Friday, 30 December 2011

Fri. December 30, 2011

We went down to the bank once again to try and open our a/c so that we have the required amount of euros in it in order to apply for residency.  You only get to stay three months on your "retiree" visa, so time is running out for us to get that started. Basically they want to see something with your name and address on it like a utility bill or a lease agreement etc.  This time we thought we had it made because Pres. Charles went with us and since he has the power of attorney for the Church in Greece and he had the lease agreement showing that the apartment connected to the Mission Office was for the sole purpose of housing two missionaries that he could vouch for us.  No, they wouldn't budge - whatever we produced for them HAD to have our name on it and a Greek address.  Anyway, the man who handles cases like ours was on holidays so we couldn't have done it today even if we had the right papers - but I'm glad Pres. Charles could see what we have been up against.  He has an idea of something we could try, so that's going to be the next thing!!

The most exciting thing to happen finally surfaced today.  One of our favorite couples has just learned that they are released immediately to go home  -  until  -  the end of June, when they return as the new Mission President and wife.  They are just so nice and we are so glad that he will be our next President.  We have occasionally mused over who might be the next President.  Not all Presidents are as nice as Pres. Freestone, so we are VERY fortunate that we are going to have them.  We are excited.  It's a three-year term.

Thurs. Dec. 29 2011

Supposed to be preparation day.  We did a bit of shopping and came back to the mission office and went straight to work.  President Charles finalized the transfers and then the calls began to go out.  The Assts. were scrambling once again to get all "their ducks in a row" so to speak.  They are very good at making all the arrangements and fitting everything together - I don't know how they keep it all straight!  I had to put in the Supplies Order so I gathered together the requests sent in to be filled for January and then you check the shelves to see how much you have left and place your order accordingly. While doing that, I enlisted Brent's help and we did an inventory of the Book of Mormon stock.  We have stock of them in 33 languages.  It took me all afternoon (counting interruptions) to get all the information ready to do the order  and you have to put the language code on every item that you order.  It was a long day.

Wed. December 28, 2011

A hectic day with all the meetings and the buzz about transfers coming up i.e. who goes where and who are the new Assts. to the President  it's a lot of fun!  The current Assts. have been spending a lot of time here working out all the moves and correlating them with transportation - it's big job.  The next few days are going to be extra busy because it is both "month end" and "year end" for reports etc.  It's also the time for supply orders etc. to be submitted.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Tues. December 27, 2011

Elder and Sis. Collier left early and picked up the young sisters and headed back to Thessaloniki.  I was sad to see them go - they are so nice and we had so much fun!

What a slow day, after all the planned activities of the past few days we feel a let-down for sure - and so tired feeling.  I can't believe it - we really didn't do much of anything so why do we feel this tired!!!


Mon. December 26,2011

An activity day for all missionaries and we all met at Halandri building which is a small meeting house with a gym.  The first thing on the agenda was the "Nerf" guns wars!!  It took ages to get started as there were diagrams to study of the layout of where the action was to take place.  Then teams were formed (and the inevitable "practicing" with the guns had to happen).  Then instructions and rules were explained.  Actually the elders had done a pretty good job - it seem to copy some video games that I've seen in the past - you have a target or goal to achieve and you have an opposing side "inside the building.")  So a series of these games took place and then we had a late lunch and that was followed by three DVDs - "Kung Fu Panda" - "Car's II"  and "Tangled."   It was really fun and I don't care if I see another DVD for a while!!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Sun. December 25, 2011

We attended a one hour sacrament meeting at Halandri Branch.  It was a musical sacrament meeting with only a short comment from the 1st Counsellor and singing the hymns and carols was really sweet and enjoyable.  It was good that all the missionaries (some of those posted in the Athens area and all that came down from Thessaloniki) attended because there were only about 7 of the Branch members that came - our dear members have such a hard time with their families because of their choice to join the church, so they feel obligated to spend time with their families on occasions such as this.  The Orthodox church is so imbedded in their lives that it makes missionary work very difficult.  We see a softening though - probably because of the troubles they have been experiencing they are being humbled.  Anyway, after that meeting - we dashed back here to cook up 15 kilos of green beans to take down to the Acropoli Branch by 1:00 p.m. where we expected to feed anywhere between 70 - 125 people.  Acropoli is the CES Young Adult Branch and there are a lot of needy people there, so they were invited to come for Christmas dinner and bring their friends.  In the end we fed about 75, plus the missionaries.  That was done and cleaned up by around 3:30 and by then most of the "guests" gone - then  about 15-20 missionaries and senior couples went out the front of the church facility, (the facility is in the middle of a row of establishments, all one building - and looks quite ordinary from the small entrance, but the church has done it's magic inside and it is a very nice "meeting house, on four floors) and into the cold, and sang carols to passers-by for about 45 mins. (not me though - I was freezing and stood just inside the door and watched (wimpy me!).   Then we all went "home" - but, because we were hosting a sr. couple from Thessaloniki, the fun continued.  The Assts. came by to make their Christmas Skype/phone calls and Elder & Sis. Collier got our their Nerf guns (yes, that's what I said!) and practiced using them because tomorrow we (missionaries) are all to go to Halandri branch and watch some appropriate moves (Tangled,I think is one of them 😜)  and then. all who have Nerf guns (and there are quite a few missionaries that do have them!!) will participate in a Nerf gun "war."  Should be crazy!

So you see, we are not wanting for things to do - not to mention the fun and love that is very evident among us all. However, our Christmas would have been very sad if it wasn't for Skype.

Sat. December 24, 2011

It's so nice having Elder and Sis. Collier stay here with us - being this time of year, it would be pretty dull and lonely without them as everything has been winding down and even the e-mails (from which a lot of my work is derived) have stopped coming.

It's still bitterly cold.  The rain has let up, but the wind is from the NE and is very strong.  As well as not having insulation in the office complex, it is very drafty. Brrrr!

All the missionaries gathered at Acropoli Branch in the afternoon where we had a training meeting, presented by Pres. & Sis. Charles.  It was very uplifting - it was meant to encourage and enthuse and it worked.  They are wonderful.  Then the "junior" missionaries set to and provided sandwiches etc. for everyone.  Some had bought "Nerf" guns and things got a little wild for a bit.  They said they were practicing for Monday!!  On Monday we have a fun day at Halandri building and part of it is slated to be a"Nerf" gun war!   After that, we had games and "mission" presents were handed out. One was the DVD ("Greece: A Zion's Land") that was made here in the mission and was sent to the parents earlier, and another was a temple recommend holder which has a photo of the Acropolis on it and text saying "Greece Athens Mission  -  In the Footsteps of Paul" - it is really nice.

Everyone is allowed phone calls to family and that is starting to happen now so excitement is high!

Fri. December 23, 2011

The weather is still nasty.  Although we couldn't see it because of the clouds, it was snowing up on the mountains behind us.  We are REALLY cold.

Our missionaries from Thessaloniki were supposed to arrive about 3:00 pm.  We were still waiting for them at 5:00 pm.  They finally arrived at 5:30 pm.   The traffic in Athens was soooo bad and they had a couple of wrong turns, it took that long.

The President took us all out to supper at the "Three Pigs"  (that's not really it's name, but the real name is so hard to say and because of the picture of a pig that they have on their sign outside, that's what they call it).  There was eight of us and we had a really good time.  I had chicken souvlaki which they served with fries and they were sooo good (big and soft and well cooked - not this and dry and crispy).  I think Brent had something like a shwarma , but he said it was nowhere near as good as "Jimmies" in Calgary.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Thurs. December 22, 2011

Wow!  It's Sunday now and I'm playing catch-up as we've so busy with Christmas stuff, I've had to let this go.

Thursday - early in the morning, things bean with a thunder and lightning storm and then rain, rain, rain!  I've never seen so much rain that has lasted so heavy and so long.  Brent actually took me and bought some boots for me - an early Christmas present :)

We did quite a bit of shopping actually and trying to get to the stores was a challenge - although, it's always a challenge trying to get anywhere here, but it was even a little bit worse.  You play Russian roulette with the rest of them or you don't make it!  As were have missionaries coming down from Thessaloniki to stay here with us, we needed to stock up on food.  We were kept running in the office too - the President had a bunch of things that needed to be done -  some missionaries phoned in to see how much money they had left on their debit cards - most of the church stuff was required earlier in the week, so that was good to have that done.

We had a really neat Skype visit with Kay today - it was her birthday yesterday.  It is so marvelous that we can connect across the miles so easily.   That was a special little chat.


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Wed. December 21, 2011

Our usual busy Wednesday.  Meetings began at 10 am. and we didn't finish until 7:30 p.m.  We didn't have to attend every one of those meetings, but we were still "on deck" for whatever needs there were - so I never plan to get much of my work done on Wednesdays.

Before our meetings started we had a visit with the man who caretaker for the absent owners and he is totally Greek.  I have never heard anyone spit out worlds as quickly as that man and he has no English so he bring a nice young Russian guy with him who speaks Russian, Greek and English (sort of) to interpret!  It's hoot - this little guy goes on and on (I don't know how he breaths) and, like most Greeks, he sounded like he was angry when they get excited, but he wasn't - he was just trying to explain that some money that he should have received hasn't come to his bank.It got all cleared up in the end and he went away happy.

Tues. December 20, 2011

Just another office day, but I got my stitches out later in the day.  It feels much better, but still tender.

Went out to the airport to pick Pres. & Charles.  Their plane landed five minutes late, but they didn't appear until 35 minutes after that.  We think it must have been the extra holiday traffic and maybe they were being more thorough in customs.  However, it's always very interesting crowd watching and the time passed quickly.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Mon. December 19, 2011

It's pouring like crazy today - the first rain we had since we've been here.  I had another dental appointment and when we came out the roads coming down the hills were awash.  I only had little flat shoes on and the water seemed to be running about two inches deep and fast.  Brent was parked across the little road and I was walking up and down, looking for a spot that was free enough of water to get across.  With little cars speeding up this “lane,” splashing all over the place it was a challenge.  I finally back-tracked a bit and found one spot – not clear of water, but good enough to get across!!  With all that going on it was still 15C!!  The joys of Athens.

It was pretty quiet in the office today.  I guess the rain kept normal activities low key, but the little postal delivery trucks - Greece Post, DHL & FedEx all came with parcels - among which were mine!!!  I was so grateful to get a present from Rick & Renee and the boys and from Brenda (with a warm sweater and skirt that I had left behind, some hockey pucks for Brent's "hockey Game" which he has made and other important stuff).  It was great!


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sun. December 18, 2011

It was interesting at church.  Brent and I arrived a bit stress regarding our speaking assignment, but ready for it nevertheless.  As the announcements were made (in Greek) we didn't think we heard our names called to be speakers - so we just sat there and waited to see what would happen.  Sure enough when the time came a sister went up and gave a super talk, while we settled back and de-stressed and enjoyed her talk.  I thought we had avoided the "bullet" but they discovered their mistake after and now Brent is re-signed to speak in January!!

It only got up to 15C. today!

Sat. December 17, 2011

A full day!  Out to do grocery shopping at 8:00 am.  Drove the President and family to the airport in the early afternoon.  Did a spot of shopping and then we cooked 10 kilos of frozen corn and took it down to  Acropoli building for the combined Christmas party for Halandri and Acropoli Branches.  It was very well attended - about 80 members/friends. The food was a joint effort between Branches and missionaries, but missionaries served the members which was fun.  Couldn't converse very much with them, but hand-signing works OK too.  We didn't stay as late as the others because we had talks to get ready for tomorrow.  We took a cab home and the driver only drove cabs in the winter because he was a tour bus guide in the summer and claimed he knew everything about Athens and proceeded to demonstrate that on the way home - I believe him.  He was very good and interesting and it was a fun ride.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Friday December 16, 2011

It's raining!  The President is going to Cyprus tomorrow and he came over here this morning with two huge suitcases to load up all the Christmas packages and mail that has accumulated here for those missionaries.  There will be some happy missionaries!!

Freestones came over again and gave us more help in getting the "Christmas" mail out.  I'm sure glad that's finished.  Later the Zone Leaders came up - the President had given them permission to use the computer and copier to work on the Dec. 26th fun project that all the missionaries will be taking part in.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Thurs. December 15, 2011

Brent had some wood delivered today with which to make that hockey game - he was moaning about the cost of the wood (he wanted fir plywood and the guy just looked at him and pointed to what they had - Brent didn't recognize it - thought it might be a maple!) and I told him that it would be his gift to the missionaries!!  So now has this little project to keep him occupied "in his spare time"!!

We received our first Christmas card today - it was a thrill.  I am beginning to feel a little sad about being so far away from dear familiar faces and family.  I can handle it though.

Another missionary called in today to say he had lost his bank card.  The missionaries each had a bank card and fund are deposited into their accounts each month, so losing your bank card is not good!  He'll be waiting about two weeks before he gets a replacement card!

Wed.December 14, 2011

I spent half the day stuffing envelopes with the special DVD "In Paul's Footstep" (produced by the mission here) to send to former missionaries (Oct. 2009 up to the current batch).  Usually, I have help on Wednesdays because all the couple come in to attend meetings.  Some of the meetings only involve the husbands and that leaves their wives free to help me  -  but we didn't have any meetings scheduled today as the President was away.

I learned how the position of Asst. to the President works here in our mission today.  When I served, back in 1961/62, in that mission (and I assumed all other missions) the Assts. were chosen about halfway through the time that they served, and finished their mission as an Asst.  Here, the Assts. are chosen this way  -  usually, one is released and one is kept in, so that continuity is maintained  -  but they only serve for two transfers.  I guess that gives more elders a chance to have that experience.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Tues. December 13, 2011

President Charles had given me a list of flights that he wanted booked for the coming year.  I've done one or two since I got here, but  this involved 14 bookings and you do it online - and that's the part that makes me nervous.  However, Aegean Airlines had a special on for bookings in 2012 at 20% off, so that was a really good thing.  I got it done without any errors, I think.

I now have a sore mouth.  Had a gun realignment which resulted in 9 stitches. Hopefully, we are coming close to the end of this dental work!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Mon. December 12, 2011

Yea!  The man came to fix the copier this morning.  Why did we have to wait so long?  Well, we first report  to the "physical facilities" people in Germany (where most everything is run from for us in Europe) and they then have to instigate the call to the copier company in Athens to do the job - but it's fixed now so we're happy.

Slowly, but surely, I'm getting a handle on the computer programs - but - not without help from some very special people (to whom I am so profusely grateful).  I've found that having my laptop along side is very helpful too because I already had a lot of stuff on it that I use - especially graphics!

Pres. & Sis. Charles' daughters and families are here visiting at the moment from England and we had a nice chat with them when they came to see the office.  They were off to the Plaka - the tourist area near the Acropolis - with all kinds of advice and warning and stories about pickpocketers etc.  I notice that whenever that kind of a conversation comes up, Greek folk are quick to point out that it's not the Greeks, but the foreigners and aliens that are the culprits - they're probably right too.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Sun. December 11, 2011

Brent taught the lesson on Exultation in Priesthood/RS today and it was excellent.  He has such a knack for teaching.  Julianna was there today, but not Ioannis - I hope everything is OK. Julianna had a Temple Recommend interview which went well.  She is so excited.  It was pot-luck after meetings today.  Not many were there.  Karampoulas' were away - also Dolly and Heidi - also the Spanish sister and husband - in fact only about 15 adults + children were at potluck.  The Maxwells were there - first Sunday in Athens as they came over on the 8th.  They spent a couple of days with the Christensens and got here in time to spend a day with the "D's" (who flew out Sat. morning).  Things are always changing.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Sat. December 10, 2011

It's been two months since we entered the MTC.  One of our couples went home today, but a new couple came out to Cyprus on Tuesday - so it balances out.  We are really going to miss the Dracocardos' - they were so nice and full of fun.

Taled to both Jani and Rick today on Skype.  It is lovely to have that ability.  We are doing great here, but we sure miss everyone at home.

Fri. December 9, 2011

Well, we finally got the first 36 DVDs in the mail.  It took us about an hour at the post office to first, line up - about 10 minutes to get the stamps - the lady had to count out  from a long ribbon of stamps two different denominations - then we had to go to the table to "dip" the stamps on the sponge and affix two stamps to each package.  Then you line up again to give them to the lady.  Every country does things differently and it's fascinating to see.  We were going to try and do a bit of shopping in two stores nearby, but the traffic was so bad and there were no parking spots - so we didn't!   As I've said before the place is full of little cars - Smart cars are very popular here - you see them everywhere.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Thurs. December 8, 2011

It was supposed to be Prep Day, but we are so far behind because of the computer problems, we are continuing to try and get the Mission DVD gift sent to the parents of our missionaries.  The DVD is the easy part - it took some time to get the card made, but we had to"adjust" the envelopes into which the DVD's are being sent.  We had taken a DVD down to the store and matched it up perfectly with the DVD  -  too perfectly it turned out, as the bubble pack inside the envelope took up more room than appeared on the outside (at the stores the envelopes were sealed in packs of five, so you couldn't "try them out" so to speak).  One of the missionaries had kindly addresses the envelopes, so we had to use them.  So, Brent did the "adjusting" by slitting open the one side and easing a little bit more room on the other side by easing it apart a tiny bit and that worked - it was very snug though - so then we taped up the open side and hopefully they'll get to the parents OK!

I had to got in too the dentist today (not the specialist) to have what I thought was a bit of cleaning up of the bridge.  It turned out that the tooth that got the root canal had a fracture in it and in order to strengthen it enough she put a post in it.  She did lots of digging around the gum and the mouth is really sore.  Now I have to go to a periodontist to have work done on the gum there so that they can put an extended crown on what's left of that tooth.  Fun! fun!  All this dental work was not part of the plan for my activity in Greece!

On a bright note!   The weather is amazing when compared to what we've been hearing about in Calgary!

Wed. December 7, 2011

We had a huge thunder and lightning storm here today with tons of rain, but it didn't last very long.  It's the first real rain we've seen since we got here!

We had our usual busy Wednesday, with lots of meetings and lots of people here.  It's fun, but it's hard to get one's work done!

The "bump" for today was that I decided to delete a name from our mail distribution list and it deleted the whole list!!!  Went to the help button to see what could be done about it and learned from Microsoft that they were aware of that problem and that they were working on it!!  Then came the problem of restoring that list.  It was nowhere to be found and so I had to make a new list.   The secret for doing that eluded us completely.  We went to bed hoping that the morning would bring light to the problem!  It seems like that computer program "has it in" for us.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Tues. December 6,2011

One of our young missionaries sisters is nearing the end of her mission and when that time arrives, the sisters meet with Sis. Charles (Pres. Charles' wife) and they go over plans for their life after their mission here is completed.  Usually, it focuses on going to university and what scholarships are available etc.  Meanwhile, I am the recipient of her companion's help.  That was super.  She helped by preparing envelopes in which to send a DVD made by our mission - and about our mission - to the parents of our current missionaries.  It is nice to have a one-on-one visit with these sisters as you learn a lot more about them and their families - they are such sweet girls.

Had the usual bumps in our day.  I needed to do "cards" to put in with the DVDs basically wishing all a Merry Christmas.  Since I had some cards in label form which were just a nice size, I decided to use that method - BUT - the big copier is still out of order and the small printer that we have wouldn't handle the card type "paper."  I then reasoned that I could just produce the text with a little graphic (Christmas Tree) using "Word" columns and just print it on the ordinary labels and then stick them onto a card.  "Word" wouldn't cooperated - some kind of incompatibility with text and graphic  -  sooo - I grabbed my laptop and used Adobe Indesign which does turn out such a product and got that part done.  It was about 10pm by this time.  We plugged the laptop into the printer and - you guessed it - it needed me to download the where-with-all to make it work from my laptop.  Enter, my lifeline - Davey on Skype!  I am so grateful for all the times he's freed me from difficulties.  Even here, there's no one like Davey to help.  So, with his help we finished up - about 11:30pm!!!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Mon. December 5, 2011

I received photos of Rick's kids playing in the snow!  They had a big storm there and left everything sparkling white.  I feel a bit guilty as we have lovely blue skies and a high of about 17C.  -  not too guilty though!!

Another day of "stretching and growing" - learning new things and learning to cope with problems.  That's what it's all about though, isn't it?  I keep thinking that we'll "get it" one day and be able to just relax and fly through everything - maybe that's just a dream. However, we know we are being helped in so many ways - it's very humbling.  There are fun times too - with Christmas nearing, we are preparing to send out little gifts to the parents of the missionaries and are making plans for our missionaries to have a wonderful time at Christmas.  Brent is doing his best to make that "hockey game" that Garnet came up with too!!  (in his spare time!!!)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sun. December 4, 2011

Meetings were great today.  President & Sister Charles were present (which is a rarity as they always seem to be traveling) and a new 2nd Counsellor in the Mission Presidency was sustained - President Marvin Smith - because of the "D.s" going home.  Also, Halandri Branch received a new counsellor - Bro. Hicks from the U.S. Embassy.  There were wonderful testimonies - some happy and some sad because of the "D's" going home.  Julianna, who is really close to them share her testimony and her thanks for the Andros' and the "D's" who have done so much for her.  Ioannis also shared his testimony along with little Pablos.  "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas🎧  " - parties being announced and the Christmas schedule for the missionaries' fun time being set out - maybe it's time to start getting excited!  The AP's returned here tonight after an extended trip to Thessaloniki and Cyprus attending Conferences and doing training.  It was great to see them again as we had a lot of questions pile up to ask them!!  Poor elders, but they are so helpful to us.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Sat. Dec. 3, 2011

In the afternoon, we drove over to the Mission Home and collected Pres. & Sis Charles and drove downtown (the President drove!! - wild horses wouldn't get Brent driving down there yet) where we had a celebration for the Dracocardos' this afternoon/evening at 4pm (which included the senior couples in this area) as the "D's" are on their last week here.  It was actually hosted by the CES couple who head up  things at the Acropoli Branch which is located right downtown opposite "Hadrian's Gate."  It was a lovely meal - Honey-Orange Chicken over rice, green bean with cream of mushroom and toasted almonds (the beans, courtesy of Brent),  homemade rolls - then for dessert, Sis. Freestone made a cake.  She said it was a cake mix which she doctored - can't remember all the details except, while it was still warm, she make small holes in the cake with a fork and poured Eagle Brand Condensed milk all over it!!!  and topped it with whipped cream, long shredded coconut and walnuts.  The texture was soft and fluffy, not unlike and angel food cake, but moister.  It was soooo good.  The meal part included short congratulatory comments from the other five couple at the gathering. Then a bit of a recess until 7pm, during which time Brent & I went to the "Plaka" - which is the name given to two little lanes close to the Acroploi Branch building (right in the center of the tourist area) that are chock-full of tiny little tourist shops. There we bought a bunch of little things to send home to the g-kids.  We got back to the branch in time for the Young Adult meeting where the "D"'s gave their farewell talks to them.  They were very good and that was followed by an activity - decorating for Christmas.  They put up the tree and strung lights on the tree and around the room - some of us painted little decorations for the tree and some cut out designs with which to made snowflake decorations and poinsettia decorations (I did that).  There were about 7/8 caucasian kids and about the same number of blacks mostly Nigerians.  It was a fun evening for us, except Pres. Charles was tied up with interviews most of the time.  He was really tired after all of that.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Fri. Dec. 2, 2011

We heard Ken and Carolyn Pierson (Brent's "best man" and called to Russia CES) will probably be at a CES conference in Turkey soon.  So near and yet so far - it would be great to see them.

It was a really busy day in the office.  I had airline tickets to book - one of the jobs I'm not too comfortable with yet and there was lots of typing to do.  One of the jobs that take a lot of time is answering questions from missionaries which usually turn in a series of other actions before they are solved, but it all works out.  Brent had a particularly tough day - it seemed like everything he touched came to a dead-end because it required an answer from someone before he could continue, and the answers weren't coming!  That tries his patience "big time" - plus, the copier "died" and we REALLY need it to be functional.  Fortunately we have a little one, but it's no good for big jobs.  Just another day at the office!!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Thurs. December 1, 2011

Wow!  Time is flying.

There were demonstration and strikes downtown today, involving four or five different organizations.  Among other things, transportation and schools were shut down.  Crazy!

Pres. & Sis Charles were here around 7:00am to take the elder who was leaving and Elder Stevens to the airport.  It was our Prep Day, however, we had Elder Stevens with us as he would not be going back to his area until this evening.  We had to go to the office supplies store - Plaisio, and it was a great thing to have Elder S. along.  Although most of the employees speak some English, it is still difficult to make oneself understood at times - so he was able to effectively help the process of our shopping and we got through much quicker.  Later, we dropped him off at the Mission Home as I had a hair appointment - had a perm done.  It was a different process than I am used to in a lot of little ways.  They give you a robe to wear and the usual cape was just a big piece of soft plastic.  The usual protector towel around the neck was just paper towel, but they treat you like a princess in that I didn't have to hand him the papers.  He said that getting your hair done should be a pleasant, relaxing experience!!!  When he got all the curlers on and had put the solution on, usually a plastic bonnet put over the curls firmly to help make the curls set - here, it was get out a roll of saran wrap and wrap the head!  When it came time for the neutralizer - I am used to having it poured onto the curls from a bottle, but his method was to pat it on the curls with a sponge - I think it was foamy.  In the end, it was a good perm - maybe not a tight as I usually get it, but I am grateful to have it done.  While I was getting that done, they gave Brent a haircut - good thing too, because he hasn't been able to hear me of late!

On the way back to the office, we were to pick up Elder Stevens from the Mission Home.  We went in and found Sister Charles struggling with a newsletter in which she had imported three pictures and the newsletter just WOULDN'T send.  After a long hassle, we discovered that she had retrieved the pictures from two different files and her PC didn't like that.  Of course, being the Mac lover, that I am, I took the opportunity how much easier it would have been on a Mac!!!  Eeeek!  I'd better watch my P's & Q's!

Back at the Office, we had another call from Demosthenes.  We have been trying to hook him up with Elder Loynes (who is a really good elder and speaks good Greek, but "D's" phone must not be a good one because he said he had called Elder L. but it didn't work!!)  Elder Loynes came up here to take Elder Stevens back to his area and thankfully, was able to speak to "D" on the land-line, who wanted to receive a copy of the Pearl of Great Price.  So hopefully, tonight , that will get done.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Wed. November 30, 2011

Now that I've got the dates right!  let's continue.

The President is back and meetings are on again and it's the last day of the month - BUT - we did accomplish a lot.  We had quite a few elders here today, as one was returning to the UK and that meant another elder was without a companion so he and two other elders were around most of the day.  The helped put up the Christmas tree and fortunately, one of them had served as an Asst. to the President and knew quite a bit about the office work and was able to guide Brent through a couple of things that he was unsure of - one being the Car Report.  They were so helpful - really made our day better..  There is a nasty flu bug going around in Cyprus - one of the elders had to be hospitalized for dehydration.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Tues. November 29, 2011

It was lovely to received an email from Bro. Wayne Eng today.  The sad part was that he and I-Hue were here in Athens and we didn't connect.  I had neglected to let them know that we had left for our mission!!  My apologies to them and anyone else I hadn't told.  Everything happened so quickly after the visas came through - order and common sense "went out the window."

It's end of month time, and perhaps the busiest time of the month for us - so today was one of those days.  Checking out the phone bill to see where the extras charges were generated, reconcile bank balances with receipts, filling orders, reporting baptisms and statistics, etc.   Then, at 6:00 p.m. we went to pick up Pres. & Sis. Charles from the airport.  It was like what we call rush hour on the roads (I actually don't think "rush hour" exists here, maybe until 10:00pm it feels like rush hour) anyway, Brent missed a turn-off and it took us 35 minutes+ to get to a spot where we could turn around and we finally got on the right road with about 10 minutes to get to the airport which was a 20 minute trip from that point!!!  The road to the airport is a toll/freeway and, at times Brent was doing 140km!!!  Can you imagine him doing that speed!  The interesting part was that cars were still passing us!!  We made it and because they were waiting for us outside, we needed to take that road instead of the road to parking.  He got on the wrong road and had to go all the way around while they stood and waited.  We were mortified.  Needless to say, Brent asked Pres. C. if he wouldn't mind driving home!!

November 28, 2011

Our Monday was going along fine until around 2:30 we received a call from the Specialist (dentist) asking could we come in "now" - we went in got there about 3:00 and for the next 4 hour I was in the chair, with my mouth propped open most of the time.  They did a root canal on that back tooth and they don't do as much drilling, but more poking and sanitizing (that must have taken about an hour in itself) but the also don't give you much freezing and by about the halfway mark, it had worn off.  Thankfully they gave me more after they saw my tears.  It hurt sooo bad and I didn't know if I was to just hang in there wondering if that's was all the freezing they expected I should need!!  We got home here about 8:00pm.  But the amazing news is that it only cost 400 euros!  I am so thankful that's all over.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

November 27, 2011

Today was a better day - thankfully.

I was asked to teach the Sunday School lesson on Dec. 11 and also learned that Elder Clark and I are on a schedule to speak at Sacrament meeting on the 18th!!

Julianna was at church today.  The Andros' worked with her a lot and even finished up her TemplePrep. classes just before they went home and are now worried that her trip to the Temple won't go through.  She tried for a visa to go the the London Temple with the Dracocardos' (who are going to be released Dec. 10th), but was turned down because of her job situation here.  They felt that she was trying to get over to Britain so she could stay there because she has not paying job here.  She is one of the ones that actually works at a place in hoped of being paid, but only get a token amount, maybe once every two months!!  Now, she'll probably just go to the Frankfurt Temple and Dracocardos' will fly there to be with her.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

November 26, 2011

Not a good day.  I woke up about 4am with that terrible tooth pain again.  The dentist did work on it last Monday and up until today there was only minor pain to deal with.  She did put me on antibiotics and I phoned her today to see if there was anything better than Advil to take for the pain - it was REALLY bad.  She told us to something I'd never heard of.  Brent got it and I checked it out on the net before I took any of it and learned that it should not be taken while taking Amoxil which, of course, is the antibiotic that i am on!  Tried to get her back, but, no go.  Fortunately the pain reduced somewhat during the day.  I have an appointment with the specialist for Friday next, and on Monday, I'll try to get it moved up.  I guess it was one of those "difficult days" that we were warned would happen on occasion.  Added to that, almost "everyone" was in Cyprus - so we were kind of alone - but "it'll work out."


November 25, 2011

Can't believe it's a month to Christmas!!

Brent took twice as long getting the mail today - Christmas parcels have begun to arrive for the missionaries.  It is lucky that the Mission Counsellors are flying to Cyprus tomorrow for District Conference - they already have about a suitcase of supplies to take over and now they've got parcels to go too.  Then, the AP's called saying that they had forgotten to take someone's coat, so that is now added to the pile!!  We had many requests from the missionaries over there for someone to bring them warmer clothes - I guess it's not just Athens that get cooler.  The big thing for those missionaries to remember is that what they now have coming over, they have to be able to bring it all back when they fly back here!!!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

November 24, 2011

Today was "preparation day" and also American Thanksgiving.  We have three American couples in the Athens area and we got together at the Freestone's for a turkey dinner (mid-afternoon).  It was really good - very traditional with turkey, stuffing and gravy - mashed potatoes - sweet potatoes and my contribution, which was the zucchini-tomato-onion-chesse dish - and all the trimmings.  Dessert was, of course, pumpkin pie - but they also had banana cream pie and someone brought some little danishes.  The company was a hoot and a good time was had by all.

We are still trying to get our papers in to start the proceedings for our residency permit.  We have to get our bank a/c set up here with the money in it and part of that was to get the police to sign a document to the effect that we live at "this address."  We got that  and so off we went - however, the bank tells us -  that piece of paper only tells them that the police are only verifying our signatures - not that we live at this address!  So now we are armed with the right forms to do this, but the President has to sign the one form and he won't be back until Tuesday evening.  It's no wonder it takes so long to get anything done here.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

November 23, 2011

Another busy day.  The Counsellor to Pres. C. (he is a "sr. couple missionary) and his wife came in to do some work.  He actually helped Brent a lot with a problem on rent and utilities.  There is a new tax levied on rents and it is a complicated thing with trying to find out who get refunded and how much - and trying to appease the loser on the deal!!  In the end, it seems that the owners get the refund and the renters have to pay a bit more!!!  This is Greece!  Two of the Zone Leaders were also in to try and get processed for being able to drive.  Not many missionaries drive as public transportation is so good here and driving is insane, but sometimes it becomes necessary for the Zone Leader to drive (especially when the Assistants are away with the President at Conferences for a week.)  That meant, he had to get the video "Drive Safely - Missionary Training" and watch it and then we were supposed to have him fill out and sign a form, but, we couldn't find the form ANYWHERE!  So, that part didn't get done and hopefully we'll get an answer to "where is that form?" by tomorrow!!

We are also getting really busy with "end of month" jobs.  Orders were a big thing today.  The Cyprus elders sent in a big order which I had to fill from our supply room stat in order to give it to the Counsellor to take over to Cyprus on Saturday - and another big order for the Acropoli Branch elders - then there was the tag order (missionary badge)  which is very exacting in that their names are written in Greek which is hard in and of itself, but there is the problem of knowing if they want the "e" in their name to look like epsilon "ϵ" or ita "η" - and whether the "o" is to be an omicron "o" or an omega "ω."  Another variable is if they want the tag to be a clip on type, or a pocket type (which just slides over the top of their shirt or suit pocket), or and magnet type.  Great fun!

November 22, 2011

Very busy today.  There were a bunch of meetings this morning - the facilities manager for Hungary, Greece, Cyprus was here and Pres. C. had to leave here about 1pm to fly to Cyprus for and week of interviews and District Conf. etc.  -  so, with trying to fit things in, it was really humming around here with all the traffic that meetings bring!

I hate to say this, with you guys having such cold weather at home, but it has been really nice here the last few days - sun shining and highs around 16C.   I haven't felt as cold - still wearing multi layers though.

I had to get antibiotics for my tooth problem and tried to get them yesterday, but pharmacies were on strike (today, teacher are on strike!).  There was supposed to be one pharmacy in this whole area open, but we couldn't find it - so we went first thing this morning to the one near us and was able to get the Amoxill - it only cost about $5.00!!!

November 21,2011

Not a particularly good day.  Woke last night with a major toothache.  It happened that a back tooth which had a crown on it and which also, was the anchor for a bridge, had decay under the crown and needed a root canal the dentist said.  She has referred me to a specialist to do that, but meanwhile she managed to get into the affected area and clean it up and the pain is much less than it was, sooo, I'm OK to last out until Dec. 2nd for my next appointment.  It was a short day for my tasks to get done as we were gone at the dentist's all afternoon!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

November 20, 2011

We've been hearing about the cold in Calgary!!  I know plus 15C. sounds balmy, but I have to tell you - I am still freezing.  It is mostly lack of insulation and humidity.  Yesterday, I had four tops and leotards on trying to stay warm! They do have hot-water heating, but it's been very windy and the system just doesn't seem to be up to snuff.

We went off to meetings by ourselves this mornine, but we didn't get lost today - things are looking up!  It was Primary Presentation - in English - because only one out the six children was Greek - the rest were from the U.S. Embassy.  It was really sweet and they knew their parts well.  After, they had cookies which their leaders made there. The whole building smelled yummy!   During the afternoon, a fellow called, who has been calling quite a bit to ask questions.  He is somewhat handicapped and lives with his mother and we are pretty sure she has stopped some of our packages that he requested by sent to him.  Because of her and because of his handicap and ailments he can't come out, but phones and we try to help him.  It is a sad case, but he sounds like a really nice person and is very interested in learning what he can about the church this way.

November 19, 2011

First time doing our grocery shopping on our own.  We've been enough times with Elder and Sis. A. that we are basically familiar with the store and the common items that we generally buy.  Most of it can be done by looking at the pictures on the labels.  Did take the wrong turn on the way home though - we just turned around and went back the way we came until we recognized a few things and got back on track that way!!

Pres. & Sis. Charles and the Asst. Elders took off driving to Thessaloniki (about a 6 hour drive) today.  They'll be back Monday night.  It sure is quiet around here!  The Zone Leaders in Cyprus tried to call us with an order, but the connection was so bad, we ended up texting.  Still, I wasn't able to make myself understood - one is from Switzerland and the other is from Denmark. We'll try tomorrow.  We received a call from a sister in New York, trying to find out the area code for Trapeze!!!  They don't have very many phone books here and when they do, you might or might not find your name in them (this is Greece!).  Trapeze is in a beautiful area, on the coast of the Gulf of Corinth and has only around 250 residents, so it doesn't has its own area code.  We finally worked it out on the net by the "state" that it is in.  She was really happy for the help - she's serving a mission in the Manhattan Temple. Never a dull moment!

Friday, 18 November 2011

November 18, 2011

Because of Zone Conference yesterday, it was supposed to be Preparation Day today, but we had a couple of meetings on any way.  The one we attended was the "Couples Meeting" which happens quarterly.  It was held at the Mission Home and 7 couple were there.  The two couple at Cyprus didn't come. President Freestone (Counsellor to the Mission Pres.) gave a presentation on Adam-ondi-Ahman.  He actually lives two and a half miles from there and, although he was Stake Pres. of Liberty Stake (which area it is in) he had no jurisdiction of it - it comes under the jurisdiction of the First Presidency.  He talked about some prophesies concerning it and also told us about missionaries that serve there.  They are only couples and it is all work related, i.e. the Elders look after some of the farming and gardening and they do have some livestock, but a good part of the land is leased to farmers in the area and they have very definite parameters to follow (they are not to farm on Sundays, etc.).  The sisters do record extraction among other things.  They did over 100,000 names last year.  Pres. F. said they are the only missionaries in the world that have badges with gold lettering!!  We asked him "why?" and he answered, "They put in a request, and it was granted"!  After that, a nice luncheon was served and pictures were taken and we left.  By the way, if any of you are interested to see and read the mission blog, go on Google and enter "Greece Athens Mission Blog" and it will come up as "Charles' Blog" - but there is another Charles blog that you could by mistake.

Elder still having trouble making the computer work for him.  He has to get used to understanding what some of the messages mean as he interprets them incorrectly a lot of times and that takes him where he doesn't want to go and very quickly he's looking for an axe to take care of the situation!!!  He's improving though 😊

Thursday, 17 November 2011

November 17, 2011

It was Zone Conference today, which is an all day affair, and we were allowed to stay at the office - both to try and catch up on our work and to drive two elders to the airport to go to Cyprus.  Mid-morning, we received a call from an elder in Cyprus - he had lost his debit card!  Every missionary has such a card as their funds are placed in their a/c each month.  He thought he left it in the ATM last Monday!  That meant quite a bit of action from us to rectify the situation amongst which was calling Salt Lake to have them cancel the card - begin the process to issue a new card - and find out if the elder needed money in the meantime - in which case, the powers that be would arrange to have money deposited into his companion's a/c.  All new ground for us at this point, but this is how we learn.

After lunch, we took the two Cyprus bound elders to the airport.  There tickets had been purchased on-line, so they just had to check in when they got there.  At that point, Elder Baret asked if I had broth the itinerary?  Another learning point!  I hadn't!  - but, we found out that all he had to do was to put his passport in the machine and it spat out his ticket.  I was never so glad for technology!  The other thing that I fell short in was that I had forgotten my cell pone (I am supposed to have it with me where ever I go!!

I will be so glad when I have done some of my jobs more times, as I haven't been able to go through some of the big jobs without having to read up on how to do them and that makes things twice as long.  I was faced such a job today.  It should have been easy enough to match receipts with the statement, but about a quarters of the receipts were missing, so I had to chase after them as well as read up on "how to" instructions.

November 16, 2011

Elder Clark and I had to go with the lawyer, Stella, to get clearance for TB, part of the requirements to get our residency permit to stay here until 2013. We have been tested in the past and the results have always been very positive - 30 cm swelling which was hard/tight and painful for about two weeks - so we didn't want to do that again.  We have on our medical report notation from our doctor to that effect so we were hoping that we could find the doctor that Stella had dealt with before because she felt  that we might be able to avoid that test if we could talk to her.  First we had to get an X-ray.

Here's Elder Clark's version of it - "We met Stella at Morousi station and traveled by bus to the hospital site, got our X-Rays and went to the next place to wait for the Doctor. 1 hour and a particularly officious (miserable) supervisor, later Stella said lets go over to the Hospital -  where the exact doctor that we were looking for walked out of one door and headed to her consultation room with half a dozen other doctors.  She told us to get our X-Rays and meet her later.  1 hour later she emerged from her meeting and directed us back to the area where Mrs. Nasty was, but we just waited and soon the doctor turned up and took us right in to her office. She worked for at least half an hour on our applications and based on what she and the radiologist saw, we were given clearance and were issued certificates on the spot.  We didn’t have to take the tests and don’t have to go back on Friday.  Yes we felt the special help for sure – Stella kept saying “Oh you are so lucky” at each stopping place"!!!

Now, here's my take on it - When I went in to the room to have the X-ray done, I was looking for a little dressing cubicle!  No such thing!  Just had to strip there in front of the technician and when I was done, and trying to dress, the next person was ushered in for her X-ray!!!   I was thinking – oh well, that person doesn’t know who I am and I’ll likely never see her again.  Not the most comforting situation for me.   Yes, Stella was so sweet and yes, she did keep repeating how lucky we were – she just couldn’t believe it.  I tried to tell her that I felt we were REALLY blessed – but I don’t think she “got it.”  So now the pressure is off for them.   All being well from now on, they’ll not have to worry about meeting the deadline for submitting the papers for our residency.

Because of the Zone Conference tomorrow, missionaries and a sr. couple came down from Thessaloniki so we had three more sisters and Elder and Sister Collier (from England) staying upstairs with us.  The elders that came stayed downstairs and we didn't see much of them as they are pretty self-sufficient down there - but, Brent and I were "on deck" for the cooking!  It was fun though - they are such nice people and visiting was a hoot.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

November 15,2011

It's rainy and stormy again today, although the wind is not quite as strong - still feels very cold to me.  I guess it's the humidity!

We met our two new missionaries this morning.  They came in at 9:00am - the same flight that we arrived on.  The poor kids looked stunned - just like we felt when we came.  Pres. C. did interviews with them and then it was our turn to "process" them.  We have a list of documents, plus pictures that we must obtain - so that takes a while.  Then Pres. C. and Sis. C. and the Assts. take them for lunch - yes, to the "3 Pigs" (that really isn't the name of the restaurant, but because there is a picture of pigs on the outside of the restaurant, and because the real name is hard to say, we all call it the "3 Pigs"!)  Both of these missionaries are from Germany, but I think Elder Demeyere was originally French.  They spent 9 weeks in the M.T.C. and could speak English quite well before they came on their mission.  The trainer-companion to Sis. Rumbach was here last night and the T/C to Elder Demeyere came this afternoon, so when supper time came around we were feeding all four of them.  After supper, it is the "custom" that new missionaries go tracking!!!!  They did - and it was cold.  However, the sisters were only gone about a half hour, when they were back and out of breath.  As they were walking, not too far from the mission office, two young guys in dark attire, jumped over a very high wall right behind them.  Sis. Braaksma said they seemed to be as surprised to see them as they were to see them.  She said the one guy looked at her as if to say "Oh no, we've been spotted"!  Anyway, she told her companion, "Run"!!  and they did and made it back safely.  Who knows what those guys were up to, but, just up the hill from where this occurred, there is always a car parked there with two security guards in it (with guns), so those guys were taking a chance it would seem!


November 14, 2011

What a day!    It was transfer day and departure day for the Androses and two elders. First, we were up at 3:00am to see the Androses off (we were thinking of going to the airport, but thought better of it) – then President and missionaries came and were everywhere - you could hardly move in the office!  Elder Mossner and Elder Stulen were the ones going home , and others who were transferring made up the rest of the group (it was a zoo for a while).  A bit later,  Elder Mortinsen came with his family (he went home last year) and President & Sis. Charles took them to “3 pigs” (a favorite restaurant of President Charles').  During that time somewhere, Elder & Sis Freestone came by and so we had to help them for a bit.   Later in the day, they went and picked up   Sis. Braaksma,  (a young missionary who was getting a new companion from the M.T.C. to train) and she stayed here  We made up a beef stew in the slow cooker – it was perfect for the day as it was probably the worst rainy/blowy day we’ve had up to now.  As we were finishing supper (around 7pm, I’d guess), suddenly, Elders Woodger & Deeley (Assts to the President) came rushing in full steam ahead and very focused – All flights out of Lanarca, Cyprus had been cancelled earlier and about six missionaries who were in the process of transferring to another area were unaccounted for!  Rumors were that a bus had taken them to Paphos and Elder Wodger was on the phone trying to get information from the airlines, (without success) and in the end, he  called a member and asked if he would pick up a set of Elders and take them to the airport (in Pathos, I think) and just look around and see if they see anyone!!  Meanwhile, Elder Deeley was on the other phone trying to get airline information.  While all this was in progress, President came over here for something and was totally unaware of the situation – so he also, jumped into the fray.  He loves his missionaries so much and you could see how concerned he was for them.  Elder Woodger already had a plan in mind for transferring missionaries to have a “travelling phones” – it is such a worry when you can’t reach your missionaries.  By 9:30pm all missionaries were accounted for.  So that is one day in the life of the office missionary!!


November 13, 2011

At church, it  was kind of sad today as the focus was on Elder and Sister Andros' departure (next day). and the weather is awful - blowing like crazy and definitely not "going around you, just straight through you"!   They have pot-luck lunch twice a month and this was one of them.  It was fairly good - I tried a little moussaka just to see if it tasted better than what we have tried at home.  I don't know if it was the "real McCoy"  or if it was a variation, but liked the one that we had at Santorini's in Calgary better.

There is a tradition for departing missionaries - it is a gathering on Mars Hill where those departing share their testimony and sing the mission song.  Normally, it is a pleasant and very special little gathering, but, the weather had not improved and it was a touch and go decision as to have it there or not.  In the end, it was held there because the majority ruled and the majority were young missionaries, whose blood runs well and cold doesn't seem to affect them!!  The wind was brutal and even made hearing what was said difficult.  I had to think that "the pioneers" must have gone through similar circumstances, or worse, and they didn't have a warm place to go at night.

Monday, 14 November 2011

November 12, 2011

We had an interesting evening downtown at the Acropoli Branch this evening.  This is the young single adult center and a CES (Church Education Center) as well where they not only have meeting, but have a very strong emphasis on socialization. We met in what they probably call a games room. They served two kinds of soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and squares.  The directors there took the opportunity of the Androses leaving and scheduled them to speak to the young adults.  They gave a couple of really good talks, encouraging them that the gospel will help them through the rough times here in Greece.  Then Brent & I were called on to introduce ourselves, which we did in short order - the emphasis on short!

A storm blew in and it rained a little bit, but the wind was blowing sooo hard that the rain was going sideways.- - and we were freezing!

November 11, 2011

Nothing of great interest occurred for us today.  Elder and Sister Andrus were at a "Departing  Missionary" luncheon and a special meeting at the Mission Home.  We pressed forward with the work in the office with the aid of many notes we had taken and found it was a great opportunity to fill in blanks where our notes were lacking information.

One thing we did notice - or rather - did not notice - was any Remembrance Day ceremonies - BUT - Greece did get an interim Prime Minister and generally, the Greeks we spoke to were very hopeful and quite positive about it

Thursday, 10 November 2011

November 10, 2011 more photos

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The temple of Poseidon

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Charlie & Snarley

November 10, 2011 photos

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Elder & Sister Andros and myself at the temple of Poseidon site

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Facing away from the temple site


November 10, 2011

It's been a month today since we entered the MTC - so technically, that means we have served one month of our mission!

It's Preparation Day and began with a trip to the temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. Wikipedia says,   "Cape Sounion is a promontory located 69 kilometres (43 mi) SSE of Athens, at the southern most tip of the Attica peninsula in Greece.  Cape Sounion is noted as the site of ruins of an ancient Greek temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea in classical mythology. The remains are perched on the headland, surrounded on three sides by the sea ."  The drive down was wonderful, once we left the city - open road and only a few cars to deal with.  We went through a couple of pretty towns - lots of palm trees (they look different fromCalifornia and Florida palm trees - they are very full at the top and lower to the ground.  These towns had quite thve touristy feel to them.  We were a bit surprised that the temple of Poseidon site was largely "au naturelles" - a lot of reconstruction and renovations has been going on with the Athens Acropolis and other sites there, but this one is basically untouched.  We did notice on the slopes surrounding the temple that there were groups doing archeological explorations.  We spent about and half hour up there taking in the scenery and the calmness of the area.  The skies were clear and it was lovely in the sunshine enjoying a tremendous view of the sea on all three sides - one big ship cruising by and a couple of smaller boats.  Also up there, we saw a turtle, some partridge that sounded somewhat like wild turkeys, a dear little crocus plant and some odd plant that we had no idea what it was.

Tonight, there was another farewell get together for the Androses!!  (This is fun)  It was held at the Noodle Bar.  There 12 of us and it was Asian food - some Chinese chicken cashew, and Sze chuan type dishes and Thai curry  dishes.  The food was good, but the company was great.  We were 45 minutes late meeting the others at the restaurant because the traffic was awful.  Several times we had to wait for three or more lights before we could get through and intersection.

November 9,2011

Wednesday - meeting and interviews day! and as usual, a busy day around here.  There is a flu bug going around here though, and so two our senior elders came without their wives who are down with it.  That did reduce the "chicken coop" noise level was a little better than usual!  Today, it was our turn for an interview with the President.  Apparently he interviews the seniors quarterly.  It was a very nice visit.  He wanted to know if we had any concerns - were we getting to know the office routine - and was our health good.  Then he gave us advice on not too expect to know everything at the outset - to make sure were take our preparation day (and not work in the office all day).  He pointed out that the whole mission depended upon the efficiency of the office!!! and his opinion was that we would be OK and from what he has seen so far, we would be a good fit for the job. All in all, we went out of there feeling both good that he had such confidence in us, but apprehensive, because we KNOW there's lots to get used to and still stuff that we don't know.  Oh well - we'll do our best.

In the evening we had another invite to supper along with the Androses - especially for a farewell for the Androses who have only 4 more days!  It was at Julianna's.  We set out, using the GPS, but it wouldn't take Julianna's address!!  The traffic was CRAZY as usual. We put in an address close to hers, but it was leading us to a dead end  -  they got that instruction one time before when they were trying to get to her place. We called Julianna, but we couldn't tell her where we were, so that wasn't much help.  All we could do was drive around these narrow (mostly one-way lanes) in the hopes that the Androses would recognize something from their previous trip!  Then we got a call from the other sr. couple that were also invited and they tried to help telling us where to go if we got to the train station in the area!!  Well, we found a land mark - that being a community where the street lights were in the form of stars and Sis. Andros recognized them and all of a sudden we were at Julianna's and the train station was right there too!  The elevator in the building was another of those small ones - 3 only person - and so we opted to go up four flights of stairs!  We were halfway up and the lights went out - it was total blackness - however, Androses knew what was happening!  The lights are on a time switch to save money and only stay on for about 30 seconds!!  We had a very nice meal with her and her sister, during the course of which we learned that they need to find a new apartment because the landlady can't afford the taxes - if you rent out the apartments, the new taxes are greater than the rent income - it's cheaper to leave it than rent it!!  They don't know what they are going to do!  When leaving, we three sisters did take the elevator down without incident.  When our husbands came down the stairs, we had to turn the light switch on for them twice so they could see - then we tried to go out the door - we tried every which-way, but it wouldn't budge.  Finally we called up to Julianna who came down very quickly the keys!!  to let us out!!  Apparently, the doors are locked for both coming in AND going out after 8pm.  Very interesting!  We were assured that once you learn all these things it is easier to get around. Fun, fun!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

November 8, 2011

Elder & Sister Andros went downtown early this morning, met the lawyer, who went with them to plead their case re the driving infraction.  The lawyer did all the talking and they got both Elder Andos' license back and the car registration back and they were out of there in no time!!-   We now have all three mission cars back in service. As a result, we were on our own for most of the morning  - we are spending more and more time handling things on our own now - which is good.  We had a delivery of five big packages for missionaries today - it looks like some parents are getting Christmas parcels to their missionaries early!

In amongst our regular workload today, we had two investigators in need of help!  One was very "down" with his lot in life and just needed to talk.  Sis. Andros finished up giving him a bunch of materials that he could read.  He was very leery of this as he too, is fighting family prejudice re the Mormons.  The other man was in need of us typing a letter - part of his trying to get his citizenship back - but also, he wanted to wish the Androses farewell and he brought some cup-cakes that he had baked and some flowers for Sis Andros.  These people are so nice.

Monday, 7 November 2011

November 7, 2011

Another beautiful day - about 19C. at noon, but I think it's going to cool off.


The Andoses took us downtown to meet the lawyers today.  They wanted us to go on public transport so we would know how it worked.  We took the bus from just outside the mission office to the metro station.  Took the metro to one point, where we had to change trains and then it wasn't very far to the downtown stations.  It was very busy - lots and lots of people everywhere, but the part where the museums and art gallery is was more open and lots of green area and was very attractive.  Once you headed for the built up area it was buildings jammed together and small lanes absolutely filled with small parked cars (parked, half on the sidewalk and half on the road leaving very little room for cars to drive through, but they did anyway).We arrived at the building where the lawyer had their office and there was a huge gate over the entrance and you had to ring to be let in.  Once in, you were face with a two-person elevator (very old and reminded me of "lifts" that were around when I was a child) so Sis. A. and I rode up to the 4th floor and the men took the stairs.  We met the two lawyers who handle of the church's affairs in Greece.  Even though the building was very old, their offices were small, but nice.  They were wonderful and I know they are going to help us out of tight spots while we are here.  Apparently, even if you are really really good here in Greece, you can get into trouble??  There is a lot of misunderstanding and miscommunication between Greeks and foreigners.  We must have met with them about an hour and the whole trip took us about 4 hours - so that's three hours traveling time.  Even at that, Brent thinks it's better than trying to drive and park.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

November 6, 2011

A nice quiet Sunday will lovely sunny skies - still not quite warm enough for me though.  A good day to catch up on email, which I did.

At church meetings the service always seems to be in a mix of Greek and English. They are very efficient at providing translation - mostly you have an ear piece as it is usually in a Greek and English translation, but today, they had a Greek-speaking Frenchman translating at the pulpit into English (so that the missionaries could translate it into Greek) what a Spanigh-speaking man was saying in Spanish so his Spanish-speaking wife could understand!!!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

November 5, 2011 - pictures

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Lucy, Sister Andros, Heidi and Dolly.  These are the three Filipinno sisters with Sis. A. who cooked that lovely meal for us.


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This is Elder Andros standing on the roof of our building.  Gives you a little clue of what our area looks like.

November 5, 2011

Saturdays are fairly quiet.  It is a working day, but we do our grocery shopping at 8am - so we have to be prepared early.  Other than that it is a working day for us.  We do, however, have the cleaning lady come!!!  Yes, we are treated to that once a week.  She is a sweet little thing from Poland, but she only speak Polish and very good Greek, so we have fun trying to communicate - don't really have to do much of that as she is very good and there not much to tell her.

The Assts. to the President come in to do their emails and other things on Saturdays.  Elder and Sister Andros went to their cousins for a late lunch meal, so we were alone again, except for the assistants and we were never so glad they were here when a man called asking how "many sacraments we have in our church"? - so, we just handed the call to one of the elders.  This man is invalid and unable to leave the house and has been in touch with missionaries by phone for some time now.  His family will not tolerate missionaries coming to the house, so any contact has to be instigated by him and he is so in need of love and support in the gospel.  It's very sad - he thinks he is worth nothing because of the way they treat him.  Anyway, the elder told us that what is meant by  sacraments in the Greek Orthodox is baptism, confirmation, communion and other rites.  Elder & Sister Andros came back from their visit with some lovely gifts given them by their relatives - wood carvings of salad spoon and fork with intricate carving of delicate patterns - a wooden napkin holder, also beautifully carved - a lovely carved kitchen type electric clock - and a beautiful Christmas pattern Limoges china cup and saucer. A really nice remembrance for them to take home.  A sad note though, two of the sons had their wages cut today - one by fifty percent and the other by 30 percent - they both work in banks.  Brent said I have to tell you that he walk out the gates and across the road he saw workers harvesting olives from the trees in that little park!! - there they were with little rakes and a tarp doing their thing!  It seems very little goes to waste.

Friday, 4 November 2011

November 4, 2011

More training in the office broken up by a trip to the airport - taking Pres. & Sis Charles and Pres. & Sis Dracocardos who were flying to Rhodes to see one solitary member family there.  They make this visit every three months.

Tonight, three of the Filippino sisters, instead of having us come to one of their homes, brought all the food for a scrumptious dinner here at the mission office - mostly as a goodbye treat for Elder & Sister Andros.  These sisters are so sweet - we understand their living situation is not the best and were probably too embarrassed to have us come there.  They made the most delicious spring rolls, meatballs Greek salad, fried rice, and a fantastic noodle dish.  I also learned a new way to fold napkins!!!   One of the sisters, Heidi, has been in the church here for nearly 20 years and was telling us how they used to do baptisms in the pool at the mission home - but the Greek folk like to have their baptisms done in the sea (until the weather got warmer and then there were many people at the beach and it was not very "spiritual.")  They had 60 missionaries in the mission then.  The other two sisters, Dolly and Lucy, have also been here for quite a while.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

November 3, 2011

Today is "Preparation Day"  our day off during the week in which we can catch up on personal things like clothes washing, emails, get haircuts, shopping etc.  So we did all of that and the shopping part came in the afternoon.

I got my hair cut.  It didn't turn out like it usually does, but we'll see what happens in the morning when I try to do it my way!!  I may have a new hair style!!!  We had to take the draft of a Christmas card to a printing shop - Sis. Andros and I went in to the store together to do it and even though she has reasonable language skills in Greek, it still was a struggle to have a conversation with them regarding what we wanted.  I wonder how I am ever going to manage!!  After that, we went to a mall and then Marks & Spencer and then to a specialty food market where you can get a lot of international food brands - including Cheerios for 8 euros a box!!  It was nice to know that some of your familiar brands were available if you wanted to spend the extra to get them.  It's a curious store - it has three floors with a glass elevator situated away from the walls, more or less in the center of the floor.  Just as well it was glass, because people could see that our elevator was stuck between floors and they were able to alert a helper.  We managed to get out OK, but there were some small children on it that took some convincing that things were going to be alright!!  It was a fun afternoon, but not so much fun for the driver (Brent) who had to negotiate through some of the heaviest traffic we've seen yet.  At one point, when a bus was trying to pass him on a VERY narrow street, his comment was, "I'm glad there wasn't an extra coat of paint on that bus!!!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

November 2, 2011

Wednesday is interview and meetings day for couples around here and it is a zoo!  Things begin with couples arriving at around 8:30 and it's like a busy foyer outside the Stake Offices only nicer.  Couples bring cookies and cake which they did this morning and Brent had already made a banana loaf, so there was lots of visiting and joviality going on - lots of fun, but don't try to get anything important done because you can't concentrate!  One of the meetings is a language training meeting which is great - we NEED it.  I even worked hard on preparing a prayer because last week, they called on the sister that arrived here a few months before us and she couldn't do it - I didn't want to be in that situation - but, guess what! they called on her again, but this time she was ready.  We are improving a very little bit though.

Elder and Sister Andros were gone the whole afternoon which left us to fend for ourselves, but it was very quite and even some of our computers were off-line for about 4 hours - only two were working, so it was just as well that there were not more people needing to get online.

Most all the Greek people we spoke to today are VERY upset about the condition of their country.  I really feel sorry for them.  I really feel that the ordinary Greek person is not to blame much.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

November 1, 2011

We had our first introduction to riding the bus here this morning!  Sometimes it is better to use public transport because the parking is so bad.  On the bus (it was only half the size of our buses) we had to stand, quished together like sardines which was quite worrying as we had been schooled about the dangers of pickpocketers - wallets should be in your shirt pockets and a jacket zipped up - ladies should not have anything in their coat pockets and purses zipped up and the zipped side close to one's body.  They said the pickpocketers are so good you don't even feel it when they lift your wallet etc.  The reason for the bus ride was to go to the HSBC bank and start proceedings to get our money transferred here.  When you enter the bank, you press a button to go in and you are facing another door which automatically opens when the outside door is shut - they had been having a lot of bank robberies, hence their response to that which works pretty well for the most part we are told.  We talk to the banker and found out what documents we had to bring back in order to transfer our money and then were on our way to the bus stop to come home.  We waited about 10 minutes and our bus came - so did passengers, en masse.  We couldn't fit on and then had to wait for the next bus which didn't come for another half-hour - you can only shake your head and say "That's Greece."

We had a very full day being trained - it was a good stretch without hardly any interruptions which is rare, so it was a productive session.  About 5:20pm we left to go to the airport once again to pick up Pres. & Sis Charles returning from Cyprus. It's fun to do that as they always have so much to share about their trip.

We heard that there is to be a referendum tomorrow regarding the debt problem here.  Seems the president is passing the decision off to the people!  There is much speculation about the outcome - will Greece go back to drachma? - will the Greeks agree to deeper austerity measures?? and such like.  Another thought going around for the first time is the possibility of a coup to which Pres. Charles commented, "At that point, we'd all be going home!!  Interesting times!  We've decided to drag our feet a bit re transferring the money until we can see what's going to happen.

Monday, 31 October 2011

October 31, 2011

Halloween, but the only sign of any celebration here was on Google's banner - a cute video - however, a couple of branch members are in the US Embassy and their kids celebrated.

Elder & Sis Andros had an appointment downtown this morning, so we were left to carry on alone in the office!!  It was good as we quickly learned how much we didn't know!!  That was to be expected though and we have a couple of weeks left with them, so things will get better.

We were invited to Elder and Sis. Dracocardos' (another senior couple) for supper tonight.  He is Greek, but grew up in England from his early childhood and married to an English-born sister.  He is a jokester and a lot of fun to be around.  They served roast chicken with roast potatoes and green beans.  It was a breath of home and super delicious.  Dessert looked like a white cake, but it had lemon poured onto it as soon as it came out of the oven I think as it was VERY moist and scrumptious.  They said it was a Greek recipe and I'll get it from them.  Again, Brent was doing the driving today and being a week day, it was much more challenging - but you'd be proud of him - he did OK!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

October 30, 2011

Well, Brent drove the van to church today - actually, it went OK.  Traffic volume is down on Sundays and he managed quite well.  So! no surprises!

The sacrament meeting was in Greek this morning, but we had English translation which worked well.  RS took the form of a Visiting Teacher Conference with some inspiring talks from the president and the visiting teaching leader.  The latter, spoke in English first and after each "paragraph" translated it into Greek.  That was interesting as she spoke very fast and there was no way we could pick up much of it so it was just as well that we got the English first.  Following that, there was a pot-luck lunch.  There are quite a few Philippino sister there and one of them made the best spring rolls.  They also had sausage tools, potato salad, Greek sala and homemade pizza.  For dessert, there was a large chocolate mousse cake!!! and a baked caramel custard.  It was very yummy.

The rest of the day was free time and we study Greek for a bit and Brent caught up on some sleep (he is doing better though).

October 29, 2911

We went out grocery shopping at 7:45am!!  It was in order to get in and out before it was too crowded.  It was "Alpha Beta" pronounced Alpha Veeta.  It was smaller than the one we went to before, but had just about everything you could want.  They have a lot of the brand names that we know.

It was a work day for us and Brent & I received more training.  In the afternoon we went to a baptism at the Halandri building - the only branch that has a baptismal font.  Following that, back at the mission office, we did a few more things and around 7:30pm we drove to the airport to meet President & Sis. Charles who had been in Santorini.  We had to wait quite a while for them, but it was fun just watching people in the airport.  Everyone greets with a kiss to one cheek then the other - Greeks are very outgoing people.  Brent was doing the driving again - he's doing OK, but he doesn't think he is.  Daylight savings time ends here tonight, so we get an extra hour to do things  :)

Friday, 28 October 2011

October 28, 2011

It is Ochi Day in Greece today.  It is "celebrated throughout GreeceCyprus and the Greek communities around the world on October 28 each year, to commemorate Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas' (in power from August 4, 1936, until January 29, 1941) rejection of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on October 28, 1940.  (Wikipedia)  The events of 1940 are commemorated every year with military and student parades. On every anniversary, most public buildings and residences are decorated with Greek flags."  However, the celebrations were called off in Thessaloniki when the crowds began to pelt politicians with eggs!!!  It was a work day for us mostly, but when we went to a dinner invitation to lunch by the Branch President, there was much less traffic, lots of flags and evidence of some celebrating - so I guess not all was cancelled.

Lunch was great.  President and Sis. Dimitris Karampoulas are wonderful folk - so enthusiastic and loving.  The main dish was Pastitsio - it reminded me of Lasagna as it was layers of a special kind of noodle, meat in a sauce with special spices and bechamel was on top.  I had a little serving and it was yummy, but I'm paying the price a little bit now. We also had Spinach pie - looked to me like spinach in phylo pastry - also had a Greek salad, followed by chocolatey dessert - looked like crushed cookies bound together with a chocolate mixture and it was very good.  Lastly, Sis.K. cut up lots of fresh fruit while sat and ate it.  They have a 9 yr-old named Pablos and he played the piano for us.  He speaks fluent English and Greek as they have always had him in English schools.

We had to accompany the elders (assistants to the President) while they went to the airport to pick up a sister coming from Cyprus.  That was fun - meeting her - enjoying the ride - and seeing lots of new things.  Athens seems to be a city of totally built up areas and little streets with cars parked everywhere - it's so hard to find a parking spot anywhere.  We feel that Athenians must own two cars each because there are so many cars!!  and they're all little.  Lots of Smart cars around!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

October 27, 2011 more pictures

Continuing the Acropolis visit -

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The Acropolis from Mars Hill.

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The approach to Mars Hill.

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Mars Hill.  Unfortunately, we didn't get a photo of the area where it is thought the Apostle Paul spoke to the Athenians.  It would be at the left of this photo on a gentle incline.

October 27, 2011 photos

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Hadrian's Gate

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Excavations beneath the floor of the museum


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More of the excavations - the well the villagers drew from.


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Entrance to Odeon of Herodes Atticus

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Seating in the theatre.

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Acropolis from the promenade.


October 27, 2011

Woke up to a strong noisy wind this morning.  It was only gusting to around 50km/hr, but, with the trees being blown around so much, it seemed worse.  Hoevever, the high is supposed to be 18C. which isn't too bad.

It is "preparation day" and so we are not supposed to be working in the office much - just if it's urgent, so, we are did our washing, then Elder & Sis. Andros drove us to "downtown Athens."  Firstly, it seemed to be just a busy bustling city, cars going everywhere, and buildings rushing by.  The road we take goes all the way from Kiffisia to Athens and is called Kiffisia Ave. but changes it's name when you reach the downtown area.  Then we began to notice that there were foreign embassies every now and then along this road.  We reached Hadrian's Gate and I really became aware that I was looking at ancient history - very ancient history!  It is a huge arch which is not totally complete anymore, but what's left is well looked after as are it's surroundings. Next, we went to what the church calls "The Center."  The church acquired premises (three floors) in a building about opposite Hadrian's Gate.  It's a young single adult center and they hold sacrament meetings there also.  On another  floor is a games area with pool table etc. where they have a place to relax and get together (kind of like the Institute facility) and it's real name is the Acropoli Branch.  Then we walked around small streets, full of tiny shops, filled with souvenirs.  Suddenly,  we came to a wide open walkway lined with parks, trees and shrubbery on the one side and the Acropolis Museum and other buildings on the other side - then we saw through the trees, high up a very steep hill, the Acropolis with the Pathenon and other buildings.  Wow, it felt like you were in a dream, looking at some huge TV screen, taking in the view of Athens, but, no, you were really here, with a cool, stiff wind to remind you.  It was wonderful.

We turned from that view to the Museum that was placed in such a way, that being all glass in the front, it mirrored the Acropolis.  A masterful bit of engineering - amazing!   As you walked up to the museum entrance, you walked over glass panels which allowed you to see below, excavations of the ancient city of Athens.  Again,it took your breath away.  You could see the footprint of buildings and a village well and , just to keep it real, somehow a cat had made its way in there and was sunning himself on a ledge!  We didn't go into the museum today as we didn't have enough time to do it justice today, so we'll save that for a later date.  We continued walking down this promenade which was providing various views of the Acropolis as we went and then the Adroses guided us up a path that led to the ruins of the theatre, "The Odeon of Herodes Atticus."   Once again, it was hard to believe what we were looking at.  A lot of it was in ruins, but the seating seemed to be in good repair, but, being marble, I'll bet you needed some kind of cushion!   Then we continued on the path that led up and around to the entrance to the stairs to the Acropolis.  Again, we are leaving that for another day when we can do it justice.  A few hundred yards beyond that is Mars Hill, and we did go there.  It is not very high - you go up about the distance of two flights of stairs and you are then faced with the most breathe-taking view ever.  The only part of Athens that you cannot see is that hidden by the Acropolis immediately behind you.  Athens, close-up, is not generally very attractive, although there are exceptions, but seeing it laid out like that - gently hugging the curves of hills and mountains with a soft light hue over all, it's magnificent.  Then comes another feeling of total awe, as you contemplate that you are really walking where the apostle Paul walked and delivered his famous sermon to the Athenians.  There was an area where there were many rocks and you could really visualize the crowd sitting on these rocks which seemed to surround a central point where he may have stood to speak to them.  It is a very special place.

We headed back to the car, but had to see a couple of little alleyways which were full of these tiny tourist shops.  Elder Andros was looking for some owls that he wanted. After that, as it was getting late and we were hungry, we went to this little place and had chicken soup and toast.  It was homemade and VERY good - especially as we were all cold.  It was a really nice day.

October 26, 2011

No walk today for us.  My hip is still hurting and I thought Brent needed more sleep - he was awake for a couple of hours during the night, but di feel a bit better this morning anyway.

There was a full slate of meetings being held in the President's office today - that results in more traffic in the office with different ones coming in and out for their particular meeting and that also  means answering questions, getting supplies for those who need them and just generally visiting - that doesn't leave much time for regular tasks.  One of the sessions included us - it was language training.  Since we are the "greenies" most of it was way ahead of us, but we have start somewhere!  They called on one sister who has only been here since July to say the opening prayer in Greek and she said she couldn't and someone else came to the rescue, but I made a mental note to write one out and practice it - I don't want to be caught!

Around 5pm, Elder and Sister Andros, Brent and I went shopping.  First they took us to a Staples-like store to pick up memory sticks, white board markers etc. and generally showed us around the store, the areas that we would be making purchases from in the future.  The approach to the store is up a VERY narrow road from which you pull in to a tiny entrance and stop immediately on a downward slope. The driver jumps out and the attendant gets in, drives the car to the left, poisoning it in front of an elevator and the rest of us get out and go into the three story store - our little car then disappears into the elevator.  When you are paying at the check out, that 'sends the signal" for your car to be returned and it arrives very quickly. Then you try to get into the line of traffic.  Even though this road is a very small one-way lane, it was packed.  We asked when rush-hour was over - the answer was "never" and when asked, who has right-of-way in traffic, we were told, whichever car's nose is ahead - even if it is two inches!  Following that we went to a place called "Carrefour" (which, I was told if a French word!!).  It is an indoor  mall complex and situated in the center is this supermarket, much like an oversized Superstore and it is encircled by many small specialty shops.  Different names, but looks like our malls, however, they did have an "H&M" there.  We had fun there - trying to read the labels etc.  We purchased a BBQ'd chicken (just like at Safeway) and on the way home, picked up some fried rice and a noodle dish from an asian noodle house. Got back home around 9pm (the traffic was still crazy) and had our supper.  They told us that many Greek folk don't eat their supper until around 10pm!!!


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

October 25, 2011

For our walk this morning, Andros' took us on a newer route this morning.  It was long and steeper.  After we turned around to come back, it was sooo  steep.  My hip began to hurt - but we made it,

Sis. Andros  spent the day training me on different procedures  -  Booking airline tickets - making up  badges for new missionaries - ordering - applications for Greek residency etc.  We had a lot of missionaries in and out throughout the day, so things were pretty busy.


Tonight we were invited by President and Sister Charles  to dinner at the Mission Home. Every new missionary gets an interview with the President.  It is really a "geting-know-you" affair and was really nice.  They were both raised in England but his parents are Cypriots and hers are Pakistani.  That's it for another day.  (We are still trying to get more pictures - stay tuned!

Monday, 24 October 2011

October 24, 2011

We went walking with Elder and Sister Andros  at 6am today.  It was about 15C. but with the humidity, it felt cool.  It was still dark and hard to see much - we went downhill to the halfway point, turned around and went uphill all the way.  It was a bit of a grind, but we made it.

We had a Zone Conference today  -  not including Cyprus.  There were 26 of us - different ones presented their parts, which included introductions, effective approaches and lessons, scripture study, roll playing and lunch.  One of the other sr, couple presented Brent with a crazy "fire extinguisher" (which he had made - I'll post pictures of it soon).  The meeting began at 10am and lasted until around 6pm - and then it took us about an hour in rush hour traffic to get home so I guess we are initiated now to the worst traffic - which, eventually, Dad will have to negotiate!! The missionaries stayed over again at the Mission Office tonight and will leave early tomorrow morning.  They are so fun!   The experience that I've had in feeding larger groups looks like is going to come in handy!!


Sunday, 23 October 2011

October 23, 2011

Our meeting began at 10am, but Elder Andros had to fill in for the Branch President who was away and had meetings at 9:30.  Another wild and hairy drive to the chapel this time - and it was only Sunday traffic.  The chapel is a small "proper" chapel built by the church and actually has it's own parking lot - however, you have to unlock the gates to get in.  The building is white and inside is scrupulously clean and newish looking.  It felt like and quaint miniature facility.  It had an upstairs as well.  The people are so warm and friendly.  A greeting from the sisters is a "kiss" to one check and then the other accompanied by a big hug.  Most had some English skills and the service was conducted in English - Greek translation provided. The first sister we meet was quite old and had very few front teeth and has been attending for years, but has not been baptized!!  nevertheless, there was the kisses and big hug.  They are so sweet.  There was a young couple from San Francisco doing a cruise of the Greek Islands - their honeymoon. There was an American man from Virginia, working here in an executive position for Ernst-Young, an accounting firm.  He apparently had a large house quite close to the Office and issued an invitation to us to come for a meal when his wife and kids get back from their school vacation! There are about half a dozen Filippinos in the Branch and they are very humble people - usually working as care givers and some of their employers are not the best I'm told.  A lot of "single" type folk - A husband here - a wife there - all people remaining faithful to the church without their spouses.  Most of them fighting discrimination from their families.  The meetings were wonderful.  You could feel the closeness because of the small numbers (about 40 in all today)- everyone knows everybody else and cares about them. There was a really sweet spirit.   We came home and Sis. Andros had planned Haystacks for our meal - so I was able to help really well.  The Andoses were invited to go to a members home later to be with a male member who has been caring for his dying mother - she had just passed away.  This is a great privilege for the Androses as he has not told his family that he has joined the church. The Androses will not be wearing their missionary tags as it could get ugly if they did!    There is a Zone Conference tomorrow for the missionaries and two young sisters are supposed to be coming to sleep over here in the Mission Office.  The Elders will be sleeping downstairs - there is sleeping accommodation for 10/12 down there (I haven't seen that area yet.)