Tuesday, October 31, 2006

If it doesn't snow for Halloween, how will the Great Pumpkin pull his sleigh?


how we celebrate Halloween in Estonia

Alvin ja the Chipmukid kohtuvad Huntmehega
(Alvin & the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, Inglise/USA 2000)

The kids watched this movie on TV this morning. Now we're busy getting ready for the Corps Halloween Party tonight, and for Tim to come home from England!

Kids' Halloween costumes are:
Chris: samurai
Elizabeth: angel
Peter: dog

We still haven't found a round orange pumpkin, but maybe we will today!

By the way, it's snowing for the third day in a row (no accumulation yet though).


Monday, October 30, 2006


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Today (27 Oct.) David Angelo Coleman was Born

27 Oct. 2006
David Angelo Coleman was born
at 10:24 PM
5 lbs. 15 oz.
Mother & baby are fine
Grandparents are exhausted

Boy, I never got a nephew named after me for MY birthday present! Some people are SO spoiled. Hey David -- "what do you think this is, your birthday?!"


Auntie Evelyn

Friday, October 27, 2006

today is David's birthday!

October 27th is David's birthday! (See below for his address.)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

International and Military Mail Holiday Mailing Dates


PFC David M. Smith
96 Transportation Company
APO, AE 09303
(This is my nephew stationed in Kuwait, please send him something!)

Captain Clark
J. Vilmsi 20-2
Tallinn 10126
(For us, please don't send anything via Fed-Ex, or anything with a declared value of $50 or more.)



Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Peter's sick again

Peter's sick today. Not quite as bad as when we were in England, but still no fun for any of us!

Chris and Andrus (our new translator) had to handle everything at the corps this evening, specifically teaching Corps Cadet class!

Tim comes home a week from tonight.

Please pray!


Monday, October 23, 2006

finally heard from Tim!

After waiting for hours for Tim to call, I finally got this e-mail at 12:30 a.m.!

"Hi Sweetie!
We made it safely here, but are very tired. The trip went smoothly and the officer from Croydon was there to pick us up.
I need your help. I forgot the pin code for my phone and am now locked out."

Thank God that I was on Skype with my sister Mary-Kay for much of my waiting time, so I was distracted from worrying! I also thank Him for my brother Dan Henderson who helped me remember not to worry! And for my sister Pia who sat vigil with me on MSN during those final minutes of waiting!


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Better Late than Early

a series of three articles written by L. P. Benezet, the superintendent of public schools in Manchester, New Hampshire, in the late '20s and '30s (see http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/sanjoy/benezet/1.html). For reasons he explains at the beginning of the first article, at http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/sanjoy/benezet/1.html, Benezet writes,
In the fall of 1929 I made up my mind to try the experiment of abandoning all formal instruction in arithmetic below the seventh grade and concentrating on teaching the children to Read, to Reason, and to Recite - my new Three R's. And by reciting I did not mean giving back, verbatim, the words of the teacher or of the textbook. I meant speaking the English language. I picked out five rooms - three third grades, one combining the third and fourth grades, and one fifth grade. I asked the teachers if they would be willing to try the experiment. They were young teachers with perhaps an average of four years' experience. I picked them carefully, but more carefully than I picked the teachers, I selected the schools. Three of the four schoolhouses involved [two of the rooms were in the same building] were located in districts where not one parent in ten spoke English as his mother tongue. I sent home a notice to the parents and told them about the experiment that we were going to try, and asked any of them who objected to it to speak to me about it. I had no protests. Of course, I was fairly sure of this when I sent the notice out. Had I gone into other schools in the city where the parents were high school and college graduates, I would have had a storm of protest and the experiment would never have been tried. I had several talks with the teachers and they entered into the new scheme with enthusiasm. The children in these rooms were encouraged to do a great deal of oral composition. They reported on books that they had read, on incidents which they had seen, on visits that they had made. They told the stories of movies that they had attended and they made up romances on the spur of the moment. . . . At the end of eight months I took a stenographer and went into every fourth-grade room in the city. . . . The contrast was remarkable. In the traditional fourth grades when I asked children to tell me what they had been reading, they were hesitant, embarrassed, and diffident. In one fourth grade I could not find a single child who would admit that he had committed the sin of reading. I did not have a single volunteer, and when I tried to draft them, the children stood up, shook their heads, and sat down again. In the four experimental fourth grades the children fairly fought for a chance to tell me what they had been reading. The hour closed, in each case, with a dozen hands waving in the air and little faces crestfallen, because we had not gotten around to hear what they had to tell.


For some years I had noted that the effect of the early introduction of arithmetic had been to dull and almost chloroform the child's reasoning faculties. There was a certain problem which I tried out, not once but a hundred times, in grades six, seven, and eight. Here is the problem: "If I can walk a hundred yards in a minute [and I can], how many miles can I walk in an hour, keeping up the same rate of speed?" In nineteen cases out of twenty the answer given me would be six thousand, and if I beamed approval and smiled, the class settled back, well satisfied. But if I should happen to say, "I see. That means that I could walk from here to San Francisco and back in an hour" there would invariably be a laugh and the children would look foolish. I, therefore, told the teachers of these experimental rooms that I would expect them to give the children much practice in estimating heights, lengths, areas, distances, and the like. At the end of a year of this kind of work, I visited the experimental room which had had a combination of third- and fourth-grade children, who now were fourth and fifth graders. I drew on the board a rough map of the western end of Lake Ontario, the eastern end of Lake Erie, and the Niagara River. . . . I then labeled three spots along the river with the letters "Q," "NF," and "B." They identified Niagara Falls and Buffalo without any difficulty, but were puzzled by the "Q." . . . I finally told them that it was Queenstown. . . . I then made the statement that in 1680, when white men had first seen the falls, the falls were 2500 feet lower down than they are at present. I then asked them at what rate the falls were retreating upstream. These children, who had had no formal arithmetic for a year but who had been given practice in thinking, told me that it was 250 years since white men had first seen the falls and that, therefore, the falls were retreating upstream at the rate of ten feet a year. I then remarked that science had decided that the falls had originally started at Queenstown, and, indicating that Queenstown was now ten miles down the river, I asked them how many years the falls had been retreating. They told me that if it had taken the falls 250 years to retreat about a half mile, it would be at the rate of 500 years to the mile, or 5000 years for the retreat from Queenstown. The map had been drawn so as to show the distance from Niagara Falls to Buffalo as approximately twice the distance from Queenstown to Niagara Falls. Then I asked these children whether they had any idea how long it would be before the falls would retreat to Buffalo and drain the lake. They told me that it would not happen for another ten thousand years. I asked them how they got that and they told me that the map indicated that it was twenty miles from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, or thereabouts, and that this was twice the distance from Queenstown to Niagara Falls! It so happened that a few days after this incident I was visiting a large New England city with five of my brother superintendents. Our host was interested in my description of this incident and suggested that I try the same problem on a fifth grade in one of his schools. With the other superintendents as audience, I stood before an advanced fifth grade in what was known as the Demonstration School, the school used for practice teaching and to which visitors were always sent. . . . Mr. Benezet: [Draws the same map on the board] . . . People who have studied this carefully tell us that once upon a time the [Niagara F]alls were at Queenstown. . . . Now, when white men first saw the falls in 1680 [placing this date on the board], the falls were further down the river than they are now, and it is estimated that since that time they have moved back upstream about 2500 feet. Now how long ago was it that white men first saw the falls? Child: Four hundred years. Another child: Two hundred years. Third child: Three hundred years. Guesses range anywhere between 110 years and 450 years. One boy says it was about the time that Columbus sailed to America; another says that it was about the time of the Pilgrims and the Puritans. Mr. B.: Well, how are we going to find out? General bewilderment for a while. Finally: Child: Take 1930 and subtract it from 1680. Mr. B.: Fine. He writes on the blackboard: 1680 1930 Mr. B.: Now take a look and tell me how many years that was. See if you can tell me before we subtract it, figure by figure. It [should] be noted that not one child called attention to the wrong position of the two sets of figures. They guess 350 years, 200 years, 400 years. Mr. B.: Well, let's subtract it figure by figure. Child: Zero from 0 equals 0. Three from 8 equals 5. Nine from 6 equals 3. Three hundred fifty years is the answer. Mr. B.: How many think that 350 years is right? About two-thirds of the hands go up. Finally two or three think that it is wrong. Mr. B.: All right, correct it. Child: It should have been 9 from 16 equals 7. Mr. Benezet thereupon puts down 750 for the answer. When he asks how many in the room agree that this is right, practically every hand is raised. By this time the local superintendent was pacing the door at the rear of the room and throwing up his hands in dismay at this showing on the part of his prize pupils. After a time, as Mr. Benezet looks a little puzzled, the children gradually become a little puzzled also. One little girl, Elsie Miller, finally comes to the board, reverses the figures, subtracts, and says the answer is 250 years. Mr. B.: All right. If the falls have retreated 2500 feet in 250 years, how many feet a year have the falls moved upstream? Child: Two feet. Mr. Benezet registers complete satisfaction and asks how many in the class agree. Practically the whole class put hands up again. Mr. B.: Well, has anyone a different answer? Child: Eight feet. Another child: Twenty feet. Finally Elsie Miller again gets up, and says the answer is ten feet. Mr. B.: What? Ten feet? (Registering great surprise) The class, at this, bursts into a roar of laughter. Elsie Miller sticks to her answer, and is invited by Mr. Benezet to come up and prove it. He says that it seems queer that Elsie is so obstinate when everyone is against her. She finally proves her point, and Mr. Benezet admits to the class that all the rest were wrong. Mr. B.: Now, what fraction of a mile is it that the falls have retreated during the last 250 years? Children guess 3/2, 3/4, 2/3, 1/20, 7/8 - everything except 1/2. The bell for dismissal rings and the session is over.


As with what we have heard from the Moores concerning reading (Raymond & Dorothy Moore, Better Late Than Early), so with arithmetic: children who are raised in literature-rich and intellectually-stimulating environments, even without formal instruction in reading or formal instruction in arithmetic, can "catch up" and, actually, surpass their heavily-practiced peers in a very short time indeed.

Writes Benezet:
One of our high school teachers was working for her master's degree at Boston University and as part of her work [Professor Guy Wilson of Boston University] assigned her the task of giving tests in arithmetic to 200 sixth grade children in the Manchester schools. . . . Half of them had had no arithmetic until beginning the sixth grade and the other half had had it throughout the course, beginning with the [second half of third grade]. In the earlier tests the traditionally trained people excelled, as was to be expected, for the tests involved not reasoning but simply the manipulation of the four fundamental processes. By the middle of April, however, all the classes were practically on a par and when the last test was given in June, it was one of the experimental groups that led the city. In other words these children, by avoiding the early drill on combinations, tables, and that sort of thing, had been able, in one year, to attain the level of accomplishment which the traditionally taught children had reached after three and one-half years of arithmetical drill.

brought a big wide grin to my face!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

from Commissioner Moretz's newsletter

"Pray for the Congress. Planning continues as we await the visitation of the Holy Spirit of God in this Mission Kaleidoscope Congress. There will be thousands attending so get your registration in now and continue your finance planning and pray daily for the historical event of demonstration, worship and celebration of what God is doing in the Eastern Territory."

Mission Kaleidoscope Congress 2007
The USA Eastern Territory will gather for our first Congress since 1996!
Dates: June 8-10, 2007
Place: Hershey, Pennsylvania
Online registration and housing information will be on the USA East website in October!


Monday, October 16, 2006


Wow, it's been a while since my last post about our vacation. Here's the next leg of our trip (and there are pictures at the end).

After we left Riga, we headed to London. The trip was an adventure all in itself.

We left Riga at 6:00 p.m. with no problem and had a three-hour layover in Stockholm. That ended up being longer because our plane was delayed, but Peter and I were able to run around the small waiting area of the airport while Evelyn and the older kids played games. When we finally made it to London, we discovered that there had been some kind of incident at one of the other airports and so planes were diverted to Stansted, where we were. That meant that the lines for passport control were much longer than usual. Unfortunately, the airport was not prepared for this and only had two people working at the non-EU desk. We watched as people quickly passed through the well-staffed EU line, but Peter was asleep at this point and Evelyn was able to sit with him in a corner. Then midnight arrived and half of the staff went home! We were left with one person at the desk checking passports. But finally, once the EU line was nearly gone, they shifted more people to our line and we finally made it through. What was funny was that our passport stamp was actually one day later than we arrived! We made it to our hotel at 1:30 a.m. and settled down for a good night's rest.

The next morning, we headed to Chislehurst, a town around a 20 minute train ride from London. We stayed there the rest of our time in England at a Salvation Army conference center where they house UK officers who are coming from or going to appointments overseas. It was a lovely large house, and the apartment they let us use had three bedrooms, a large living room, and a full kitchen with washing machine. It was a home away from home, where we could eat a nice breakfast before we headed into London, and then cook a big supper after we returned at the end of the day. And it was only a three minute walk from the train station, so it was a wonderful base for our five days in London.

After we unpacked a bit at the house, we headed back into London for the afternoon. We decided to visit the British Meseum, where there are so many wonders of the world to see. The even had children's guide books you could take that walked you through the collection based on different themes, such as "traveling in Time" and "Hunting for Dragons." Elizabeth had a blast looking at the different artifacts spanning centuries and from around the world. Chris found his own areas of interest, and Peter had a great time with me pointing and saying over and over and over again, "Daddy, what's that?"

The next day, Peter was sick, so Evelyn spend the day at home with him while Chris, Elizabeth and I went to more museums. We started at the Natural History Museum, where Elizabeth was fascinated with the various gems and minerals on display. Chris loved the interactive display on volcanoes, and especially the earthquake exhibit where you stood in a room during a simulated earthquake. We wished Peter had been there to see the dinosaur exhibit, especially the lifelike t-rex that moved and roared at you. From there, we headed next door to the Science Museum, which they found even more interesting. There was so much to see, and we only had two hours left to explore. They spent most of the time in the section that showed about genes and human biology, which had lots of interactive activities and displays that were fun to play around with. They were disappointed when closing time came and they had to head back.

Then next day, Saturday, we felt that Peter was well enough go out, so we took the train and headed to one of the great tourist highlights: The Salvation Army Supplies and Purchasing Department. We couldn't resist the chance to check out some Army books and music. From there, we went to the Imperial War Museum, which was far more impressive than the name makes it sound. They had a moving exhibit on how World War II affected the children of Great Britain. They also had a children's activity about camouflage, and Elizabeth colored a picture which they hung near the activity area. The program leader said that after it was taken down, it would be put into the museum archives, so her artwork has already made it into a famous museum! The activity of the day was beginning to wear on Peter, so we decided to head back to the house.

On Sunday, we decided to let Peter have more time to rest so he and Evelyn spend the day together at the house while the kids and I went into London for the day. We attended church at the Regent Hall Corps. It was interesting to attend a large corps with so many uniformed Salvationists and a big band, but it was Harvest Sunday, so they had a guest band and guest speaker, so we didn't get the full flavour of the corps. After church, we took the Tube to the Museum of London, where they were having a special program that day featuring soldiers and armor from the time when England was occupied by the Romans. Since Chris has an interest in things from that time period, we decided to check it out. After that, it was time for something to satisfy one of Elizabeth's literary interests: a visit to 221B Baker Street, home of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. Elizabeth loves the Holmes mysteries and so took great joy in exploring the Sherlock Holmes Museum. It was actually a bit cheesy, with rooms displaying the "bed" of Sherlock Holmes, wax figures portraying scenes from different stories and a guy dressed up as Dr. Watson, but Elizabeth has such a genuine sense of wonder about life that she ate it all up.

From there, we went to Trefalgar Square, one of the famous meeting points in the heart of London. It was crowded with people, but it felt more like a festival than a mob scene. Chris and Elizabeth even climbed up the base of Nelson's Column to stand at the feet of the huge lions. We stopped into the National Gallery, were they had a special exhibit of "Modern Masters" called "from Manet to Picasso." It was incredible to see so many paintings that I have seen reproduced in books, on calendars and coffee mugs. I am a big fan of Monet, and they had about 12 of his works, so I was in heaven. Chris and Elizabeth were more interested in the art from the 13th century, so we took some of that in before heading back to the apartment for the night.

On Monday, Peter was feeling much more like his old self, so the whole family got on the train to enjoy our final day in London. We started off at The Salvation Army's International Headquarters. It was exciting to see the newly-built facility, and we felt right at home when we saw the shield in Estonian on the revolving door leading into the building. Commissioner William Francis had arranged for someone to give us a tour of the building, so we had a real insiders view of this impressive building. Next, the family spoiled me by taking me to the Twinings Tea Shop, which had so many different teas that you don't find in most other places. They even have bins with individual bags of a wide variety of their teas, so I was able to fill a plastic bag with many exotic teas without buying a whole box of each. I could have ended my time in London there.

But we didn't. We headed across town and at the Underground station split up, with me, Elizabeth and Peter going to the Science Museum and Evelyn and Chris going across the street to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Elizabeth and Peter had a blast in the hands-on exhibit area, exploring electricity, machines, bubbles, sound and a bunch of other activities geared for younger ones. At V&A, Evelyn and Chris saw a lot of interesting art, and Chris especially loved the exhibit of samurai armor.

We finished the day by indulging in American junk food that we can't get in Estonia: we had dinner at KFC and desert at Ben & Jerry's. We really love Estonian food, but there is still something about grease and high fat content that we can't let go of ;-)

On Tuesday, after 2 1/2 hours riding a train, then the Underground, then another Underground, then another train, we finally made it to the airport, where we headed off for the next stretch of our vacation.

Below are a few pictures from the trip. Go to this link for lots more.

Our weary travelers at the airport in London at around 1 a.m. Peter had been asleep for several hours at this point, and was not disturbed by any of the activity around him! Posted by Picasa

Exploring artifacts from ancient Egypt at the British Museum. Posted by Picasa

With a triceratops at the Natural History Museum. Posted by Picasa

Even in the Science Museum, Chris and Elizabeth found a way to play video games! Posted by Picasa

"Potato Pete" with Chris and Elizabeth at the Imperial War Museum. Posted by Picasa

Elizabeth was able to chat with Dr. Watson at the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Posted by Picasa

Chris and Elizabeth with Dr Watson's toilet. They had everything at this musuem! Posted by Picasa

Elizabeth is shocked to witness a murder at the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Posted by Picasa

Peter enjoys a hands-on electricity exhibit at the Science Museum. Posted by Picasa

Chris with samauri armor at the Victoria & Albert museum. Posted by Picasa

Our happy travelers revived at the conclusion of our stay in London. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 14, 2006

see a video of an Estonian man speaking Estonian in Estonia!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Concerned about a loved one?

Monday, October 09, 2006

making myself homesick


Wouldn't this be a perfect thing to do for Columbus Day? And buy a pumpkin somewhere along the way!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Vacation in Latvia

As promised, here is the first installment of the tale of our vacation.

We started by traveling to Latvia on Saturday, 16 September. But this almost didn't happen on schedule because our Citroen van was in the shop and the mechanic wasn't sure if he would have it ready in time. He was able to fix the biggest problem (a major leak in the cooling system which made the van undrivable), but not the problem that causes the battery to lose power overnight, and we had a new problem that the cable you use to pop the hood open from inside the car had snapped. But the car was still drivable and that's all that mattered. I could deal with the other problems by each night when I parked the van standing in front of it and pulling hard on what remains of the cable to pop the hood. Then I could disconnect the battery so that it wouldn't die and I could start it in the morning. Inconvenient, but not the end of the world.

On our way to Latvia, we stopped in the Estonian seaside city of Pärnu for lunch, where we had our last taste of good Estonian food for two weeks.

From there we headed to Riga, where we stayed with our friend Major Evie Diaz. She was even kind enough to let us take over her apartment while she stayed upstairs with some friends! We enjoyed the chance to spend time with her and to relax and do things at our own pace.

On Sunday, we went with Evie to the Riga 1 Corps, which gave us a nice view of the Army in Latvia (which has been growing stedily since the Army first arrived). Elizabeth even made a new friend, a young girl named Bethan who is from the UK and whose family are missionaries in Latvia. From there we had a nice Latvian meal (the key to Latvian cooking seems to be shredding the meat into little bits, shaping it into various forms, and then cooking it) and Evie gave us our first look at Old Town Riga, which is nicely preserved much like Tallinn.

The next day, we set off on our own in the morning exploring Riga's old town. In the afternoon, we met up with Elizabeth's new friend Bethan and her family at the Riga zoo. It was a nice zoo with a variety of animals, and not as run down as many zoos built in the Soviet era. The kids especially enjoyed the bears, which would sit up and beg so that people would throw them food. And near a large playground they had peacocks roaming free, which fascinated Peter.

The next day we decided to see some of the rest of Latvia, and I picked a few places in the south to explore. I didn't plan on getting lost, or some serious road construction, so it took much longer than expected, but when we finally reached the city of Bauska the pay-off was worth it. There is an old Livonian Order castle there which is partially in ruins and partially restored, and it is a very impressive sight. It sits high on a hill at the meeting point of two rivers, and you can see why they would choose that location to defend their ground. The kids loved exploring the ruins and looking down from the top of the castle.

From there we went to Rundale Palace, a restored baroque palace that sits on a sprawling area of well-kept trees and gardens. After walking around outside a bit we decide that it might be too much for Peter to go inside, so we headed back to Riga for another relaxing evening.

On the last day, we spent the morning in Riga, where Evelyn and Chris visited The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, which gives a moving picture of the country during Soviet times. From there, we had another nice Latvian meal with Evie before she drove us to the airport for the next leg of our trip.

It was really nice to get to know our Southern neighbor, and I have a feeling we will visit there again.

Following are some pictures of the trip. For lots more, go to http://picasaweb.google.com/EvTimClark/LatviaVacationPictures
Elizabeth and Peter having fun on a sculpture of a horse in a park in Riga.

Peter looking at the hippo at the Riga Zoo.

Peter was fascinated by the peacocks that wandered around the zoo.

The bears would raise their arms and beg for food at the zoo.
 Posted by Picasa
The ruins of the inner courtyard at Bauska Castle.

A view of the entryway to Bauska Castle, which is set high on a hill.

Elizabeth with a rock sculpture she found in Old Town Riga.

Chris and Peter having fun at a playground next to where we stayed.
 Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 02, 2006

for Auntie

Sunday, October 01, 2006

We returned from our vacation this afternoon, and there is no place like home! But we had a wonderful time and I will plan to write about it and post lots of pictures over the next few days. The following are a few to give you a taste of what is ahead. Above are our happy travellers during a break one day. (Remember, you can click on the pictures for a larger view.) Posted by Picasa

Elizabeth, Peter and Chris climb the steps inside of a ruined castle in southern Latvia. The castle dates back to the 1300s and was fascinating to explore. Posted by Picasa

One of the walls of the castle ruins. We climbed to the very top, where you can see the viewing platform on the upper right. Posted by Picasa

Chris talks to a Roman centurian about his armor and the occupation of Britian at the Museum of London. Posted by Picasa

Elizabeth tries to decode the Magna Carta in the British Museum. Posted by Picasa

Chris, Peter and Elizabeth in front of some of the towering ruins in the Roman Forum. Posted by Picasa

In front of St. Peter's Bassilica in Vatacan City. Above Chris's head is the porch where the Pope gives his messages. Posted by Picasa

Rome or Roam?

When I was little, I thought the words to this song were:

Grand state of Maine
Proudly we sing
To tell your glories to the land
To shout your praises till the echoes ring
Should fate unkind
Send us to ROME
The scent of your fragrant pines
The tang of your salty sea
Will call us home....

Of course, the line is "send us to ROAM" -- but we really have just returned from a trip to Rome!

It is sooooo good to be HOME in Estonia, but I still hear the siren call of another home.