Estonia 2012

July 10, 2012 – Overview and background info

This is a trip log about my accompaning Andre Kole to do a 7 show tour to Tallinn, Estonia.

Our programs will be in conjunction with Heartbeat Tallinn – a citywide/nationwide outreach associated with Campus Crusade for Christ’s (CRU’s) European All Staff Gathering this year.

A few of the other performers participating in this event include:

Israel Houghton – Winner of 4 Grammys and 6 Dove Awards, injects contemporary Gospel music with a blazing, youthful energy

Susan Boyle – Susan Boyle became renowned for her magnificent voice in 2009 in the Britain’s Got Talent’ Show.

estonia map

From Wikipedia: “Tallin is the largest and capitol city of Estonia, with a population of 416,536. It It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, (50 mi) south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn’s Old Town is in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites>. It is ranked as a global city and has been listed among the top 10 digital cities in the world. The city was a European Capital of Culture for 2011, along with Finland.”

“Tallinn is the oldest capital city in Northern Europe. The city was known as Reval from the 13th century until the 1920s.”

From the organizer of our time there: “Estonia is a very non-religious country with only 2% being Evangelical Christians. It is difficult to get non-Christians to attend a church or religious activity, but it will be very simple to invite people to see an Andre Kole performance.”


July 20 – First Day

Yesterday was a travel day. Let me describe it: I sat for a looong
time, then I arrived!

Adjusting to this 10 hour time difference is going to be difficult.

Sunset at 11:12PM in Tallinn, Estonia

This is a photo of the sunset from our hotel floor – at 11:12pm! This is not going to help the jet lag situation. (smile)


July 21 – Days 2 and 3

Another touring team member, Adrian VanVactor, and myself came in to Tallinn a day before any of the others, in case we were needed to help clear the equipment through customs. As it turns out we were not needed for that, and it cleared customs with out our intersession. As a result we had the whole day off, yesterday. I took the opportunity to take a photo walk in old town Tallinn. Wow, what a wonderful little village of narrow cobblestone streets and old buildings.

Street in Old Town Tallinn, Estonia

Today we arrived at the theater, with three more of our team that arrived yesterday (Tim Kole, Mike, and John). at 8:30am and found our container of equipment was just being delivered and placed 10 feet from the stage door. The next 11 and 1/2 hours we loaded it in, set it up and set lighting scenes.

Answered prayer: Unlike any other overseas trip, this time the container that was delivered to the theater was the very one we loaded at our wharehouse. It doesn’t appear that anyone opened it or handled the cases – it was just the way we loaded it into the container last month.

Looking at the concert hall seating from the stage

Here is a photo of the theater where we will be performing – very nice.

Jet lag: It is after midnight as I write this. I’m attempting to stay up long enough to see the sun set. For those of you keeping score at home – sun 3, Craig 0. Maybe tomorrow (sigh).


July 27 – What’s in a Name?

We have recently learned that in the Estonian language “kole” means “ugly”.

Here is one of the illuminated, circular, displays that are scattered throughout the Tallinn down town park.

Illuminated poster of Andre's show in downtown Tallinn park at night

July 27 – Some Late Hours

One of the challenges has been scheduling the needed time in the theater to prepare for our shows, since there are so many events going on there. Monday after Andre arrived, with Tina (Tim’s wife) and our show assistant, Sarah, we were able to get on stage around midnight. We ran through a few routines until 1:30 and had to leave since the theater had to close. John and Mike were able to stay until 3am or so, to set lighting cues.

Tuesday evening was the opening session for the conference. We had a 7 minute part in this program to present one illusion, so we arrived at the theater at 5:00 for the practice run through of that night’s session. Following is a photo of Andre and Tim performing the Fusion Illusion, taken from the wings.

Andre and Tim on stage with prop, bathed in blue light, taken from the wings

After this opening program was over, we waited until all the sets and lights and drops for this show were cleared off the stage and then, around 11:30, set up our curtains. We had time to rehearse 2 illusions before we had to take down our curtain set up and vacate the premises again- around 1:00am.

Wednesday was a day off, since the theater was otherwise scheduled and unaccessible to us.


July 29 – Four Capacity Audiences

We are all done and the equipment is loaded up and on the way back to the States.

The theater seats 1,800, and all 4 shows were essentially sold out. As you may be able to tell from one of my previous photos, the auditorium has 2 balconies. (Just pointing it our for no reason in particular.)

They did something new here as a follow up procedure. Instead of passing out comment cards, as is our custom, a phone number was displayed. People were instructed to text their email address to this number if they wished to get more information about what Andre shared about our relationship with God. Also, everyone was offered a free copy of Josh McDowel’s book, “More Than A Carpenter” – in Estonian, as they left. I have not yet heard of how many text responses were received, or how many books were given away. Stay tuned.

The stage showing Andre's backdrop and curtain setup, taken from the balcony


August 13 – Overview in Retrospect

This trip was one of the least foreign of my international trips, as most people we encountered spoke English, and most signs/menus had English translations. One notable exception was the grocery store I frequented, where my adventurousness resulted in an unwitting purchase of a pastry filled with onion compote.

Overall, this trip was enjoyable and spiritually productive (or at least appeared to be). The biggest challenge was adjusting our expectations, due to information filtering down to us through several layers of leadership.

The local Christians were quite pleased with the programs and the sold out attendance. Andre trimmed out a lot of the ancillary comments he usually makes prior to and following the gospel illustration, partly to allow for the doubling of time the translation adds, and partly to be sensitive to the prominent anti religious nature of Estonians. They seem to pride themselves in being among the most atheistic nations in the world, and are quick to shut you off as “one of those” when spiritual topics are initiated. This is where Andre’s show really shines. The appealing and entertaining nature of the illusion show, and his non-threatening presentation of what the Bible says about our relationship with God, along with his taking a 2 minute break before the gospel message so people who think they may not like to hear what he will be saying may feel free to leave, seemed to inhibit people from being so quick to judgement and dismissing us as irrelevant religious nuts. As a result, it is estimated that approximately 2,200 Estonian versions of Josh McDowell’s book, More Than a Carpenter, were given out after the shows.


August 19 – A Photowalk around the Old City

Following are some photos from a photowalk I took the day after arriving in Estonia. I was waiting for the equipment and other personnel to show up the next day. (I also figured it would help me stay awake.)


More Photos

At the Concert Hall


Rehearsal for the Opening Night Program


Out and About

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