Emma during all that time. But i did not WHINE! Learn from me guys!

PS Of course there are guys like Rodney Brown, Rich Richardson and Joel Thomas who actually enjoy shopping and consider it a great way to spend time. I dont even pretend to be on their level.

Day 17: My personal record!

I went to church 5 times today. Do they give some type of an award for that? Thats my personal record i'm sure. If you add to that also a church service on saturday evening, then thats even more.
WACC has 4 services over the weekend and I was able to give a short greeting in all of the services. I think it went quite well. WACC church continues to model to me and our church generosity in ways that we have not seen before. In september when i saw Bill (the pastor of WACC) then i mentioned to him that we lost our camera after the summer english camps. As a church they decided to give us a great new Sony HD camera + Final Cut studio for Mac. Once again I am blown away how much people believe in us and the ministry in Estonia!

One thing that is great for all the churches in LA is that they can have the cafeterias and reception areas outside all throughout the year. In the pic: WACC church

Since I was already in LA then there are 2 churches that i have wanted to visit for a long time:
Mosaic church that gathers in downtown LA in a Mayan theater. And the Rock Harbor church, which is the "cool" church for the college students and single adults.

I went to the 7pm service in Mosaic. Lets say that it was a different experience. Mosaic gathers in a theater that is filled with all these sculptures and decorations that are mayan cultural and spiritual symbols. The people that had gathered (maybe 300 people) were different than the average people. I guess the best i could describe them would be multicultural urban artistic types. I did not feel that i am the target group. The worship was rocky-edgy-hard-indie. I didn't recognize any of the songs. Speaker was quite ok. Too bad that Erwin McManus himself wasnt there.

Rock Harbor gathered for the last time at 9pm. It took me an hour to get there from Mosaic. Although the service was so late at night, it was totally packed probably 1000+ people. And that was the 5th service over the weekend. The Rock definitely was much more main stream. There were the typical american college student type people unlike in the Mosaic. By that time i was already quite tired, so i spaced out couple of times in the the 1hour and 40minutes long service. Some things that were very cool - they had a great dance in the service and it even had a point that was very creatively communicated and tied into the sermon. And from the announcements i remember that the Rock sent over 2000 people to short term trips this last summer! Thats awsome. They want to live out the servants dna of a missional church.

By the time I got home it was close to midnight and i sneaked to bed so that i wouldn't wake up Anna and Emma.

Day 16: Atl - LA

Today we started the last leg of our trip - the plane from Atl to Los Angeles left in the morning. Emma was quite good on the 5 hour flight. If you want to learn coordination then i have an exercise for you - try to change extremely poopy diaper in the airplane restroom where the ceiling is too low for you to stand up even.
It still amazes me how different the cities of Atlanta and LA are. Even from the plane you can tell what a difference there is. Atlanta from the air is all green, full of trees. Just two strips of concrete are in Buchkead area and downtown. Flying in to LA is a different deal all the way. You are flying in the desert for 2 hours and then starts the city but that is only concrete and stones. No sign of green almost at all. One thing is similar in both cities though - traffic is horrendeous in both!

Day 15: Fall

Yesterday we visited the largest house in United States - the Biltmore Estate. Thats one big house. Built in the style of European mansions/castels but only 120 years old. The house was decorated with for christmas and it was really beautiful, even the sceptic that i am liked it. There was also a choire that kept singing in the big lobby for all the guests. They were awful though.

Today we are driving back from the Cove. Fall can be so beautiful. Too bad that in estonia we dont have that many sugar maple trees as here in Pennsylvania, North Carolina or even Atlanta. I love about travelling that sometimes you get to travel in time also - fall in Estonia seems a long time ago but here it is just getting here.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Day 14: The Cove

Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove - thats where we are with all the international partners of NP.
In spite of the fact the average visitor here seems to be a southern baptist couple in their 70s, this place truely has a different feel to it. Everything here is so peaceful, calm and beautiful. Great place to connect with God.

Surrouned by beautiful forests

The foyer of the training center

Praying around the globe

Two things that make me smile here:
1. There are bibles everywhere. Even in mens bathroom. I guess if you got to spend more time there you might as well read some chapters.
2. All the waitresses/ladies in the restaurant (most of them are in their 60s i guess) wear a ankle-length blue jean dress. The last time i saw those things was in the beginning of 90s when we got the first second hand clothing packages to Estonia...

Day 13: Friends

Our time in Atlanta is already so filled that we just can`t find time to meet all our friends. What a shame. Next time we just have to plan for couple of more days here.
What a miracle it is to think that just 3 years ago we did not know anyone from Atlanta and now we have so many great friends here!

Emma with her new best friend

Besides being the most popular bachelor in Atlanta, Rich is also known for his sense of style

Jim - the king of Polo

Day 11/12: Move conference

55 people from 15 different countries all over the world (from Indonesia to Brazil) have gathered to Atlante for North Point partnerns conference. Hospitality and kindness is such a characteristic to everyone from NP church that i have come to contact!

It has been great to get to know some of these people and hear about their struggles and celebration stories in planting churches in the cultures that are so different from each other. And of course sessions with Andy are a treat.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Day 10: Buckhead experience

After leaving at 5am toward Pittsburgh aiport we made it to Atlanta without any problems. It is great to be back here. Atlanta is probably my favourite city in US (since NY is such a different place then that doesnt count). Wilkins family is hosting us again this year and it is great to be with our "Atlanta family" and spend time in their awsome home.

Have you ever seen a polo game? As of today i can say that i have. How hard can be riding on a horse and trying to hit a small ball with a long stick? Seems real complicated to me.

Buckhead church is amazing. It really fits the culture of the part of the city that it is located at. We were able to visit the 6pm service. Amazing production and great sermon from Andy. One of the highlights for me of the service was when the video picture of Andy froze on the middle screen just in the peak of the sermon. I guess it proves again that noone is protected from unpredictable technical errors.

Griswold family hosted a desert party for us tonite. It was so great to get together with many of our good friends that we havent seen for a long time. We got to share what has been going on in Risttee and Going UP during this last year. Thank you guys for believing in us and being a part of the ministry in Estonia during all these years!

Tomorrow starts the Move conference. Time to hit the bed because it has been an exhausting day

Day 9: Congrats John and Beth

Mr. and Mrs. John Viinalass - i find it very strange to call the couples like that but oh well, since it is a custom here then why not.

The wedding was beautiful. I really like the ceremony. It was also the first time for me to be a groomsmen so that was quite special. After the ceremony it was time for the reception. John and Beth had asked me to be the host for that and to put together an Estonian style reception. So we had couple of games and skits and songs there + traditional american dancing and toasts and cutting of the cake.

When everything was over then it was already late in the evening. Inspite of that all the canadian family and estonian crew + some other closest friends crashed in one hotel room for last bonding time before leaving Youngstown early next morning. We are sure gonna miss you all!

Day 8: Rehearsal dinner

I think Pennsylvania is probably one of the most beautiful parts of US that i have been to, specially in the fall when all the hills are just covered with red and yellow maple trees. I love driving around on the country roads here.

Today we had the rehearsal for the wedding. Since i am one of the groomsman, i had to be there also. Everything went well except the fact that the best man and the wedding musician got there 1,5 hours late (they just were not able to find the church). Tomorrow is the wedding and it is time to start planning the wedding reception...

Emma is tired of waiting and is searching through aunt Melissas purse

Friday, November 2, 2007

Day 7: Cradle of civilization

Today I had finally the honor to see with my own eyes the cradle of the civilization, the source of happiness for all mankind, the birthplace of heroes that have changed the face of the world - YOUNGSTOWN, OH.
At least thats how my best friend Craig has described his hometown.

We are here for the wedding of my brother in law - John and his fiancee Beth. All the family from Estonia, USA and Canada has gathered in a little farm near Youngstown for a time of crazy jollyness and gayful cheering before the wedding ceremony.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Day 6: 98 years of age

Emmas great-great grandmother celebrated today her 98th b-day. She is still in such a good health. Strange to think of what would the world look like in 98 years from today, if Emma would live to be also that old.

By the way, it is pretty intimidating to be thrown into the room with 50 other people that all seem to know your name but you have just a slight idea that you have seen them somewhere sometime...

Day 5: Beating from the elderly ladies

Today I played golf for the first time.
Do you know what hurts? Get badly beaten by a bunch of 90 year old ladies in a game of golf. They were hardly able to walk but they hit that ball like there is no tomorrow! Awful feeling and very humbling experience! :)
Daniel showing his style

Ladies who beat us bad

Today was also trick-or-treat night. Emma got to dress up for the first time in her life and she was just adorable. Little chick from Estonia! As you can imagine, we just had to push her in the strolly to the doors and the candy kept flowing in.