Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Wed. May 30th 2012

We had the Assts. take their car in for servicing and brakes today.  There is a big push to get all the cars in shape before Pres. Freestone arrives.  Someone gave Elder and Sis. Elks bunch of documents regarding our rented apartments - all in Greek, of course.  So they met with the Assts. here in the office, who translated them for them.  We experience a huge thunder and lightning storm this afternoon with tons of rain!  We had a couple of errands to do this afternoon for the President, so we started out early to go the airport to pick him up and did the errands on the way - we also stopped in at Ikea by the airport.  President's plane was about a half hour late - but it was fun watching all the people coming and going.  The sisters from Thesseloniki were arriving at the train station the same time as Pres. and Sis. Charles, so the Elks went down to pick them up.  When we all arrived at the mission office, we ate a very late supper.

A little there-month-old goat in the neighbors yard temporarily -

IMG 1056

Tues. May 29th 2012

We went down to the police station this morning with Sophia (lawyer) and submitted our statement regarding the accident.  Now we wait until the insurance companies submit their report - which Sophia said could be a couple of months!  Lots of work just now with Zone Conference coming up on Thursday etc. so we needed to plan carefully so that we didn't miss anything.  We have to do the main course for the lunch for 26.

This doesn't quite reproduce the depth of the red color of this rose, but it is really something -

IMG 1074

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Mon. May 28th 2012

Worked all day on submitting the supply orders for June.  Sophia (lawyer) emailed to us the final brief on the statement that we have to take to the police station tomorrow morning.  She also phoned, and in the course of the conversation she asked when we were due to return to Canada.  When we told her April 2013, she said that this case might not even be finished by then, following by the statement "things work very slowly here in Greece!"  Our question to her next was, "will we have to stay longer then?"  and she said "Definitely not!"  Apparently, if we go, the case is closed!!!

Brent is not finished taking photos of the roses yet  -  this is his latest  -

IMG 1071

Monday, 28 May 2012

Sun. May 27th 2012

Erik's Birthday yesterday and Rhys' today!  When we got down to the Church today, we found that scaffolding has been erected all around and they are painting it.  There were not very many people at meetings today, but the service was good.

The magnolias are getting bigger and better - this one is about the size of a dinner plate -

IMG 1065

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Fri. May 25th 2012

This afternoon we took Pres. & Sis Charles, Pres. and Sis Maxwell to the airport.  They fly to Cyprus for Zone Conference.  The Maxwell's will be returning Sunday night, butPresident has tone of missionary interviews and won't be back until Wednesday. We heard from Sophia (lawyer) and she has seen Mr. V's (the man that ran into Brent's car) statement.  Basically he claims we were at fault.  Sophia is preparing a brief for Tuesday so we'll see what happens.

The magnolia tree is beginning to bloom  - the leaves are about 8 inches long!

IMG 1055


Thurs. May 24th 2012

Brent took more documents down to the police station first thing this morning.  He picked Elder Tong up on the way back and we worked with him most of the morning on the audit which was finished about noon..  He surprised us with an invitation to go back to "3 Pigs" for lunch  -  it seems he like it very much on our Tuesday night visit there.  After that, it was time for us to take him to the airport for his flight home to Manchester, England.  Apparently, it was a good audit - only two errors!  The bonus for us was meeting Elder Tong -  he is such a fun little man to be around.  When arriving back from the airport, the Assts. were on there way to the office.  The elders had prep. day and had been out playing soccer.  Elder A. had developed a huge blood blister on the ball of his foot (which had not burst) from playing on astro-turf, which we understand is very hard on the feet!  He got some TLC in the way of a hot salted water foot bath.  He said it felt a lot better after that  and we bandaged it up for him along with some teasing from his companion!!

Wed. May 23rd 2012

A "big day" today.  Of course we expected to be fully involved with the audit, but it was also meeting day.  Before everyone arrived we prepared as much of the food that we could (others were contributing also) so Brent and I could be on deck to provide records and answer questions for Elder Tong.  As it happened, it was Brent that Elder Tong needed most pre-lunch, which meant Brent was unable to help with the food (as is his custom) so I found myself directing Pres. Charles in the preparation of Greek salad act.  All the others were in Greek class at the time.  Sis. Charles had brought a marvelous main dish - apparently one of Pres. C's favorites - and Sis. Maxwell brought a chocolate sheet cake!!!  (shades of home for me so that was extra special).  We did Greek salad and a huge fruit salad and country style bread - it's like a rock (even though it was baked today) but everyone here seem to like it very much.  Around 5:30, Sophia (one of the lawyers) took Brent and I down to the police station where we had to provide Brent's tax number and insurance papers  -  it seems that Mr. V. (the man who ran into the side of Brent's car) has filed "criminal" charges (under some Act) against Brent!!!  Now Sophia has five days to prepare a statement from "our side"!  Brent asked her if he could just "settle out of court" so to speak, giving him monetary compensation?  on the understanding that he would withdraw his action against Brent and/or the Church!!!  We'll have to see.

Tues. May 22nd 2012

It's Myles birthday  -  and  -  seven months that we've been on our mission!  Our auditor's name is Alan Tong and he arrived this afternoon.  Since we were out at the airport to get him, we took the opportunity to go to Ikea (which is right by the airport) and picked up a few things  -  we don't get there very often, so we usually have a little list built up for such occasions.  Elder Tong's plane was about a half hour late and we finally spotted him amongst the passengers.  He is a jolly looking, little Englishman with a sense of humor to match. We felt at ease with him at once and judged that the audit was likely to be a pleasant experience.  We have heard reports to the contrary from others about other auditors.  One man said - auditors are the guys that come in after the battle and bayonet the wounded!  We brought him back to the Mission Office and Pres. & Sis. Charles came up and after a short visit we all went to supper at the "3 Pigs"  -  and it was very good.

Mon. May 21st 2012

We thought our auditor was going to arrive today, but he couldn't get the flights he want, so he'll come tomorrow.  That gives us a little reprieve  -  time to do some extra preparation for the audit.  The big part of that was that I was able to work with Brent and clear and file the build-up of paperwork on his desk so that the auditor wouldn't freak out when he saw it.  It probably took about six hours in all to get it done, but, Oh boy! did it ever look better and Brent really felt good about it.  It was kind of fun actually!

Sun. May 20th 2012

Up and off to speak at Acropoli Branch!  It didn't happen!!  When we were about 5 miles away from the Branch we encountered road blocks!!  There was a half-marathon in progress and a whole bunch of streets were closed.  We tried a couple of routes, but to no avail and what with the detours which put us into areas we had never been in before (the streets near the centre are like rabbit warrens)  Brent was getting more frustrated and more lost by the minute!  So, we called the Assts. and found that they were already at Acropoli Branch (they must have arrived there before the road blocks went up!) and we asked them for guidance on getting out of our mess.  They suggested (since there was no way we could get any closer) that we call the Mowers.  On the 3rd Sunday, couples are assigned to talk in the two buildings in Athens  -  otherwise we attend church in the area we live in.  The Mowers normally attend Acropoli and we attend Halandri.  Since we were supposed to talk in Acropoli, Mowers were slated to talk in Halandri.  The idea was to see if the Mowers could go to Acropoli (since we couldn't get there) and we go to Halandri.  We phoned the Mowers only to find that the Metro had also been affected by the marathon in that Mowers were stuck at the station near Acropoli and unable to get to Halandri.  Yea!  it all worked out  -  except that  -  the Mowers spoke in Acropoli last month and they were planning to use the same talk for Halandri today!!!   Oooop.
I guess they ad libbed.   Later Brent & I had our bi-monthly interview with Pres. Charles.  He's satisfied with our efforts and we had a lovely visit with him.  We are all very much aware of his term coming to an end and we know we will miss them very much.

Sat. May 19th 2012

I worked on preparing my talk for tomorrow at Acropoli Branch.  In the evening we went to Halandri Branch where they had a presentation on temples.  There were 7 or 8 speakers and they were supposed to speak for about 5 minutes each, but some went longer  -  and they talked about a specific temple they had been to that was special to them.  As they spoke, a screen behind them scrolled through different images of the temple about which they were speaking.  We all brought some food to supplement Dominos pizzas which were brought in for the occasion.  It was a very nice evening.


Friday, 25 May 2012

Fri. May 18th 2012

Well - we were up at 3:00 am!!  We were given permission to hook up on Skype and to be part of Sophie's baptismal service.  There we were at 3:00am, all dressed in missionary attire and badges and I was privileged to give the talk on baptism and Brent gave the talk on the Holy Ghost.  Dave had it all set up technically and we actually did it on "FaceTime"  - not Skype - and the video was so clear and sharp and the audio had no blips or interruptions and it was very reverent and quiet.  It really felt like we were right there!  We saw our kids and grandchildren and a lot of friends.  It was like being a fly on the wall!!  We were so thrilled to see it all and to be part of it.  After that excitement, the rest of the day seemed dull!  We had a glitch with the Cyprus supplies order.  They called asking if we could check to see what happened to it.  We had received ours, but hadn't checked it or put it away as yet  - so as we checked it all out, we found that Distribution had sent all the Cyprus stuff to us in spite of the Cyprus address clearly at the top of the order!  So we phoned and they wanted us to send it across to Cyprus.  We told them why that doesn't work  (different country, different tax set-up, VERY expensive to send it and could take months on a ship).  In the end, they agreed to re-ship them and we keep their original order.

Thurs. May 17th 2012

Sophie's birthday!    The Assts. had broken tail lights, so Brent got some bulbs and help them get the covers off and installed the new ones.  Being prep. day, we both had hair cuts - now we can hear each other!!  Tons of stuff to do - so we were busy.  One of the elders that went home in March "Skyped" in to tell us a little about his doings - which included the fact that he is about to get engaged to a young sister that went home the same time - pretty cool - and boy! is he happy!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Wed. May 16th 2012

It was Brenda and Dave's anniversary yesterday and we were able to connect up with them on Skype to wish them a happy day.  We also finalized plans for us to hook up with them to see Sophie's baptism.  What would we do without Skype?

Pres. & Sis Charles flew to the island of Kefalonia to visit with a few members there. This is the only way that members who live on these islands around Greece have any contact with the church leaders.  The fact that these islands are really beautiful doesn't hurt a bit either!  The air-conditioning man come twice a year to do maintenance on the AC units and today was one of those days.  It's a bit weird when you have maintenance men or repair men come here - they kind of take over as they know what they are doing and because of the language barrier we don't know what's going on and they just go right ahead and we never know what they'll be doing next!!  Brent tries to communicate with them - but it doesn't work very well.

The first magnolias on our tree.

IMG 1050

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Mon. May 14th 2012

Overnight and early today I've heard from all of my kids - it's been wonderful.  Nothing but office work today - except, it was a lovely day

Here's another rose from our garden!  About 90% of the flowers that I have put on the blog are from the garden here!

IMG 1031

Sun. May 13th 2012

Mother's Day for some people today  -  U.S. & Canada and Germany for sure, but I don't know Greeks even celebrate it - I suppose they do, however,Mother's Day in the UK was in March!!   It was very slaw at our Branch today - only 25 people and it was pot-luck Sunday and that usually entices some extra attendance!   Maybe people are starting their holidays early.  They say that everyone in Athens goes away for the summer and in August, there's hardly any traffic.  Interesting!  The Assts. came here later in the day - mainly so the Austrian elder could call his Mom.

Here's a beautiful rose for all Mom's on Mother's Day -

IMG 1032


Sat. May 12th 2012

I finally found a summer skirt that was a decent length that I could wear - I've only been looking for a month or two.  They are either too long or too short!   We went to a baptism this afternoon - a really nice young man from Ghana.  There are a lot of immigrants here from Africa and quite a number of them had joined the church.  After that, we went with the Assts. to visit with a lady who had joined the Church many years ago and hasn't attended for a long, long time.  Her home is right on the seafront - about 30 km from the mission office.  It is a beautiful home and the setting is wonderful with the beach and water right across the road.  We had a good visit with her - she has been through a lot and is pretty messed up and is going to go away for a while to try and get things straightened out.  She grew up in Toronto (although she was born in Greece) and she headed over there at the end of the month.

Here's another picture from "Karen's visit"  -  sitting on rocks at Mars Hill.

IMG 1014

Fri. May 11th 2012

President came up to the office today to work with the Assts. on transfers and was talking to Brent and Brent told him about the migraines he's been having of late (one every day for the last four days!).  The result of that was a phone call to the doctor in the UK that looks after our mission.  It's not unusual for him to get a migraine, just not  for four consecutive days and they decided to wait for four days and if they continue to call Dr. Hales back.  So, we'll see.  I received the most beautiful bouquet of huge gerberas - an early Mother's Day present - as seen below.  I am really spoiled!

IMG 1028

Friday, 11 May 2012

Thurs. May 10th 2012

It is 7 months since we entered the MTC!  The Assts. were here most of the day as Elder Yates sprained his ankle badly and has to rest it, but they were doing lots of helpful jobs for us which was great!  They are good lads.

Flower for today  -

IMG 0998

Wed. May 9th 2012

Ordinary Wednesday, with meetings etc.  We fixed salads to go with pizza which they ordered in.  One of our Sister's mother has passed away and she will be going back for a couple of days to the funeral.  Meetings went longer today as Pres. and the Assts. began planning for the next transfers and Pres. suggested that we order in from Noodle Bar for supper.  The Assts. loved that - of course we didn't object either!  So we had a wonderful time eating and visiting.

Our flowers for today (all of these are from our garden!)

IMG 0995

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Tues. May 8th 2012

Had an absolutely wonderful day.  We were able to meet our dear friend Karen whose cruise ship docked here today.  She met us with friends, Daniella and the Henrys about 8:30 am.  It was a lovely warm morning and we immediately went up to the Acropolis before it got too hot and too crowded (there were three cruise ships in the harbor).  It was pleasant walking up to the ticket place - which is really at the foot of the Acropolis - but when we got there, 3 or 4 group arrived and suddenly, it was crowded and getting hot.  I was glad I had brought my umbrella and sunscreen. We made it up to the top and there are only trees along the south-east side, so it's quite open and dry and hot, but a wondrous place to take in.  All of the buildings are being restored and the Parthenon is looking really good, but it has a lot of work to be done on it before they finish. I guess we were up there about a 1/2 hour and then made our way down again.  When we got to the bottom, Karen, Brent and I went across to Mars Hill, but Daniella and the Henrys sat on a bench and cooled off under the trees while we went.  Mars Hill is just a huge rock, but it slopes down gently on the south end and there it has some trees and many rocks.  We wondered just how many Athenians sat around there and listened to Paul the Apostle.  After that  we strolled back along the main walk and came to the Acropolis Museum.  We didn't go in, but there is a large area out the front where you are walking on glass and below you can see ancient ruins of old Athens - in one area there was a tile floor of intricate design - you could make out the rooms and what looked like a cistern - it was amazing.  By this time it was 12:30 plus and we went to the Arcadian restaurant for lunch.  We had been introduced to it about a month ago by the Mowers and we really enjoyed it, so it was worth another try.  They didn't let us down - most of us Mousaka and loved it.  We ate at tables out the front - it was a no-traffic area and was in the shade of umbrellas and trees.  We were so grateful for the rest and the cold water.  At one point after we had finished eating and were just sitting and relaxing, a few little sparrows flew down and sat right on the table, so close you could have touched them!!.  The next thing was shopping at the Plaka - that's when the men decided that it was time for them to go the the church (which was just around the corner) and rest a bit!!!  So they left us and we went up and down the little lanes of tiny shops looking for souvenirs.  They got a few things and then we went back to the church also.  We found the men lounging comfortably in the YSA area visiting with one of our senior couples, the Elks, so we joined them until it was time for Karen and company to return to the ship.  We had had a super time and it was hard saying goodbye - it would have been nice to be longer.

IMG 1013

Mon. May 7th 2012

Yesterday Greeks went to the polls and results were inconclusive.  The biggest winner was 19% - at least three of the leading parties will have to get together to have a majority in order to form a government.  So the election solved nothing - we'll just have to wait and see what's next.  We had to get some special batteries for some translator machine.  By the time we found the address we were just outside of Athens in a little township (what they call a village).  It was quite a hot day - it seems like the hot weather has just suddenly come - and we actually turned the AC on - but it was quite a nice drive.

More flowers -

IMG 1021

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Sun. May 6th 2012

Fri. May 4th -  It was another nice warm day.  We spent all day with the Elks.  Elder Elks helped Brent, instructing him in the mysteries of accounting and computer programs.  Sister Elks and I worked on four huge binders of Teaching Records that had become so full we had to do something about - couldn't get any more in them!!  Some of the records went back as far as 2003!!  Anyway, we had fun doing it together and it was done in half the time.

Sat. May 5th - Regular Saturday stuff - grocery shopping as usual and constant office work to be done.  I had to find the driving requirements for Greece and Cyprus.  It was another area that I hadn't looked at much.  The file was such a mess we finished up taking it all over to the President's and having him sort it out for us which turned out to be a nice little break for us too.

Sun. May 6th - We had a full-house at church today as all the folk from the Acropoli Branch were with us.  The owner of their building is having new windows installed.  Quite a few visitors today  (tourist season is upon us) - mostly former missionaries and their families  Outside our building we had to check out "Toby the tortoise"  - we had a hard time finding him  - probably because it was fairly hot (27C). He was keeping cool in some bushes!

Flowers here are incredible just now.  Here's two of my favorites -


IMG 1007 IMG 1000

Friday, 4 May 2012

Thurs. May 3rd 2012

President came over here with his broken airport this morning - he was very unhappy at the inconvenience as all the Mission Home computers were down! However, Brent was able to get the exact model at the store to replace it which meant no configuring was necessary - he just had to plug it in so now he's a "happy camper."  Before his computers were fixed, he tried to create a document here and that wasn't working well for him.  He finished up talking into Brent's little recorder and then I type the report out by listening to the recorder.  It worked, but was a bit of a pain having to back up assists. were told to make a 2 hour trip out of Athens to a man who asked to hear about our church.  That happens rarely - I don't know the whole story, but this guy must be special for some reason.  The Assts. reported that it was a very good meeting and that they expect it will further than this.  Karen is supposed to oak here next Tuesday and Gord and Kathy and I were e-mailing and skyping back and forth trying to get messages to Karen re our plans for when she comes.  I tried texting her (she can receive texts when the ship is in port) but I received no answer.

This is looking down at the Acropolis from Lycabettus Hill.

IMG 6097

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Wed. May 2nd 2012

When Brent was coming home rom getting the mail this morning, he was detoured and it wasn't until he got back onto that road, further down - as he looked back he could see four burnt out cars!!!  Haven't a clue what happened.  It was Wednesday meetings day today and Pres. decided to have them all at the Mission Home in case Brent was still under the weather.  As it happened, Brent slept right through last night and he felt pretty good this morning.  We were invited to go for lunch with them at the Mission Home and we went.  It was Elder Mower's birthday - so there was a little bit of extra fun to be had.

This is the Bell Tower of Agios Georgios church (St. George's) on top of Lycabettus Hill.  There is also a restaurant and theatre up there.

IMG 6103

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Tues. May 1st 2012

I think Brent is starting to heal finally.  He's started eating some solids (scrambled egg and cheese) which is good - he's still having bad tummy pains, but not as often.  In all, he's lost 10 lbs now!!!  The Assts. stayed up here overnight and came up sheepishly this morning looking for some breakfast as there was, no food down stairs so we fed them.  Nobody really stays downstairs continually - when Elders come up here to do some work, they sometimes stay over, although the Assts. usually do stay weekly when the meetings are on  -  but they don't always remember to bring food.  I went the rounds with my computer again today.  I was trying to submit an order and it just wouldn't work - it kept giving me error messages  -  so I finally called the help desk and was told that when working in that program I should launch it through Explorer, not Firefox.  It went ahead doing it through Explorer and it worked fine!!!  Frustrations!!  It was May Day/Labor Day holiday here today and we got a call about 9 pm - two of the elders had locked themselves out of their apartment!!!  The Assts took the spare keys from the cupboard here and headed off way down to that apartment.  In no time they were back - they got about two miles from here and the traffic was so jammed up with people celebrating the holiday that they had to give up trying to do all the way down there.  The unfortunate elders had to go to another elder's apartment and bunk there for the night.  There were fireworks going off quite a bit too.

We didn't go on the excursion last thursday to the top of Lycabettus Hill, but one of the Sr. missionaries shared his photos with us.  This hill is the highest point in Athens (much higher than the Acropolis) and has a little church on the top.  It has kind of a cable car that you can take to the top - the view from up there is incredible. This is the little church.

IMG 6099