I've enjoyed having the opportunity to travel throughout Estonia this summer. Recently, the pastor took the interns on a trip to the two largest islands, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, where we learned about the history of churches on those islands and the construction of windmills. A few days later, we joined several other families from the church on a church camping trip on the shore of Lake Peipsi with an excursion to Narva. Here are a few photos from those ventures:
(An Estonian castle on the left and a Russian one on the right)
Between these extended explorations, I enjoyed a day of rest in Rapla. As I walked through town that day, I thought I would see if the Lutheran cathedral was open to visitors (I had been inside once before). As I approached the open doors, I heard the joyful roar of the organ and was greeted by two elderly women as I stepped inside by the info desk. Neither of them spoke English and I realized in that moment that I really should know how to say 'I don't speak Estonian' in Estonian (for the record, I do know a few phrases and can count to ten in Estonian). After trying to speak to me in Estonian for some time as I tried to do my best bewildered smile, they motioned for me to walk further into the church. After enjoying the organ rehearsal, which was now being accompanied by a male singer, for half an hour, I went to leave and passed by the info desk to say thank you. The women tried to talk with me again and though I still could not understand any of their Estonian, I was able to read their non-verbals enough to gather that they wanted me to sign the guestbook, which when accomplished seemed to please them. They each reached into their purses and pulled out bags of Estonian candy to offer me a piece and didn't take 'no thank you' (a phrase I know in Estonian) for an answer. I walked out of the church laughing at the humor of the whole experience and treasuring the feeling of being loved despite the lack of a shared verbal language.