News from Estonia

Ron & Judy Warpole
April 27, 2008
"The farmer sows the word …"
(Mark 4:14)

Dear Family in Christ …

Hello once again from God's fields in the little country of Estonia. You are in our thoughts and prayers often. We thank Him for those of you who continue to remember us—two farmers sowing His word in this place while you sow His word where you live.

SOWING HIS WORD IN TALLINN …

The church in Tallinn and their faithful preacher Nikolai and his wife Olga remember in prayer those of you they met during their recent visit with their daughter in Texas. They were treated graciously everywhere they went and came home to Tallinn thanking God for all of those who share in the work here in Estonia.

Every couple of weeks we sit in a coffee house with our brother Stas and three of the 19-year old students he tutors in preparation for their final exams in English. Attached is a photo so you can better visualize these fine young men as you pray for them. In his tutoring sessions Stas has assigned the writing of essays to Aleksei, Daniel, and Roman. One of the essays they were to write was to explain their ideas of the creation of the world. Here a little and there a little, Stas and we sow words that we pray will grow in the minds and hearts of these young men.

Stas has invited them to our Spring Retreat, the evening of April 30th and all day May 1st, which is the beginning of a long holiday weekend in Estonia.

Ron will be the speaker, as has become the "tradition for the Spring Retreat", to quote Nikolai. Opening God's word, Ron will focus the hearts and minds of those present upon "The Good Shepherd." Many visitors have been invited by our members. We are praying that all hearts will be good soil. Please add your prayers to ours!

ESTONIAN FARMERS PREPARING THE SOIL …

As we drove the 2.5 hour drive from Tallinn to Tartu, as we do every Friday morning now, we reflect upon what we see. Christ's words and parables are seen in every kilometer. The land is flat. No mountains. No hills even. Sometimes the road curves through forests of white birch and tall pines; but, most of the road cuts straight through field after field that has been or soon will be planted in grass for feeding livestock in the winter. It is spring now and the farmers are plowing the soil. It seems that every few kilometers the soil changes color—almost white in some places, then rich dark brown, and closer to Tartu it is "Alabama red." Some fields are already green with the first inches of grass. Sheep and dairy cattle are outside now. Beautiful new tractors, subsidized by EU funds, were plowing through the fields. Bags of seed ready for planting were stacked along the edges in many places. Farmers were standing together, talking and pointing at the fields. Farmers' wives were preparing the garden soil and the family's clothes hung on clotheslines. And, everywhere, there were storks on the nests that have been empty all wintery.

SOWING HIS WORD IN TARTU …

When we arrive in Tartu now, we park the car in front of a very tired looking 4 story apartment building. We tote our bags to the second floor, unlock the door and enter our little oasis for the weekend. All the painting, repairing, and furnishing is almost complete. It's not a large apartment—slightly bigger than a motor home with two tipouts, but we "love" it and thank God to have the comforts it affords for our three nights of each week.

We are now on a regular schedule of classes with God's "little flock" in Tartu. Friday evenings Ron leads the group "In Search of Meaning" to plant seeds of faith and trust in the words of Christ, and to nurture, water and weed with those who have questions.

Saturday afternoons the young women gather around a table with Judy to enjoy "The Pleasure of His Company"—a guide to praying with deeper understanding, chapter by chapter from Judy's unpublished book of the same name. While the women are in one room, Ron is in another with the men: Tonis a new Christian in his mid-twenties and Andrus (our age) and Vello in his seventies. Andrus has been attending Sunday services through the winter; we pray that his questions and attendance are indicative of a true seeker's heart. Vello is a member of a Moravian group who trace their religious ancestry to the followers of John Hus, who spoke out against catholic teaching long before Martin Luther. And, following the first hour of classes on Saturday, those who can stay for another class in "Romans."

On Sunday the church gathers—about 12 of us—for a Bible class at 3:00, and worship at 4:00. Merlin (pronounced like "Marilyn") keeps a blog site for the Tartu church. Please go to www.xanga.com/TartuChurchOfChrist. You will see some photos of the classes. And, you will also see a photo of the young women who have decided to meet Thursday evenings in a public coffee house or restaurant. Merlin told us yesterday that they are praying that others might see them having a good time studying and talking about the word of God. She said they want to be a light shining in this university town so that maybe someone will come up to them and ask about their faith and want to join in the joy that they are ready to share.

SOWING UNTIL THE LORD'S COMING …

We love sharing the good things with you; but, the truth about Estonia is "it's a hard work." Many hearts seem to prefer to lay fallow. "Don't plant here." "No trespassing." Even the Estonians say this about themselves. But, here we are. We look for even a small field where we can sow a handful of seed. We tend the young plants and try not to take it personally when they make choices that keep them away from the fellowship of the church. We gently weed and cultivate, remembering the words of James (5:7 NIV)…

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.

May God say of us all, "They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain (Job 29:23)."

With love and prayers,
Ron & Judy

Ron & Judy in Estonia

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