Sunday, July 30, 2017

Girls camp 2017

Our camp this year was by a nice lake Võrtsjärv. We got a cabin and rest of the people stayed in the tents. We had altogether 15 people who came. Some could not come, also, the church is small here.
This is the cabin for 6 people I stayed in. There was a big fridge, bunk beds. 

This is the view from the cabin:

We put up little envelopes for post, messages, gifts:

The theme was related to service, charity, team work and friendship, here are some mormon ads we put up:

The cabin view from the side:

Girls and leaders putting up their tents right on the beach:

 The camp flag the girls made, using their feet and hands:

The girls planned a ton of great games, like this one: gunning the cup with water to see who gets to the end first. I lost.

Our hike was more like a nature walk and that is why everyone loved it so much. We walked a bit to a field, Heather, a guest from the States whom we love a ton, gave an awesome lesson, and then we went to a shady spot and painted a picture of Jesus with water colors. Everyone got a peace of the painting puzzle and then later we put it together. It was great. 

We also did some doodling on rocks. I went to Paldiski to get the little smooth flat rocks.

We did  friendship bracelets and during the making talked about questions, asking questions, being a better student and a better teacher; also questions about the gospel.

The camp was 2 days because that is what we can handle, and a wonderful missionary couple who serve in Tallinn, also in the primary with our wild kids (thank you!), gave a great fireside talk. 

For two days it was so peaceful, calm, fun. We got cookies with every meal because our missionary elder loves baking. And we love his baking. It was overall really nice and easygoing. Thank you for everyone involved in planning and making it all work!

Monday, July 10, 2017

4th of July party!

We had a little 4th of July party here in Keila in a new American restaurant that was opened just a couple of weeks ago. The waitresses did not even realize it was 4th of July when we told them we came to celebrate... in an American restaurant. It is almost like an American asking Estonians how they celebrate 4th of July (has happened to me in real life). So every countryman for their own independence day. If we mess up with others´ then no need to fire up.

The restaurant look nice and shiny. They have beautiful red and white old school couches and chairs, lots of Coke signs in every size. 

Bar stools are great.

More of the awesome chairs.

Playpen for the kids with Peppa Pig on TV. They loved it even though it was pretty tight. 

Donuts. Perfect. Very American.

They have great semi-circle seats, too. Really cool.

Coca-Cola vending machine.

My dish:

Sweet potato fries! They were really good. 

Matthew got a milk shake (already gone here in the photo) and a hamburger. 

This is how it looks outside:

Overall it was a great little outing for us and we liked the food a lot.

Tallinn pride parade 2017

Last week was the Baltic pride week in Tallinn and the Tallinn pride parade on Saturday.  They rotate the pride weeks through the Baltics, so it is in Tallinn once every three years but the parade part hasn't happened for 10 years.  In the mid 2000's there was quite a bit of opposition to the parades, a little bit more in Latvia but still in Estonia too with the parade goers being pelted by eggs and some violence.  It's great to see the change in society over the last 10 years, there were thousands of people gathered for the parade and everything went peacefully.  It was a great environment with a lot of positive energy.  There was a free open air concert after the parade.

This was the first pride parade that I have marched in and I'm very glad I participated.  In a lot of ways this was a Saul/Paul transformation for me.  At one of the parades in the 2000's I was visiting Estonia and randomly saw part of the pride parade in Old Town.  I remember seeing parade goers and protesters (nothing violent or out of the norm) and sympathizing with the protesters.  To clarify, I sympathized with the people holding signs, at the time I had no knowledge of egg throwing and never did condone that type of behavior.

At the time I had not spent enough time critically thinking about the impact of gay marriage on society.  My thinking was influenced by my religion which had taken a hard stand against gay marriage.  In the 2006 mid term elections, the GOP decided to ratchet up the culture was by calling for a constitutional amendment.  It was an attempt to boost turnout among evangelical Christians and never had any hope of passing.  My Church specifically asked all its members to write to their senators to support such a constitutional amendment.  Looking back I am disappointed that my Church allowed itself to be a pawn in the game of petty politics and deeply regret allowing myself to be influenced as a result.  I can't go back and change the past but I can act in the present by speaking out on behalf of minorities and the vulnerable in society who might benefit from an ally.  

I thought about organizing a Mormons building bridges group but had to work in the morning so I wasn't sure if I'd make it at all and didn't want to commit to being an organizational leader.  Also it would have ended up as a very small group.  Lucky for me on the way to the parade I ran into the Tallinn University student union group so they let me tag along.  Most of the students in the group were current or former students of political science and were some of my all time favorites!

Ann sold books in the United States and has the same name as my Mom! She just graduated this year, congratulations!


 I ran into my good friend and colleague Terry at the concert after the parade.  He is from Canada and noted that there was less nudity than the parade's in Canada.  There wasn't any nudity and overall it was a great family environment in old town.  Rather different from the stereotypical German pride parade's from the 1990's (haven't been to any, but that's based the stereotype I have of 1990's German pride parades).

I took quite a few selfies because a lot of ways this was about me doing something I needed to do for myself. 

 I was Marleen's supervisor for her Bachelor's thesis a few years ago and now she just graduated with a master's in Political Science, congratulations!

Ada had awesome purple lipstick and as soon as I saw it I thought, "that's blog material right there!"  If anyone needs new lip stick consider purple!  Ada just graduated from IR and got accepted to a PhD program on the other side of the planet and I'm super happy for her, congratulations!

All in all it was a great experience.  Marching in a parade is a very small and simple thing, but when many do it together (koos koos üheskoos!) then our societies can become safe and tolerant places for everyone. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Vanaema / Grandma Vana

Eelmisel nädalal lahkus mu vanaema - Vana.
Last week me grandmother passed away. We always called her Vana, meaning old in Estonian.

See postitus on tema auks ja meelespidamiseks. Uuemad fotod on teinud Giia, kes on olnud suurim tugi vanaema elus paljude aastate jooksul. Vanematest fotodest mõned on teinud ilmselt mu isa.
This post is in her honor and remembrance. The newest photos are by Giia who has been the biggest help in my grandmothers´ life past years. Some of the older photos are possibly taken by my dad.

Vanaema /Grandmother Vana:

Here my grandma is down on the right holding my sister Ele. I am held by Giia up in the middle. Also in the photo are from the left: my cousin Raile, on the right upper corner is my aunt Eli, who passed away 10 years ago. Down in the left is my mom, then Tarmo, then aunt Ester, holding my sister Kadi.

In this photo my grandma is on the left, up in the middle is my aunt Eli and on the right is my mom. I am in the front next to my cousin Raile. In the middle is my cousin Giia holding my sister Ele and my mom is holding my sister Kadi.

Here is a photo taken in Taagepera where I remember spending a lot of time as a small kid. In the photo are: my grandma on the left, aunt Ester on the right, aunt Eli down on the right and cousins Giia and Raile on the left.  

This is the same house (as in the last photo) all renovated now by the new owners who are actually the old owners. The owners´ family owned it before the II WW and then lost it (because times were cruel) and my relatives were given the place. So the people fixing it up are the kids of those people who lost the place back in the day.  I remember much of the place. I took the following photos on the day of the funeral.

In the back of the house they have fixed up the sun porch.

They have renovated the old barn/ garner/ granary. I remember cows there. We even had a horse. 

Here is an old oak tree that the kids used to climb on. It is where you could see who is coming on the road. There are old oak trees all around the place. Old, sturdy and big. These trees give an idea of how old the farm house really is.

Mul on vedanud, et mul on palju mälestusi oma vanaemast ja teistest pereliikmetest, kes on palju mind mõjutanud.
I am lucky to have many memories of my grandmother and of other family members who have influenced me a lot.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Tallinn Zoo time and billy goat gruff

Last week we went to the zoo. Great weather. Animals are always great. Because it was Monday none of the ice cream shops were open. What a disaster. The entire time the kids just complained about ice cream so it basically turned into a fast run-through the zoo to get some ice cream. People of the zoo, please have ice cream shops open every day in the summer. Why? Money.

The lion.

The monkey.

Means of transportation.

The elephants.

We always have something to feed the birds. Geese in the photo. This time we fed them home-made zucchini bread. That is what the Crandalls do. 

Petting zoo. They love billy goats. Now they love the story about billy goat gruff or something  where goats go over the bridge that is guarded by a troll. They build a lego bridge and go over it and ask the troll no to eat them. Eventually the troll is beaten and all the goats can eat green grass on the other side of the bridge. 

The camels. 

We will probably go again soon. And get ice cream before it and go on a day when the ice cream shops are open.