It's a funny thing with losing. Sometimes you lose something very valuable - poof, it's gone! Not there any more. Vanished. Disappeared. Lost. And yet it's not all gone. It's as if something invisible has remained and keeps living its intangible life in the middle of all this lost-ness.

I've lost a great deal this week.

One of these things that has disappeared is my computer. Last Sabbath we were careless about locking the conference office door, people had to come and go and so we didn't check the door when we left for a couple of hours in the afternoon. When we came back for the evening service, the office door was open and my laptop was gone from my desk. I'm not sad about the computer itself, it belonged to the conference anyway. But I hadn't backed up my documents and materials which means that I have lost a huge amount of work. I get really sad when I think about the Sabbath School manual which I was in the process of translating, or my sermons, or the Revelation seminar, or all my Greek materials. Oh bloody thing, I lost so much. Not to talk about my photos and some important private letters of which I kept manuscripts saved...

But I think about my most precious intellectual property - my sermons. Did I really lose them? Yes, of course, the manuscripts are gone and there is no way I could get them back. But I've preached them all! I've spoken to people and shared my experience and thoughts and the Word, I've seen people respond, heavens, I've seen them cry in the pews! So they can't be totally lost, these sermons, can they? I don't know. Or the photos - they might not be in my possession any more, but the experiences and people and the nature - they did happen. They had an impression on me. They changed me. So they can't be really lost, can they? Can they?

It's the same with people, it turns out. Sometimes you lose someone important - I just have - but they keep living a hidden life in your heart, even after they're gone. So are they really gone then?


Life seems like a complicated balancing act these days. Normally I do not have to think too much about how I do the stuff that I do, what I say, where are the lines drawn and how I can keep a healthy balance between different things and different ideas in life. The balance comes rather naturally. But these days everything seems like out of balance, so doing things in a right way requires a lot more conscious decision and consideration and balancing than normally.

The work vs personal time balance is the main thing right now. My obligations and tasks, as their number has grown over the past few months, have started to wear me out. I'm feeling increasingly inadequate when it comes to my work and that's not exactly a good feeling. I get stuck. I get frustrated. And sometimes I even feel like a failure. So I have to be very careful about finding time for relaxing. I haven't done well when it comes to taking days off these past weeks but at least I try. My recent achievements in this area include:

1) A classical music concert with my dad last week. It had been way too long since I last sat in the concert hall, enjoying good quality music. We went to hear Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and it lifted both of our spirits a great deal that evening. EPCC is probably one of the best chamber choirs there are out there right now, the level of their professionalism is absolutely outstanding. I ought to go and listen to them more often.
2) A photo exhibition (the challenge with Dr A. N. is very much on). The exhibition is called The Measure of Humanity. 45 Years of Documentary Photography in South Africa. It went so well with recently read Mandela's autobiography. But the photos were tough ones. They made me rather sad, at moments I was just disgusted. It is not easy to stand and see a photo like this one (I secretly took the picture, don't tell anyone), it's harder still when there are dozens of images like this:
3) A tea date with brother S. I think it was the first time we two went out since he got married - and well, that's more than five years ago! So I really enjoyed chatting with him. We drank a lot of tea that evening. :)

4) Visiting A. and her cat (who is so bright white I need sunglasses when playing with her). I was once again reminded that you can't possibly know what really goes on in someone's life unless you take time to sit and listen properly. The topics we had to discuss that evening were terribly tough - they included depression and suicide (one of her friends committed suicide just a few weeks ago) - but once again, it was all worth it. I thought to myself when I left her place the next morning - I need to see my friends more often. I need to.
Here's A.'s cat.
5) I've picked up the gym again. No pictures though, lol.
6) I finished my 27th book yesterday. I've done well this year.

But on the other hand there is Greek. When I start to feel like I can't get things done or I'm not qualified enough, I only need to go to the Seminary and teach Greek. If there's one thing I know, it's Greek.


And here's a song dedicated to yesterday's Nobel prize news. It's Katie Melua's version of Bob Dylan's Blowing in the Wind. Gotta love them lyrics!


I had a free Sabbath yesterday. It's something that doesn't happen very often these days and I was unsure how I should use this day. Should I ask any colleagues whether any of them require help with preaching somewhere or should I just attend the church service here in Tallinn and sit in the pew? On Friday afternoon, when I was really tired of work and of the office, I actually considered the possibility of not going anywhere but staying home for the whole day. But things turned out quite differently. And I'm glad they did.

My dad started his ministry in Põltsamaa church yesterday. It's a small church in the middle of Estonia. What made the occasion remarkable was that it was the first time my dad was sent to a church where he has worked before. Our family lived in Põltsamaa and my dad served that church when I was a kid, I started school there in 1992 (heavens, I'm getting old!) and I have only the fondest memories of that place. I had a great childhood and Põltsamaa with its church played a big part in it. We left Põltsamaa in 1998 so my dad has returned to the place 18 years after we moved away.

It was only late on Friday evening that K. and me decided we would drive down to Põltsamaa on Saturday morning and would be there for dad's first church service. I had asked S. sometime last week if his family was planning to go to Põltsamaa this Sabbath but he wasn't sure. So it wasn't even a proper plan or anything but in the end all of our family turned out to the service there - we came from Tallinn, S. and H. with little (but oh, growing so quickly!) E. came from Tartu. Dad didn't know anything about us going, he didn't expect us to be there so it was a really good surprise for him. He may have started crying, seeing us there.

You can't help but think of all the lost times on a day like this. I was thirteen when we left Põltsamaa, S. was three years older than me and K. was only eleven. No-one had any ideas what we'd grow up to be, whether we'd "turn out well" or not. We couldn't have guessed that in 18 years we would have studied in different universities in different countries and that we would work with trucks and computers and people. We didn't know dad would be a grandfather by that time. And obviously none of us could foresee that we would lose our mom so early.

But most of all - after 18 years of good days and ordinary days and terrible days, we're well, we love each other, and we actually do well in life. It was a rare and precious moment to be together yesterday morning. I'm grateful to the Almighty, both for our little family reunion yesterday and for all these years He has given us in His mercy.


The autumn has finally arrived. It smells like falling leaves and melancholy outside. The days are getting shorter and darker by the minute and I'm having to burn more candles in the evening. I listen to songs like Eva Cassidy's Autumn Leaves and Adele's Hiding My Heart. It's the autumn blues.

I'm missing my mom a lot these days. It's not the terrible kind of missing any longer but I just could use some good life advice and I don't know whom to turn to. Years ago there was no question about it - she was always there, always listening and encouraging. But now I'm having to navigate without her advice and it makes me feel lost at moments. The main thing is that my studies, bloody thing, seem to be dying an agonising death. Full time work plus part time study doesn't look like a formula that could work for me. Hence so many questions and hesitation. Should I push for full time studies again? Where? Where would the money come from? Would it make any real difference if I just quit and never went for a doctorate? Would I be willing to leave my job even if the opportunity arose? Pick up the phone, mom.

And relationship advice. I seem to be needing some of that too.

No, actually, things aren't bad at all, just a little blue. There are a lot of good things happening. I have stuff to look forward to and friends who take good care of me. Interesting projects at work. And if I look around me and forget my own little worries for a moment, I see people who are dealing with much harder stuff than I am. A friend is going through a difficult break-up. Another friend is having to deal with a severe case of depression in her family that is destroying relationships in that family and wearing everyone out. (I spent almost an hour on the phone with her last night, listening to her story about how depression is doing so much harm. Scary stuff.) I attended a seminar on Monday evening about the current refugee crisis and people who were presenting there and who dropped lines like 'I was in Calais last week' and 'I've just returned from Turkey' somehow brought home the fact that I am a very very lucky girl compared to millions of homeless and war haunted people who don't have anything left and who, on top of everything else, have to face idiots who tell them to go back home. No, all is well, all is well.

Here are some nice pictures from our church's one day tour to the Eastern part of Estonia last Sunday.
In the gardens of the former presidential palace (the palace itself was blown up by the Soviets during the WWII). Such a beautiful place! 
With A. (I.'s wife) Acting mature.
Visiting an Orthodox convent. The headscarf  business always makes girls giggly.

Oh, one more thing. It's autumn, so it's the Great British Bake Off season again! I love that series. :)


I had been looking forward to teaching Greek again for a long time but when the day finally arrived yesterday and I walked from my cousin's house to the bus stop on my way to the Seminary in Tartu, I was actually all nervous and worried. The preparation phase for the classes turned out to be harder and much more time consuming than I had anticipated. The only New Testament Greek text book we have in Estonian is unusable, as I discovered. So I faced the dilemma of creating new materials or having to teach from that terrible text book. I chose the first option, I ordered Duff's Greek textbook online (we used the same book in Newbold) and I decided to break every copyright law in the world and turn Duff's book into a decent Estonian-Greek study material. So over the past weeks there have been a couple of long days in the office when I've literally cut, glued, copied, pasted, scanned, printed, sweated and lamented, just so that my students would have something decent to study the beautiful Greek language from. It has been tough indeed.

But yesterday made up for the effort and for the sweating. We had three 1,5 h classes and if I remember correctly, there were 14 students altogether - more than I had expected. It's a really good size for a language class, not too big but yet big enough to have a good energy level in the classroom. And people were so nice and hard working! It's very inspiring to see people learning, working their way through the alphabet and starting to read and write in Greek.

I thought about it on my long way back to Tallinn yesterday evening (I was too tired to even watch a movie on the bus) - there really isn't anything for me that would compare to lecturing. Lecturing can make something inside of me come alive the way nothing else can. Preaching comes close, true, but only when I teach in the classroom something which I believe God has put inside me comes alive with such a force that all the other cares and worries disappear. It is a very intense time, draining, and yet so energising that only after the classes are over I realise I'm dead hungry. Only after having been on my feet for 4,5 hours I realise I could use a break.

I really wish I could continue doing this for ever and ever and ever.

What a day it was.


One more thing. When I went to my cousin's on Wednesday evening, being in a bit of a bad mood (because of something that had happened earlier that evening), my 5 year old darling J. decided to draw and write me a card. He didn't know anything about what had happened but here's what he came up with:
 It's a variation of a usual birthday card but instead of "Happy birthday" it says "Happy random day". Which, frankly, I think is genius and much more needed than a birthday card. Because I care about birthday cards only for 1 day a year, but I could care about random day cards for 364 days a year. I'm thinking about framing this card and putting it on my wall. I totally need to see this every day!


There's one extremely important thing in my life I haven't said anything about. Until now.

On August 5th I was given a whole new title and a new role on life - I became an aunt. It was the same day I hit the wilderness with my friends and turned off my phone so I only found out about this when the baby girl was already a week old. News don't travel fast up in the North.

I saw my little niece (and for once I feel like spelling out the whole name:) Eliisabet when she was two weeks old. S. and H. came to our family reunion at my uncle's and introduced the baby to the whole family (from my mum's side). It was a little bit strange and very heartwarming to say hello to the newest addition to Kalmus' family. She was so tiny! And yet, there is something big, something awe-inspiring about a new born baby. She's got so much future ahead of her! So much life! So many choices. So much happiness. A fair share of sorrow and suffering as well. The miracle of life is miraculous indeed. And suddenly there's so much for us to look forward to. There was this sweet moment at the family reunion when the closest family, that is, me, K. and dad were standing around E.'s cradle and were looking at her and each of us had their own thoughts. My dad said, "I wonder how long it will take before I can start taking her birdwatching with me." I was like, "I wonder how long it will take before I can start bringing her books." And K. thought a little and said, "I wonder how long it will take before I can start teaching her words she shouldn't really know." I guess each of us is looking forward to teaching E. something, haha!

I don't have any pictures to post. There are photos of me holding E. but I very much respect S. and H.'s choice not to flood the social media with their baby pictures. I don't know how strict they are going to be as parents - I might not have a right to share any pictures of her until she turns 18. :P

I preached my last sermon as the local intern in Tallinn's church this past Sabbath and waved the church goodbye. The whole service left me feeling a little bit sad. It was all very different compared to the day I left Tartu church two years ago. Then the whole church celebrated my ministry, plus I had my wonderful cousin throwing me a party at his summer house later that evening. There wasn't much of a celebration here, and there was no party. But S. was kind enough to invite me over to their place after the church service and I sat there in their living room, holding sleeping E. in my arms, and I thought to myself, "Who cares about the lesser things when I have this baby to hold." She totally made up for the sadness of the day.


I was sick for a while last week and have mostly stayed at home. On one hand, it is such a nuisance when you can't work properly, knowing how much there is to be done all the time. But on the other hand, it has given me a whole lot of time to read and watch stuff I wouldn't have much time for otherwise. I finished Nelson Mandela's 620 page autobiography beast the other day, Long Walk to Freedom. It is written in a very simple and plain style, from the literary point of view it doesn't really compare to the autobiographies of, say, Jean-Paul Sartre or Vladimir Nabokov. But the story itself is so gripping and so extraordinary I didn't want to put the book down in the evenings. He was one truly amazing man, the world only knows a handful of men like him. There have been more men like him for sure, but I would guess 9 out of 10 lost their lives in the struggle, so I'm very glad Mandela lived to tell his story to the world. If you ever have time for a book as massive as this one, I warmly recommend it.

In addition to this I have been on Fred Craddock's sermon binge. I hold C. responsible for this as it started when I saw a link with one of Craddock's sermons on his Twitter account. From there it sort of went out of control. I would like to give two links here. First, his sermon called Can I Also Be Included which, after having listened to it for five times, I think might be the best sermon he ever preached. The Ethiopian eunuch's bit toward the end makes me tear up still. And the second one is The Whole Law which is by far the best explanation I've heard on that verse in the epistle of James. But not only that, listen to the story he ends this sermon with, it will knock you out!

And then TED talks (I really did have a lot of free time, you can tell). Two talks that stuck out for me were these: first, Dave Isay's talk Everyone Around You Has a Story the World Needs to Hear, the title pretty much sums up his central point. It's such a heartwarming talk and when he plays bits from these interviews he has recorded, phew, tissues are needed! And the second talk that mesmerised me was Casey Gerald's brilliant The Gospel of Doubt. It was so intriguing because I never figured out whether he really had lost his Christian faith or not, he never told the audience. But the depth and eloquence with which he speaks... Wow. I sort of want to marry him.


Other than being sick and bedridden, I have mostly dealt with academic stuff. I met Dr B. O. and the Baltic Licence students in Riga. I'm going to teach them Greek and Homiletics next school year and it was good to meet up with them. And it was just good to sit and listen to a Newbold lecturer again, it brought back some warm memories. I've been to the Seminary's academic board in Tartu. And I've kept myself busy preparing for my Greek classes which will start in the Seminary in the middle of September. Plus working on a lecture for church elders where I need to talk about teaching and why good Biblical teaching matters for us Adventists. So I have been doing the stuff I enjoy the most. I'm a lucky girl indeed.

Oh, oh, oh! I almost forgot. I have also started my 12 month exhibition/museum challenge with Dr A. N. We have agreed on the terms: both of us will need to visit at least one exhibition a month for the next year. We will try to visit two exhibitions together during that year, once in London, once in Tallinn. If one of us fails and skips a month, she is penalised by having to pay for the next lunch we have together. We need to report to each other about our exhibition progress by sending the other person a postcard (ideally) or prove our gallery/museum visit in some other way. Isn't this great?! I think this is just as great as it can get. We have already agreed on our next year's challenge too - from next September on we are going to concerts of classical music. Monthly. In all honesty and modesty, I think I have the best mentor in the world.

So today I took two hours to visit the national Art Museum here in Tallinn where they have a brilliant exhibition of Victorian haute couture. On one hand it was such a wonderful experience. Such fabrics and colors and patterns! These 150 year old dresses and accessories look absolutely beautiful. But on the other hand, one can't but wonder why the society would dress women in something they can barely walk and breath in? My feminine side and my feminist side couldn't quite agree on what to make of such an exhibition. In any case, I was a little dreamy and yet a little relieved to walk out of there - with my trousers and blazer.