It was not an easy decision for the whole family
to stay longer than the planned year
Janice shared her very personal experience with depression and acceptance of a new, long term life in Estonia. "It was very difficult for me to accept it. I had come here as a missionary, a good person but I just wanted to send the kids to school and hide under the blankets." When asked what made the transition so difficult, Janice explained: "It was a combination I think. Of course language, not being able to speak to people, because I love people! But I'm also a person who loves to make a home and invite people into my home. We lived in a two bedroom apartment with seven people at the time so I couldn't invite people in. I couldn't do what my talent was, be who I was." For Linden and at least four of the kids, the transition was much easier. Linden recollected that for him the time was "such a good adventure that the material hardships and all of the societal changes were not much of consequence." The kids, with the exception of their oldest daughter, "were getting along fine at school, they had friends and that was no problem."
Now, after twenty years, Janis and Linden's family has had a great deal of success in Estonia. Janice and Linden both have their own non-profit projects: "Light in the City
", a support service for young women and "Light in the Forrest
", a Christian family camp and event center near Elva. Both they, and all of their children speak Estonian. Two of their sons are part of the well-known Daniel Levi Band
When asked what advise they would give to foreigners visiting Estonia, Linden pleaded that 'folks' coming here keep the promises they made to locals. "A lot of times visitors make well-intentioned promises but they go back to America and get back into their busy routines and their promises go by the wayside. Don't make promises you can't keep!"
As I was leaving, I asked one last question (although I had so many more) as Linden was escorting me to the door. "How long ago did you move into this house?" Linden told me how they moved in on Christmas Eve in 1999 and said, "There wasn't much under the tree that year, but there was a lot around the tree" referring to his whole family and the happiness and excitement of their warm new home just outside of Tartu.