Brent went for the mail and then we had to clear up a fraud query on one of the elder's ATM cards. Apparently the elder tried to use it at a store to buy something, but it wouldn't work - so he gave them his personal credit card and that worked - BUT - the Church ATM card was debited anyway. Hopefully they'll give him a refund. Elks came over - Pres. Elks was here for the Mission Presidency meeting, but he and Sis. Elks came earlier - Pres. Elks, so he could help Brent with some of the Finances, and Sis Elks, so she could help me re-organize some storage cupboards. We dumped a lot of old stuff and recovered some much needed room so we could better organize everything and spread out a bit. It was terrific to get that done, but having great company with you to do it is a huge plus - they are so neat. We finished up eating together as the Mission Presidency meeting went so long.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
A sad morning with Elder A. returning to his home. He is an absolutely super young man who served a wonderful mission. We will all miss him greatly. Although it is Prep. Day, the end-of-month chores begin now and I spent most of the day working on the December supply orders. We learned today that Brenda's family will take part in the Heritage Park Nativity Pageant in Calgary. The Church has been putting this one for many years now and it has become quite popular. It will be a wonderful experience for them. It is held out-doors and they have an authentic looking set and they use live animals as part of the presentation.
There was a very small attendance at Halandri today! Harry was supposed to speak, but his little 6-mth old boy was sick and he couldn't come. Pres. Karampboulas spoke instead. He was very good. The Assts. and Elder A. attended Athens 1st Branch, which gave Elder A. an opportunity to say good bye to all his special people (he had been serving in Cyprus for the last 4 months so it's been a while since he saw them here). They arrived back here having not eaten since breakfast and they were very hungry so we made chicken breast in gravy, mashed potatoes, carrots,and the "tomato, onion, zucchini, cheese" dish that I make. That filled the hole!
Busy day for us in the office - except Brent took "time off" to make some banana bread as the Assts. met with our special new member, Harry, here in the office and banana bread is a real favorite around here. Elder Antonopoulos and the Assts. went over to Elder A's grandfather's place for a meal. Elder A. leaves on Monday morning and when missionaries leave they are given a bit of leeway to do things like this - especially since this grandpa was the one who contracted West Nile virus earlier this year and we just about lost him. The whole mission was fasting and praying for him and unlike a lot who didn't recover (especially at his age) he made a remarkable recovery - the doctors were amazed. They said the food was fantastic - even though it consisted of things reasonably strange to them - like fried octopus.
Saturday, 24 November 2012
It's not raining today - but still cool & overcast. Yanni came for his last Temple Prep lesson. His trip to the States is all in place - he leaves in a couple of weeks and will go to the Andros' Pres. Freestone's daughter is helping him by checking out a place to live. We are so happy for him that he has this chance which has occurred as a result of his mother's passing and leaving him an inheritance - so he is going to BYU-Idaho to school. At 2 pm we drove Pres. & Sis. F. to the airport - another trip to Cyprus. We had "Noodle Bar" brought in for supper.
Thirteen months since we arrived in Greece! Pres. went to the airport to pick up Elder Antonopoulos who finishes his mission on Monday. Meanwhile, Sis. F. needed a ride back from her dentist appt. so we went to get her. Then, around 1pm Pres. & Sis. Freestone came with Elder A.to get us and we went for lunch. We were going to a favorite place of Elder A's to get a "gigga" which is a huge gyro, but when we got there, it was closed. There were people inside and they directed us to another little place not far from there. It turned out to be really nice, but they didn't have "giggas." We did however have a dish made of chicken, onion, tomato, lettuce, sauce, cheese between two very large pitas, cut in four - topped with fries! It was huge, but we all shared it and it was very good. Later the young missionaries all went up to Mars Hill with Elder A for his farewell testimony.
It began pouring rain last night and kept it up until mid-afternoon today - crazy!! President came and met with the Assts. most of the morning and then he had to go down to the Acropoli building again to do interviews. I worked consistently all day, but at the end, didn't really seem to have made much of a dent in my list of things to do! Brent got a help call from the Church's bank- seems like they made a pay to us action instead of deducting from our a/c, He had to race over there and help them sort it out!! The Assts. drove him over so he didn't have the long, time consuming walk from where he parks. They are good guys.
We were at a training meeting all day at the Acropoli building. Brent still hates driving down there, so we hitched a ride with the Assts. and came back with Pres. Freestone. He had to be down there by 8 am and we opted not to go that early!! The meeting went well - the young elders and sisters are amazing. Our contribution to the lunch was really easy this time - we were asked to bring a garden salad and dressings!
First, we went and picked up Pres. & Sis. Freestone from the airport. It was Prep Day and next, we picked up the Elks and did a quick trip down to Sounio (Poseidon's Temple). There is not much there to see in the way of ruins - only the temple really - but there are digs in progress in the area back of the temple, toward the more populated area. As you might remember, the temple actually sits atop a bluff which has the sea on three sides, which is why the settlement was behind the temple. At the digs they are uncovering traces of buildings, wells etc. so eventually it will be a larger attraction for tourists. It is a remarkably peaceful place - there were not very many people there - tourist season is virtually over, but while we were eating lunch in our car, three big tourist buses arrived - so I guess it isn't completely done yet. It was kind of cool, not raining, but overcast - it was lovely to get a break from the busyness of Athens. We drove back on the coastal road which is always great and when we arrived at the Office, there were four elders sitting on the steps waiting for us!! So much for our break! They had come up to retrieve some winter clothing from their bags in the storage room.
Sis. Elks and I having fun!
Two fellows at the digs - they're not doing much - maybe that are on a break???
It happened suddenly that Brent was to ordain Yanni to the Melchizedeck Priesthood this morning. Because we were speaking in the other branch today, we had to figure out how this was going to happen - but it all worked out in the end. While we were in the middle of doing that, Brent got a call telling him that there was no power at the Halandri building!!! As we had to go over there anyway for Yanni, Brent was able to look at the power problem, but found that it was just cut off! We later learned that it was a mistake resulting from a "clerical error!" We gave our talks at Athens 2nd Branch and I felt they went better than last month's talks at Athens 1st Branch, where we had to have translators - however, there was something wrong with the microphone and we sounded a bit garbled!! There's always something wrong it seems.
Friday, 23 November 2012
While we were grocery shopping we got a call from Elks to say that they were waiting at the Mission Office to get the key to the van! We knew they were coming, but not that early. Fortunately, we were just checking out and made haste getting back to the office, but the Assts. heard them and let them in to get the key, so they weren't held up too much after all. There were fears of a big protest getting out of hand today. The protestors numbered about 22,000, but there were 7,000 riot police on hand and there was no violence. Apparently it is a commemoration of an event that took place in 1973. There was a student uprising at the Polytechnic which resulted in a number of deaths and they are still protesting 39 years later! One of Elks jobs is looking after the apartments and the sister's bunk beds had no ladder to the top bunk and it was therefore difficult to get up there - so the Elks got twin beds out of the storage at the Mission Home and took them over. They then dismantled the bunk beds and took them to one of the elder's apartments which was a larger unit - then they came back here and we had lunch together and a good visit.
There were a lot of parcels at the post office this morning - Brent had to make two trips in from the car with them. I managed to get my talk finished for Sunday before lunch and then spent a lot of the afternoon on the reconciling of receipts to the statement - it took ages as there were a lot of flight changes recently and they generated multiple receipts with only the booking reference to help you match them up. Then one of the sisters called from Cyprus to ask if I could get her bag from the storage downstairs and call her back so I could tell her what is in her bag!!!! Apparently the weather has turned cold over there and she is freezing. Brent helped me dig out her bag and we told her what was in it so we could pick out what she wanted and send it over with Pres. F. next week.
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
We were up early and into the car to take Pres. & Sis. F. to the airport. On the way back Brent stopped off at the bank to get money - I waited in the car and it was 45 minutes before he came back - some kind of a hold up with their accounting! We taught Yannis another Temple Prep class. It took a long time to get through it because Yannis knows so much about language and customs that we kept getting side-tracked. It was really interesting though.
What a day! There were two meetings before lunch - three deliveries of orders which meant checking them off and putting them away - had hotel bookings to do and web-check-ins for flights - and so on. Pres. slowed down enough to just have a chat with us this afternoon - it was really nice - he doesn't have time to do that very often We ate meat-ball stew with the Assts. and shortly after "fell into bed."
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Meeting Day and we made our Pineapple Curry with all the trimmings and also Basmati rice. They seemed to like it OK! Didn't get much extra done today - just those things that came on the e-mails and the phone. Sis. Elks got stuck right into doing more shredding for me - she's great! At the end of the day President showed us a video called "Prepare for the Coming of the Lord." Originally, it was a talk given by Pres. Ezra Taft Benson in April 1981, but pictures had been added to the audio illustrating the points he was talking about - earthquakes, wars, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, fires etc. etc. - was very impactful.
The President and the Assts. left here about 8:30 am and went to pick up the rest of the missionaries - they went on a "missionary outing" to Nafplio. It was the capital of the First Hellenic Republic. It is a popular day or weekend trip in the winter time for Athenians. We are in charge of the main dish for meeting day tomorrow. We went shopping for ingredients for Pineapple Curry. We tried three stores looking for shredded coconut and found it at the third store. We never did find any crushed pineapple, so we're going to have to "crush" it ourselves! Brent actually put the central heating on today - the cool finally got to him! Yea! or I'd still be waiting to warm up!
It was pot-luck at church today, so we got up a little earlier to make sweet & sour meatballs and rice. Elder Fingerle (Area 70) spoke at Sacrament meeting and basically counseled the Greek members how to handle the difficulties they are faced with here. It was very comforting and informative - he is a great speaker The President asked us to drive Elder Fingerle and President Kosifou to the airport as he was going to be in meetings when they had to leave, so that meant that we missed pot-luck at the Church! Oh well! we came home and made soup. The Assts. came and spent most of the afternoon working on some inserts for the Books of Mormon that they hand out - also framing baptism pictures to go up on the Baptism board. We watched an amazing performance of the Tabernacle Choir's special Remembrance Day rendition. That's the nearest we got to recognizing Remembrance Day this year.
Sunday, 11 November 2012
We had a baptism this afternoon and it is up to the elders to go and fill the font. That little job often turns out to be a huge problem in that the elders are not very proficient with the technology involved with heating the water etc. Today was no exception - we received a call for help and Brent tried to "walk them through" the process telling them which switches should be on and which levers should be "up" etc. Shortly after that, another call for help as the water was still cold - so, Brent went over to help. That is about a 40 minute journey each way - if the traffic is good. I had wanted to go and purchase a jacket on our way to the baptism and was afraid that I would not be able to do that, but Brent got back just in time for us to barely fit that in. We arrived at the baptism just as the service was starting, so all was well.
Because of the strikes we had no mail until yesterday, but Brent went again today (which is one of the regular pick-up days) to get what was there. It was a beautiful clear morning, but cold at 14C. - later it reached 19C. Pres. F. asked us to go to the airport to pick up the Cyprus Nicosia District Pres. as he was occupied with meetings. Pres. gave us the flight number and the arrival time. We got there at the appropriate time, but there was no flight from Cyprus arriving at that time!!! It was then that I realized I had left the office cell phone at the office - fortunately, Brent had his with him and we called President to ask what the flight number was (we had also left that at the office 😧 ). Thus we learned that the arrival time for that flight was 19:45 - not 17:45! Needless to say, we felt dumb because we should have check it all before we came.
It's been pouring rain all night and gradually petered off during the morning. A vote to agree with more austerity measures went through tonight by a small margin - That resulted in rioting around the Parliament building - molotov cocktails - stun grenades - tear gas, some detained and a few arrested. They are really in a difficult situation - I don't know how they'll manage with even less money. Conversely, work in the office goes on as usual.
Brent didn't have to go for mail this morning as the post office was closed because of the strike! We had a shortened meeting day with no Greek class because some of them couldn't get here on the metro because of the strike! Two of the sisters helped me today by doing some copying and framing pictures and laminating them to put on the board which was a great help - besides we have fun together.
Thursday, 8 November 2012
One of the banes of my life here is changing/canceling and/or (sometimes) booking flights. That was my first job today. I began around 9:30. I tackled the ones on Aegean Airlines and they went smoothly. Next, I tried to make a booking on Cyprus Airlines - we don't normally use them and I have never had to. the first try (on-line) went OK until I got to the payment page. Upon trying to submit the payment, I got a message that the booking was made but could not be completed and I should call the help number. They told me that the credit card was blocked - and could I use another credit card. Then President gave me his own personal card to use. I tried a second time with President's card - same result - the card was blocked, but she did say I hadn't filled in the security information (I knew I had) and they suggested I call our bank. However, I tried a third time, looking to see if there was any spot that I didn't fill in - so I carefully went through the process and then stopped at the payment page and call them and we "walked through that" together. It still didn't work and told me again to check with our bank!!! I called President and he said to call finance at the Area Office Germany. That person wasn't there so I left a message and waited!! An hour and a half later I couldn't wait any longer and called again and did get the girl. She checked both credit cards and found that they were active and had not been maxed out - she said the problem is with the vendor (airlines). We tried calling the airlines on a 3-way call as she was going to give them her own credit card numbers to make the booking. We got the airline and began the process again, but before we reached the payment page, she told us the the flight had been booked now and we needed to go to one of their offices before Friday and pay for it!! that they couldn't take credit card information over the phone!!! That was the first time we heard that! I don't think President will be flying with that company again any time soon. The Elks came over again specifically to help Brent with the finances - there were a lot of errors made in the books a long time before Brent had anything to do with them and they have continued to carry through until now. So, with the expertise that Elder Elks has in that area, they are gradually getting the books as they should be. Sis. Elks and I had a great time cleaning out a cupboard which resulted in a lot shredding of outdated materials. The storage cupboards are at the overflow point and it is hard to find anything, so a good clean out will make things much better. Elks stayed with us for supper and that was followed by the usual happy gab-fest.
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
The big 48 hour transportation strike is now in effect until Wednesday morning and we have just learned that taxis have also joined in. Brent went to get some items from the deli for the meeting tomorrow as "commercial stores" will be on strike tomorrow. There have been demonstrations going on along with the strikes, but we haven't heard anything about how they have been going. We guess all this is because there is another vote on the austerity measures on Thursday!!! We had another lesson with Yannis tonight. It is great fun meeting with him and he takes the information in so well - he actually teaches us as much as we teach him.
Sunday, 4 November 2012
Last night, Pres. & Sis. Freestone, having just returned from Madrid, did a load of washing and put it in the newly "repaired" dryer - it didn't work! They were not happy! There they are on a Sat. night (late) having to hang washing up anywhere they could to dry. I think they are getting a new one on Monday!! No other branches were meeting with us today, but the attendance was better than normal. Poor President - now they have no lights on one whole circuit of the Mission Home. A bulb "blew" and knocked it off. President and Brent spent one and a half hours checking all the breaker panels they could find, but they were all OK so there must be one other obscure place to find. The kitchen was without power, including fridge and stove. It's fortunate they have another full kitchen downstairs so all the stuff from the fudge upstairs went down to that one.
A little girl, Anne, was baptized in our Branch today. She had both her grandmas come here from Utah for it and there were more non-member friends of the family in attendance than there were members! A lot of them were from Anne's school. It was a lovely service and Anne had a very cute dress for her special day. The family hired caterers for the occasion and the food was tremendous. This is not the normal thing in the Church - but it allowed Anne's mom to really mingle and visit with all her non-member friends nicely. We've had a couple of emails from our dear friends serving in Moscow, Russia, telling us about a youth group (sponsored by the government) demonstrating against the Mormon missionaries - basically saying that we are a sect and the missionaries are spies working for the CIA and the FBI and that they are trying to instill in the Russian people, civil society and democratic ideas!! The missionaries were told to stay in their apartments that day.
We received an email this morning - pictures of the grandkids in their Halloween costumes. They looked great! Most of the missionaries that had the flu bug are on the mend now, but there is a new report of another missionary down with it this morning!! Today, we worked hard, but it was really a frustrating day. You would try to tackle a job, only to find out that all the info' had not bee given and you would try to call people about it and you couldn't reach them - or - they didn't have that info' and they'd have to call someone else to get it!!! Just brick walls on everything we tried to do, it seemed. Oh well! We had a 24 hour transportation strike today and we just learned that there will be a 48 hour strike beginning Monday morning at 5:00 and finishing on Wednesday morning at 5:00. The roads were jammed with cars today - it was impossible to get around. It's crazy! At 10:30 pm we went to the airport to pick up Pres. & Sis. Freestone who were returning from Madrid.
Friday, 2 November 2012
Elder R. and companion emerged from their "confinement" today. He looks a LOT better and I think he is REALLY glad to be out of the apartment! I tackled the Book of Mormon order today and finished up doing an inventory of our stock in order to get it done - AND - wonder of wonders - when I clicked the "submit" button, it actually went on the first try. That's the first time I've ever had it work for me on the first try!!! During the spell of sickness with the missionaries, one of them was hospitalized over night so they could do tests, and he apparently didn't have the "right" health care card for those who are of the European Union. It finished up costing $3500.00 for 24 hours stay! So now, President has us scrambling to contact every missionary to make sure they have that card - if not - they must get it.
Halloween!! but not so much for us. We have had 5 other missionaries down with the "bug" and I did my morning check on all the sickies to see how they were faring and found that they were all on the mend - so it's all looking better now. When President is away, he phones to get a report about such things - it'll make him happy that everything has improved. We learned today that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir now has it's own YouTube Channel. It will have the weekly "Music and the Spoken Word" and an archive of their favorite programs. We'll really enjoy that.
We picked up Pres. and Sis. F. at 5:45 am and drove them to the airport. This time they go to Madrid for a conference. Received 6 emails this morning from family and friends telling us all about their experience at the temple dedication etc. - it's always a joy to receive emails from home - it is such a boost for our morale! We're happy to report that Elder R. is on the mend and he felt no need to be going to a doctor. In fact, he felt so good he wanted pizza. He's a big young man and hasn't eaten much for about four days, so he was probably ravenous (but pizza!). Oh well, we let his companion order the pizza and we imagine it went down quite well. My work day was totally disrupted which makes you feel like you haven't accomplished a thing! Anyway - Elks came over for something and we had a good visit with them - and - did get a bit of work done at the same time. We were asked to teach the Temple Preparations lessons to Yannis and he came for his first lesson tonight. He speaks quite good English and is trying to get into BYU/Idaho university. The lesson went well and we also learned a lot from him about the history of the regions in and around Greece. He sure knows his history and it was fascinating.
I found on "LDS Living" a piece about the dedication of the Calgary Temple. It had some video on it and one of the clips looked like Rhys and Erik. I sent it to Brenda so she could tell me if it really was them. That video also showed four interviews and one of them was Karen & Gord's grandson! Elder R. is certainly not any better today. We were invited for dinner at the Mission Home and thoroughly enjoyed that. It looks like we might be taking Elder R. to the doctor tomorrow if he's not improved.
We got up at about 3:30 am and had no trouble using the link to connect to the Youth Cultural event and thoroughly enjoyed the performance. We saw both Zoey and Zane and a few other folk that we knew. The performance reminded me of twelve or so top-notch roadshows pieced together. It was spectacular! It basically covered the history of Calgary in segments and the growth of the Church there. We saw a picture of Grandpa Ellingson! It was truly amazing. Athens 1st Branch had to come and meet with Halandri Branch this morning because of demonstrations in the Centre so it was very full and felt almost like a real ward - except that it was mostly in Greek! Elder R. is not good today and is confined to bed - I'm not surprised - he was really dragging yesterday. We had roast pork and veges for dinner and took some downstairs to them, but Elder R. didn't feel like eating. We kept thinking all day about our families attending the dedication of the temple. Mike Skyped in about 1 pm his time and told us a bit about his experience. He was part of a small choir of 20 that sang.
Another cool morning - I suppose that the warmer weather has left us for now 😞 Just another busy day with grocery shopping and packing up orders etc. We went to the airport to pick up the Assts. Elder W. is still not completely better and Elder R's "cold" just seems to hang on forever. They both looked really tired.
The sun is out today, but the morning began at 17C. We had the little wall heater on. We could put the central heating on, but it's a bit early for that yet Here it is "end of month" again and I've begun to do the orders for November. The time is flying! Mike sent us a link so that we can watch to Youth Cultural event on our computer. The youth come from the Calgary Temple District and the performance will be on Saturday night (Calgary time) which is the eve of the temple dedication.
The Colliers went home to Thessaloniki today - it was great fun having them stay. The Elks came specifically to help Brent get the owners of two new apartments, "vendor approved" which is a huge process. They spent hours working on that. They had to get missing information from the vendors in order to proceed and that's always a pain because they don't understand our way of doing things to which we must adhere! Sis. Elks helped me with some of my jobs and we finished up sharing lunch and supper with them and had a super time together. Two of the Cyprus couples flew back tonight and the other go tomorrow.