On The Island at Kuressaare
August 4, 2019
The first week went by so fast; and because the internet was almost non-existent we were able to focus even more intentionally on the work that God had planned for our team. On Tuesday afternoon, we loaded onto a LUXBus for the 4-hour ride (including a 20 minute ferry boat) to the island of Saaremaa. One of the more adventurous aspects of the trip is the 20-minute window of time for us to de-board the bus, order and eat dinner at the cafeteria that resides on the ferry, and use the restroom before we land and begin parading the cars and busses off the boat! Happily, no one got left behind and we were actually able to take in the beautiful view and snap some photos from the deck.
On Wednesday, the team was able to take a walking tour of Kuressaare and we also visited the Kuressaare Castle. At the time of our visit there was an outstanding 3-floor experiential exhibit about the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States, during the time of the U.S.S.R. Later we were able to enjoy more team bonding over coffee and watch Andrew continue his sampling of exotic coffees (this time he ordered a latte)! Later, we enjoyed a team dinner at the Windmill restaurant.
Thursday began the first day of the Estonia Life Camp. When making plans for any of the EEMN language or teen camps, you never know quite what we’ll get until the opening session begins! The camp at Kuressaare was no exception, as even our hosts were not sure whom might join us. As it turned out, there were quite a few adults that joined Pastor Bob & Patti and Pastor Dennis & Pastor Kathy for the Adult Seminar and several teens that joined our team for the Teen Life Camp.
The camp theme for, both, the adults and the teens, was Relationships and what it means to have healthy relationships with Family and Friends, in Dating and Marriage, and with God. The camp day combines group worship/teaching sessions and small group discussions. The teens also watched the thought provoking movie, Let There Be Light, which was a catalyst for deeper conversations about spirituality, while we learned and shared a lot about walking with the Lord through the different relationships in our lives. The adults engaged in some of the most spirited conversations the adult seminars have ever had in years past! All were blessed and encouraged to continue growing in their walks with Christ and those with whom they share their lives.
Another important aspect of the camp day is the sharing of testimonies by the team members. We were also happily surprised to learn that, Lisette (the daughter of our our host pastor, Anti) wanted to share her story with the entire camp. Lisette said she was inspired and encouraged by hearing the testimony Angela shared the day before.
Long before our team headed to Estonia, we spent 6 sessions in team training. Much of what we learned was about being a team and how we become a family missions unit in traveling, living, and taking meals together. There are many blessings in the team experience, including our time spent in daily, intentional devotion time. We also manage to have a lot of fun together, too!
On Saturday evening, the entire teen camp was invited to join with some Finnish brothers and sisters in Christ, where they had gathered for a camp. in Puha, Estonia. After sharing in a meal and conversation, we all gathered for evening worship, sharing testimonies about God’s goodness, and sang hymns and praise songs, together. All-in-all, there were 5-different nations represented in the room, but only one heart that is in Jesus Christ.
Before leaving Kuressaare, in order to head back to the mainland, for Tartu, the team worshipped at the Kuressaare Lutheran Church, where our host, Pastor Anti is is the lead pastor. Pastor Bob preached a powerful Transfiguration Sunday sermon about the importance and primacy of God’s Word and the family of God that are our brothers and sisters in Christ, across the world! Pastor David Michael also led the team in singing the “Family” song and also blessed the congregation with a riveting version of How Great Thou Art. Afterward, we were accompanied to the bus station by a few of our island hosts and teens! The most difficult part of missions is saying, “goodbye,”
Next stop…. Tartu! Amen!
Please continue to lift our team up in prayer for travel mercies (especially as Anna returns to the States and Sandy and Kelly begin their travel to Estonia), health, safety, and for the Lord to move powerfully in, around, and through each of us in Tartu and throughout our time in Estonia. To God be the glory!
Pr. David & Angela Breidenbach are the Executive Director and Director of Development & Operations for East European Missions Network (EEMN).
Pr. Bob & Patti Nordvall are co- team leaders for the Estonia team. Bob has been leading teams since 2006. They were married in 2016 and live on a small ranch. They enjoy traveling and sharing about missions in Central & East Europe. Bob is on staff with EEMN as Nat’l Field Coordinator.