The Call

The Call

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Birthday in Riga
Went for a quick trip to Riga, Latvia, for the annual inspection of our vehicle.  It just so happened to be Sister Allred's birthday.  So, for her birthday wish, we went exploring to Riga's Central Market.  There are five historical buildings that house the central market.  They were, at one time, German zeppelin hangars that were used in WWI.  It is Europe's largest market and bazaar.

Riga's Central Market

Inside is a marvelous collection of food and produce that will gladden the eye.  One hangar is totally devoted to seafood.  The others have their emphasis as well.  Here are a few pictures of what we found.  There are rows and rows of produce and other foods.  It is truly amazing.

Produce everywhere

Honey and beeswax

Don't even get me started on the bread . . .

After looking through each building, we went outside and there were more shops that operate outdoors (cheaper rent for sure).  We took a walk over to old town and found a KFC (late lunch).  The weather was quite a bit nippy and a certain someone was getting very cold, so we went back to the hotel and warmed up and then went window shopping at the mall next door.  It was there where we found a place to enjoy a birthday dinner.

The birthday girl enjoying her vegetable soup

Tallinn Branch Christmas Party
The annual branch Christmas party was held December 17th.  It is quite the festive affair with a full dinner, entertainment and a visit from Santa.  In Estonia, children are not just given gifts, they must first redeem them by reciting a poem or singing a song.  All the children went up and performed for Santa as well as the YM and YW organizations.  Sister Allred and I sang Silent Night as a duet with narration between the verses.

Before everyone arrived

The Dinner

More Dinner

Missionary Entertainment

Santa Arrives!

The children singing to Santa

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Bathing with a Loofah
One of the unique things about our accommodations here in Estonia is that we have no clothes dryer in the apartment.  A washer, yes, but no clothes dryer.  My darling companion, who dutifully launders our clothing each week, is forced to air dry our wet clothes on a drying rack.  To aid in this process, she employs an electric fan that is directed to blow air across the wet clothing.  After a few hours

they are dry and ready to fold.  Doing laundry here can take up a lot of time. A side benefit is a lower electric bill each month.  Another, and almost overlooked benefit, is the salon treatment each time we shower.  If you have ever air-dried a bath towel, you will understand that when air-dried, the nap or pile of the towel does not feel like Charmin, but more like a loofa.  You know, the skeletal remains of the luffa fruit that feels like sandpaper on your skin and was meant to remove dry or dead skin from your body.   Yes, that is the loofa I'm talking about.  

Showering and using the towel, fresh from the laundry, can be a rather invigorating and liberating experience (if you think that liberating your skin from your body is a good thing).  I like to think that keeping my skin on is a good thing.  Dear reader, do not think I am complaining.  On the contrary, I've lost 10 pounds already.  Apparently, I have more skin than I actually need.  The downside, however, is that now I'm more sensitive to everything and everybody.  I used to be thick-skinned. 

An Awesome Tradition
In the winter months, the Tallinn Branch has what we affectionately call, Soup Sunday.  Every other week is Soup Sunday.  Immediately after the Sunday block, the chairs and tables are set out and we all enjoy soup together.  Usually there are plates of white and dark bread on the table to go along with the soup.  Different families or individuals provide the soup and ladle it up right in the kitchen.  We're not always too sure what is in the soup, but it tastes wonderful and we get to visit with the members on a less formal setting. 
Supping with branch members on Soup Sunday

Saturday, November 12, 2016

(Estonian Maritime Museum)

When one lives by the sea, one can expect to see, a craft that sails in the sea.  Do you see?  Yes, we went to the Estonian Maritime Museum.  We've been wanting to go since this summer and just hadn't made it there yet - until now.  The setting is inside a giant seaplane hangar right next to the dock.  Inside is a collection of water going vessels (ice going as well) from the ancient to the modern, post-WWII era. As with any historical places in Estonia, there is always some correlation to occupational forces that Estonians had to endure. Many of the military ships used in Estonian waters were Russian or German built.  There was a temporary exhibit about Vikings and how they lived based on the ruins found at excavation sites in the Nordic regions.  On display was also a complete and intact mine-laying submarine (the EML Lembit) that served in Estonian waters.  The Lembit was built in 1936 by Great Britain.  When she was finally hauled out of the water in May of 2011, she was the oldest floating submarine in the world.  Here are a few pictures.

Meremuuseum of Estonia

Museum Floor

Old ships to visit

Sail boats for water and ice

Front hull of the EML Lembit

Lembit torpedo tubes

Crew slept above the topedos

Ancient looking controls

A valve and pipe for everything

Galley (kitchen)

Diesel engine that powered the generator

Generator that powered the electric motors

A view up top

A view of the conning tower

Viking stone art?

Artistic, those Vikings

Viking swords

Scenes of death and the afterlife

This explains the previous picture

Fat Margaret

When the reconstruction of the gate system of Tallinn was implemented in the early 16th century, this tower, which faced the sea, was built unusually large - partly as a way to impress visitors but mostly to scare away potential invaders.  It measures 65 ft. in height, 82 ft. in diameter with walls up to 16 ft. thick.  Among its primary use as a fortification, it has been used to store munitions and at one time served as a prison.  It is now used to house the rest of the displays of the Meremuuseum.  It has 5 levels of displays that include more of the civilian aspects of work in the sea.

Fat Maragret

I threw this in for Bishop Lynn Campbell

A gun that could shoot a dart to carry a rope to another ship

How rescues were made

Gotta love the knots

Deep sea diving suit

I threw this in for Gary Hinton

Sinking of the MS Estonia, 1994 where 852 lives were lost

Memorial for the MS Estonia

View from atop Fat Margaret

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Just So You Know . . .
In case you think that all we do is visit museums and tourist hot spots, there are many and more important things that we do, especially with the Young Single Adults and with the branch and the young missionaries.  The problem we have in showing you some of these things is that we would be in violation of a policy concerning the identification of people and/or their names on social media.  We have to be very careful about privacy here, so if I post a picture of people, it is usually from a distance and they are not named.  I will try and post about more of our day-to-day activities in the future.  With that said, I'll tell you about another adventure we had.

Swan Lake
This is a chocolate model of
the opera house
The Estonian National Opera House is a 5 minute walk from our apartment.  We have walked by it many times and wondered what shows or concerts are playing there.  We found out that they offer a guided tour of the building that would include all things back stage.  We decided to give it a go as it would be cheaper than buying a ticket for a show.  It just so happened that Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake was showing that night.  Our guide happened to be the flute player for the evening's performance.  First we were given a history lesson on how the building came about.  When it was built in 1913, it was the largest building in Tallinn.  It had two parts: one as a theatre and the other as a concert hall.  During WWI, it housed a military hospital and an Orthodox church.  In 1919, the first Estonian parliament met in the concert hall. In WWII, it suffered Soviet bombardment and the theatre part was destroyed.  It was later rebuilt.  Here's an interesting side note: For years, while under German occupation, the Germans built a opera house.  Since much of the aristocracy lived in Old Town, the opera house faced Old Town to receive it's well-heeled guests.  When Estonia was able to build her own opera house, they built it right behind where the German opera house stands and had it's doors facing toward the city where everyone else lived, thus symbolizing an edifice for the "people."  Our guide took us to the theatre where the crew were preparing the stage for the performance.  She took us back stage and showed us the modern scene changing apparatus that allows for changing scenes by computer, all automated.  Next we saw where the props are stored and made.  We saw the dancers warming up in rehearsal room.  We got to see where all the costumes are made and where the makeup is done.  We learned that there are an awful lot of things to plan and keep track of many, many months before the first scene is ever rehearsed.  We actually met the director for the evening.  He was in a bit of a hurry, but was pleasant and carried a bouquet of flowers.  I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

This is the theatre.  Just look at how this is decorated

The Theatre

The stage. Notice the swan flying on the screen

Detail on the moulding

Artwork on the ceiling

Scene building shop

Dancers costumes.  Real feathers!

A view of the seats from the orchestra pit