Sunday, November 1, 2015

Would you like to know?

I'm participating in a blog hop at Baptist Missionary Women
The topic is...
"10 things I'd like people to know about my field"

Here is my list.  Hopefully you will learn at least one thing about the field of Estonia.  There is much more that could have been said about all that I've learned since living here.  So if you have any questions - just ask.  Or better yet.....COME VISIT!

 1.  Seasons
We enjoy all four seasons.  Some are short-lived, so we savor each day of the fleeting seasons.  However, since winter is our longest season, we are usually glad to have it behind us by the time we get to spring.

2.  Daylight/Darkness
In the winter our daylight hours start around 9 a.m. and are over by 3:30 p.m.
Then in the summer we have about 19 hours of daylight.   During the longest days of the summer it never really gets completely dark.  We love it!

3.  Medieval Castles
Over the years we've enjoyed learning about Estonia's history.  Fortresses, castles, and swords are part of it.  It is not only fun, but educational to visit these historic sites.


4.  Singing
The Estonian's love of music and their country unites them in a unique way.
The Estonian Song Festival is held every five years in Tallinn.  Able to hold more than 100,000 spectators, crowds flock to the Festival Grounds to hear the 18,000 voice choir.  We were part of the crowd that attended in 2009 and again in 2014.  It is an amazing experience and I love the passion with which they sing.  You can read more about the Song Festival here .

singers heading in to the festival grounds
spectators finding their seats and waiting for the song festival

our view at the Estonian Song Festival - July 2014
5.  Technology
Estonia is technologically advanced.  They have been using online voting since 2005.  They also have free wifi almost everywhere you go - even on the buses.  Annual tax returns are filed on line by 95% of Estonians.  All schools are connected to the internet and learning computer programming begins in the first grade.   
Oh, and since many of us enjoy and use Skype, we have the Estonians to thank for that.  Skype was born here!
enjoying a Skype call
6.  American fast food 
Estonia has 2 American fast-food chains....neither of them are in our city of Kohtla-Jarve.  McDonalds has been here for a long time and Subway arrived in March of 2013.  Since the closest McDonalds is about an hour away and Subway is 2 hours away, we don't eat at either place very often.  Recently I heard that KFC and Pizza Hut might be coming our way in the near future.

our first trip to Subway in Tallinn
my favorite thing at McDonalds
7.  Language  
Estonian is the official language of Estonia.....but we don't speak Estonian.
So you may be wondering what language we do speak.  The answer:  Russian 
Approximately 25% of Estonia's population is ethnic Russian.  Large populations of Russians live in the capital city, Tallinn (as of 2011, 38.5%).  Many Russians also live in the northeastern cities of Estonia: Narva - right on the Russian/Estonian boarder (82%), Silamae (82%), and Kohtla-Jarve (69.6%).
Since we live in a city (Kohtla-Jarve) with a large Russian population, Russian is widely spoken.  We rarely even hear Estonian used out our way.

8. Currency
When we arrived in 2009 Estonia's currency was the Kroon.
In January of 2011 Estonia changed to the Euro and did away with the Kroon.

The cost of living is a bit high here for some things, but a few things are much more reasonable than what we would pay in the states.
9.  Fireworks
New Year's Eve is a big night for celebrating.  Fireworks are heard exploding all through the night.  We usually enjoy the festivities from our balcony.  One year we walked to the center of town to get in on more of the action.  
The truth is that it is quite common to hear fireworks at any time of the year.  It is kind of fun and exciting to randomly see them.  If the kids are awake, they usually run to the windows to find out if we can see them or just hear them.  Thankfully if they are asleep, the noise doesn't bother them.  It was something different to us at first.  Now, we enjoy it.

10. Religion  
Sadly, Estonia is a spiritually dark country.  They pride themselves on being the least religious country in the world.  In a 2005 poll, only 16% of Estonia's population believed in God.  Religion is considered a crutch for the elderly and the weak.

The ministry here is tough and slow.....but the need is great.  We appreciate your prayers!

Thank you for stopping by.  Greenland is the next stop in the blog hop.  Just click here to see what exciting things Carole has to share on her blog about her field at the top of the world.

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  1. What a beautiful place! I didn't know about the darkness/light thing. I thought that was only Alaska. Excited to see yall faithfully serving in a slow to the harvest field, God bless.

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog. The darkness in the winter is hard, but we sure love all the light in the summer.

  2. Um... I REALLY want to see those castles! Georgeeeoussss place!!!

    1. Come visit, Charity! We will make sure you see all of the castles. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  3. I didn't know that Estonia considered themselves the least religious country in the world or that Skype was born there! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hey, Dee Dee. A poll declared Estonia "least religious country in the world". However, they are very proud of it! There is very little interest in anything spiritual.
      Yes, Skype was born here. I'm thankful it was invented because we sure enjoy using it.

  4. Beautiful post. I grew up in a place that has long winters like Estonia and where daylight hours are much the same in Winter and summer. The winters were long but the sun shone a lot which makes it much more bearable. You are ministering in an interesting country which I did not realize had such a small Christian population. It is nice that they love to sing. I can imagine how wonderful 18000 people singing all at once must sound. God bless you as you continue to minister there to the Estonian people.

    1. Joyful, you should search ESTONIAN SONG FESTIVAL on Youtube - it really is impressive.

  5. I could totally do your long days in summer! LOVED your castle photos, especially with your family ready to do battle. Your ministry seems so similar to ours. I am touched.

    1. I love our long summer days!!!
      Yes, it does seem like our ministries have many similarities.
      Thanks for reading my post.

  6. LOVED this post, Rachel! Your pictures are beautiful! They look professional! We pray for you all often and would love to visit one day!

    1. Thanks, Carole. Your prayers, thoughts, and friendship are a blessing. You are welcome to come anytime :)

  7. I enjoyed your great information!! Thank you--

    1. Thank for taking the time to read my post.

  8. I absolutely loved reading about your field! Now i want to visit! What a beautiful country. I imagine the winters get long with the extra hours of darkness and cold. And what?! Skype was born there? How cool! I was mostly struck by your last point. Thank you for your faithfulness to share the gospel in such a difficult part of the world.

    1. We would love to have you visit and you are welcome any time. It is a beautiful country.
      Glad you stopped by, Becca.

  9. Interesting facts - thanks for sharing. Skype - what would we do without it when we have missionaries in our family! Aren't we spoiled? I looked up the music festival on YouTube and loved hearing some of the music. Thanks for your faithfulness in a place that so desperately needs the Lord.

  10. It was nice learning a little more about where your family is living. 😄

  11. Rachel, Estonia reminds me so much of Croatia, except that Croatia is extremely religious. I guess being next to Italy helps with that. I loved learning about Estonia. BTW, Burger King just arrived in Croatia!


An encouraging word is always welcome and much appreciated!


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