Sunday, April 24, 2016

Photography, my sweet passion

Here is another photo update with my favorite photos of the photos that I have taken lately.

Snowdrops in my grandmother´s garden, with snow!

Photos of Tallinn bay, the next one with girls taking selfies:

Forest by the sea at sunset:

Sunrise at 6.20 in Keila (I do not do many sunrises because sleep these days is so, so precious): 

Paldiski/Pakri cliff, 20-minute drive from where I live: 

The same cliff, some silhouette fun:

One of my favorites:

Sun setting in a town close by, Klooga:

I went to Klooga to check out this old manor. It is forbidden to go there but I had to. I went in too and it was so creepy. I get scared so easily when I am alone. It is next to the Klooga lake and I imagine back in the day how pretty it must have been.

Here is the lake. The beach by the manor is all grown full of stuff so this was the only spot to photograph the sunset.

The other day I went to my favorite beach with that single awesome tree and got this shot:

I tried manual mode and got this shot of the cool rock and the waves. Right were this photo is taken from is where I dropped my phone and thought I had lost it. It was still there when I went back the next morning at 6.30. The Lifeproof case saved it.

I love taking photos so much I am willing to travel more despite my fear of flying and hatred towards customs, jet lag and just everything awful that comes from traveling. 

So what do we do every single day?

Now that it is not as cold as it was before (but still cold because that is what springs are here, like today,  24th of April, it snowed so the ground was white for a while) we are spending more time outside and the kids love it. We stroll around Keila, going to different playgrounds, parks, stores, and other places. Here are some update photos (all taken with my iphone 5s that Monte so nicely gave us because we would not buy decent smart phones, or any new phones, like Matthew):

Here the kids are in a sand pit and some boy started playing with us. Kids are so nice.

They brought in new sand (3 truck loads) but did not care to spread it out. It was pure fun for the kids. Some toys got lost in that pile but it was worth the fun. 

All the kids had a meeting in the little play house. 

Two older girls were playing with my little girls. They loved it and so did my girls. 

 We like going to the church/cemetery. There is an old building (below) that was cool. We played jumping off the edge game where my 2-year old ran and jumped and I caught her. Great fun.

Keila is a city of Siberian Squill (sinikelluke). That plant is everywhere in the spring. Literally! The entire place is blue. Like here:

This photo is like Estonian flag upside down (blue-black-white):

Our daughter loves her little plastic car, she goes everywhere with it. She has a strider too but is too impatient to actually learn to use it. Maybe at some point.

And we go to the store across the road to buy ice cream or a chocolate surprise eggs that are illegal in the States. I am glad that it is getting warmer!

Monday, April 11, 2016

I was a stranger

The first refugees are being relocated in Estonia, a heated debate has been happening over the last few months with many Estonians showing somewhat hostile attitudes or opinions towards refugees and migrants from different parts of the world.  I was pleased to see the Church take a clear and visible position in helping refugees.  The two talks that addressed the subject were by far my favorites.

Patrick Kearon gave the most powerful talk I can remember in a general conference.  It is worth watching no matter your faith or opinion on the refugee crisis.

Sister Burton's talk was wonderful and she announced a new website that encourages others to help refugees. 

On an interesting note, this could have political implications as well.  In the GOP primary Utah voted in favor of Ted Cruz overwhelmingly in part due to his softer tone on religious minorities and refugees. One poll even had Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Thoughts on temples

Here are some of my thoughts on the four temples that were announced at general conference:

  • Harare, Zimbabwe; No surprise here.  I thought Nigeria would get a second temple before Zimbabwe would get a first, but this temple makes sense.  I imagine Nigeria is on the short list.
  • Quito, Ecuador; I'm happy for Quito, they have been wanting one for a long time (at least my college room ate told me this in 2004 so that makes 12 years already!).  I was a bit surprised because it is not a long distance from a temple, but the temple district should be large enough and even small distances can be huge for people with smaller incomes.
  • BelĂ©m, Brazil; I really thought Brasillia would get a temple before Belem, but I was wrong. 
  • A second temple in Lima, Peru. This was the shocker for me.  There is already a third temple in Peru being built, I figured that would be enough.  I figured that other countries in Latin America would get a second temple before a city got a second. 

No surprise that that Latin America and Africa were the areas of focus.  In the slow transition towards Post-America Mormonism we see a quicker shift in the distribution of material and financial resources than the leadership.   This makes 7 temple announcements in a row in non US (and non Western) locations.  The leadership paints another picture.  The general primary presidency are all BYU grads from the Western US.  Of the 11 new members of the seventy 6 were from the US, and the others are from Western countries or have heavy US ties.  One from Australia, one from New Zealand, one from Italy who worked with the US government, and two from Latin America who both studied in the US (one at MIT, the other at BYU). 

One thing to note is that while it is great to see diversity in church leaders the number one quality is one that cannot be judged by their background.  Elder Renlund is already my new favorite even though he doesn't check very many diversity boxes that some where hoping for before he was called.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Temple prediction

General conference starts today!  Where will the next temples be?  It's always hard to know, a lot depends on factors that we don't know such as availability of land, ability to build, temple attendance statistics of membership.  Sometimes a totally random temple will be announced like Durban South Africa or Star Valley Wyoming.  So here goes my guesses for the next temples and then a larger top 10 list.  Like last time I think the temples will be in largely non-Western locations in areas of large growth or isolated regions.  Africa and Latin America are the regions I think will have the highest chance. LDS Growth has the best prediction map. 

1. Benin City, Nigeria

2. Culiacan, Mexico

Others that I think are on the top

1. Lagos, Nigeria.  It makes more sense than Benin City because of its size, but membership statistics are a bit better in Benin City and I imagine it is easier to get a large complex of land in Benin City.

2. Managua, Nicaragua. The only country in Central America without a temple. 

3. Torreon, Mexico, Culiacan has more wards and is further away so it got the nod over Torreon

4. Brasillia Brazil.  I think they will wait a bit before announcing another temple in Brazil, but this has to be very high on the list.

5. Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

6. Harare, Zimbabwe

7. Tooele Utah

8. Eugene Oregon

9. Pocatello Idaho

10. Pittsburgh/Cleveland

Surprise candidates:

1. Hyderabad, India

2. Cape Verde

3. Auckland New Zealand