Stan and Hanna arrived in Tallinn, the Estonian capital the same evening and stayed at the home of Dr. Paul Hagelberg, a friend of Stan's from Soviet times whom he had not seen in nearly 20 years, before taking a train to Tartu the following morning. Hanna was surprised at how easily she was able to understand the Estonian language in spite of the differences with Finnish and recalled afterwards that the differences could be compared to those between Swedish and Norwegian.
Hanna had been in a dream world from the moment they had left Kadesh-Naphtali and attached herself to Stan like a limpet. The couple shared few words on the flight to Finland and were mostly absorbed in one another's gaze. The flight was a short one and no sooner had they arrived in Helsinki than they were making their way down to the ferry terminal. Once on board the boat they found a comfortable spot on deck for the journey across the Gulf of Finland. Once again the couple were mostly silent, absorbed in each other and in the adventure that lay before them.
In the few hours they had before Paul met them at the Tallinn docks, Stan did much praying, wondering how to present Hanna to his guests in Tartu - should he call her "betrothed wife" or just "wife"? He remembered what Isabel and the others had suggested and wondered if perhaps this might not be the right time to enter full marriage.
"Hanna, darling, I have a suggestion to make to you," said Stan tenderly whilst holding hands and walking down along the upper deck. Hanna looked deeply into his eyes.
"The Lord has given us very strict laws about the conduct of marriage which are designed not only for the blessing of the married parties concerned but also to bring glory to Him. I had intended to betrothe you this October but He gave me a very clear sign that it should be brought forward to yesterday. You understand, don't you, that it is important for us to obey the rules and especially Yahweh's timing?"
Hanna nodded. She was already beyond herself with joy being betrothed to Stan so much earlier than she could have dreamed. Now they were under an eternal covenant and even though they had had no sexual relationship she knew that they were in an indissoluble bond. And that was the most important thing in the world as far as she was concerned. Now she had the security of knowing that she belonged to him, and he to her, and she to her sister-wives as one family.
"How long would you be prepared to wait before we entered full marriage?" asked Stan, looking intently into her eyes to make sure that what she replied would be straight from the heart. Her eyes moved from side to side a little as she tried to discern what was going on in Stan's mind.
"Oh, Stan, you do ask the most difficult questions sometimes," she said squeezing his hand.
"Just be honest with me," he said. "That's all I ask."
"If I am truthful, then I would have to give you two answers," she said earnestly. "One part of me wants you tonight and the other will wait forever. Whatever you ask, I will do, even if it is tough."
She began to think that he would ask her to wait for a few years. Perhaps he didn't think she was self-disciplined enough so she girded herself for the worst. Her eyes took on a slightly sad but accepting look as she anticipated his answer.
"My love, the time between betrothal and full marriage usually lasts from several months to a year, and for purposes that you already know. When Isabel and I were married we were dedicated by post, betrothed on 1 April and married on 3 April. We slept apart for those two days. This was done because there was so little time. Suszana was about to leave me for those fifteen long years. The important thing was to get Suszana's blessing even though she was not really in the true spirit for her heart was far away in adulterous thoughts. Isabel and I were then separated for many months before we started living as a normal husband and wife.
"When I was married to Kryztina we lived in separate houses though she would stay the night with me in our home when it was turn. We had very little space. Those early days were very different to the pattern we have practiced these last few years. Since then we've more or less settled into a routine - a marriage tradition, if you like. And I aim to maintain that tradition as a general rule."
Hanna wondered what Stan was leading up to but just kept her gaze on him.
"You know that Isabel has had two very dramatic experiences about polygamy in her life, don't you?" resumed Stan.
"Yes, I know," nodded Hanna. "She has told me about them so many times. The first was when Yahweh spoke to her directly and told her to marry you even though you were already marreid to Suszana, and the second was when she saw a vision of your polygamous family in the spirit world waiting for judgment."
"That's right. Well, yesterday she had another one - a vision in the middle of the night, the third dramatic revelation she has had about polygamy. And it was about you."
Hanna's mouth widened in anticipation. She was very, very fond of Isabel, the two having grown close together during her convalescence following Benoni's birth. She wondered what revelation Isabel could have had.
"Has she seen me in the spirit world together with the rest of the family?" she asked, looking for confirmation of the eternal nature of their marriage.
"No," answered Stan, "she saw us fully married in Estonia during this trip."
Hanna's jaw dropped even more. Stan smiled a little and took both her hands in his.
"It is my belief - and it is the belief of Isabel and all your sister-wives - that you and I should be fully married during this Estonian trip - that we should enter into full marriage. And they have given their blessing should we decide to do that."
Hanna's head was shaking from side to side in utter disbelief and confusion mingled with unspeakable joy. She threw herself into Stan's arms and held him as tightly as she could.
"It can't be true, it can't be true," she cried. "Surely the Lord can't be this kind??"
Stan held her tightly and then gently pushed her from the embrace. There was more he needed to say.
"My love, Yahweh is always kinder than we dreamed though perhaps not for the reasons we may imagine. His grace is endless. The Lord has looked into your heart and judged you ready for full marriage now because you were willing to offer yourself in self-sacrifice. You do not need the preparation period between betrothal and full marriage. But there's a second reason He wants you married fully, and that's because He wants you to be my full wife on this ministerial trip to Estonia. Tomorrow, when we arrive in Tartu, I am to introduce you as a fully married Mrs. Królewieca."
"Tomorrow???" she cried again, and some passangers looked at them to see what was going on. "Do you mean we are to be fully married tonight???", she said, lowering her voice to a virtual whisper but with no less force in her words.
"That, my dear, has to be your choice. But I do have to warn you, this won't exactly be a honeymoon of the sort that we're accustomed to or that you'd like. It will still require some considerable sacrifice and self-control because there won't be very much time for intimacy and we will need to conserve our energy for the mission we're on. That's the drawback. But when we get home to Sweden I will give you time for a proper honeymoon in more relaxed and convivial circumstances."
Hanna started to gently hop on the deck: "Yes, I'll do it! If it's the right thing to do. I want to do what's right." She threw herself on him and huged him tightly again. Then she pulled back, holding on to his arms:
"In view of the fact that I have to make such a huge sacrifice by marrying you early," she said with a note of humorous sarcasm in her voice, "may I claim the right to give you a long, passionate kiss right here and now?"
Stan could see that she was beginning to appreciate his sense of humour and laughed heartily.
"On one condition, though," he insisted, "and that's as soon as we land at Tallinn that you behave yourself as a gentleman's lady throughout the whole trip."
He was determined that some of his Masurian-Prussian customs would catch on. Knowing that it was an uphill task with the modern generation, he had to find suitable moments and ways to get what he wanted. He had tried with Kasia but only partly succeeded as she was still very much a product of the late 20th century culture and its mannerisms. One of his desires was to recruit wives who would pick up a few of the gentile customs of the ancien régime and so become ambassadors to his other wives of this new way of being. Part of this included dressing correctly for it was his firm belief that the clothes we wear had a profound influence on our mannersisms and behaviour generally. He detested the jeans-and-teashirt culture and expected women to look like ladies and not cowboys. The only exception to this rule was when they were doing rough work outside or if it was too cold for open dresses. So Hanna would be expected to wear skirts and blouses for the whole trip.
Hanna knew what Stan wanted and agreed and after taking her giant kiss Stan proceeded to educate her on what he wanted.
"The Estonians were a part of the wider Soviet culture until a little over a decade ago when they declared independence. Unfortunately, the western ideal of casualness has swamped the country. But there are still many who follow the old traditions. Courtseying and bowing are still common, thank goodness, and they still dress their little girls like ballerinas and not as male hippies."
Hanna giggled. She wanted to please her husband as much as possible but was finding the cultural divide hard to bridge at times. She knew that a lot of the ways of the rebellious 60's would take time to be washed out of her, as was proving to be the case with the others, and that in order to make any real headway an effort would be required. Stan secretly hoped, I learned, by bringing more wives like Andreea who possessed these social graces that he might make some impact at Kadesh-Naphtali. We North Americans, he had openly declared, were proving the hardest to train of all, which had not gone down well with Sarah-Jane and I at the time. But we were learning and once the new habits had been mastered, actually started enjoying them.
The ferry arrived at Tallinn shortly after 2 p.m. and they were met by Paul Hagelberg on the quay who pointed out the key landmarks of the picturesque city as they drove out to his home. Paul was neither a Christian nor intertested in polygamy (indeed, he didn't even know about the latter) so the topic of conversation was mostly worldly. Paul showed Stan his large stamp collection, which is what had brought the two together in communist times, whilst Hanna and Paul's wife Irene exhanged small talk in Finnish and Estonian. Philately had been a good cover for Stan in pre-independence days to travel around the Soviet Union as a young man meeting up with other Christians. Though Paul had not responded to Stan's invitation to receive Christ, they had remained the best of friends. Through this friendship Stan had developed a keen interest in all three Baltic States which were forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 and wanted their freedom. That moment didn't come until the days when Gorbatchov was in power when all three countries - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - declared independence.
But there was another reason Stan was interested in these nations and that was his own ancestry. At various times they had been conquered by the German Teutonic Knights, Russians, Danes, Swedes and Poles and so their population was quite mixed, just as Stan was himself. Paul was himself of German descent though by now well mixed with Estonian, just as Stan was though on the Polish side. It was also their common German ancestry that forged their friendship. Most of the German population had been moved out of Estonia during the German retreat in the last war just as they had been forcibly expelled by the Poles from East Prussia, where Stan's family came from, and from the rest of the German eastern territories. The two men had therefore shared a common interest in the history, languages and customs of the region. Though Stan had hoped Hanna would show an interest in Estonian history given Finland's close relationship with that Baltic State, she was mostly interested in the more womanly things like cooking and dress habits. And that is what the two women mostly talked about.
After supper Stan and Hanna excused themselves, pleading exhaustion after their long trip from Sweden, and retired early to their room. They prayed together and entered into the last covenants and ordinances of full marriage, leaving out the section involving the others which would be completed upon their return.
For Hanna this was a day she had long dreamed about and which seemed as though it would never come. What made it the more sweeter was the fact that she had been willing to forget it and give her energies to building her spiritual life. As she lay in in her sleeping husband's arms after the ecstacy of her first nuptial union, she silently praised Yahweh for His loving kindness to her:
"Thank you, Lord, for giving me this man to be my husband and for such a wonderful family. Please bless him, and my sister-wives and all our children. Please bless the Engströms, the Nilssons, and the Åkersteds so that all we do is pleasing to You. May you also bless the Hagelbergs that they may receive Your Gospel. In Yah'shua's Name. Amen."
Hanna had shared a little of the Gospel with Irene Hagelberg who had appeared interested though the topic under discussion soon moved away to worldly things. The important thing, Stan had said to her, was to plant seeds, however small, and leave the Lord to work out the rest. She had found witnessing hard after her Armstrongite experience for now, instead of witnessing for an institution, she was now witnessing for a Person. Then, all that would have been required would have been acceptance of the teachings of the Church - now, it was a question of trusting in Christ and letting Him do the teaching.
The couple were awakened by Stan's portable alarm clock and they were soon scrambling to ready themselves for the journey to Tallinn railway station. Though English was rapidly replacing Russian as Estonia's second language, Stan was still glad of Hanna's Finnish.
In spite of their racial and linguistic similarities Hanna soon discovered that the Finns were not too popular in Tallinn. Ferry loads of them would arrive from Helsinki and other Finnish ports on drinking binges, taking advantage of cheap Estonian alcohol. Groups of drunk Finns were a common site in the city at night, a good many of whom found their way into the local gaol or were thrown back onto the next ferry. These 'liquid tourists' came only for the beer and were not the least bit interested in the many cultural attractions the city had to offer. Stan was disgusted by them and Hanna embarrassed. Alcoholism was a major problem in Finland and the habit was, sadly, catching on in Estonia too.
"Estonia is a special priority on the list of applicant European Union (EU) member applicants," Stan told Hanna, "which means that I think there will be a lot of contact between our nations in the future. There is no doubt that their racial affinity to your country is in their favour, plus the fact that they are the most prosperous of the three Baltic States. I don't think it's any accident that the Lord has called us here now."
"What do you think is going to happen in Tartu, darling?" asked Hanna. "Has the Lord told you anything about what's going to happen?"
"Nothing at all. We don't know too much about these people. We must go in faith."
Stan warned Hanna to be careful about what she said to them about the family and to let him do most of the talking at first. This would be an important learning experience for Hanna in the politics and diplomacy involved in being ambassadors of this controversial lifestyle. Stan knew that there were people who had tried to force him out into the open so as to either make a good newspaper story or to find a way to discredit him.
The Estonian countryside was flat and for Hanna rather uninteresting. Compared to Sweden and Finland, the poverty was only too evident. This country's history had not been a very happy one. Apart from being occupied for centuries by one invader after another, its fight for independence had been long and tortuous. First it was caught up in the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and was divided along political lines as Finland had been in its own civil war, and then it was occupied by the victorious Imperial German army following the débâcle at Brest-Litovsk in 1917 when the Soviet Union had sued for peace terms. Then it was fought over by white and red armies before finally winning a short 20 year period of independence until its annexation by Soviet Russia in 1940. It then became a battle ground twice as it was first overrun by the German Wehrmacht and incorporated into a new state called "Eastland" (Ostland) before being overrun by the Soviet army again four years later. For half a century it languished under the reds until it finally won its independence again at the dissolution of the USSR.
But it was no longer the old Estonia. The Soviets, in their bid to eradicate nationalist tendencies, had expelled a huge section of the Estonian population to other parts of the Soviet Union and imported as many Russians to change the ethnic mix. In the new republic there were therefore major racial tensions, the Russians being looked upon as colonists who were not welcome. In some places the Russians were even in the majority as it had been a favourite place for pensioned Soviet officials to retire in their old age. The problem was still unresolved. It was also particularly unfortunate that in the Christian world, Russian and Estonian Christians largely kept apart in their own ethnic churches.
The old steam train rumbled through Tapa, Tamsalu and Jõgeva through large unforrested areas on its way south. Hanna knew she would be in for a good dose of history and that Stan expected her to be attentive.
"Tartu is the second most important city of Estonia," said Stan, "and lies on the River Embach (Emajõgi) that flows into Lake Peipus." He pointed to a map on his knee. "Most of the Russian-Estonian border lies on this lake. In 1940 Russia sliced off the south-eastern corner of country just like it took the Viipuuri or Vyborg peninsular, and a big chunk of Lappland, off Finland after the Winter War of the same year. Russia never returned these stolen territories after the Soviet Union fell apart and neither Finland nor Estonia dares to threaten their giant and unpredictable neighbour..."
"You'd better not tell Kasia, then, or she and I'll be at war when we get back!" giggled Hanna.
"Quite," said Stan, impatient to complete his history lesson before they arrived at their destination. "The Russians also took half of my homeland, East Prussia, though our family home ended up in the Polish annexed parts. The Latvians lost territories to the Russians too so the "big bear" isn't too popular. The Baltic States and Finland have always had to play a very careful diplomatic game so as to placate a Russia who traditionally has had expansionist ambitions. Ironically, it was the communist Russians who were the most imperialistic of all - and though Russia was technically only one republic in the bigger Soviet Union, in reality it dominated all of the others. The mess caused by that imperialistic legacy is still unsolved as we have seen in Chechenya and other parts of the modern Russian Federation."
"I thought you supported the Russians in the Chechenya war?" queried Hanna.
"That is true, up to a point, but I have my reasons for doing so, and most especially because it is in the Chechens' best interest to work in a federal framework with Russia. There were attrocities on both sides but the Chechen rebels, inspired by Muslim fundamentalism, were undoubtedly the worst. It's the same reason I supported the Serbs in the Kosovo war. Both sides committed attrocities but it was clear to me that had Kosovo attained independence it would have become a Maffia state run by criminals and communists. Misolovic was to blame for fanning the whole war there and many Serbs have a lot to account for, but in the long run the Albanians would have been better off in Serbia. But it's such a mess there now that there's no longer any right or wrong way to go. Only the Gospel of Christ will heal the wounds between those two communities. And according to our Order's founder, there will be no peace in that region until Christ returns."
"What about Tartu? I thought you were going to tell me about that," teased Hanna, knowing how easy it was for Stan to go off on tangents. Though others like Andreea loved to hear Stan discourse, Hanna was not much into history and politics.
"Oh yes, quite right. Now let's see, Tartu. Well, before Tartu was known as Dorpat, the old German name, and it's apparently still known by that name in Sweden because when the Swedes, Danes, Poles and Russians ruled, the old German names continued to be used. That's why Tallinn is sometimes called by its old German name, Reval."
Hanna groaned and Stan became irritated with her.
"If you're going to be helpful to me in this mission, my dear, you must at least take an interest in our hosts and their culture. One of the virtues of being a Christian is taking an interest in your brothers and sisters."
Hanna took the rebuke wincing. She would later be grateful for Stan's tuition when in conversation with various Estonians she showed a knowledge of their history. This had impressed and endeared her to many, especially to the unbelievers amongst them. Most foreign missionaries to Estonia never took the trouble to find out much about their nation let alone show any appreciation for its past.
"Taking an interest in what is important to them is part and parcel of loving them. It's how you accept them as they are. It enables you to empathise with their problems and needs," he continued.
"I'm sorry, Stan. It's just that I don't find history very interesting...." she replied, trying to find an excuse.
"That's not good enough, Hanna, and you know it." Stan was in one of his no-nonsense moods and Hanna was about to learn some important lessons.
"If we allowed ourselves to be attracted to people solely on the basis of our own personal interests, the Church of God would become a small, insular collection of cliques and factions, just like it has over the centuries.There are things in the Estonian experience which are like diamonds in straw which we have come to learn about and incorporate in our Zionic quest. The chances are that some of these people will be coming to live with us in Kadesh-Naphtali and are going to feel like fish out of water in Sweden. And to help them make the changes, we have to understand them."
Stan was almost fuming and Hanna felt as though she had committed a capital crime. Suddenly, the reality of her own carnal nature was staring her in the face again, and on this the first day of their honeymoon.
"Oh, let's not quarrel, Stan," she pleaded, "this is our honeymoon!"
"I told you that this was going to be a working honeymoon, and that the honeymoon would have to take second place. You knew and accepted that."
The annoyance on his face was beginning to frighten her a bit.
"You're here as my helper in administering to these people. But instead of being a helper, you're pursuing your own selfish agenda. Now, if this is going to be your attitude on this trip, you're going to be worse than useless to me."
Hanna was in deep shock as the reality of whom she had married began to sink in. His words had hurt her and tears began to well up in her eyes.
"I'm sorry to hurt you, sweetheart, but we really don't have time for this. We arrive in Tartu in less than an hour and there is a lot you need to know. Please try to understand that in order to be useful to the Lord we have to make some sacrifices when it comes to personal things. And this requires some training. OK?"
His voice was concilliatory and he was smiling again. Hanna was relieved to see that he still loved her and, grasping his arm, lay her head on his shoulder.
"I'll try, darling, but it's hard for me," she said.
"OK, shall we continue, then?"
"The people we've been invited by are university people. Tartu is a famous University town. In fact, the University was founded by the Swedes in 1632 by Gustav II Adolf. The people we're going to be teaching are high-brained academics and they're a little bit different from ordinary folk."
Stan winked, as if to acknowledge that he was somehow a part of their inner circle - and that he was well educated, which Hanna was not. Hanna smiled back at him and reached over for a light kiss.
"It's one of the most famous universities in these parts, at least on parr with Uppsala in Sweden. These people are rightly very proud of their university and it's only proper that you show an interest and appreciation for what they have achieved through much struggle.
"Like the rest of Western Europe, Estonia was originally a Catholic country, converted from paganism by the the sword of the Teutonic Knights.You could say that its conversion was therefore "unnatural", and because its conversion was by violence, it was only "natural" that the country should eventually swing back to paganism and atheism.
"Historically, there's always been a major division between northern and southern Estonia. Tartu is in the southern part, Tallinn - where we've just been - is in the north. The northern part of Estonia, together with what was then Reval, was a part of the Catholic Bishopric of Lund in southern Sweden, which was then a part of Denmark, though they were separated by a huge distance geographically.
"The whole of Estonia, north and south, converted to Lutheranism during the Reformation. Originally, northern Estonia was a part of Protestant Denmark. And although the southern part, along with Tartu, was still a part of Catholic Poland-Lithuania (the two were united as a single country), it still retained its Protestantanism. Then to cut a long story short, Sweden conquered both the Danish northern part of Estonia and the Polish southern part, which was then a part of northern Latvia and known as Livonia..."
"How do you know so much?" asked Hanna. "It's so complicated."
Stan smiled sympathetically.
"Anyway, Estonia along with Finland were both Swedish in those days until the Russians conquered both off the Swedes. And remember that Russians were, and still are, Eastern Orthodox. That means that the Estonians have known one band of paganism, three brands of so-called Christianity - Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox, communist-atheism, and now the Western liberal mush. They've been through a lot. They're still nominally Protestant though half a century of communism has done untold damage.
"During the time of the Polish occupation, the Catholics moved into Tartu University and used it as a propaganda machine for the counter-reformation. The result was that the Polish nobles became Catholic and the local serfs remained Lutheran. For a while Tartu was also a flourishing trading centre. Then the Polish-Swedish wars brought in a period of decline."
"When was all this?" asked Hanna trying hard to show interest.
"In the 1580's. The Swedes captured Tartu in 1600 - remember that date, because it was an important turning point - and turned it into a bastion of Protestantism. We have a lot to thank the Swedes for, you know. Without doubt, they saved Protestant Europe from being overwhelmed by the Catholics. I hate to think of the attrocities that would have been committed if the Catholics had won."
Stan shuddered. He was clearly deeply involved and this was no acrid history for him, at least. He seemed to be living the very experiences of those early Tartu people. Though he hadn't noticed it, a couple of Estonians sitting opposite the couple, and who spoke English, had been eavesdropping on Stan's historical lecture with considerable interest.
"Tartu became a military stronghold and was a key fort in their Baltic colony. It may with reasonable certainly be claimed that it was Tartu that was the barrier to the expansion of Catholicism in north-eastern Europe.
"The following year the Poles started their counter-offensive with a view to recapturing all the territory they had lost north of the River Düna (Dvina). Worse, as far as the ordinary people were concerned, the crops failed in 1601 leading to a terrible famine. The following year the advancing Polish army under Hetman Chodkiewicz began to lay siege to Tartu and in 1603 the starving town surrendered to Poland. The city was in ruins. The Poles held on to the town in spite of repeated Swedish attacks. After twenty long, bitter years of fighting the Swedes finally won and drove the Poles out of the Latvian capital, Riga. But Tartu held out until 1625 when the Swedes finally occupied the town. They generously allowed the town to continue in its old ways and expelled the Polish garrison and the Catholic priests. In the Treaty of Altmark of 1629 most of Livonia, including Tartu, remained under Swedish rule."
"What a horrible period of history," said Hanna. "And all the terrible things those poor people must have suffered."
"Yes, that's true," continued Stan. "Tartu became the most important centre of Swedish power in the Baltic provinces after that. The newly conquered territories were joined to Ingria and to the District of Karelia - Ingria is where St.Petersburg is today and was all Finnish-speaking at one time before the Russians colonised it.
"The King of Sweden appointed his own personal tutor, Johan Skytte, as Livonia's Governor-General. Tartu was the seat of the highest court of law in the region or Hofgericht which was established in 1630. Soon Tartu filled with well-educated Protestant clergymen, lawyers, doctors and officials.
"Tartu is, in my opinion, one of Europe's most important cities. It was here that Catholics, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox fought for supremacy. But it was also here that Protestant learning played an important rôle in the development of Estonia.
"Johan Skytte was, in my view, a remarkable man. When he was appointed to set up a Gymnasium in Tartu he determined that it should be open to everyone without distinction of rank or wealth. He began by introducing languages - first, the classics: Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Chaldean - and second, the modern languages of French, Latvian, Estonian and Ingrian (Izhorian) in addition to German and Swedish. To this was added Mathematics and, interestingly, "Fortification", a reminder that this was a frontier town. All the pupils were provided with meals and ate together - again, without regard for wealth or rank. The object of the school, he announced in he opening speech in 1630, was to "root out barbarism in Livonia". And that, you'll agree, was a worthy ideal!"
The couple opposite Stan and Hanna interrupted him to introduce themselves as members of staff at the University and to express approval for Stan's observations.
"Are you by any chance travelling to take up a position at the Univertsity in Tartu?" he asked politely in flawless English.
Stan was flattered: "Indeed not, sir, though such would indeed be a great honour. I am visiting Tartu in the footsteps of Johan Skytte - to 'root out barbarism in Livonia'."
The man at looked astonished: "I'm sorry, I don't quite understand."
"I am an evangelist come to share the Gospel of Christ," explained Stan. The man laughed, appreciating his sense of humour.
"You don't sound like the kind of foreign missionary who normally visits our illustrious city," he said. "Most seem to know nothing about us at all, yet you seem to know much about our history. If I am not mistaken, you are Polish. Are you a representative of the Vatican?"
Stan roared with laugher, making people in the carriage smile at the sudden high spirits that filled an otherwise dull morning.
"No, sir. I am a Bible-believing Christian," he replied earnestly. "Though I am not which you might traditionally call a 'Protestant', of the three major sects that dominate Christendom1, you might say that that is the faith I most closely align myself with. I was raised in the Reformed Church but now possess no such label. I like to simply think of myself as a Christian who believes the Bible from cover to cover - a New Covenant Christian."
The man's wife beamed. Her husband went on to explain that both he and his wife were committed Lutherans and were glad to hear that a foreign Christian voice would be visiting their city who knew something about the place and people he was to be the guest of.
"We have five Lutheran, three Greek-Catholic and one Roman Catholic Church in Tartu," he explained, "and quite a few non-conformist Protestant churches like Baptists, Pentecostals and some others whose names I cannot remember. Perhaps we shall bump into you sometime?"
"Quite possibly," replied Stan. "I am here to conduct some Christian seminars by invitation from some Christian faculty members from the University."
As neither seemed to wish to find out more about Stan's beliefs he did not press them further. Hanna had wanted to say more but had picked up his signal not to. The train was, in any case, approaching Tartu and other needs would soon be pressing upon them. The two men exchanged visiting cards and farewells.
"Tartu, Tartu" came the voice over the loud speaker and the carriage was suddenly animated by the scramble of passengers gathering their baggage together. Hanna's heart pounded in anticipation of what was now to come.
This page was first created in 2002
Last updated on 5 March 2009
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