Friday, February 26, 2010

Favourite Things Friday

I know this should be a post about the olympics and how proud I am to be Canadian, but it's not.

I was born at North York General Hospital in North York, ON, which makes me a Canadian, but my heart is divided. You see, my family (both sides, I'm purebred) hail from the small Baltic country of Estonia. My Grandparents left their families and fled the country (as teenagers/young adults) under cover of darkness with Soviet Troops bent on preventing their escape. You see Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union. If you were caught with an Estonian flag, you'd be shipped off to Siberia. If you wore the colours of the Estonian Flag (Blue, Black and White) you could be shipped off to Siberia, killed, or both. If you tried to escape and were caught, you'd be shipped off to the camps in Siberia. People living in Estonia were no longer free to be Estonians, they were Soviets.

As a kid, I remember going to Estonian school on Saturday mornings in Toronto, and I hated it. I didn't want to be Estonian. I didn't want to give up my Saturdays to learn to speak this weird language, I wanted to play with my friends. I learned Estonian before learning English, so I had a weird accent. It was a rough time for me. I wanted to be normal, like everyone else in school. Well, those trips to the Eesti Maja on Broadview paid off some 10-15 years later.

In 1998 I had the opportunity to go to Estonia on a missions trip with my youth group. It turned out to be a trip that changed my life in so many ways. Estonia had obtained it's freedom from Soviet rule by this point, and the USSR had crumbled. But there was still evidence of 80 years of Soviet rule. The team stayed at a Bible College just outside Estonia's capital, Tallinn, in a town called "Suurupi". Suurupi used to be the home to a Soviet submarine base, which was now where the Bible College was located. I was like a kid in a candy store. We had a couple days of training before we'd get begin our ministry, so I did a lot of exploring in our free time. I grabbed a couple guys and we explored the damp, underground tunnels. We
rummaged through old crates looking for ammunition or weapons (we didn't find any). We pretended to lock each other up in the holding cells. It was a blast.

One morning during our "quiet time" I walked out to one of the cliffs overlooking the Baltic sea. It was early in the morning, and the sea was really rough. Whitecaps crashing crashing into the jagged cliff face, the sea roaring like a monster woken from its thousand year sleep, the wind blowing up the cliff face and a shotgun blast of mist hitting me in the face. As I sat down and looked over the turbulent waters, the stories I had heard from my grandparents came rushing back to my mind.
They had set out on this same sea in boats, hoping to escape undetected, to safety in Sweden. The story had suddenly morphed in my mind. They didn't sail off on a glassy day on Lake Ontario, they didn't head to Sweden in a 50 foot yacht, it wasn't a nice sunny summer day. The set off in a 10 foot aluminum boat, on rough seas, under cover of darkness, maybe with Soviet searchlights buzzing around them and enemy planes flying overhead. (I took some artistic license) Were they crazy!?!?

They left Estonia, somehow made it to Sweden, spent time in a P.O.W. camp, and then got on another boat and came to Canada with nothing. Literally nothing. A number of them settled in Toronto, somehow managed to build a life, (not knowing the language), and raised a family. Wow!

After our couple days training on the base/Bible College, we set out for Tallinn and began doing dramas and serving at tent services in the park. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times (no showers, super hot and sweaty, no deodorant). A couple days in it hit me; (like B-O on a packed bus in summer) I was the only one on the team that could communicate with these people! Those Saturday mornings were good for something!

I've been on 4 missions trips to Estonia, all amazing experiences, and each time it seems my heart for the land my grandparents left so long ago seems to grow.

A couple years ago I was asked to play on the Estonian Hockey team in the Baltic Cup, a yearly tournament between the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians. I cannot explain to you the feeling of putting on a jersey with the Estonian crest across the front. To wear that jersey was (and still is) such an amazing feeling.

There was a film that came out around the same time as my debut on the Estonian hockey team called The Singing Revolution. It's a documentary about the non-violent revolution in Estonia where thousands of Estonians gathered in an effort to end years of Soviet occupation. Crystal and I went to the premiere screening at the cinesphere in Toronto, and after seeing the film, I can honestly say I have never been more proud to be Estonian. Crystal, who had very little knowledge of Estonia's past, left with a new understanding of why I'm so proud to be an "Esto."

Don't get me wrong, I love Canada, I am proud to be Canadian, but there is a part of me that loves being that weird kid with an accent that goes to Estonian school on Saturdays.

Eestlane olen ja eestlaseks jään

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Falling Out Of Love

Some passionate discussion on the radio show tonight, all surrounding one question: "What do you do when you fall out of love?"

Some people say you run for the hills; no one deserves a loveless relationship. Others said you need to stick it out, make a commitment to the other person. Others said love is a decision, and every morning you wake up, you have to choose to love the monster... err... person lying next to you.

Where do you stand? Can you "fall out of love?"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

'Nuff Said

My least favourite player in the NHL is Sydney Crosby. Yet, despite my intense dislike for #87, I was still cheering for Canada in tonight's game against (mother) Russia. You see, Russia is not exactly in Estonia's good books, (occupying a country can do that). And so, on the 92nd Anniversary of Estonian Independence Day, it was nice to see Russia go down in flames to the Canadian team.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Favorite Things Friday

It's been a while since my last favorite things post, but I return with 3 more favorite things!


It's an annual tradition, the road trip. It began back in college when 7 of my friends and I drove to Columbus, Ohio to check out the newly formed Columbus Blue Jackets. Since then we've road tripped to Pittsburgh, Boston, New York City, Washington and a number of other cities in the Northeast. It usually revolves around a sporting event, but sporting events are not the only activity we participate in. Science centres are known to be a favorite hang-out on an AJ road trip (Toledo has one of the best), but we don't always choose the educational route; Cedar Point was a blast!

Which ties in to my second favorite thing... WASHINGTON

A year and a half ago, on a road trip along the East Coast of the U.S., we visited what might be my favorite city (outside California). I'll probably take some heat for this one, but I've been to Ottawa and I've been to Washington... Washington is a million times better. You visit the U.S. capital and this overwhelming sense of patriotism wells up inside you. The monuments, the history, the architecture, the museums, it's all top notch. The city was so clean, the subway was so easy to use and the actual subway stations were impressive too. When you visit Washington you get the feeling that the United States is the greatest country in the world. You don't get that feeling in Ottawa.

Crystal and I just finished reading Dan Brown's latest book, which takes place in Washington, and it just makes me want to go back. I know Dan Brown is a fiction writer, but he weaves facts into his fiction, that make you want to investigate further. So I want to go back to Washington, take the "Lost Symbol Tour" and see it for myself. If there is no such tour, someone should create one.


I've written about my dog before, but she felt bad when I didn't list her as one of my first favs. For the ability to always make me feel better... Snax, here ya go! You're one of my favorite things.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Big Red Tractor

Be Challenged.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"You need to just relax and take it easy for a couple days."

I hate that phrase... "take it easy", might as well say "be a bum and sit on the couch all day."

The last couple days I've had to take it easy, and I've hated it. I felt so unproductive. Like I wasn't contributing to society. I don't have to be doing work all the time, I just want to be doing something more than sitting around collecting calories.

So am I a work-a-holic? No.

Am I a Type A personality? Doubtful.

I just like to keep myself occupied. Maybe it helps me keep my mind off the things that would otherwise bring me down? Maybe I'm afraid to be left alone with my thoughts...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Cat Did It

A Florida family has become "dog people" overnight after their dog saved them from a house fire their cat started... Or, at least that's the dog's story.

(Thanks to Relevant Magazine for the scoop)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Walking Down Memory Lane

In high school I had a couple friends who would frequently call or email a certain late night christian talk show on a certain christian tv station on Friday nights after youth. They'd call and pretend to be characters from pop culture (Kramer, Jack Dawson from Titanic, Pinocchio, etc) and often times the host wouldn't get the "joke."

So when I saw this video today it brought back some very funny memories.

They recorded those calls on VHS, I wonder if they still have them.

(I have not named the perps in order to protect their identities from frequent readers of this blog that go to my old church)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


After 3 years of waiting, tobyMac's new CD (finally) dropped today. To be honest, I was a little worried about this album. Toby's first single (City On Our Knees) was terrible.

Am I being harsh?

I don't think so. tobyMac is one of the leaders in Christian music. He's the guy that is on the cutting edge of music. The guy who is putting himself out there trying something new, and pushing the art. So when he comes out with a song after 3 years, you'd expect it to blow your mind. Instead he gives us auto-tune. AUTO-TUNE! (Hasn't that been done already?)

So coming in to tonight I was worried Toby would let me down.

Well he didn't.

Tonight is a decent effort from Toby, and he hasn't abandoned his old slammin' style of music either. With guest appearances from John Cooper of Skillet, Matt Thiessen of Relient K and (of course) Tru-Dog, there is plenty of star power to last through the record.

Overall it's a good CD... just a bad pick for a lead single.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I'm A Geek

I thought this was totally cool. Each yellow dot represents an airplane.

The List Is Growing

I received a book in the mail today, (Thanks Mom!) and it looks like another solid read. But there is a problem.

I have too many books to read.

Right now I am rotating through Pour Your Heart Into It, The Lost Symbol, What The Dog Saw, Red Letters and Guerrilla Marketing.

Can I really add another book to the lineup. Not right now. As much as I want to, I can't find the time to read all these books.

Or should I say I don't make the time to read these books. Maybe I should set aside time a couples days a week to hit up Casa Cap and read. I do love their Vanilla Lattes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Happy Birthday To You

Snax turned 3 today. To celebrate we went for another walk down on the Nottawasaga, and she loved it!

(I know people say dogs don't smile, but Snax does.)

Looking back, I'm glad Crystal talked me into getting a dog 3 years ago.



I enjoy doing laundry, but HATE cleaning the house. Am I weird?