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.)

October 22, 2011

We landed in Athens around 9am.  The airport is quite a ways from the city and it was difficult to get any real feeling of what it was like, so, now we were really looking at signs that we didn't understand.  A lot of them had English translations, but some didn't.  The announcements over the PA system were given so fast, it was difficult to get any clue of what they were about.  We somehow managed to get to the area where you presented your passport which they stamped and then I assumed we would be going to another area where they would check through your bags.  No!  we kept walking and suddenly, we were out amongst "the people" and there was Pres. & Sis. Charles and Br. & Sis Andros!  Oh, it was so good to see them.  Tons of hand shakes an hugs were exchanged.  They are the nicest people.   Sis Charles is a hopeless shutterbug!!  She must taken ten or more pictures of our group at various places just getting to the car!  The drive to the Mission Office circumvented the city area.  The road was 3 lane and high speed, but the drivers were interesting - and then we reached the settled areas and the roads turned into "lanes" and some were so small, they could only provide one-way traffic.  That's when you really saw what Athens drivers were all about.  They switch lanes all over the place, using the horn, but not many using their signal lights.  By the time we reached the Mission Office, Brent was a basket case - having had no real sleep for 24 hours or so didn't help. At the Mission Office, first you have to press an electronic release (you have to be agile as someone has to press the button and someone has to open the gate while the button is pushed).  The first thing I noticed was that the walk is white marble tile, as are the stairs and entry way to the office.  It was amazing!  Then we got the grand tour.  The building, we were told, is actually fairly old, but maintained really well over the years.  Our living area is a large  - bedroom and lounge area combined with a full bathroom.  The bed is comfortable and the closet spaces very adequate and there is a desk and bedside cabinets and a bureau and two easy chairs.  There is a de-humidifier and we were told to leave the closet doors open because, if kept closed there could be a mold problem.  There are two other bedrooms and two bathrooms, a kitchen and a large office area at the front.  It's really very nice.  We'll post pictures when we get a chance.  The rest of the day was dreamlike.  We filled out a few legal forms for the lawyers here to go to work on our residency permit and then they told us to be ready at 1pm to go to a restaurant.  We went, together with another sr. couple (Elder Dracocardos and wife - we think he is a counsellor in the Halandri Branch Presidency) and the Zone Elders.  The meal was very good - I had souvlaki and Brent had a small version of what we know as a shawarma.  Back at the Mission Office, we were told to get some rest - they must have looked at Brent's eyes and taken pity on him!!  I didn't really want to go to sleep then so I  unpacked and put everything away.  That felt good to get that done.  It was not a restful sleep, but what can you expect after a journey like that!  We are just grateful to be here safe and sound.


October 21, 2011

We were downstairs at 5am with our luggage!  There were just two other couple and one elder - The Hansons (Guayaquil) and the Hendersons (who was in our group the first week at the MTC going on a medical assignment to Bogata, Columbia) and the elder was going to California  - waiting there for his visa to come through so he can go to Brazil.  The shuttle bus to the airport was an 8-passenger van which should have been OK for us, but turned out to be a challenge, because the Hendersons had 9 bags and we had 7;  the Hansons had 6 and the elder had 3.  It took quite a while to get it all in, but we made it in the end!  Poor driver.  The Hendersons and the elder are going for two years - the Hansons and Brent and I are going for 18 months! We had difficulty when we tried to do our electronic ticket - we are no techies and I think we must have been the last ones to do it as our seats were in the last row which was right by the bathroom and there was always a line-up.  Brent was in the aisle seat and was constantly getting shoved and bumped by irate passengers who thought there should have been more bathrooms.  There was a group going to Tel Aviv on a Holy Land tour - most of them LDS, some of which eagerly visited with us regarding towns of origin, places that we were going etc. - it was fun. It was only a four and a half hour trip, but in those cramped quarters, it seemed to take forever (we were flying on a Boering 737-800 series carrying 190 something passengers.

We arrived at JFK about 3pm, but were sitting at the gate for about 15 minutes waiting for the gate person to receive us.  That resulted in us having no time to do anything as we had to walk "miles" to get to the boarding area where we presented our ticket and got a boarding pass and was told that the plane was already loading!!!  Our plane was an Airbus A330- 300.  It sat 8 passengers in a row - it was a wide-body jet - we were in the middle row and it seemed a lot roomier than the other plane.  The man beside Brent was Greek, but had been living in the States for a long time.  He and Brent visited a lot and struck up a nice friendship.  I was beside a lady who seemed to be hooked in to, either music or the TV or sleeping the whole time. Supper and breakfast were served and the flight crew were really nice, but trying to sleep was not great.  It wasn't until the last hour or so of the flight that we got any real sleep only to be woken by breakfast feeling gross.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The group that we were with last week.


20 October 2011

Our last day at the MTC.  We are supposed to be on the shuttle bus at 5am tomorrow!  We finished up our office training.  The two other couple that we were with were so nice - we had so much fun as well as learning.  The one couple are going to Guayaquil, Ecuador, and the other couple are in their early 80s (it's their fifth mission) and they are going to St. George.  It was sad saying good bye to them.

We were finished the class early today so that we could pack our bags and that' has now been accomplished and the bags weighed.  I think we are going to make it!!   We're pretty tired - hope we can get up in time for that bus.  It sounds like we'll be able to get to Greece OK.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

October 19, 2011

Met a senior couple who are going to Adelaide, South Australia today - their assignment takes in the area from Darwin straight down to Adelaide.  I hope we meet up with them again so we can find out what they doing.

More computer learning today.  We did three kinds of reports - they are done on a church program - then we practiced doing Newsletters.  I enjoyed that more as I had done a newsletter over a four year period about 8 years ago.  I was working on a Mac and this is on a PC so I just have to learn which things to click on to get the results that I need. Brent has been doing different learning on the computer - how to set up a house - reporting and payment of utilities, rent and damage deposits, and everything to do with cost and maintenance of vehicles.   We had our last Greek lesson here tonight and the other couple that are going to Cyprus were there too - Cyprus is in the Greece mission, but they had served in Greece a couple of years ago.  It was nice to share the learning with more people - I think it went better with input from more people.  It was kind of sad saying goodbye to our tutor, Craig - we've been doings lessons with him for about three months and met his wife and generally just grown to love him.  We'll be able to keep in touch with him, but the lessons are done.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

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This is the view from our window here at the MTC

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October 18,2011

We had another full day of office training on the computer!! with a huge interruption when we were about 90 minutes into it.  A fire drill!!  We're not sure exactly how many missionaries are on site, but Brent thinks it has to be somewhere between 3000 and 4000.  Everybody was herded out and into the parking lot, then lead out the gates (with police holding up traffic for us) across the road and onto the playing field.  It probably wasn't much more than 9C. and a lot of the sisters only had on blouses - some in sandals - I, at least, had on a light jacket, but I still froze and the grass was wet.  It was quite a deal.

We had a really special treat tonight.  It was the "Tuesday evening devotional."   You never know until starting time who the guest speaker is going to be.  Tonight, it was Elder Richard G. Scott!!  Oh it was wonderful.  He spoke for a while and then used a method of putting scriptures up on the screens and invited missionaries to come to the mike and read the scripture and then he would ask them a question about that scripture.  These remarkable young missionaries lined up and valiantly answered Elder Scott's questions - they did quite well.  He said quite a few times how he appreciated their willingness to answer questions without knowing what they were going to be.  A strong point of his talk was that he encouraged us to keep pencil and paper with us and by our beds at night, so that we could record any impressions that came to us.  He also counseled the young missionaries that when they return home after their mission that they should think seriously of marriage and starting a family - that they should set goals and work toward them rather than "hanging out."  Then he told us his definition of "hanging out" - he called it "idleness in flocks."

Monday, 17 October 2011

October 17, 2011

Our first day in Office Training.  We went through the basics of Microsoft Word.  Most of the church uses PCs and Athens is no exception and as a lot of you know, I prefer Macs.  I have much to learn about "Word" and they taught us a lot about shortcuts which was very helpful.  In the afternoon, we worked on the Excel program and that was what I really did need, so I learned a lot there.  The hardest part in that for me was the mathematical formulas.  Hopefully I can get a better handle on them.  It was a long day as we also had two hours of Greek in the evening.  Our tutor, Craig Meister, (we are the only ones learning Greek here at this time) took the time to explain a lot about the Greek Orthodox church and we learned that it isn't just a Greek version of the Roman Catholic church, but is quite different in many respects. That was really interesting.  In the process we found out that Craig works sometimes with Lincoln Blumell at BYU in Religious Studies.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Our Name Tags

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October 16, 2011

We went into Salt Lake City this morning to watch and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  It was thrilling.  Something that I've wanted to do for ages and I wasn't disappointed.  Then we went around Temple Square to see the sights - the the Pioneer Museum, the Visitor's Center and the Conference Center.  We had never been to the Conference Center before- it seats 21,000 - it has no pillars, but is supported by a 650 ton "king truss" and we were told that you could part a Boering 747 in the main floor of the building.  The roof is a garden roof with walkway and fountains and water falls, trees and gardens.  It is amazing.  Later, around 5pm, we returned to the MTC.  Adam has a part time job working for a mortuary and had to go and pick up a body.  He drove us to the mortuary in his own car, but then we changed to the van at the mortuary.  That van had two captains seats in the front and a gurney in the back for the body!  I got to sit in the front with Adam driving, so that meant Brent had to ride in the back on the gurney!!!!!   We pulled up at the entrance of the MTC - I don't know if the guard didn't see Brent in the back, or if he was just used to seeing such things, but we went through OK.  Right away, we saw George & Myrna Kearl unloading their belongings!  What a surprise.  They are from Calgary East Stake - Stake Pres. or in the Stake Presidency.  They used to live in 6th ward years ago.  It is so nice to link up with someone from home.  They are going to London, England - Office specialists.

Dad just opened an email from Ken and Caroline Pierson (his best man).  They have just been called to Russia as CES specialists - leaving in February.  That's going to be a challenge for them.



October 15, 2011

Had a lovely evening with Adam & Janet last night.  Slept in a bit this morning - it was wonderful.  Did a little shopping at Macy's and Nordstoms - got our flu shot (yuk).  It was a lovely day - the snow is just about gone from the mountains.  Brent went into the Wells Fargo bank to try and exchange some Canadian money - they couldn't do it, but the girl said she had relatives in Canada - Brent asked her what her last name was and she said "Vance" - Brent asked, Any relation to Byron Vance and she replied that it was her Grandfather's brother!!!   It's a small world, eh Renee?  Just spent a realizing day with Adam & Janet  -  finished up watching a movie called "Forever Strong"  -  really enjoyed it.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

This is the Place

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October 14, 2011

More lessons  -  they took the format of role playing, first, the missionaries and then the less active.   It was fun because it was missionaries against missionaries.  Our other couple was Elder & Sister Dibb - come to find out his brother married Pres. Monson's daughter Anne.  In the afternoon, we had former missionaries - senior couples - and they gave us case studies (some of which they had experienced themselves) to find solutions to.  We had these older sisters who had served in Finley, Victoria, Australia who spent their whole 18 months there.  They were told that the town had been tracked out a couple of times, but that was their assignment.  The folk in Finley were really tired of Mormon missionaries and when they saw the sisters coming they would even cross the road to avoid them.  After 6 months of prayers and unsuccessful efforts, they both were inspired to join the Weight Watchesr club!!!   It worked out amazingly as people came to know them and told their friends, who told their friends etc. etc. and the rest is history.  Inactives came back to the church and there were many baptisms as well.

We got our Greek name tags this afternoon.  It was incredible how many people noticed them and held us up for pictures of them.  We were trying to get to the front gate to meet Adam and were almost late getting to him!!  We met him at 5pm and went to his house and will be with him and Janet for Saturday and Sunday.  Whee!

Friday, 14 October 2011

October 13, 2011

Much the same as yesterday - lecture first - then lessons.  Lots of practice teaching which I am very glad of as it is not my forte!  They look after us very well, giving us 15 minute break often - we NEED it, but it is very nice also.  At supper, we met an Elder Nalder from Lethbridge - Theron Nalder's grandson.  Ron, Brent says you would know Theron.

The language training, unfortunately, is after supper and by that time we are really tired.  However, it feels like we are turning a corner on it and maybe progress will come easier.  Craig is a really good instructor - especially for his age (25). He's really got it together.

We are allowed to exit this place for the weekend. Adam is going to pick us up this evening.  He and Janet are wonderful to take care of us.

Miss you all :)

Thursday, 13 October 2011

October 12th 2011

We had to "teach" an "investigator" this morning!!  We had prepared a lesson on the Restoration.  Brent and I were taken to a room where we met a lady.  We were given a little background on her before hand and then told she was an investigator with a Temple Recommend!!!!   She was wonderful - these folk are supposed to give us a bad time, but she was so cute.  She had the broadest southern accent (raised in Texas) and she actually lived in Hill Spring for a while.  Her name when she was there was Rose Wynder.  She obviously loved us and we had such a good time I don't know how effective the lesson was regarding the training that we have had.

The day proceeded much as before - lesson, break, lesson, lunch - try to eat, go to the Bookstore,  check in at the Travel Office - after lunch, same as the morning.  After that, we dashed up to the nurse to get tetanus and typhoid shot.  There was a big line-up and we weren't finished when we were supposed to be at Language training and was supposed to have had supper.  We check in with Craig (our tutor) and he took pity on us and told us to go eat and don't hurry.  Language training seemed difficult as we haven't done anything since we left home - but he said we did OK - I can't agree with him though!!  After that, we dashed to the "ted shop" as we have been having trouble sending emails - we could receive, but not send - also, I couldn't be "seen" on Skype.  We got that all sorted out and dashed back to our room and found that the Wi-Fi had been completed in this new building today.  So now we can contact you all.  We had a new batch of Elders come in today - it was funny to compare them with the "oldies"  -  talk about "deer in the headlights"!!

October 11, 2011

Didn't sleep very well last night!  We found that our room is situated directly above the shuttle bus pick-up and learned subsequently that missionaries leave to go to their assignments at all hours of the night - specifically, 2am and around 4am etc.  At those times there is quite a noisy gathering of both happy and sad farewells!!  It was warm in our room and we had the window open!

We learned "by sad experience" that we need to be more careful about what we eat today!  There is sooo much variety of food and Brent, especially, overdid it.  However, I found a place where, it seems, they always have rice set out - so I'm good now.

This morning was a bit of a rush, but we made it to our 8am instruction.  after a super presentation by Bro. Peterson, we were handed over to a young girl, a returned missionary, who taught our little group.  She first took us on a tour of places we needed to know, then she took us to "our" classroom to instruct us in presenting a discussion. She chose the Restoration for the topic and went over ways of teaching it.  That is not my forte and I don't think we'll be doing very much teaching, but it was fun to do it, even if I wasn't any good at it.

After supper, there was a devotional.  Senior couples were told to get there before 6:45 - we got there about 6:30 and it seemed like no time when there was this great thunderous noise coming from behind and up from us!  -  the missionaries were let in.  It was some sight to see all these elders and sisters together - the Lord's army.  The speaker was Sis. Julie B. Beck, General RS Pres.  Her husband spoke briefly first - Then Sis. Beck spoke.  She shared about her growing up years in Brazil and how the American missionaries were eventually denied access to Brazil and how that was over come.  The Bishops in Brazil were approached to identify prospective missionaries.  They were very negative - saying these young men had no money - they were needed by their families etc.  After some months, one of the Bishops gave in and supplied nine missionaries and the others followed as it became a very desirable thing to have a missionary in the family.  I can't remember how the money for their missions was given. Then followed their own MTC in Brazil and the growth of the church there has been phenomenal.  A lovely, inspiring talk.

Monday, 10 October 2011

First Day in the MTC

Wow!  What a crazy day!  We are assigned to a brand new senior's building and it is super.  Not huge but everything that you need - nicely decorated and beautiful pictures.  I'll try and take some pictures.  Everyone is so nice - there is a lovely feeling here.

Before lunch, we went through orienteering - receiving schedules, maps, checking on our inoculations, (we have to have more) - getting a plastic ID cards etc.  Lunch was a zoo.  Dad figures there were about 1500 eating there at the same time.  Generally, the food was pretty good.  I found some that I could eat OK.  It was not relaxing though - you had to wait in a line up a long time and that didn't leave much time before we had  our next meeting.  It'll probably get better as we get used to the routine.

The afternoon meeting was mostly in depth orienteering.  They began by having each couple tell who they were and where they were from and where they were going.  Dad figures there were about 40 couples.  They were going all over the world - it was fascinating.  Following were a couple of really nice talks from the Mission Home presidency and then were got our language training intro.  Dad was called to head up a little group of four couples and so we had to swap phone numbers and info.  After that, we realized our cell phone was not going to work for that and so we purchased a cheap cell phone to help out just for that.  A long day and we still have reading to get done for tomorrow, so I have to go.  Love you all tons and tons.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

On the Way to the MTC

It was a bitter/sweet farewell at the airport.  We were happy to be going on our mission, but hard to say "goodbye."  Lots of tears between the smiles - and, appropriately, it was raining.  When we got to Seattle, it was dark and gloomy and threatening to rain.  After we just took off for SLC, the pilot said he was going to take a little detour, very close to Mt. Rainier.  He did, and the jet suddenly went up and down and all over the place, scaring some of the lady passenger to tears!  For an instant, Bent thought we had crashed, but reasoned that we had hit a vortex as we were so close to the mountain.  When we arrived at SLC, we were astounded to see that snow had fallen starting halfway up the mountains - and it was COLD!

We are staying with our brother-in-law, Adam Brown until Monday morning - then we go in to the MTC  They live in a new area call Cedar Hills and have a really nice home.  On Friday, we went to Mr. Mac's for pants and shirts for Brent.  I went to the"Sister Missionary Store" and managed to get two light-weight blouses.  We have to be very careful in what we buy to take now as the luggage weight is right on the permissible border line!  We went to an Asian restaurant for supper.  The location used to be 50's type restaurant, and Brenda, you would love the decor etc.  Although the food was asian, it did taste a little different than the kind we have in Calgary.

We just came home from meetings.  They truly are the same where ever you go in the world.  Very nice.  Both in Sunday School and RS we were asked where we would be serving and the folk here were just as astounded as you all were at home!! The sun was out today and it felt marvelous.  We are supposed to go to Craig Meister's home (our Greek tutor) after supper.  We are looking forward to that - it should be a "hoot."

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Getting ready

House is in a mess - it's raining outside - Brenda and Dave are helping us with computer adjustments and financial instructions.  We're excited!