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

SAM 1093

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


SAM 1090

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.