Valerie’s Birthday

Tomorrow (the 14th) is Valerie’s fourth birthday. We celebrated early because Olga’s mother left for Montenegro this morning, and I came to Estonia today. Our friend Olga Ryazhskikh also joined us.

Here’s a little ‘familiana’, when we ate the birthday cake:

A Postcard from Estonia — A Full Life

We’ve just returned from Estonia where we had a quick visit with a mission team from our home church in Athens, GA. The team is ministering in Camp Gideon, a Christian camp in the shore of the Gulf of Finland. This team is particularly memorable in that my aunt, Judy Cantrell, is a member. That’s her above at right with Valerie and other team members. So, it was good to have some family time as well as mission time with the team.

The team went to a restaurant where you catch your own meal. Olga caught her first fish (ever!). Here she is with Bill Arnold, who has been a great help in many ways. In addition to serving the children, the team is also involved in construction projects, and Bill is taking a leading role in that.

Our summer plans are in flux. I won’t be going to Montenegro as intended, since the mission team that planned to run the camp had to cancel their trip. Thankfully, the youth in Montenegro have been able to connect with other ministry opportunities. I’ll spend more time in Estonia, where I’ll meet with the architect of the center for disabled children and do some other work.

You can read the most recent Stoneworks newsletter here. This will give you an idea of the variety of activities going on this summer. I am very thankful to be a part of such a great team. Our work continues in Estonia (mission teams, center for disabled children), Russia (mission teams, Camp Elama) and Belarus (summer camps, visits to orphanages and shelters, the Minsk Family Home).

I continue to be reminded of how unity is more important than activity. Even though we have a lot going on, it’s more important to abide in Christ, to live with and depend on Him, and to work for unity with those around us; we trust that activities will be a natural result of our relationship with Christ and with one another. Jesus said, ‘by this people will know that you’re my disciples — by your love for one another’. God values love above all else: first loving Him and then loving one another.

Let’s all set our hearts to love God more and more. For He is the beginning and end of all, the cornerstone and the capstone.

Russian Customs Declaration Form

Here is a MS Word version of the Russian Customs Declaration Form.

Usually these are filled out by hand, which can take a while. It’s nice to have a Microsoft, fill-able version that can be printed in advance. I cross borders often, driving my car, so I type in all the car information and print the form. This way, I don’t have to write all the car info every time.

This should be printed on A-5 paper (half of the standard A-4). You might have to fiddle with it, depending on how your printer is set up.  Click on the link to download:  A- 5 Russian Customs Declaration

Update: here is the A-4 Russian customs declaration form. These are now accepted at border crossings, and it’s much easier to print them on standard A-4 paper.

Today in the Far North

This sort of thing interests me —

Here in St. Pete, on the longest day of the year (today), Sunrise is at 4:35am and Sunset is at 11:26pm:

I just noticed that for the next month dusk is on the day after dawn.

Here is the sun path. Notice how far in the NE the sun rises and how far in the NW it sets:

For comparison, here is what it looks like near the equator: Continue reading

Snapshots from Finland

Three quick pictures:

Valerie got hold of our camera and made some interesting pictures, including this self-portrait:

She also used her little shovel as a microphone, singing and dancing in the yard:

And we had a classic Finnish sunset:

Quite a Week

This involves a bus, a plane, a van and a ferry. It started on Sunday —

I’ve been looking to purchase a used mini-van for use as our ministry in Europe expands. Our little red car is getting a little long in the tooth, and I felt that the time may have come to find a good traveling car since I’m on the road so much these days.

I have been looking for cars in Germany. Prices are lower there, and Germans take good care of their cars. A month ago I sent an email to a private seller (not a dealer) in Germany but never heard back from him. I looked at a lot of other cars after that . . . .

Sunday: After driving from Russia to Estonia, I check my spam folder and notice a reply from the seller; it’s three weeks old. I write asking if the van is still for sale, and it is. We exchange several emails as I get more information. After talking with Olga and coming to agreement, I book a flight to Hamburg (using frequent flyer miles).

Monday: After taking care of some business in Jõhvi, I take a bus to Tallinn and spend the night with friends.

Continue reading