Hilsen fra vår engelske praktikant
Hello, my name is Gareth, I’m from Northern England in the UK, and I have been living in Tartu, Estonia, as a UCREW intern with the Norwegian Mission Society since September 2020. As an intern, I serve in many different congregations and groups across the city of Tartu in the south of Estonia – I really enjoy the variety of this, as it means I meet and work with lots of interesting people.
Estonia has seen a lot of snow this winter, which is very exciting for an Englishman who is more accustomed to rain from October to March! It also gets much colder here than I have ever experienced before, with the coldest night getting to -27°C. However, the ice and snow bring with it the opportunity to try winter sports; in my free time I have enjoyed regularly going ice skating on the town hall square or the song festival stadium in Tartu. I have also been ice skating on the frozen lake at Viljandi, which was an entirely new experience for me – it was amazing to skate along underneath the stars at nighttime.
Another new activity I have started is cross-country skiing. After spending the first few sessions sometimes on my feet and sometimes on the floor, I eventually figured out how to go in the direction I intend to most of the time. It’s been great to go out skiing in the nearby forest with Christian sports groups, as this has given me lots of time to get to know people in Tartu. This has also been a good place to share about my faith, as many people who do not yet know Jesus have joined in our sports sessions.
I’m very grateful to experience these new sports and activities which I have not had the opportunity to take part in back in the UK.
Unfortunately, due to the worsening coronavirus situation, Estonia went into lockdown on March 11th, and this is predicted to continue until at least April 11th. Although this mean that groups are currently unable to meet in person, I have been really encouraged by how local organisations and churches have adapted to this and transitioned to online meetings. This brings many challenges with it, but there have been unexpected blessings through this too. Many of the smaller church youth groups in southern Estonia have now joined forces to meet online together, giving young Christians from different towns the chance to meet regularly, which would not normally be possible due to geographical distance. These young people are now able to experience what it is like to be part of a wider church, and it is uplifting to see this fellowship amongst the youth of Estonia.
Looking back on my internship so far, I’m also able to see how my confidence in serving has grown. Through leading Bible studies and youth events in Tartu, I’ve learned about how God has equipped me to serve Him, and I’ve been able to practice this almost every day. I’m very thankful for UCREW and the people I work with here, and I am excited to see what further opportunities God offers in my last few months as an intern!