Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Mon. January 30th

The Area PFR (Physical Facilities Rep., Kelly Tedd was here today - checking out the condition of the mission office - seeing what, if any, repairs or upgrades are in order.  The carpet in the mission office has some faded and worn spots and we thought we were going to get a new carpet for a while, but in the end they opted to fix those spots and give us a new carpet at a later date!  We will be getting a paint job though and some better lighting in the kitchen, so that will be nice.

It's cold and blowing with a hint of snow.  A lot of trees have leaves on them and they are really getting tossed around.   BRRrrrr!


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sun. January 29th

Still cold and winding.  I looked at the forecast for the week and for the next three days we are supposed to have rain and highs of 7C.  Yuk!  Oh well!  I was reading Bullock's blog  -  they are in Malawi and are in their rainy season, and Sis. Bullock's comment was that everyone is cold and wet - she said she would like to stay indoor and curl up in a warm spot with a good book - she said is was 22 degrees!  I suppose the hot and cold is all relative!

Not too many at church this morning.  Julianna called to tell me she had the flu - poor dear, she sounded awful.  I told her to stay put as we would be glad if she didn't share that one with us.  I gave my talk and the best part is that it's done - now I can relax.

This afternoon, we got a call from the young sisters  -  they had locked themselves out of their apartment, leaving the key inside.  They wanted to know if we had a spare key.  Normally, we don't have spare keys for the apartments, but upon looking, we found there was just one such key there and it was for their apartment!!!  Of course they live way across town and, of course Brent has never driven there before - and it's not a simple matter of looking up the address and going there because nothing is laid out in order - the roads m  ust have just been built over the original "tracks" that were in place eons ago.  Now, we have a maze of teeny lanes (most of them one-way) in between reasonably sized main roads.  Even a GPS doesn't always get you to your correct destination!!  Sooo! we came to a solution that we would drop the key off at the Halandri chapel, and the Assts. would come there. get it, and take it to the sisters.  That worked, but we were still late getting to the airport to pick up Pres. Charles!!    Oh well!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Sat. January 28th

After I wrote yesterdays blog, we had an alert on the computer about more serious demonstrations slated for the downtown area of Athens.  Quickly following that, we received a phone call from the CES missionary couple that the President of the Branch there had told everyone including the Mowers to leave as soon as possible. The Mowers called us to see if the missionaries in the area had been notified - and they hadn't.  We then called the Assts. and they alerted those missionaries affected. Probably, they were told to go back to their apartments and stay there.  The Amin. elders were already here, giving us their regular Friday help, so they just stayed here in the missionary apartment downstairs   This morning we watched a report on- line about the disturbance - that it began  just as a regular peaceful demonstration by ordinary Greeks, but the commentator said that when the march was three quarters passed, a violent group joined in wearing masks and black hoodies and helmets, armed with sticks, bottles and rocks which they hurled at the police.  They managed to light some  big garbage containers, but that was as far as it went thankfully.

We've hit a cold spell.  Don't laugh!! but it's only 6C. right now and we are really cold. It looks like it will last into the middle of next week!

Did our grocery shopping early.  Christina came to do the cleaning.  We worked in the office all day.  I think we had only two phone calls and very few emails, so we were able to get a good run at getting things done.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Fri. January 27th

Our morning began by taking the President to the airport.  He has to make a presentation in Vienna.  It was a cool clear morning and the sun was just up.  It was so nice to see Athens in the early morning sunlight as we are not usually out at this time of the day.

We finally met Dimetrios today - he would be like our Stake PFR.  He lives up at Marathon and is in charge of all the church building in Greece, Crete, Cyprus and even a few in Albania.  He's been working for the church for eight years.  He seems very nice.

We had the Admin. elders over today helping with sorting out old files etc,  They are super top-notch elders and we really appreciate the help they give us.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Thurs. January 26th

Well, I got one of the big orders off today, so that's a good thing.  On preparation day morning, the Assts. come to the office and use the computers to do their letter home.  It's always fun to have them around - they are a breath of fresh air from our normal day.

Early today though, we went down to the immigration office to get our "blue certificates" as the lawyer had called yesterday to say that they were ready.  We were expecting to have a long wait in a line-up, but we walked in, stood in line, immediately the people in front were trying to tell us something about where we should be  -  pointing over to some seats.  It was all in Greek of course and another girl in line turned to tell us in halting English some instructions, however, the door to the office opened and this lady came out with our certificates in hand and we were done.  We then left and are still wondering what it was that we had not done right as far as that line-up was concerned.  It was interesting that the lady inside the office was aware that we were there and had everything ready to go etc!!   Quite often as we are out and about, when coming face to face with someone, without us saying anything, they start off talking to us in English!!  I guess we stick out like a sore thumb.

Wed. January 25th

Wednesday again - our meetings day!  We had fewer people here today because of illness - only 9.  We served a little lunch.  It was going to be pita pockets with egg salad filling.  We do the eggs with chopped celery and green onion mixed with mayonnaise.  Split the pockets, lay a bed of lettuce in them and put the egg on top of that  -  but  -  when we cut the "pockets" - they were thinner than usual and were never meant to open, so we just cut them in wedges and put the egg mixture in a bowl in the centre of a platter and arranged the pitas around that - it worked OK, but I was sure surprised when we could open those pitas!

Elder Mower - CES person - was here and he is interested in making a video of the couples here in Greece with view to send the video home to our Stake Presidents to maybe use in our Stakes to encourage more seniors to come on missions!!  Bren & I were his first guinea pigs.  We'll have to see how far this is going to go!

Tues. January 24th

I have begun to prepare earlier for "month end" to see if I can relieve the pressure a bit that always seems to beset me at this time.  In the process, I have let the blog go a little bit and am now paying "catch-up" and it is not working very well because I'm having trouble remembering everything that has transpired!!  Preparing the Monthly Supplies order is very time consuming as you have to contact the District Leaders in Cyprus, Thessaloniki, the Acropoli and Halandri to get their orders, then sort out what we can supply from here and what we need to order in  -  with the right product numbers and languages attached.

I was back to the dentist again today - this time to have impressions done - so the end is getting closer - two more appointments I think.  I'll be really glad to have it all finished.

Mon. January 23rd

Spent more time with Pres. & Sis Smith on office jobs.  They have been really helpful and we really appreciate their help - also, it has been a lot of fun getting to know them.  We drove them to the airport around 1:00 p.m.

Sun. January 22nd

Today, we have been in Greece three months!

Conference was really good and from what the "old-timers" say, the attendance was a huge increase - so it would appears things are on the increase!  The talks were wonderful, and Julianna (our most recent temple attender) gave a super talk about her experience in Frankfurt.  A group of our older missionary sisters worked on getting a lucy together.  We packed 23 "brown bags" for the people traveling back to Thessaloniki and served about 30/40 people from around here - including the missionaries.  We didn't get home until about 4:00pm and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and chatting with the Smiths.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Sat. January 21st

We went to "Alpha Beta"  first thing this morning - Pres. & Sis. Smith wanted to go for old times sake to see if things were the same as when they were here - kind of a "sentimental journey."  We had fun!  When we got home, Brent made French toast and introduced the Smiths to French toast, Canadian style!!  or maybe, I should say "Brent style"  -  which is to heap yogurt, bananas and syrup on top of the French toast!!  They had never seen that before and were suitably impressed.

Today and tomorrow is Greece Athens Mission Conference and I made jam bars for one of the meals being provided.  I thought the bars were for the meal onSunday, but when we arrived at the Acropoli building, I was asked where my dessert was!!!  Ooops!  They are happy to have them tomorrow - but I felt bad.

We attended a Leadership meeting before "supper" and then the "adult" meeting after.  Our visiter was Elder Christian Fingerle from the Area Seventy whose assignment is in the CES area (Church Education System).  We really enjoyed the talks etc. - at least half of which were in Greek - however, they had translation, but that's only as good as the translator!

We already had the Smith staying here at the mission office and today the people arrived from Thessaloniki and so we have four guests upstairs (Smiths and Colliers) with us and four men from Thess. Branch downstairs.  Colliers had rented a van and brought sister missionaries down with them, plus some elders.  After the meetings, Colliers took the sisters to an empty apartment which the Assistants had prepared for them, but nobody had thought to arrange for the the sisters to get the key!!!  So they arrived over there unable to get in.  Phone calls were flying back and forth and finally one of the other couples told them to go the landlady on the 4th floor and she would let them in  -  but  -  her master key wouldn't work!!!  In the end, another set of sisters who had a car, came over here and got the keys.  By that time it was near midnight, so we were all going to be short of sleep for sure.  Oh well!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Fri. January 20th

We went down to the immigration again this morning.  After two hours we still didn't receive the "blue paper" certificate (or whatever we were supposed to receive) because their internet was broken and they had no blue paper left.  No comment!!!  However, they did give our lawyer girl a white paper saying that our residency application was in the works, so to speak, and that we had all the necessary documents and everything was OK.  Ethel said they were going to call her when the certificate was ready and that she would have to go back for it, but we didn't have to go back any more - so it looks like we're clear.  A great blessing.

We have had good help from the Smiths and President and Sis. Charles took us out to "Three Pigs"  for lunch.  That is always fun - except trying to get a parking spot.  Brent dropped me off, but he had to go almost halfway back from where we had come from before he found one!!

We needed to pick up a couple of mattress pads - not covers, but something to make the mattress softer - as there are twin Ikea beds in the one bedroom that are sooo hard, we really had to improve them for our guests.  It was sooo fun in Ikea - almost exactly the same merchandise and layout as at home - felt like we were back in Calgary for a bit.

With Conference a day away - there is more traffic in the office with elders coming and going with tasks to do and the Smiths being here - Colliers arrive tomorrow, and downstairs there will be some brothers from Thessaloniki staying, so we'll have a pretty full house.  Fun!

Thurs. January 19th

We went out fairly early the office supplies store - had to get some laminating film and Brent purchased a little recorder and a GPS!!!  Should help a bit in getting around.  Then we went to Carrefour - it's a bigger grocery store and you can only get some things there - which we needed - plus we had a big shop to do because of the number of people coming to our Greece Athens Mission conference.  So that took all morning.  In the afternoon we made a big pot of soup as Smith's don't arrive until 7:00 pm and we don't know if they will have eaten on the plane.  It worked out well as they had a little bite when they got here anyway.  It was good to see them again - we first met them in the MTC just before we left and they came a little later, but went to Cyprus.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wed. January 18th

We did the lunch for all who came to meetings today.  We had 13 in all and just did sandwiches and dessert, but Sister Maxwell brought some Welsh scones which went over VERY well.

It is still quite cold, but a lot better than home, so we won't complain.

Several people have sent us pictures of the installing of the Angel Moroni on our Calgary temple.  That is unbelievable, but so wonderful.


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tues. January 17th

We went down to the Immigration "office"  - it was on the ground floor of a smallish building.  There was a municipal office in the front part, and the immigration office was back of that.  it occupied a space about as big as our living room with two wickets in front.  Ethel (our lawyer) met us there.  You take a number and line up and it must have been about a half hour before Ethel reached the wicket.  Firstly she was to pay 300 euros for the applications and when she attempted to do so, the reply was "Oh!  we can't do that today, we don't have any receipts"!!!   Now, keep in mind that on Friday, we get kicked out of the country if we don't have our residency application started - and - this office is only open Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays!! We were stunned!  Could they not do it on a piece of paper - is there not a way to do it on their computer??  However, Ethel, being to little go-getter that she is, pushed ahead and firmly requested that she be able to get the paperwork done and then on Friday all we have to do is pay for it and get a receipt.  They gave in to her and that means that all our paperwork has yesterday's date on it which is a very good thing. Tune in for the next episode.

There were ice patches on our marble sidewalk (extremely slippery) and on the streets this morning - a bit of a rarity for Athens - but still we can't complain as we know Calgary is sitting the minus 30s!!

We just learned that the Counsellor to Pres. Charles, Pres. Smith & Sis Smith are having trouble with their residency papers in Cyprus which has resulted in them not being able to fly over for our Greece Athens Mission Conference this weekend.  It would seem that Greece is not the only immigration dept. that could use some reforming!   The sad part about it for Brent and I is that they, having been a former office couple here (before the Andros') were going to coach us in some of the things that we need to know more about in the office.  Oh well!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Mon. January 16th

Went to the dentist again today.  She is preparing the teeth that are going to anchor the crown.  It seems to be going on forever, but I believe there are only two more appointments after this one.

Mr Ted (the modem guy) arrived here at about 6:50 p.m. with the new modem.  Brent told him how we came to having internet while we were waiting for the new box - Mr. Ted said he had never heard of that before!!!   He was surprised.  We now have reliable internet  -  we hope!

The sun was shining brightly here today, but it only got up to +4C.  -  we are not complaining though as we learned that it was around -30C. in Calgary today!!!

Sun. January 15th

Well, the modem is still working!!  The sun is shining, but it's still cold - however, two good things to start the day is not too bad.

Our RS President's parents were here visiting from China and were at meetings today.  They are teaching at a University in ???  (they said it was the "southern capital in China).  They were from the US and were really nice people - we had a good visit and it was pot-luck dinner today, so they picked a good day to be with us.

A quiet afternoon - Dad had a sleep which he later declared was too much and that he would probably not sleep well tonight!!  You can't win!  I tried to catch up on letters and listened to some nice music - my favorites on "The French Connection" and "The Choir" etc.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sat. January 14th

We went at 8 am to do our grocery shopping and got home just before the rain started 😞  I'll be glad when it warms up a bit.

Nice and quiet in the office today - we got caught up on a lot of stuff!  However, about 5 pm, Brent decided to take another look at the broken modem!!  He was standing there pensively eyeing this little box, turning it over this way and that, then preceded to bash it "firmly" a couple of times on the counter top!!!  Then he reconnected it - and it worked!!  Nobody was more surprised than I was.  We quickly Skyped whoever we could see online (three days without chatting is just too much!!) and then turned our attention to our "in-boxes" that were full of e-mails, not knowing how long we would have a connection.  By 10:30 pm. we had cleared most of the emails and called it a night at which point the modem was still working!!

A couple of the e-mails were warning about demonstrations in the downtown area for next Tuesday.  We get warnings re this all the time and being as we are many  miles away from that area, we don't normally worry about it - but, the text appeared to be a little more alarming as it mentioned anarchists.  One of the emails was from the States and we haven't had that happen before - but - I heard one person say, "Don't worry about it - nobody wants Greece, you'll be OK."  And that's supposed to make us feel better?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Fri. January 13th

It was an absolutely beautiful day with bright blue skies as you look towards the hills/mountains  -  but not if you look toward the downtown area  -  it was quite smoggy.  It could have been an invention layer as the temperature was fairly cold.

We continue to do clean up and empty last years file etc. and wait for the modem!  Mr. Ted (modem guy) called us as promised, and the company here didn't have one.  Now he is getting one shipped down from Thessaloniki!  It will arrive on Monday and by Monday afternoon (hopefully) we'll have the "net" back up and running.

The Assistants came by this morning to collect the mail.  That's one of their jobs - to take the mail to Halandri District and Acropoli District for the missionaries and any other items that they require from us.  Just after lunch, the Admin Elders came to help out  here in the office.  They help with making and putting 2012 labels on lots of binders, checking out the cars and making a list of when they are due for service and then doing an inventory of supplies.  They are really nice - Elder Radnoti from Germany and Elder Norgaard from Denmark.

Thurs. January 12th

We went very early, down to the Citibank.  All of the money had come through and we were able to get a document saying that we had the necessary funds to begin our residency process and we will meet the lawyer on Tuesday morning at the place where we need to do it.

The modem is dead and I have a pile of stuff that has to be done on the 'net.'  The funny thing about yesterday was that the few times we were 'on' it made it possible for us to receive a couple of crucial emails and get off some quick answers.  If it wasn't so frustrating to not have internet, I would have to say that today was a great day - I caught up on so much - little bits and pieces that have been accumulating that I didn't know what to do about etc.  We are definitely looking tidier.

For two days now, we have waited for DHL to deliver a package that they tried to deliver here on Monday while we were traveling back from Thessaloniki.  All they would tell us was that the delivery would be made some time between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. so when Brent called them again today, he got a different person who didn't hang up on on him this time and she checked into the matter and told Brent that the package had not been assigned to be delivered the last two days!!!  It should be delivered sometime tomorrow between 10 - 5!!!!

I guess the snow is finished, however, there is still lots of white on the hills around Athens - it is pretty.

The modem fellow came at 5:30 tonight - he is a very nice Greek man about Mike's age, but had lived on Staten Island for three year and so he was fluent in English - hooray!  It didn't take him long to tell us that we needed a new modem and unfortunately,  the one he brought with him was not the right one.  He asked to see our bill for our internet in order to see what kind of connection we had.  In the process of reading our bill, which was all in Greek, he told us that he could see that we were going to be cut off pretty soon as our automatic withdrawal process wasn't working.  Just before we got here, couple of the mission credit cards were compromised - one was the mission office card - and nobody had gone to this company to give them the number of the new credit card.  If the modem hand' t died, we might have lost our internet a/c which would have just doubled our problems.  Brent & I quickly went down to "The Mall" where there was an office of our internet company which was open for late shopping and paid the outstanding bill and filled out a form with the new credit card number and hope that that is all we have to do to prevent us losing the a/c.  We also asked them if they had the kind of modem that we needed  -  they didn't have one, but told us to go to Plaisio (the office supplies store like "Staples") which was just around the corner from them on the same floor.  They didn't have one either, but gave us a phone number to try tomorrow morning.  When we got back home, we called our modem guy and he is going to try that company in the morning and will call us by noon with the results.


Wed. January 11th

BRrrr!  It is SNOWING!!  Big heavy snowflakes - very wet - and while it did build up on the cars for a while, it melted fairly quickly - but the hills are still white.

Well!  the modem has all but died.  Every now and again, it would work for about 5 or 10 minutes and then die.  There are some things we do - like entering reports on a church programs that once you begin, if you don't finish it, you lose the data you have entered, so we were reluctant to start any of that.  We have a man that helps on our technical stuff, but he was not totally sure that the modem was the problem as it should not have kept starting up again!!  So, we sit and wait for the thing to die or for the powers that be decide what course to take!!

As usual on our meeting day, there was lots of people here and getting work done was not easy - so I just try not to have plans to do very much and devote my time to helping with any needs that they have.  There is much visiting between sessions and it is a fun day mostly.

Pres. Charles didn't get finished until 7:30 at which time he told those of us that were left - just Brent & I and the Assts. to grab our coats and we went to the Noodle Bar for supper.  That was neat.

Tues. January 10th

It's three months since we entered the MTC!   Time is rushing by.

I tried to get on to the Citibank online banking to see if the second transfer of money had made it, but I couldn't get in!!  Brent phoned the bank and it had not appeared there yet.

There was lots to catch up on today, because we were gone on Saturday and Monday, however, our internet connection was behaving poorly.  Last week, Brent had to reset the modem, but it was worse today - I think he reset it six or seven times!!!    Not very convenient to say the least and with meetings all day tomorrow, we had emails etc. to do in preparation for the meetings.

The weather turned bitterly cold this morning with wind blowing and rain pelting down.  Several times Brent saw the odd snowflake!!  It was so cold in the office (even with the heat turned on high) I was wearing two tops and two sweaters and some boots that come up my leg higher than my skirt hem!!!  It's crazy.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Mon. January 9, 2012

We left Thessaloniki just after 9:00 a.m. - it's a good thing we had a GPS as Pres. Charles got quite lost just trying to find the highway to Athens.  I said I thought the roads here were better than Athens - on the main roads, I still think they are better and a little less crowded, but they still have their share of tiny little narrow "roads" (lanes really) and when trying to traverse them, you have to fold your side-vision mirrors in -cars are parked on both sides and you literally have to creep through to avoid scraping the side of your car - but we made it.

Unlike the drive up, it was a mostly clear sunny day traveling back.  We could see the tops of their mountains, with a fresh covering of snow on them.  They looked very clean and pretty.  Brent took some pretty good pictures and I will get him to load them onto the computer so I can send them to you.  It was a super trip and a wonderful experience.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Sun. January 8, 2012

We had a lovely breakfast at the hotel.  We noticed many men in the hotel that had wounds - legs, arms etc. - bandages, casts, slings and crutches, so we asked at the desk about it and was told that they were men who were fighting in Libya and were in hotels in the city waiting to go into the hospital for treatment this coming week!!  Kind of brings the conflict closer to home when you see men like this.

Meetings at Thessaloniki seemed more flourishing than at Athens - more younger men than Halandri.  Actually, the city seemed nicer than Athens - somewhat more modern and cheerier.  We passed the seafront several times in our trips back and forth and you had a pretty good view of a lot of ships moored off shore - either waiting to load or unload I guess.  I can imagine, in summer, that it would be a beautiful area - palm lined promenades etc.

We were invited to the Colliers for supper and it was really nice.  She had baked chicken pieces and had potato salad, Greek salad, coleslaw, fried rice and someone had brought a Hungarian Goulash.  The food was good and the company was a lot of fun.  Elder Collier had a guitar and it wasn't long before we were singing.

Sat. January 7, 2012

We left Athens about 8:30 a.m. with Pres. & Sis. Charles and Elder & Sis Maxwell. Driving up to Thessaloniki at the start was heavily wooded and hilly - lots of cubes in the road as well.  It was quite pretty, but I felt bad about all the run-down homes and buildings - probably less than half were like that, but it did make you feel like things in this country were not good.  As we went north (it is a five and a half hour drive) there were much bigger hills/mountains with some snow on the tops and it reminded us somewhat of home.  While we were running pretty close to the mountains on the one side, the right side began to become quite flat and before long we were skirting the sea.  We went to Thermopoli which is where King Leonidas (300 regular troops and about 700 volunteers) held off the Persians (thousands of troops) in about 460BC .  They have a very nice monument there, but the museum part was closed. A little bit further on, we passed Mt. Olympus.  It is pretty impressive.  We left the mountainous area and the land was really flat all around us, but the sea was still not far off.  I think all this land had once been under water.  Thessaloniki is much bigger than we thought - about 2 million people - and driving to the Holiday Inn we were wondering what kind of a facility it was going to be!  From the outside it looked very 3rd class - but once through the doors it was like stepping through a time warp.  It measured up in glamour and luxury with the best of them.  Lovely furnishing and very well lit - and it smelled good too.

We met Elder & Sis. Collier (the couple who serve here in Thess.) at "Bennigan's for supper.  It was a huge place which seemed to be fairly empty (probably crowded in the summer though).  It's menu was mostly salads, wraps and huge burgers - although they did have a salmon dish.  The fries were great - large, soft and not very greasy.  The visiting was a lot of fun with repartee going sharp and fast!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Fri. Jan. 6, 2012

We had a change in the weather this morning.  The last couple of days have been very mild, but strong winds blew in this morning and before long we were having heavy rain.  It doesn't bode too well for our trip tomorrow.

First thing this morning, we tried to do that money transfer and after a second try at it, it worked - so next week we can go ahead and apply for residency.  Our available time is getting short now, so hopefully we'll be free of roadblocks from now on.

We had a big catch-up day in the office today.  We still have some month end to accomplish and will be looking to clear out last years files and such when that's done.  However, the two elders that have been assigned to help here, one day a week, will be a good asset in helping with that.

Thurs. Jan 5, 2012

I have begun to look like a wooly sheep, so I was VERY happy to go to the hairdresser and get shorn.  The folk there are very nice and they are fluent in English so that makes you feel much more comfortable.

We went to the car tax office again.  After two hours, Brent emerged with the the stickers to put on the car!!!   Then, as it was prep. day and I needed new shoes, we went to "The Mall."  It was wonderful - it was very much like ours at home - lots of familiar store names and modern.  We understand it was built for the Olympics and is quite near the Olympic stadium complex.  I was able to get some "Clark's" shoes with good support and in Marks & Spencer I got two tops that were on sale.

Tomorrow is a holiday for the Greek Orthodox and most stores will be closed, so we did a quick shop on the way home because we are going to Thessaloniki on Saturday.  We tried to find out what the holiday was about, but seemed to get a different answer from everyone we asked!!   However, the word Epiphany is the answer I think - but we're still not sure what the means and haven't got time to research it just now.

Tonight, which is 24 hours since we effected the first money transfer, we tried to do a second one.  It wouldn't work - even for the girl who was bring to assist us.  We'll try in the morning.

Wed. January 4, 2012

Hooray!  We finally managed to open a bank account.  We went back down to the Tax office to have them add our address to their form.  They wouldn't!  but did tell us that with the documentation that we had we should be able to open a bank a/c - and she wrote a note for us to take to the bank and told us to have them call her if there was a problem. This is the first time someone seemed to be going to bat for us - it felt good.  Back to the bank - and the man there read the note and proceeded to look at our documents and after nearly two hours of processing, we have an a/c.

Brent had to go to yet another tax office (they have tax offices for everything) to get the car tax paid thinking that he had everything they needed - but no! he was missing the "green card."   Needless to say, he was disgusted because he had to wait in line for ages, just to be told that!  He'll try again tomorrow.

We had another frustrating experience tonight - we tried to wire transfer money into our new a/c here.  Oh boy!  we finally had to phone for help - even then, we probably drove the girl nuts as we kept getting things wrong, but after about 45 mins. or so we were successful - but only partially as there was a limit to what amount we could transfer - so we have to do it once again!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Tues. January 3, 2012

We had another go at preparing to open a bank a/c so that we can get our money over here in order to get our residency papers.  We went downtown to the Tax office to get a "tax number" each, since that was one of the things we were told we needed.  The building wasn't what I expected it to be - a drab, inauspicious facility, jammed in amongst other uninteresting buildings on a narrow little street.  Once inside, it wasn't much cheerier - but - they did have an elevator that looked more up-to-date than any of the others Ive seen, however it only held 4 passengers!  We managed to speak with a girl in English and she gave us forms and she pointed out enlarged forms on the wall for a guide.  They were in Greek, but when we got closer, we could see that someone had kind of penciled in the English interpretation on them!!  It worked OK and we came out with our tax numbers.  Then we went to the HSBC bank again and showed them what we had and they wanted to know where the paper (bill) was that showed our name on it together with the address at which we live.  We were under the understanding that if we had our tax numbers, that would be enough.  No so!  So, once again, they all put their heads together trying to work out a way for us to get an a/c.   Now, we only have 17 days left in which to get the residency process started.  In the end, the HSBC guys told us to try and open an a/c at Citibank.  We went to Citibank and did get somewhere with them because the mission business is done through them and Brent has signing authority, but they still are bound by the same rules as all other banks here.  Trying to keep it simple, they want us to do four things and bring them in and hopefully, we'll be successful. Tomorrow, we'll try again.  What was interesting was that when we were at the Tax place, we asked one lady which floor the office was on - come to find out she was living in Queensland - then on the way out and man asked directions from us and he was from Melbourne area.  Both of them were Greek and spoke pretty good English, but you couldn't mistake the Aussie accent coming through. Cool!  Stay tuned!!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Mon. January 2, 2012

Had an early start this morning.  Out the door at 6:00 a.m. with the missionaries that flew to Cyprus - came home for a couple of hours and then back out to the airport again to pick up missionaries from Cyprus.  We were scheduled to take one sister down to the train, which is way across town, but the President decided to do it himself.  We were happy for him to take that off our shoulders, because it is in a very busy part of town and, as you know, Brent has a hard time with traffic in densely populated areas.  It is really fun getting to meet the missionaries that we haven't met before - two of which are the new Assts.  They seem really nice and I'm sure we'll get to love them as much as the ones that were just released from that position.  It looks like we'll be traveling with the President on Saturday to Thessaloniki along with Pres. and Sister Maxwell (from Northern Ireland).  We'll come back on Monday.  It will be fun and interesting.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Sun. January 1, 2012


About midnight, Brent was awakened by what he though was gunfire!!   Nooo, it was fireworks - but - we had no power, nor did the neighbors, so he waited and about 12:30, and we had power again.  I slept through all of this 😄

Our meeting today, once again was only one hour, with lots of singing and a few short speakers and was very nice.

Now we are getting ready for the start of transfers.  About supper time, we will have two sister come here to stay overnight before they fly over to Cyprus tomorrow.  Also, six elders here in Athens will be involved with the move tonight and they will be staying downstairs overnight - Some will be flying to Cyprus tomorrow and the others will be waiting for companions that are flying over here from Cyprus. Tomorrow, In Cyprus, 12 missionaries will be either moving to another place or receiving a companion from Athens or Thessaloniki.  It's quite the deal.

Now it's 9:30 p.m. and some of the moves have been made successfully, but not all - two of the elders coming from Cyprus missed their flight which means the Assts. have to go to the airport at midnight!!!

Sat. December 31, 2011

Well our dear Pres. Freestone and Sis. Freestone flew back to the States this morning early - it is so nice that they will be back at the end of June.

We went to do our weekly grocery shopping at our usual time of 8:00 a.m. when it is fairly quiet - not this morning!  Undoubtedly, folk were getting out early to get provisions for New Year's Eve celebrations.  It was packed.

Most of those who drive cars in the mission had taken care of their car registration tax which was due today - however two did not, and when it fell on Brent to get it done, he discovered that those people were on strike until Jan. 2nd.  One of those cars at least had to be taken off the road and it now sits in jail in the mission office driveway.  I don't know how it will all work out because they could be liable for a 100% fine for late payment!!

Brent and I are still trying to get our year/month end completed (we're getting close), but interruptions were many today.  Some wan ing to confirm travel and pick-up times - some wanting to know if they had any mail - and one called because she couldn't completely turn off her shower faucet.  That one instigated many phone calls - to the landlord - to 2 or 3 plumbers and back to the sister again and round and round it went taking up hours really.  Never a dull moment!