The Welcoming Committee
The last thing that Stan was expecting was a band and a formal welcoming committee but there, on the station, was a small brass band made up of students from the University which broke out into a martial strain as the train came to a halt. It is not often that Stan is surprised but this was one of those occasions. As he and Hanna stepped off the strain four handsomely dressed women advanced towards him, one of them holding a picture and clearly trying to match it to a face coming off the train.
Stan was deeply moved by the welcome. The four women dressed in Estonian national costume with garlands of flowers in their hair presented the kind of picture that mesmerised him. Ordinarily self-composed and dignified in public, and especially around strangers, his reaction was more like that of a father being given a surprise birthday party by his children. The women politely courtsied and smiled as Stan gave his formal bow and shook the proffered hands.
When Elisa Reifman, who led the welcoming committee, spoke, Stan was in for another surprise for her voice was like sweet honey. He was transfixed.
"My name is Elisa Reifman," she said confidently in her long white dress with vertical red and golden stripes with green borders, "and these are my friends Hilda, Silvia and Salme. We would like to welcome you to Estonia and to Tartu."
At that, Salme stood one step forward and presented Hanna with a large bouquet of flowers wrapped in crimply see-through pastic and tied with a ribbon. Hanna looked elegant in a long skirt and embroidered blouse and conducted herself beautifully, courtseying and thanking the women for the flowers.
Hilda Rätsep was a short 28 year-old, wide-hipped, narrow-shouldered, large breasted woman with bright blonde hair made up into a stack. Her face was elongated, broad in the forehead and tapering down to her chin with depressed cheeks. Her lips were made up with a bright pink lipstick that somehow seemed to neatly merge with her complexion. Her protruding green-blue eyes set her apart from the others. She seemed to have Russian features and it was plain to see that later, in old age, she would fill out. Her rounded shoulders seemed to describe an almost perfect circle and married well with her short, dumpy arms. Her face was magnetic. Her dress was a dark blue and pleated horizontally with red rings around it. She wore a beautiful enbroidered white blouse with colourful floral arrangement and puffed sleeves and a medallion around her neck.
"Hilda is a gymnastics teacher at a local school," explained Elisa.
Silvia Saarma did not look European at all. Short like Hilda, though much skinnier, with broad, straight shoulders, an average size bust, olive brown skin and black hair that fell to her shoulders, she seemed to have traces of Indian in her. Her eyebrows were heavily made up with mascara but wore no lipstick for she truly needed none. Stan wondered if she might have some Asiatic blood in her though he knew there was great variety amongst the people of Livonia on acount of the numerous invaders of the past. She was 21 years of age. Her dress was like Hilda's.
"This is Silvia, a secretary who works in the University's administration section," continued Elisa, who was very clearly the leader of this small band of women.
"Finally, this is Salme, who is one of my students of Economics."
Salme was tall and sleek with slightly rounded shoulders and a small bust. Her blonde hair was made into a bun at the back of her head. She had a rounded, fairly plain yet quite pretty face, with a small pointed nose, and medium-size lips made up with a rose-coloured lipstick. Though only 19 years of age, she looked as though she was in her early twenties. That she had Nordic features was clearly evident and Stan wondered if there mightn't be some Swedish or German ancestry somewhere. Unlike the others who were born and raised in Tartu, Salme was from Tallinn and wore a very different national costume with an odd looking red hat shaped like an ice-cream waffer with flowers hanging from the two sides and roses on its facade. Her dress consisted of many coloured vertical stripes and she wore a tightly-fitting red waistcoat on top of her white blouse whose sleaves ran right down to her wrists, unlike the other two whose stopped just below the elbow. All three women had Estonian surnames, though.
Elisa herself clearly stood out as the senior member of the party, not only because of her age but also because of the aura of maturity that seemed to surround her. Her melodious voice had already won Stan's heart and it would not be long before he was won by her whole personality. Of all the four women she looked the most typically Estonian. Of medium height, her light brown hair was permed and fell into waves just above her shoulder. Her skin was of a light complexion, like Hilda and Salme, her cheeks well formed and slightly rosy. Her smile was natural and graceful with generous lips. There was maturity and a leadership spirit in her pale brown eyes. Her features were well formed and proportional, a medium-size bust and slightly longer than average legs. She wore cream-coloured high-heeled shoes, clearly especially for the occasion, which made her walk a little clumsily as she was evidently not accustomed to them. Unlike the other three women who had medium-sized square hands, her fingers were long and slightly knotted. She exuded a warm and gracious spirit that at once made a person feel welcomed. And though childless from her first marriage, there was a caring motherly aura that seemed to naturally attract the students she was responsible for.
The band consisted of students from some of the classes she had taught and it was clear that she and they had gone to a lot of trouble to put on this performance. Knowing this, and also because Stan loved brass band music, he stood and listened to them playing the three pieces they had rehearsed, and when they had finished, went and personally congratulated and thanked them for their trouble, before he and Hanna were led away by Elisa to the railway station's carpark and to a rather old and well-worn Soviet-era car.
"Silvia and Salme will take the bus to my home as we can't get us all into the car. I hope you don't mind," said Elisa politely.
As they drove through the quaint city Elisa gave her own version of the town's history to which Hanna added things which Stan had taught her, thus impressing both of the women hosts. Hanna was chuffed at the recognition she was given.
"Our city was actually founded by the Russians and called Yuriev until the Germans conquered it and renamed it Dorpat," Elisa explained. "It joined the Hanseatic League."
They drove past a magnificent building with a portico supported by six enormous white pillars.
"That's the University, darling," said Stan to Hanna, "a really magnificent building, isn't it?"
Hanna nodded and Elisa was pleased that Stan was admiring what for them was their most prized piece of architecture.
"How many people actually live in Tartu now?" asked Stan, remembering that at independence in 1920 there were only about 50,000.
"Oh, it's about 91,000 now, I think," said Elisa.
They drove past some ruins on top of a hill. Stan asked what it was.
"The remains of a 13th century Catholic cathedral. This is called Toomemjaji Hill," explained Elisa.
Stan, who sat next to Elisa in the passenger seat in the front of the car, asked her a number of questions whilst Hanna practiced her Estonian in the back with Hilda.
"Tartu symbolises our independence," stated Elisa, "because it was here in 1920 that we signed a treaty with Bolshevik Russia recognising our borders and independence."
"They didn't exactly honour that treaty, did they?" mused Stan. "Not only did they annex Estonia in 1940 but they seized territory north and south of lake Peipus!"
Elisa smiled. "Yes, you know much about us, I see," she said.
Hanna overheard and remembered what Stan had told her in the train about taking an interest in the host nation's history. Because of it she was making intelligent conversation with Hilda, thus avoiding small-talk, which Stan despised so much.
"Today we manufacture instruments, agricultural machinery, footwear and foodstuffs. In 1951 an Agricultural Academy was founded. Thank goodness we don't have any really heavy industry otherwise we would be suffering the kind of pollution most large ex-Soviet cities do today. But we have pollution enough coming from other places in Russia, Latvia and elsewhere. I wish we had the controls you have in Sweden," she said, glancing at Stan, who nodded back to her in agreement.
"What proportion of the nation is actually Estonian?" asked Stan, keen to update his knowledge.
"About 65%," replied Elisa. "About 30% are Russians, and the rest are Ukrainians, Belarussians, Finns, Jews and Latvians, but it's mostly in the towns that you find a multi-racial character. The rural areas are almost entirely Estonian."
"Do you have Finns here?" asked Hanna, interested.
"Oh yes, there is a small Finnish minority, but I don't know too much about them, I must admit. I think they mostly live in the north in and around Tallinn, but don't quote me on that," she said with a slight chuckle in her voice.
Stan was soaking up the scenes and it was soon evident to Hanna that this kind of old world place was a deep part of his soul.
"You have a lovely city," said Stan. "I feel at home here already."
Elisa smiled, pleased that Stan was relaxed.
They parked the car outside Elisa's small detached house as there was no garage. The houses were closely packed together in small garden plots, all of which seemed to have been given over to the cultivation of vegetables and fruit. The rooms were small but tastefully decorated with classical-type furniture and elegant wallpaper. Stan was reminded of what he had seen in the Ukraine and Romania - the east Europeans were still house-proud and, for the most part, had resisted the incursion of the modern banal interior designing of the West.
"It's a beautiful little home!" exclaimed Hanna with delight and seemed absorbed with everything around her. The small living room-cum-dining room had flower-filled vases set in prominent positions. Downstairs consisted, in addition, of a small kitchen and bathroom, recently modernised, and upstairs there was a single bedroom, which Elisa had given to her guests.
"But where will you sleep?" asked Hanna concerned.
"Oh, don't worry. Both sofas convert into comfortable beds, as does the arm chair you're sitting in!" laughed Elisa.
"Really?" exclaimed Hanna, who couldn't see how that could possibly be, so Elisa proceeded to unfold it to Hanna's astonishment.
"All the soft furniture converts into beds. With so little space we have to be prepared when guests come," said Elisa.
Silvia and Salme arrived about forty-five minutes later.
"Sorry we're late," said Salme as they shuffled through the door. "The first bus was full and we had to wait for the next one."
Elisa and Hilda disappeared into the kitchen to prepare some lunch. The dining room table was already layed and decorated beautifully. Stan was glowing with delight. It was this kind of East European thoroughness and care that was a pure joy to him. He kept on looking around the tidy, orderly house passing favourable remarks. Hanna went into the kitchen to help the other two and the three spoke in Finnish and Estonian together, so Stan couldn't understand.
"How long have you been married to Stan?" asked Hilda. "And which wife are you?" Both were intense with curiosity.
"I'm his nineth wife," she replied as they drew in their breaths in surprise, "and we were married two days ago."
They stopped what they were doing and looked at her in astonishment. Stan wondered what all the excitement was all about.
"If you don't let me into your secret I shall only speak in Polish while I'm here," threatened Stan humorously, making Silvia and Salme giggle.
Elisa apologised for being rude and promised they would only speak in English.
The food was soon laid on the table and the six tucked in after Elisa had said grace.
"Is it true you two were only maried two days ago?" asked Hilda.
"Absolutely," replied Stan whilst munching away at his food. "You might say that we're on our honeymoon."
The Estonians went "Oooooh!" and started chatting amongst themselves.
"But that's not principally why were're here," insisted Stan. "We're going to have our main honeymoon when we get back home. Our main reason for coming to Estonia is to discuss patriarchal Christianity with you and anyone you want us to talk to. So please don't go out of your way to make honeymoon arrangements for us or anything like that. We've only got a fortnight and there is so much to discuss. However, I leave it you you ladies to set the agenda. We are here to serve you in whatever way we can."
All were smiling keenly.
"We have so many questions," said Elisa, "that we hardly know where to start!"
"Well," said Stan, "perhaps you could start by telling me how you all came to be interested in this subject. I know you found out about us on the Internet, Elisa, but what about the other three? What exactly are you four looking for?"
There was a pause as the Estonian women glanced at one another waiting to see who would start the questions. The three younger ones seemed to look to Elisa to take the lead.
"It's a very simply story, actually," said Elisa. "I found your website, Stan, and have been studying it for the last two years. The others have been studying it with me for the last nine months. At first I was horrified by what I read but something kept leading me back to it again and again. It took me at least a year to be converted to the fact that it was a true Biblical principle and about another six months to know that I had been called into it. About a year ago we started discussing it in our small Bible group at the university which I started two years ago. We were all women - we couldn't interest any of the men at all."
"How big is your group?" asked Stan.
"It varies between about eight and twelve," answered Salme. "We meet once a week every Wednesday evening for about three hours..."
"Three hours...???" said Hanna astonished, remembering our own Bible groups which lasted usually no more than about an hour, until she reaslised that we met every day.
"Oh yes," said Silvia, "and we'd stay all night if we had the energy!" and they all laughed.
"What do you study?" asked Stan curiously.
"All your articles," replied Elisa and pulled out three large ring folders crammed with print-outs from Stan's homepage. He was astonished.
"We looked for materials all over the web but just couldn't find anything with such breadth and depth at the same time. We wanted a Bible study that encompassed everything, and we found it in your website and in the main New Covenant site. So I think we know your teachings pretty well."
Stan was astonished. "Then you pretty well know everything we believe in?"
"Oh yes," said Salme. "All we want now is to hear it from your own mouth because it all seems too good to be true. We want to know how much of it is exaggerated, if at all. That's why we invited you to come." All four were looking keenly at Stan.
Stan was at a loss for words. He had never come across people who were so prepared.
"Is there a reason why there are four of you out of the original dozen in particular who want to talk to me?" he asked.
"Oh, we all want to talk to you, only we four have already decided that we want to enter polygamous marriage right away and want to find husbands who will take us. The others are mostly interested in polygamy on a theoretical level," said Hilda.
Stan was again speechless for a while and began to suddenly appreciate how his website was being used without his even knowing about it.
"But, ladies, you need to find some men to marry you. Your whole group are women. Aren't there any men interested?"
Elisa looked sad. "Stan, you know, I think, that it takes a long time to train a man to be a patriarch. You've said so on your webpage. Yes, there were some men at first but we saw that they were interested for all the wrong reasons. It's so hard to find godly men who take this principle seriously and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices. What we want to know is more about you personally, and about other patriarchs in your community, whom might be willing to take us as wives if we like them."
Elisa was direct and to the point, which Stan liked.
"Thank you for being so honest and direct with me," replied Stan. "I respect you for that."
"That's alright," replied Elisa. "We know a lot about you from your articles, and that's the way you want it. If we're a bit shy or embarrassed at first, I hope you'll forgive us. We only invited you once we were sure that this was what we really wanted and that the Lord had called us into this."
Stan was filled with admiration but said nothing. These were the kind of women that he was looking for - self-motivated, independent-minded, and willing to follow the Lord in all things.
With lunch finished, they went and sat down.
"I've brought you some photographs to see," said Stan, "so that you can put faces to the names you've read."
The women were very excited as Stan showed them everyone from Kadesh-Naphtali.
"There are four married men and two young men of marriagable age," said Stan. "I have nine wives, Björn has two, and Hans and Bengt have one each. Then there are Władysław and Karl of marriagable age. Both of them have eyes set on one girl each, Karl is interested in polygamy but the lady he's interested in - my eldest daughter - isn't. My eldest son Władysław doesn't seem to know whether he's interested in polygamy or not and has his eye on Karl's sister, who isn't sure either, and is probably more in favour of monogamy. Bengt is in his 50's and he and his wife aren't really interested in expanding their family with a view to having more children though they're prepared to take an older women who is past the menopause. The Nilssons accept polygamy as a principle but don't seem in any hurry to enter into it but may well change their minds if the right lady or ladies turn up. And that's really what's 'available', if I can put it that way."
The four mumbled something to one another and were obviously making preliminary judgments.
"But one thing I don't quite understand," said Stan. "There are plenty of polygamous Christian men around the world, especially in America. Don't you think you're limiting yourselves by just focussing on Europe?"
"We know," said Elisa, "and from the chat boards some of them seem very nice. But we don't want the American way of life. We just don't feel called in that direction. Salme was interested at first but changed her mind after getting to know your family's ways and aims. As you yourself said on your webpage, there are many different colours and shades of Christian polygamy which will be right for certain kinds of women but not for us. We're looking for someone who has the kind of vision of the Gospel that you people have, we want our husband or husbands to be cultured and well-educated, and we want him to be European."
"I am certainly not going to argue with what you would like," replied Stan, "but are you sure you're not narrowing your target a little too much? You know, most of my wives came with various expectations, many of which were completely off the mark. We've learned that God's plan for us tends to be very different from what we have imagined."
Elisa paused and gave out a barely discernable sigh. "We know what we want, Stan. And it's not as though this is a sudden decision. We've been studying and praying about this for a very long time. And we believe that this is how the Lord is leading us."
Stan knew he was dealing with a very persistent woman and didn't want to get into an unnecessary debate after only a couple of hours acquaintance. He began to detect a temprement in Elisa that he was not yet familiar with and decided to walk carefully. As they were related to the Finns, he made the assumption that they might well have similar characteristics. Besides, he was the guest and would have to remember that.
"OK, ladies, what can I do for you? You seem to know what you want. Just ask whatever questions you want and I will do my best to answer you."
Elisa, who had been single for some years and used to not only being independent but also to the exercise of leadership, suddenly remembered who she was talking to and apologised for being so direct.
"I hope you will realise, Stan," she said, "that this is all very new for us - I mean, talking to a polygamist face-to-face. Up until now it's all been on paper. I realise it's us who are seeking admission to one of your families and that the decision has to be yours, so I apologise if in advance I or the others seem a bit rude."
Stan gave a gentle smile. "It's OK, I do underatand. You know, Hanna and I have only known you for two hours and we've got two whole weeks ahead. Let's take it slowly and easily."
Hanna felt it was time to give her twopence worth: "I just wanted to share with you a little of my own experience because I know exactly what you feel. Once you know this is the right lifestyle for you, and that God has called you into it, you get very impatient. I know I was." She looked at Stan knowing he would readily confirm her words. "As a woman we tend to be either very reserved and distant when it comes to polygamy or the very opposite - we just can't wait to get into it. I don't know what you girls feel, but once I knew that it was right I wanted everything to happen yesterday!"
The four women began to giggle.
"Oh, yes, that's right!" said Salme. "That's exactly right! I'm so glad you came, Hanna, so that we can know all that you have been through, especially as you're a young wife nearer our age and can understand us."
Hanna smiled and was pleased to feel useful. Stan gave her an approving look.
"What's it like being married to someone who is more than 20 years older than you are?" asked Silvia impulsively, and then felt embarrassed when she remembered that the 'older man' was sitting right opposite her. Stan smiled.
"Don't worry, Silvia, feel free to ask what you want when I'm around. I won't be offended. Besides, I'm sure you'll take my new bride from me and question her all to yourself during this trip - then you can be as rude as you want to be," and winked at them. They all laughed again.
"Well," said Hanna hesitating for a moment while she collected her thoughts, "I've only ever been married to one man so I can't give you a comparison. But I suppose it's like any relationship - there are plusses and negatives. The only negative as far as I am concerned is that I will probably outlive Stan by quite a few years and be alone. But I'm not the only young one in the family. I have several sister-wives about my age and we've made our choice. If you marry a younger man you will obviously have someone who is more energetic and you'll have a longer life together, but you'll lose out in terms of experience. For us it's not age that's important because unlike most other polygamists we see marriage as something eternal. So what we're building is not a short-term investment but something that'll last forever."
Elisa nodded. "That was what I had concluded, pretty much. And that's another reason, Stan, that we're interested in your group - because you believe in and practice eternal marriage. It gives you a different perspective and modifies the goals you are working towards. I want a marriage with a view to forever, not one that ends at death. Oh, I know, that those who don't believe in eternal marriage may be surprised to discover that they're still together in the next life - and I'd love to see their faces when they make that happy discovery! But what I don't want is a set of attitudes that is planning only for marriage for life. I've talked to several polygamists and I've noticed the difference in the way they approach marriage. I respect their right to believe what they do but it's not for me. I want someone who will treat me as an eternal bride and not look at mariage like renting a house. I want full ownership. People who own their houses tend to look after them better than those who just rent them, and that's what I feel about mariage."
Stan was impressed by Elisa's analogy. "That's very well put - exactly our sentiment," he said.
The six talked most of the afternoon until Elisa realised what the time was.
"Stan," she said, "you know, I think, that our academic year starts in two weeks - the weekend after you leave, in fact. I'm going to have to dash down to the university from time to time for faculty meetings. Salme's the only one who's free until term starts. Hilda has some meetings in her school like me and Silvia is going to be on demand most of the time you're here, at least during the day time on weekdays."
Silvia looked sad.
"But we wanted to get you here before the semester started and before we get bogged down in work," said Elisa. " So we'll be taking it in turns to look after you and if at any time we're all away then I hope you'll be able to find things to do in the city."
"That's just fine," said Stan. "I'm quite sure that Hanna and I will find plenty of things to do," and leaned over to kiss his new bride. The younger of the four giggled.
"Our Bible group will be meeting twice while you're here and you're invited to take both meetings. You can talk as long as you want - we hire the room at 7 p.m. and we have to be out by 10 p.m. so you'll have a total of six hours' teaching time maximum. If any of them want to get to know you more, we can bring them round to my home. Other than that, there's nothing formally planned except to show you around the city and university. The Rector knows you're coming and has heard you're an academic and would like to meet you. I have a feeling that he will ask you to address the staff, but I don't know about that. We're meeting him at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the University .. you're invited along too, of course, Hanna.
"Most days I've got meetings at different times. I've invited Salme to come and live here for the fortnight you're in Tartu so that she can take care of your needs. I think she only has to report in once to the University on the Friday before the semester starts. "
Stan indicated that he understood and was happy with the arrangements. The next day, Friday, was the first day that the University staff returned to prepare for the student invasion.
"You just say if you two want to go and rest," said Elisa, "and we'll leave you to go upstairs and get some peace."
"That's fine," said Stan. "All I do ask is that we have a half hour siesta after lunch if we're here at your home, and if possible a half hour siesta after supper. Otherwise we're available to to be used as and when you want us. And the only other thing I would like to request is that I get an eight-hour sleep at night and get to bed before midnight. I'm used to getting up at 6.30 a.m. and retiring to bed at 10.30 pm. but I can be flexible here."
The rest of the day was spent chatting in the house, or sitting in the little garden, or walking down the street for a little exercise.
"If things work out for all of us," said Elisa, "we've already made some long-term plans. As you know, I own this little house whilst the others are renting accommodation. Salme lives in student accommodation at the university. If everything works out, then we all plan to move into my home to save money and to get some sort of business going in preparation for the time when we must resign our jobs. The salaries in Estonia are quite low, as you may know, so saving is not easy. That's why everyone has their own vegetable plots. It'll probably get a little better when Estonia gets into the EU - people have a lot of expectations but I don't think they're realistic. They've seen how things have gone so well for Finland but forget the problems that other poorer EU countries have been having. I think our economic problems will last for a good while yet."
Elisa was in a better position to know the realities than most others by virtue of her position as an economist.
"If we like your community, and if you accept us, we want to be able to make some sort of economic contribution because we know how expensive polygamy is," said Silvia. "That's why we want to start a business which can earn money here in Estonia while we're in Sweden. We're interested in talking to your wife Kasia because we think that what she's doing may be possible to set up here quickly."
Kasia had mourned the loss of the mail-order business we had had in Raj and had soon started up a new one in Kadesh-Naphtali selling Finnish goods. Stan himself had started up a small company marketing herbal medicines and this they were interested in too.
"The problem," Salme said, "is that people don't have much money in Estonia. Most are very poor so we have to find products that are not only useful to them but also affordable. We don't want to sell anything that would exploit their ignorance or which would be useless to them. The business must be ethical."
"Oh, I agree," said Hanna, who had by now taken to Salme. "We decided long ago that anything we market must be a blessing to people. We don't want to market anything for marketing's sake."
There was broad agreement. Topics changed from one to another and before long it was supper-time. Stan had insisted on simple food, nothing extravent or expensive, notwithstanding their very real desire to be hospitable in every way possible, and Elisa had reluctantly agreed. All four women were contributing economically to financing Stan's and Hanna's stay. Stan had insisted on making a contribution also knowing of the struggles these people had, and this had been gratefully, if at first reluctantly, accepted.
The first day had gone remarkably well and Stan was well satisfied and he began to realise how important it was having a well-structured and informative website which was now saving him a lot of unnecessarily repetitive teaching. Stan and the five ladies talked until 10 p.m. when all retired to bed, and the living room was almost instantaneously converted into a dormitory for four.
"Well, darling, what do you think of our first day in Tartu?" said Stan to Hanna as they cosily nestled in each others' arms in bed."
"Oh, Stan, I think it's been wonderful - I'm so happy I came along - and it's making our honeymoon so much more meaningful. It's true - the more you give, the more you are able to love, and the more you are loved back in return. I feel so happy here. It's like we belong."
Stan agreed. "Yes, it does feel like home. I never thought I would feel about a foreign place as I have here in Tartu. There's something special about this place. I wouldn't even mind making a second home here."
"Oh, do you think that might be possible, darling?" she asked excitedly. "Maybe we could get a centre started here?"
"It's possible," said Stan pensively. "Only the Lord knows the answer to that question. We do need to start a second colony very soon. So far we've been only thinking about our own because there's been so much to do."
"Who do you think these women will marry?" asked Hanna. "Have you had any inspiration from the Lord?"
"Maybe," said Stan, "I'm not sure yet. I feel strongly that Elisa will join our family, and maybe one other. The remaining two may possibly find homes in Kadesh-Naphthali. And I have this strange feeling that maybe one of our own families may move here to Estonia to start up a new colony."
Hanna sat up. "Who? And who do you think is the second one who might join our family?" She was now very excited.
"I'll tell you who I think will move here if you tell me who you think the second wife might be," said Stan grinning.
"Well," said Hanna, if I were to choose one of the other three, it would be Salme. But she's very young, don't you think?"
Stan smiled. "We are thinking alike, but we must wait and see. I could be wrong."
"And what about the family from Kadesh-Naphtali?" she asked, still sitting up.
Stan looked keenly into her eyes: "There's only one possible one, and I think you know which one."
Hanna's heart sank. "You mean the Engströms, don't you?"
Stan nodded. "But we mustn't breathe a word of this to anyone, and certainly not to Björn and his wives. If this is the Lord's will, they'll find out sooner or later."
"Do you mean that you think the other two will marry Björn?"
Hanna was not too keen about losing the Engströms but also understood that sacrifices would have to be made if the colonies were to expand.
"Yes, I think Hilda and Sylvia are marked by the Spirit to be Björn's, though I may be wrong. Władysław and Karl still aren't ready. I feel they need to settle down with Karin and Maria first, once they make that choice -- if they do. And Misha would be a perfect match for an Estonian since she's from another Baltic State, Lithuania. But we have to see. We can't rush the Lord's Plan especially as we're not 100% sure. Moving a family of five to a poor country like Estonia and adding two more wives would be quite a business. The Engströms would have to lower their standard of living considerably. I'm sure Björn could get work here with his qualifications. Let's sleep on it and put it in Yahwh's hands."
They prayed, made love, and went to sleep in each other's arms. Tomorrow would be another day with lots of unexpected surprises.
This page was first created in 2002
Last updated on 5 March 2009
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