Sunday, 23 October 2011

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.


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