Many Blessings in Tartu!
August 11, 2019
After the team arrived safely in Tartu on Sunday evening, on Monday, several of us opted to travel with Pr. Eenok & Eja, and Pr. Siimon Haammer to south Estonia. There Eenok gave us a personal tour of the place where he and his family were in hiding, while their father, Pr. Haari Haamer was serving a sentence of hard labor in a Siberian Gulag.
Later that day, Pr. Siimon Haamer took us on a tour of the new, Home of Hope building project, where completion is expected by November, with a grand opening set for 28 November! Please visit the Tartu Academy of Theology (TAT) webpage for up to date information and news about this inspired vision for community outreach and evangelism in the heart of Tartu! The day was capped off by dinner with the Haamer family and our EEMN Estonia team.
On Tuesday, the team spent the morning sharing in devotions and exploring St. Paul Lutheran Church, where the camp would be hosted. Several of us also walked down the street to experience the KGB Museum, which resides in the basement of the building where thousands of Estonians were detrained and endured horrendous interrogations before being deported to Soviet Gulags. It was a sobering reminder of the very difficult past from which the Estonian people are still attempting to cope. Kelly’s plane landed later that day, in Tallinn, and then she took a bus to joins us in Tartu.
On Wednesday, many team members had the opportunity to visit the amazing, interactive Estonia National Museum, where we gained a much better perspective on the Estonian culture, history, and challenges that remain today. Sandy arrived that evening (after a 24 hour delay) and we were finally all together!
The Estonia Life Camp in Tartu was a resounding success, as 34 adults and 10 teenagers participated and explored what it means to have healthy Relationships with Family & Friends, in Dating and in Marriage, and with God. In all the years that EEMN has been hosting camps in Tartu, the conversations and enthusiasm seemed much more Spirit-led than in previous years. Much of this had to do with the reformatting of the camp and the curriculum, which focused much more interacting and conversing about the content of the study and encouraged deeper relationships to be built among the attendees and the team members. Most importantly, our host ministries were very encouraged and they are already looking forward to an expanded version of the camp in 2020! To God be the glory!
Following the closing camp session, on Saturday evening, the team hosted the teen campers for a pizza picnic in the Haamer’s back yard. It was a great opportunity for informal fellowship time and bonding. On Sunday morning, Pastors Bob, Kathy, DMC, and David all travelled to different parts of Estonia in order to preach and bring greetings to the congregations at Kambja, Magdalena, Mustvee, and Tartu. The teen camp participants joined Pr. David, Angela, Pr. Sandy, Kelly, Patrick, and Andrew at St. Paul Lutheran in Tartu in order to sing the “Family” song from camp and to bring greetings. Following worship, we all went out to lunch for a final opportunity to spend time together. Later that afternoon, the entire team reunited just in time to head for the bus station (Bussijaam in Estonian) for our trip back to Tallinn.
On Monday morning, Estonia Evangelical Lutheran Church Seminary Rector, Rev. Dr. Ove Sander and his wife Liina treated the team to breakfast. This was a wonderful opportunity for everyone to share our observations and experiences from the camps and to discuss how the Lord is working in, around, and through the Church in Estonia.. Monday was also the day for the team to spend deliberate time in debriefing, which is a crucial step in the reentry process before returning to our lives at home.
The Lord provided in so many wonderful ways during our time in Estonia and we look forward to how He will continue to use Bible camps to draw others closer to Him. To God be the glory! Amen!
Thank you for your prayers and support of the team and our partners in ministry in Estonia!
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.