We are home now, on day two of being back in our home time zone. The rest of the flights went well and everyone’s bags made it home so we were quickly through the doors and saw our kiddos waiting for us. Ezra just stared at my face with a huge smile on his face, as if to say “is it really you?”. He looked like he couldn’t believe his eyes!
Sleep the first night didn’t go so well for me, as I woke up at 3am for the day. Peter seemed to sleep well, but he didn’t sleep as much as I did on the London-Calgary flight and also stayed up later when we got home. I was worn out and not feeling well so I went straight to bed.
The next morning we went to church here in Calgary. I definitely teared up when we sang “Here I am to Worship” and all the verses were in English. I could just hear the Estonian and Russian verses.
I had a big nap in the afternoon and so did Ezra! We spent time together as a family after supper. I’m telling you, our mission trip was tiring and full of long days, but motherhood is more tiring. I definitely wasn’t used to the demandingness of toddlers and kindergarteners after two weeks of being away from it!
Groceries and unpacking today, relaxing a bit too. I’m not napping today: Chelsey – 1/jetlag – 0.
Friday was our last day in Estonia. We woke up and had breakfast at the usual time (8:00) and then left around 8:45 for Old Town as many of us needed to grab some last minute souvineers. We only had about 30 minutes and then we needed to take the tramm to the bus station to go to Rakvere.
Rakvere is about 1.5 hours from Tallinn and Everett was there to greet us and take me with him to do their wedding photography. The rest of the group went to get lunch at a grocery store while I ate pancakes at a little bakery. I went on to do wedding photography and the group toured the castle.
We left around 3pm to walk to the bus station and get on the 4pm bus. Once we were back in Tallinn we trammed to Lido for a quick supper and then walked to the theatre to watch the last Harry Potter movie. A bunch of our friends watched it with us and afterward, more friends joined us for a rainy walk through Old Town. We went up to a look out point and spent time visiting with our friends. We all walked back to the hotel together and there were some tearful goodbyes.
We were all up late packing (I went to bed around 12:45) and up early (I was up at 3:45am) to taxi to the airport. Several friends were there to see us off, which made us feel pretty special since it was incredibly early in the morning. We said a prayer together as a group an were off through security.
A quick 30 minute flight later and we land in Helsinki, Finland for a 7 hour layover! Free wireless helps pass the time, some are reading, some are cross-stitching and many of us have been sleeping on the floor (myself included). I actually slept on the flight over too and woke up as we landed. Not always the nicest way to wake up ;)
I, myself, am trying hard to manage my sleep on the way home to try and minimize jetlag. There is a 9hr time change! So I slept a bit here and now I will try to stay up til the Helsinki-London flight where I plan to sleep. Then I might nap in London if possible based on both length of layover and if I will physically be able to. I want to try to stay up as much as possible on the London-Calgary flight to be ready for bed at the proper time at home, as we arrive at 7:55pm. Looking forward to loving on my babies when I get there!
Yesterday (Thursday) was our last working day of our mission trip! We seriously can’t believe we are finished now. It started with a devotional lead by Peter, and we even sang some worship songs in both English and Estonian. We still had a lot of work to do with painting so we got straight to it and finished most of it up in the morning. We just had to paint one outside wall at the end of the day. It was really cool to help the Asunduse church out in that way. We raised enough money that we were able to also give them some to fix a broken window and also pick up a few other things they needed. The entire time we have been here, Nikolai, the church’s pastor, has expressed his extreme gratitude for such great friends who would travel so far to Estonia to help them.
After painting with purpose and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Estonia we had our lunch together and then got ready for our last reading sessions. We had 22 readers show up! Our 1:30 session was on Jesus rising from death and hope. For our 3:00 session we broke into smaller groups and Peter had a series of questions prepared for us to go through with our readers, questions to help us get to know one another better and to talk about where we are in our faith journey.
After the reading we walked to Kadriorg park again to have our last party. We played lots of fun games that Peter had planned and then we all had pizza together in the park. Nikolai and the Asunduse church gave a very heartfelt “thank you” to us and presented us all with books about Tallinn.
After our party we spent some time finishing painting the wall outside and cleaning the inside of the church building. Then we went out for a second supper as many of us were still hungry after our busy day!
Today, my group was on for team devotional, and JP lead it. Lisa read scripture, I lead singing and Reid prayed. After JP’s emotional and inspiring devotional we got right to painting with purpose :)
We had our two lessons and the first one talked a lot about forgiveness and humility and the second one was about Jesus’ crucifixion. The first lesson was in the church building and then we walked to Kadriorg park and had our second lesson and our party there.
Lisa, JP, Reid and I were on for party and we lead a crazy Olympics party that involved each team picking a team name, creating a cheer, dizzy relay, shoe mix game, egg relay, water balloon toss and awards ceremony. The Dream Team came in first with Team Cupcake came in second.
After the party we went to Vapiano for some italian food and then toured Old Town and shopped for souvineers.
We cannot believe that tomorrow is our last reading day. After that we will travel to Rakvere for sightseeing and then leave for Calgary early early early Saturday morning.
On Tuesday we started our day off with a devotional lead by Ashley, Meghan and Brenam. After the devotional we got straight to painting and started to make a bit of progress in the church building and some outdoor painting too. We have been painting for 2 hours or so every morning, as a gift to the Asunduse church. We are painting with purpose, as Peter says!
After we’ve been working hard for a couple hours we are all quite hungry so we sit down together and eat a lunch of sandwiches, ichiban-style noodles, juice and a piece of fruit that we buy the night before at the grocery store. After each party we all walk down to the Selver grocery store and pick up what we need, then carry it all back to the church before going out for supper.
After lunch we begin reading again. We do a lesson, have a break with snacks, another lesson, and then our party. Our readers always seem to have such interesting responses to the lessons! It has also been great for me to see our teens stepping out when they are uncomfortable and trying to take the conversation somewhere or help the local teens draw a conclusion from the lesson. I know this trip will have had such a big impact on the local teens lives, but also the Calgary teens.
Our party was lead by Ashley, Meghan and Glen and it was a pirate party! Glen even dressed up in full pirate attire. It was a fun party that included a treasure hunt! Everyone had a lot of fun and the kids especially loved the treasures they received at the end — Canadian chocolate coins, rings, bangles, necklaces!
After the party we went out with some readers and had supper at a Latvian restaurant called Lido. Maybe I wrote about it already, we went there on Sunday. Anyway, then we headed out on a bus to Pirita Beach and a few people (Peter, Glen, Reid, JP, Becki and Brenam) went swimming! There were probably 30 or so of us out there and it was a great time.
Today was our first day of the YoungFriends component of our trip. We started the day off with a team devotional and then we began the service project portion of the trip. We are doing some renovations to the church building, both inside and out. Some of us were inside taping baseboards, light switches and outlets, and the ceilings, and others were outside painting the fence around the building. Artjoom (Ar-t-yoom) a local Christian teenager who is part of the Asunduse Church even came to help us out! Artjoom told us how amazing he thinks it is that we would travel so far not to be tourists but to help people and also to give of our time to help them fix up their building. Hearing such encouragement reminds me of how worth it these short term mission trips are.
Tomorrow we will begin painting inside. We worked from 9:30-11:30 and then had lunch and party prep, and soon our readers were showing up and it was time to begin!
If you are confused about what YoungFriends even is, it is an English conversation group made up of Canadian teens, local teens from the church, and new local teens who are wanting to practice their English and make new friends.
Here is exactly what our team is doing: we have divided our Canadian team into two groups, five in each. Then we each have a handful of local Christians and a handful of local teens who want to practice their English. We actually had sixteen people show up today!
The book of Luke has been translated into simple English for the purpose of sharing the gospel with those who speak English as a second language. YoungFriends has then broken up the book of Luke into 13 separate lessons. We do one lesson in every 45 minute reading session. At first we just spend time getting to know one another and talking about our day. Then the local teens take turns reading a paragraph and afterward we spend time discussing the lesson, to ensure they understood what they read and also to have conversations about our lives and our thoughts. Even if a reader does not yet believe, the book of Luke is such a great platform for getting to know one another, building friendships and planting seeds.
We did one session, had a snack break, then had a second session with the same people and then had our party. Today’s party was a Canada party thrown by Becki, Brenna and Brenam. They had several fun games that took us on a journey across the provinces of Canada. I think everyone had lots of fun!
Afterward we went out for supper just as a team and I personally loved having some time with just the team! It is awesome to have our new friends around too but I think some time alone together was needed!
Here is a beautiful slideshow made by Jaime Banks of our camp experience.