The painting and cleaning job was inspected this morning to make sure that everything was OK. I guess it passed - we had no complaints, but the Physical Facilities Rep. asked for a few touch-ups. We are still up to our necks in jobs - what with the end-of-month stuff and the Charles' wind-up. Pres. & Sis. Charles worked here in the office most of the day. We were supposed to go to lunch with them, but the missionaries "got to them" and told them that their mission wasn't complete unless they consumed a "giga" (I'm not sure if that's how it is spelt, but it is a giant gyro (Shwarma) so we went with them instead. It was REALLY hot and the last thing I wanted to do was to eat something like that. However, we (the sisters) only tackled a regular size which was big enough - but I don't know how anyone could eat one of those huge ones. When we got home, there was a police helicopter doing tight circles in our area. It seems that about 4/5 blocks away, there had been a robbery and hostage taking!!! One on the robbers was shot and injured and a policeman was also shot and injured, but two got away. It was right close to one of our member's homes. The 11yr-old called his Dad - "Hey, Dad, there's shooting outside our house! What do we do?" They were told to hunker down and don't go near any windows - they were safe. This is one of the better areas of the city and it's fairly unusual for something like that to happen here!
Friday, 29 June 2012
Georgio came this morning with the rugs that had been taken away to be cleaned. It is always nice to see Georgio - he is Albanian - and is always smiling and happy - and he is so fun and cute when trying to communicate with Brent - teaching him words and such - they actually have a lot of fun with it. We had to make squares for the Training/Farewell meeting this afternoon. I found an amazing Mars bar square recipe that requires no baking - perfect for Athens in the summer time! Unfortunately, the calories are not any less!! The meeting turned out to be more Farewell than training - Sis. Charles spoke giving wonderful advice to the young missionaries about life after their mission and finding a wife and things like that. President's talk was more about mission affairs, but wound up telling us how much he appreciated the opportunity to learn so much from us all and how appreciative he was of the love that existed between us all - a bond that he will never forget. Then the missionaries shared their testimonies -it was so sweet and some tears were shed. It's pretty hard for them as Pres. & Sis. C were like parents to a lot of them. We presented Pres. C. & Sis. C. with a beautiful large picture book of Greece and for Pres. C. mostly, the Greek version of the "Three Little Pigs" - "Τα Τρία Γουρουνάκια" - I can tell from the pictures that it differs from ours quite a big - there seems to be more stories in it with a Mother pig etc.. There is a wolf and I'm not sure if he blows three houses down, but at the end, there is a dragon that "slys" the wolf and becomes a pet!!! There, I knew you needed to know all that!
And this is the book -
Thursday, 28 June 2012
Mettings day. Very ht again! The work was very diverse today - very much affected by the fact the this is the last meeting day of President's tenure. It seemed like we were jumping all over the place fixing one thing then jumping quickly to another and it was all going so fast I felt like I was losing it!! Just too much going on! After meeting, Pres. & Sis. Charles stay around emptying files and cupboards and tossing a lot of stuff. They finished up staying for a supper snack of crepes and fruit salad. We had a lovely little time together - they are exceptional folk. We received notice that we will be getting a new CES couple to replace Mower who are due to go home in Sept.
Our photo today is back to the orange flower tree -
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Got an early start on the day to prepare for the "deep cleaners" to come in and do their magic. This is all in preparation for the arrival of our new Mission President. We wanted to ask questions about what they were going to clean, but none of them spoke English. Oh boy! could they ever clean up a storm - they worked like little beavers. By 3:30 they had been through the place like a whirlwind and it does look very nice. They steam cleaned the carpet in the office and so we cut up cardboard and place them like stepping stones so we could get back to doing our work - and there we sat in 34C. temps with all the windows wide open so that the carpet could dry - phew! it was not very comfortable - and when I say window - it actually opens like a door on runners and is about 7 ft. wide and is about 7 ft high!! There are smaller windows all around as well.
It is quite common to see this kind of treatment of the cedar trees - shaped to fit nicely where they are growing. This house is just around the corner from us -
Sunday, 24 June 2012
Another scorcher today! The couple from Jo'burg and I have decided the reason we find the heat so oppressive here is because we are at sea level - whereas, in both Calgary (a bit under 4,000ft.) and Jo"burg ( around 5,000ft) the air is less dense. Don't know if the realization of that helps or not!! There were only a few at Church today - we were told that there will be fewer still in July and August. The US families go "home" for the two months and Greeks are apt to disappear for a good part of those months also. Driving should be comparatively heaven!
These trees begin the season with tons of pink blossoms and then turn this deep red color. At sunrise and sunset the color is incredible - they look like they're on fire! The color doesn't show up so well in this pic -
As we went shopping at 8:00 am the temp. was 29C.!!! For those of you who don't know, for Calgarians, that would be right up there as one of the hottest days of the summer! The strings winds that we've been having are gone and it seems more humid - it is apt to make you feel a bit sick! There is a big Farewell meeting tonight for Pres. and Sis. Charles, so the couples were asked to bring "finger-food" for the occasion. We made up 40 deviled eggs and a bunch meatballs, purchased some chocolate cakes and cookies (it was simply too hot to put the oven on) and juices and water. We did fit in some office jobs as well during the day. The Farewell meeting was bitt/sweet as you can imagine - they are such lovely people. We have learned so much from them and have grown to love them dearly. They both spoke at the meeting followed by a visiting leader from Germany. The couples set up the finger-food table where, after the meeting, everyone gathered for eats and visiting.
This is one of the views I'll be posting of the trees with the orange flowers - don't know the name of it!
Saturday, 23 June 2012
Pres. & Sis. Charles came up here to do some work - they had been to lunch with a former missionary and his parents. We had a nice visit with them. Each visit with them now is becoming more precious as our opportunities to do that a getting fewer and fewer. The sisters' (21 yr-olds) phone broke down (cratered) and they were hoping that we had a spare up here and we didn't. Recently it has been cheaper for the missionaries to go and purchase one themselves - our mobile contract people charge so much more for theirs! So we told the sister to go and purchase one. The next call from them was asking if we had the SIM card from the previous cell phone that they had because the SIM card in the broken phone didn't have all their contact numbers on it. They figured they had save a lot them to the phone only, not to the SIM card. It was way over my understanding. They came up here later and was able to transfer the info' they needed, so that was good. We have been in Athens eight months today!.
Brent went out (in the heat!!) and took pictures of different trees - so this first one doesn't show you the tree just the details of the blossoms of it. In the following days, we will insert the trees - "The trees of Athens" gallery!!!
Friday, 22 June 2012
We have been looking for confirmation that some of our money transferred to our Canada a/c made it there. Midmorning we received a call from the bank here telling us that our transfer was rejected because we didn't have all the required numbers on the transfer!! So off we go to the bank and parking is like hen's teeth, so we had to walk about 1/2 mile in the hot sun - there was some shade but it was about 33C. in the shade, so it didn't make much difference. We fixed the transfer (I hope) and now we probably won't see any results for a week.The Elks came up here this afternoon and after a good visit (it was Prep. Day) we decided to go to "3 Pigs" for supper. It was fun. Brent had "Bifteki" beef style. It is like a big hamburger, (only it is veal) on whatever they call their flat bread, with raw onion, hot sauce, mayo and tomato on the side. You order fries separately and they are really good - quite large - soft in the middle and crisp on the edges. I had a half-size serving of Bifteki but - chicken style. Sis. Charles' email account was hacked or what ever you call it. This email came from her on our mission computers and our laptops, (advertising some quick diet fix) but the interesting thing was each message had a different list of recipients - from her address book! We spent quite a while sending out apology emails to those people. Oh! the wonders of technology.
The Area Physical Facilities Rep. came by to inspect the painting job and generally checked out our physical needs here in the office. We understand that we're in line for a new internet/firewall connection which has actually been ordered. He said it could take 15 weeks to get here though!! I'll be patient - after yesterday's experience of not being able to access the 'net because of all the traffic here that used up all the available ports, I could not get on the internet to do my work for 6 hours!!! Our system is archaic and the new one has unlimited access. That would certainly cut the frustration and worry of not being able to get online. As far as the paint job in concerned, it looks like the Rep. wasn't happy about something, because the painter was over (he doesn't speak English) and was trying to tell us what time he wanted to come to fix whatever needed fixing!! It was a circus trying to understand him and we think he is coming at 2:00 pm - we'll see!
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Meeting Day. Brent and I made a huge "Dottie's Zucchini, Chicken and Rice" casserole (whoever Dottie is) and others brought cabbage and apple salad, buns, drinks and dessert (brownies and shortbreads). Lots of people here - very busy - but lots of fun visiting with everyone.
Pres. & Sis. Charles flew back from Cyprus this evening - BUT - it was special because it was the last mission flight before they are released so we HAD to go and meet them and take them to their hotel, even though it was only 10 minutes away. They were tired and probably would have had to wait a while for the hotel shuttle bus, so it was worth our effort just to get them back to their hotel quickly. Dad received wonderful calls from the kids wishing him Happy Father's Day.
Well, we made it down to Acropoli Branch without a hitch and arrived there almost 50 mins. early. We had left the office with so much time to spare in case there were any hang-ups, but there weren't! We presented our talks (you give copies to the Greek translators) and they seemed to be accepted okay. You always hope that you say something that will benefit someone! We took the mail down too - that has to be most popular job in the mission. You just have to show up anywhere and you are mobbed by anxious missionaries asking if they have mail. After the first meeting we left to go to Halandri as we had mail for those that were there also, but we had parked in a new area (for us) around the Church. As we left we had to make a right turn where we wanted to go left which put us on the road to Pirieas (the main port of Athens and the opposite direction of our destination! We must have gone about 10 miles before we could turn around!! Most of that road was freeway. We finally made it back to Halandri - stayed until the end of meetings there and then home.
Sunday, 17 June 2012
Much cooler today. A really strong wind developed and the high was only 30C. and weird as it may seem, but I really did feel like I needed a light jacket - especially when we were grocery shopping - I had goods bumps inside there! It was a fairly quiet day. Our cleaning lady (who only comes on Saturdays) didn't come. Only the painters came to get the Mission Home keys and the Elks came to get the van again. They had another apartment to take furniture to and since it was cooler it was a much easier job for them today. Brent and I both have to talk in Church tomorrow so we work on those too. Tomorrow is another election here in Greece. Last time, there were traffic jams all over the city, so we don't know what to expect. We are supposed to talk at the Acropoli Chapel which is right in the centre - maybe our talk at the centre are jinxed - so far we have not been able to give any of our scheduled talks there!!! About 8:00 p.m. we got a lovely surprise as Mike Skyped in and we then watched and heard Zane's violin recital. He has really improved and it was wonderful. Boy! do we ever appreciate Skype!
Saturday, 16 June 2012
The van needed servicing and Brent had made an appointment to have it done this morning weeks ago. He took it down and waited nearly 45 minutes for his turn to come up and when the mechanic got to him, he told Brent that the van was too big for their racks and told him another place to take it. Frustration reigns supreme! How come they didn't know it wouldn't fit on their racks - they sold us the van!!! So then, we have the address for this other place and an appointment for Mon. at 8:00 am. In Greece you don't want to be trying to find an address on Monday morning during rush hour - so we drove to where the Google map pointed us to and there was nothing there, so we continued to look for the street and that's a challenge because there are LOTS of streets that have no street sign. Finally Brent found a man who not only knew of the street, he offered to show us they way - so we followed him for a long way before we came to the place. We would NEVER have found it on our own and we were so grateful for his help. Another frustration - don't try to buy an electric fry pan in Greece - we have tried many places in Athens and they just don't have electric fry-pans - you can buy electric griddles (the type to do lots of pancakes on at one time, but no fry pans). We'll survive! Pres. & Sis. Charles went over to Cyprus today - this is their farewell trip over there and will no doubt be an emotional one.
Not a really good photo, but it gives you an idea of the magnolia tree and how big those flowers are -
Friday, 15 June 2012
Another 37C. day!!! Last night, the sister came to sleep at the mission office. They had been experiencing some anxious moments as someone had been ringing their doorbell and running away - and this had happened several times - and by last night they were pretty nervous, poor things - so President thought it best that they sleep up here last night and we should have someone check the apartment out. The painters came by here to pick up the keys for the Mission Home and Elder & Sis. Elks came up also with two elders to get the van and go over to the Mission Home where they sorted everything out in the garage. Tossed out mostly all the bedding as it was in such poor shape and not fit to put in any of the missionaries' apartments and checked what furniture there was there and linens etc. The Elks have the assignment of looking after the apartments and inspecting them for cleanliness etc. and they have found a need for replacing the bedding, but not having any suitable bedding stored in the Mission Home, they then went to Ikea and purchase new items. So the four of them loaded the purchases up and while the Elks delivered this stuff to the apartments they dropped the elders off here so they could do their letters home. What a day they have had and with it being so hot, I know they are going to be "dead' tonight. Brent & I had haircuts today and Pres. and Sis. Charles were there too so we had a good visit. It being Prep-Day, I persuaded Brent to take me to "The Mall" where I got some short sleeve tops which I have needed since the hot weather set in - and also got four big bottles of water for the water cooler in the office - that has been going down quickly too with the hot weather!
Azalea bushes line the roads here -
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Brent didn't sleep well last night - worrying about Greece's situation and whether to transfer some of our money back home - so we went to the bank and did it! He feels that we can always transfer some back if needed, but if the banks are seized then our money could be lost!. It's getting hotter - the girl at the deli told us it was 38C.!! President & Sis. Charles came over with work for us to do. They move into the Hotel tonight as the painters are starting to do the renovations at the Mission Home in preparation for our new Mission President - President Freestone - to arrive on the 29th. Pres. & Sis. C. must feel pretty funny with most of their belongings pack and sent back to England and having to live in a hotel until then! It's really sad that they are going - but it is OK too. 😥
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Yet another hot day - 33C.!! Our new Assistants came to the office early to get a head-start on preparations for the meeting and the Greek class (which they teach). The first thing they did though, was to get me out of a mess trying to upgrade a contact address for the IMOS system. Lunch went over very well - others brought a Spanish casserole - buns - drink and a wonderful craisin (sp) salad. We lost the internet late this afternoon - just when Brent was trying to contact our bank back home. Our internet seems so vulnerable - it doesn't imbue you with confidence! There is another election this coming Sunday and one of the parties say that they are going to seize that banks!!! We think we'll transfer some of our money back home.
More magnolias - this one is just starting to open up - it is as big as a man's fist! -
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
Another hot day 31C.!! I washed early and the clothes that we hung outside were dry within two hours! The man who takes care of hiring people to do repairs and such came by to get an advance payment so he could go ahead with repairs for about 5 apartments that had minor things that need fixing. Worked steadily all day and then went to the airport to pick up Pres. & Sis. Charles. While we were close to Ikea, we went in a picked up some meatballs. We were worried that they might thaw out before we got home, but they didn't so that worked out OK. Pres. & Sis. Charles looked tired, but happy to be back. It was the last time for them to be in Thessaloniki before their release, so it was quite emotional saying goodbye after three years - and this is just the beginning of the farewells!! They go home on July 1st. We have meetings tomorrow and I was assigned to do the dessert - I made lemon squares and Brownie Cheesecake squares.
The peaches are just forming on the tree in our garden -
It was "pot-luck" at church to day. We made up some meatballs with Cream of Mushroom soup over them and took a chocolate loaf and some juice. Just as well because there was only two other "main: dishes brought! No salads - no bread - no other juice, but some bottled water. Luckily all the dishes were of a generous size as there were about 28 people there. Attendance at the meetings was a little better than last week, but could be a lot better.
The camellia bushes have started to blossom. I remember them from Auntie Mary's garden on Traill St. Northcote in Melbrourne, but I think they were different variety - hers seemed more flat and open whereas the petals on these seem more frilly. I just remember that you couldn't tough the petals or they would turn brown -
We Skyped Lauryn early for her birthday! The painters were back again to finish up.
There isn't very "strong" odor, but it is insistent and unpleasant and our eyes are itchy and the dust makes us cough. Oh well! Brent drove Pres. & Sis. Charles to the airport - they went to Thessaloniki. We have a cumquat trees at the side fence and the fruit is ripe - Brent knocked some down and they were really yummy. Haven't had any of those since I left Australia!
Here is the cumquat tree -
Sunday, 10 June 2012
Well! We are confined to "barracks!" - in are apartment down the hall from the office anyway! The painters are doing to main office today and everything in there is sort of lumped in the middle of the room and covered with plastic. There is dust everywhere from the sanding and everything feel yucky - you wonder how much is getting into one's food etc. Pres. Charles called with some plane and hotel bookings to do right away for our new Mission President and so I braved the office, dived under the plastic (but when they saw what I was trying to do, they pulled the plastic back for me) and I made the bookings, half sitting/half standing - squished between drawers and cupboards and leaning over a cupboard to reach the keyboard - it must have looked funny, but I did it!. Apparently the painters will be back tomorrow to do the hallway and the mail room!!!
Friday, 8 June 2012
The painters were back first thing this morning and they were to paint the kitchen and the President's Office. Goodbyes were said to the elders that were going to their new areas - one going to Thessaloniki and others going to Cyprus. Our day progressed fairly normally, but was interspersed with little breaks where the painters had questions and us trying to understand their Greek - it was hilarious, but the painters were good sports about it. At one point the new assistants - Elders Leit (Denmark) and Stevens (UK) came back and were able to help with some translation. They had the "new" elders that had come from Cyprus and Thess. and were on their way to "deliver" them to their new areas - which was all over the city. They came back really late from doing that and we learned the reason was because they had license plates that ended in an even number and today's date was an odd number which meant that they couldn't take the direct route through the centre, but had to circle way around in order to get to south Athens. (If the day's date is an even number you cannot go into the centre unless the last number on your license plate is also an even number)!! Ever since I started here I have been having some trouble reconciling invoices from the "on-line" store with the monthly statement. I find a charge on the statement and I try to match it with the invoices I have, but with the on-line store, nothing matches - not the date - not the money amount and none of the their numbers match any of the number on my invoice!!!! It has been driving me crazy! So, I finally decided to call the help desk. As soon as I gave them my order # they had answers. I learned that "this charge" was for only one item on the order I had submitted. I asked - in the future, how can I tell when that is happening and he couldn't answer that, but told me to call them anytime that they would be happy to help me!! I guess I'll be calling them again!!! Our supper turned out to be pizza that we ordered in as the painters didn't finish up until 8:30 pm and we couldn't get into the kitchen!!
Not a good start to my day - I had developed a little blister on the inside lower lid of my eye. It felt like an eyelash that just keeps irritating but you can get rid of it! Brent went to the pharmakia and got some antibiotic eye cream. That was about 9:00 am. By mid-afternoon whatever was hurting was just about all gone so that was very good. We had painters come and started painting the downstairs - fortunately they didn't take too long to get it done as we were needing it for missionaries to stay in tonight. Preparations for transfers started after lunch too with our out-going assistants getting things ready for the new assistants (President Charles changes the assistants after every two transfers, presumably so more missionaries get a chance to serve in leadership positions.) by cleaning their car and gassing up, and cleaning up the downstairs apartment for the transferring missionaries to sleep in and bringing in food for them. Then they drove around and picked up all the ones involved in the transfer and brought them here to stay overnight. So, we had a "full-house" downstairs - but, of course, they were up here too, checking things out. They ordered pizza to be brought in downstairs, but it was after 10:00 pm before we finally got rid of the last ones!
We made three kinds of sandwiches for our "meeting day" lunch - egg salad - chicken salad - ham & cheese - and Greek salad and fruit salad. Sis. Charles brought water-melon and the couples brought drinks. Since we were celebrating Sis. Elk's and Sis Charles' birthdays, I made a double chocolate, sour cream with chocolate chips Bundt cake. We have a Bundt pan here and the cake turned out OK. We can't buy Miracle Whip here, just mayo and the egg mixture and the chicken mixture lacked flavor and zip. I added some hot mustard and some apple cider vinegar and that came pretty close to the flavor I like and everyone seemed OK with it. Later - disaster happened! I locked up my cell phone! It is the one I use for the mission. I had taken out my SIM card and replaced it with the mission SIM card and so it had all the mission numbers etc. on it - so it was a critical error. Who do I call when that kind of trouble hits? Davey!! His first question was - what was I doing??!! I had asked one of the elders if he would put the scriptures on my phone and he said that he would have to do an up-grade in order to do that. I okayed it - totally forgetting that I wasn't to ever do any up-grades on that phone. So Dave went through many possibilities of how to solve my problem. Have Dave try to fix it on-line - get a new phone, but getting a new phone here in Greece wouldn't work when I got back to Canada. I could buy Dave's new iPhone that he is not using and shipping it with FedEx, but that might not make it here (other shipments have gone astray previously). So back to having Dave try to fix in on-line. First he tried to get me on iChat (couldn't fix it on Skype) - but our router and firewall here in the office wouldn't allow it - that meant he couldn't share my computer which he must do in order to do the fix. Some time later he called back - he had found some kind kind of a fix-it program through Rogers costing about $50.00. So, after a couple of hours, downloading that program, installing it and retrieving my information from my back-up on my laptop (thank goodness I had done that!) I have my phone back with just about everything that was on there before!! Thank you, Davey! I am so grateful.
One of the elders who is going home in July decided to pack a couple of boxes and send them home via DHL rather than have to pay the exorbitant amount they charge for over-weight baggage. Brent called DHL and arranged for a pick-up and was given the date of June 4th at 10 am. We waited until 1:00 pm and then Brent called them to learn that it was a holiday and there are no pick-ups today!!! Only in Greece! No advisory that it was a holiday and was told to check with them "in the morning"! Then we went out to a little town - Paiania - to a warehouse to pick up more of those special batteries that go in the little translator units you hang on your ear to listen in English or Greek as the case may be. Tuesdays, apparently, are going to be meeting days from now on and so we picked up food for that on the way back.
Coincidentally, all of Halandri Branch leadership was away this Sunday and Brent had to conduct! Very few were in attendance anyway - 17 in all and 6 of those were missionaries and 4 were tourists and seven members. After meetings we were invited by Elder and Sis. Elks for a lovely meal. They are the British people who have lived in South Africa for 22 years. They are so nice and we have lots in common and hit it off extremely well.
Here is yet another tree from our garden. Yes, they are cherries BUT they are tart cherries or sour cherries. They are not pleasant to eat, but good for cooking with -
There were three baptisms here in the Halandri Chapel in Athens, and one in Cyprus today. We went to two of them at noon - one was from India and the other from Nigeria. They seem like very nice young men. Then, the other one was held at 4:00 pm and this young man is Greek - which is unusual. What is more unusual is that his parents came for the service also - that is so nice. At 7:00 pm we went to the Acropoli Chapel for a Family History presentation. They showed how to get started on your family tree and how to do indexing etc. It was well attended and well presented.
Very busy today with the Thessaloniki missionaries returning home after Zone Conference. We had the "pleasure" of driving the sisters to their train. Brent loathes driving to the train - there is no quick way - you just have to go through roads that are always very busy and have tons of traffic lights and it takes ages. After the dust settled we managed to do quite a bit though.
Up early - Zone Conference day!! Brent and I spent a good part of the morning making three extra large pans of Shepherd's Pie - to feed about 30 people. We managed to get it to the Halandri building just in time for the lunch break - phew! Other sisters brought Greek sale - bread chunks - fruit salad and assorted cakes and squares. Hopefully enough to feed hungry young elders and sisters. We were then able to attend the afternoon session. Brent had a part to do called "Disaster!" - which gave the missionaries all kinds of pointers on what they should do if there is an earthquake or any kind of a disaster. Incidentally, there are many, many small earthquakes in and around Athens everyday - ranging from 1 to just under 5. The missionaries asked a lot of very good questions and Brent, acting like Brent! the presentation moved along at a good clip. I think it was time well spent. Sister Charles spoke regarding health, cleanliness and mental health ( stress, anxiety and depression.) These problems seem to hit a lot of young people in their missionary experience. Then, Elder Mower (one of our senior couples) spoke and frankly told of how he had suffered with anxiety when he first arrived here. This was more impressive because of who he is and his background. He is a lawyer and this last 22 years of his career he was a judge. To look at him you would never believe he would be the type to suffer so - he has a very quiet, but commanding presence - very calm, confident and dignified. One of the sisters staying here for the Zone Conference from Thessaloniki is serving a mini-mission and we were given permission to drive her to her parents for a short visit tonight. They are really nice people, but don't speak much English!