Sunday, 21 April 2013

Sun. Apr. 14th 2013

I'm adding this because our mission didn't really end until President Thomas officially released us and that follows:

A memorable day! Our official release from our mission. We were asked to meet with the Stake Presidency and High Council to report our mission at 7:15 am at the Airdrie Reunion Chapel!!! That’s 45 mins. drive on a good day, but it was still blizzarding. Fortunately Mike wanted to be present and he told us to come up to his place (which was about halfway) and we could drive with him in his Yukon – so we did that. Even so, it took us a little longer because of the bad road conditions and we were a bit late!   President Thomas greeted us and introduced us to the High Council and asked us to take about 10 minutes and share our testimony and also tell a little about our mission.  I was able to keep to the 10 mins, but Brent went on for 30 mins. or so!!!   However, they said it was OK. Then President Thomas took us to another room and formally released us.  It felt very sad – but I realized it was time for us to move on and be very grateful for the precious memories that will be ours forever. We scooted straight down to our Ward, but arrived during the Sacrament and we waited in the foyer until that was completed. They were doing the announcements as we walked in and so we received a greeting from the pulpit. It was Fast & Testimony and Brent and I were able to share a short testimony. After the meeting, we were swamped with well wishers and it was so amazing to renews friendships etc.  Rick & Renee were there and we just missed hearing Myles give the scripture in Primary. We stayed for the whole block. Tried to do a few things at home before we went out to Mike’s for a big dinner – 23 people there – mostly family. It was super visiting with everyone.  So, many thanks to Mike and Dea for a lovely evening.

Wed. Apr. 10th 2013

Up early of course(3:45 am), as we had to leave the Mission Office by 6:15 am. When Pres. and Sis Pisti arrived we were not quite ready!! And we finally left at 6:30 am – but the traffic was light and so we made good time and didn’t get to the airport late. We checked in our bags, took lots of pictures and visited for a little while and then headed for security. It was sooooo hard, saying good bye. Our little group all waited at the entrance of the security lanes for us to go through! As we were making our way down the security lanes, an officer asked for non-EU to go into another lane – we did.  However, when we reached the customs booth, the person in front of us had a problem, and so we waited, and waited, and waited!!!  At one point we changed lanes, but went back where we had been when the person in front of us there began having lengthy problems!! – all the time our little group was standing back there waiting for us to wave goodbye! Finally, we made it through. At that point I had planned to go to some of the little shops and get the few things that I had missed getting at the Plaka. That didn’t happen as there was no time left.  We headed for customs and found ourselves in a huge line-up – but fortunately, it moved fairly quickly – that was a good thing too, as after our stuff had gone through and we were putting our belonging together again (Brent had to practically undress) a hostess came over to us and asked if we were for London!! Then we heard our names being called over the PA to go to our gate and board our flight!!!  We were 2nd of last to board the plane!!! That meant having to hunt for space to stow our carry-ons. We managed to find a spot for Brent’s briefcase reasonably close to our seats, but in the end, with a flight attendants help, my case ended up in the first class section!!  I wanted to go with it!!   Not long into the flight, they served a “snack.” It was pretty well a full breakfast! Ham, scrambled eggs with tomato, fresh fruit, yogurt w/honey, a bun with butter and jam and a drink – it was a lot lot, but it was good. At the start of the flight, as we looked out the window, we recognized places in Athens, like the Olympic venue beside Kifissias Ave. – Pirieas and a bit further on, the Corinth canal. Soon after that, there was a large bridge (can’t remember the name. We had patches of cloud, but we saw the Swiss Alps, then it was overcast for the rest of the way. When we got to Heathrow, we had to circle for some time and finally touched down about 15 mins. late.  We were delivered to Terminal 5 (the new one) – it seemed to be the international terminal. All of our luggage was booked through to Calgary, but we had to go through customs in Terminal 5 anyway, even though we weren’t leaving the building - Yaaargh!   You wait while Brent goes through his undressing routine again and when your possessions come through the x-ray you are standing there trying to get dressed, gather all your stuff from about five bins, while everyone seems to waiting for you to get out of the way!!!   Once through, we went up the escalator to check out the shops. I was able to make a few purchases and Brent spotted a fish and chips place, so we had fish and chips with mushy peas for lunch – they weren’t up to the standard of those that we got in Australia though. Then we just rested – we figured we’d been up for 12 hours at that point. About 16:30 the gate number for our flight went up on the departures board and we made our way to 10A – into an elevator, downstairs to ground level and there we waited. Finally they checked us through and sent us outside onto a bus that took a long circuitous route to our plane!!   That’s the first time we’ve ever had to do that – I thought they only put you on busses to get to your plane on small regional airlines! We got under way 20 mins. late.   Shortly after take-off we were served drinks and soon after that – dinner.  We were given a choice of curried Chicken or pasta – we chose the chicken.  Then they had a really yummy dessert – chocolate mousse. Later, they gave us a Canada Customs form to fill out and just before we landed, we were served a little snack – Some little sandwiches and a crème brulee – we were fed very well. The arrival went very well – we didn’t have to ride a bus to the terminal – and we breezed through security and customs with no problems.  THEN – we passed through the doors to the waiting public area and a great shout went up from 9 grandkids and parents and friends – totaling 27 people. Even Jim & Nancy Bullock we were there (they had been seeing someone off).  It was so overwhelming and wonderful – little grandkids so excited, grabbing on to our legs and yelling to beat the band – we wondered what all the other people thought?   After many greetings and a bit of visiting we headed home, where the kids had some snacks prepared for everyone. They are so awesome – the house looked like it had been staged to be put on the market – everything was so neat, clean and attractive.   We couldn’t believe it.   I think we got to bed around 1:00 am - but it was worth it.   So this virtually ends our mission to the Greece Athens Mission – except, we haven’t been released yet – so there is that to come and no doubt we’ll be commissioned to speak on High Council Sundays. It was a long, long Wednesday.

Tues. Apr. 9th 2013

My apologies to all who have been following the blog that I haven't finished the last two days of our mission - here goes:

Brent went for the mail and after that, he went to the vehicles dept. to get his Alberta license back which was accomplished without difficulties. Pres. had a Mission Presidency meeting. At lunch time Brent & I and the Elks plus the Assts. were invited to eat at the Mission Home. I was a little concerned about the timing since we had to weigh our bags yet, but it all worked out. When we got back the weighing and redistributing took place and we finally got it done without having to stay up late. So we went to bed, this being the last day of our mission! ☹

Monday, 8 April 2013

Mon. Apr. 8th 2013

Well, it’s getting down to the nitty-gritty now.  Because Pres. didn’t get from Rhodes yesterday, Pres. Elks had to step in and take Sis. Rojas to the airport to go home to England to get her Spanish passport renewed.  After that, they dropped Sis. Rapp of here and he had the fun time of having her with us – she is such a sweetie.  At noon, we all went out to the airport to pick up Pres and Sis. F. – it was good to have them back safe and sound.  By this time the Assts. were back from their exchange and we ate lunch together.  Brent and I were alternately packing and seeing to office jobs.  At 5:30 pm we all headed over to the Mission Home for the Couple’s meeting.  We have scrumptious food and after  (the part we were dreading) we had everyone saying a few words of goodbye,  including many really nice things about us.  Brent said “I wonder who they are talking about??”

Sun. Apr. 7th 2013

Received an email from Bunt that Christopher Charles was made an area seventy – yes, our very own Pres. Charles – we were so thrilled to hear that.  Also noted later, that Larry Spackman from Calgary was also sustained thus.  Very strange at Church today, but nice.  Having to say goodbye to everyone is hard.  They are so nice and we hate to be leaving them when everything is such a mess here.  We took lots of pictures.  A whole bunch of them are leaving Greece over the next  6 months – we can’t help but wonder what is going to happen to our little Branch.  We made Shepherd’s Pie for supper.  The Assts. were off on an exchange, so it was virtually just Brent and I – however, we made enough to fix a dish full for Pres. & Sis. Freestone – we were to pick them up at 6:00 pm.  -  BUT – the wind storm that we were having here was worse in the Rhodes area – bottom line was, that nothing was leaving or taking off from there tonight.  We also had one of the pine trees in the garden here snap off halfway down the trunk!!!  We went to Frosts and said goodbye to them – they are moving to England in the summer for his job.  They are super great people – we have grown very close to them and we’ll keep in touch with them for sure.  We watched (live) the Sunday morning session of conference  -  the talks were great – especially Pres. Monson’s..

Sat. Apr. 6th 2013

Made the sandwiches for the RS Birthday meeting (the women from the Demaris orphanage were invited too) however, I didn’t go because our cleaning lady comes on Saturdays and I had to be here for that.  The Assts. have gone on an all weekend exchange, so it’s going to be a bit lonely and quiet – although, we pick Pres. & Sis. F. up on Sunday evening.

Fri. Apr. 5th 2013

What a day!!  President was over this morning to meet with the Elders.  Then we received a call from Sister R’s mom regarding the renewal of her passport.  It is a Spanish passport and she has residency in the UK and her passport was issued by the Spanish Embassy in the UK!  The problem is that the Spanish Embassy will not issue a renewal unless the person is there.  So that meant we had to get flights for her to go back to the UK.  Her mother was on the phone back and forth trying to set things up so that Sis. R. could fly there, spent a day there, then fly back the next day.  However, the next fly in the ointment was that the Spanish E. keeps the passport while generating the renewal and that take about 2/3 weeks – so – Sis. R. cannot get on the plane to come back right away without the passport.  So after another flurry of phone calls, her mother got the word that they would have her come and do the signatures etc. then give her back her old passport so that she could get back here and then, she would mail that old passport back to the Spanish E. – then they would work on her renewal and send it to her mother when it was ready, so mother could send it here!!!  Crazy!  Later, after Brent Drove Pres. & Sis. F. to the airport, we went a did grocery shopping because we had to make sandwiches for a meeting first thing in the morning – when we usually go grocery shopping.  The Assts. were away on an exchange and didn’t get back until late and we were late too, so we ate together late!

Thurs. Apr. 4th 2013

First thing this morning all the elders who were going to Cyprus  left here to go to the airport.  Elder Jensen was one of them and  he left a sweet little note and some chocolate cherries for us.  He is one sweet elder and we are going to miss him dearly.  Apart from attending to a few emails and answering a few phone calls, I spent the rest of my times going through clothes and sorting out what to take home and actually finished all of that.  So now all that is left is to take care of the things we will be using in the next five days and our toiletries and weigh our bags and we are done!  It’s really hard to believe.   The Assts. went down to the centre – they had District meeting and were able to take mail down with them.   We had supper together.  They went to the metro to pick up two elders who are sleeping over tonight as they meet with President tomorrow morning.

Wed. Apr. 3rd 2013

There were 12 elders sleeping here last night – four upstairs and eight downstairs.  So, this morning, we had elders all over the place trying to get showered and over to the Mission Home to have interviews with President. Brent and Elder Elks went down to the bank to try and get a substantial amount which President needs to take over to Cyprus.  The Cyprus banks are still operating in a very restrictive mode and we have bills to pay over there, so it’s becoming a problem.  When Brent was at the bank, it was very noticeable that something was amiss.  The employees were moving around very fast and nobody was smiling – they all looked anxious.  We have no idea what was wrong, but it didn’t look good.   Elks went over to the Mission Home for a meeting and with all the missionaries still over there, it was pretty quiet here for a change.  Brent had to go to the doctor for a check-up regarding the rash and I went with him.  I wanted to buy a few more things to take home, but couldn’t find anything, but the check-up went well – the doctor is happy with the healing.  This afternoon it was panic stations for a bit – there is a 24 hour strike involving the airline industry and we have six missionaries scheduled to fly to Cyprus!!!  The Assts. called the airline and the good news was that the strike would only affect local flights for Greece – not international flights – so our guys are good to go.

Tues. Apr. 2nd 2013

Brent got the mail.  Elder R. was up in the office early – training the new Asst.  Elks came with Sis. Rojas in tow after dropping off two sisters at the train to go to Thessaloniki (transfer).  President and the Assts. went out to the airport to pick up the new missionaries.  When they arrived back here, we all went to “Three Pigs” for lunch – it was yummy.  When we got back to the office Brent & I conducted the orienteering of the new missionaries with Elks looking on and helping.  These new missionaries had been up for 24 hours or more and so they were given some rest time before they went down to Mars Hill for the traditional testimony meeting.  While they were gone, Sis. Elks and I worked on the new missionaries pictures for the mission board and were able to get them finished and up on the board before they returned.  The Assts. ordered pizza for the whole group (6 missionaries and six trainers) which was great for me as I didn’t have to cook at 8:30 at night.

Mon. Apr. 1st 2013

The Elks came over and we did training together.  Brent took Elder E. down to the pump station where they pay the water bills.  The Assts. were off and running early as transfers began – picking up elders and taking them to the airport and bring other back here to the office.  Elks joined Brent & I for lunch after which they also got involved with transporting missionaries.  It was a busy day.  The new Asst. is French and was coerced into making crepes for us all for supper.  They were very good.  Things were pretty noisy in the office with the extra missionaries being here!  It’s fun though.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Sun. Mar. 31st 2013

We went on daylight-saving time overnight!!  Received a lovely pic from Bunt this morning of her standing in front of the Eiffel Tower.  She said the boys were kind of sick yesterday and since they were taking the train to Frankfurt today, we hope they are better.  We went to Halandri chapel and were surprised to find Pres. & Sis. F. there as they were supposed to be at the Acropoli building.  They tried to get there, but everything was closed off for the running of the Marathon.  We were invited over to Elks for dinner – they served a yummy chicken sauce over mashed potatoes and cauliflower with cheese sauce.  It was great.  Dessert was cream puffs.  Later, we were invited to the Mission Home – President made waffles for Elders Jensen & Reading.  This is Elder Jensen’s last day as Asst.   Elder Reading will be getting and new companion tomorrow and Elder J. will be going to Cyprus as trainer for one of the new missionaries.  We had a fun evening.

Sat. Mar. 30th 2013

Did the grocery shopping.  On the way home Brent purchased some zucchini seeds – zucchinis are a bit different over here and he wanted to try and grow this variety at home so now I have to check the customs rules to see if they are allowed in!!  We did some more sorting of our own papers etc. to see what we keep to take home and what we can dispose of.  Kristina didn’t come today.  She didn’t call – we wondered if the Polish people celebrate Easter like North Americans do – in which case she would deem it a holiday and not come???  The Assts. are getting ready for the transfers and new missionaries – cleaning out the downstairs apartment and working on graphs etc. Then they had to go over to Halandri chapel to start filling th font for a 3:00 pm baptism.  President offered to pick us up at 2:20 and so we went there with him and Sis. F.   After the baptism they took us to a store from which they thought we would like to try and purchase some gifts – it was not open.  We then went to a restaurant – all I can say is that it was a restaurant that served the food of Crete – the servers dressed in Crete style clothes – and it was really nice.  The food was great and we had a super time.  So that was our official farewell dinner from Pres. & Sis. F.

Fri. Mar. 29th 2013

President came over about 8:15 – we didn’t know he was coming and although we were ready for the day and was already “working” we hadn’t unlocked the door!!!
I thought it was going to be an easy day, but President announced the transfer changes and then we had to book all the flights and train passages – making sure that we get the arrivals and departure close to one another to save extra car travel.  The Assts. purchased a crepe maker – it’s huge – so we had to make crepes for supper.  They turned out really well.  We got our new Bank of America credit cards today, but don’t know how to use them yet!!!  Well – we don’t know the accounting side of them yet is what I mean.

Thurs. Mar. 28th 2013

President came over about 8:15 – we didn’t know he was coming and although we were ready for the day and was already “working” we hadn’t unlocked the door!!!
I thought it was going to be an easy day, but President announced the transfer changes and then we had to book all the flights and train passages – making sure that we get the arrivals and departure close to one another to save extra car travel. The Assts. purchased a crepe maker – it’s huge – so we had to make crepes for supper.  They turned out really well.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Wed. Mar. 27th 2013

The Elks arrived here at 8:00 am today.  Elder Elks went with Pres. F. to a “Warden’s” meeting at the US Embassy and was gone until 2:00 pm.  During that time Sister Elks and I did the Supplies Order for April – entered a Baptism on CDE, got the original record ready to be mailed and prepared the Congratulations letter to be sent.  We put the finalized copy of the Office Manual into a binder and completed the index for it.  Together we just went through an “end of the month” type day.  We had lunch together and then finished up eating supper together also.  Later, the Assts. had a teaching appointment here at the office with Harry and we were invited to sit in on it.  It went well.

Tues. Mar. 26th 2013

Brent went for the mail – there wasn’t much, because of the holiday yesterday.  President came over early to give Brent a lot of pages to scan.  It was a missionary application that has to be submitted to Salt Lake.  We went to Specialized Training meeting around 10:00 am and picked up Sis. Freestone on the way.  Halfway there, we get a call from President that he had forgotten the projector at the Mission Home, so we scooted back, picked it up and headed back down to Halandri.  We actually needed to be their earlier so we could set up tables for lunch time – but it all worked out with some extra help.  The meetings were really good – better than usual.  They had a testimony meeting to end the day and President took the opportunity to thank Brent & I for all the work we do in the office – it was really sweet.  Back home again and then I had Brent take some treats and a thank you note to Frosts for their help in showing the kids a good time when we went to Sounio.  The Assts. helped us eat up left-overs and then we visited for a bit before it was time to go to bed.

Mon. Mar. 25th 2013

Did the washing and answered emails.  The Assts. were up to do their weekly letters and we had lunch together.  I updated all the lists entering Rebers into them and found some omissions in the Office Manual.  We had an absolutely wonderful surprise – the most beautiful arrangement of flowers from Brenda & Dave and kids for putting them up here during there visit . President was over to do an interview and I checked with him about keeping some old documents.  Being Prep-Day, the Assts. received permission to watch "Madagascar II".  We actually got to watch in English!!  It was fun.  We fed four elders tonight – made Emily’s Chicken.


Brent took a photo of the peach tree in our garden  -

IMG 1548

Sun. Mar. 24th 2013

Another lovely day.  Very few at meetings today because of the long weekend and Independence Day holiday.  After a quick lunch we made up a big batch of banana bread.  We had to open a new carton of eggs and Brent really likes that I wash the eggs before we use them.  One squished inward the second I picked up, but we salvaged it for the mix.  As I was putting the rest in the fridge, I dropped one – it made a nice splat noise as it hit the floor!!   Egg handling not so good today!!  Following that, we made Sweet & Sour Meatballs and rice for supper.  We went to the airport at 5’ish to pick up President and sis. F. plus the Assts. so we took the van. They all came back and had supper with us – we had a good visit.

Sat. Mar. 23rd 2013

Went grocery shopping and it has been a gorgeous day – not a cloud anywhere to be seen – it is definitely spring as we saw a lot of pollen coating the cars.  Monday is Independence Day here in Greece – so it’s a long weekend and a lot of people are going away for the long weekend and with the temperatures near 20C. they are going to have a great time.  There will be a parade on Monday – let’s hope it is peaceful.  I’m just about finished the office manual – just doing additions and revisions and trying to put it together.

Fri. Mar. 22nd 2013

Brent got the mail, but when we were sorting it we found a pick-up slip for a registered letter that he had missed, so he had to go back to the post office for that. Received wonderful “posts” from Davey and Brenda about their day yesterday. They seem to be doing OK and really enjoying everything there.  We had a big pile of mail sitting around here for days that was supposed to go to the Acropoli building for the missionaries down there.  Because the Assts. have been away so long it has built up - so we decided to take a cab down, deliver their mail and then went to the Plaka and got all the the prezzies that I wanted to take home.   Brent dashed to the bank when we got back to get a form in before they closed at 2:00 pm.  Between office jobs and tidying up the place so our cleaning lady doesn’t freak when she comes tomorrow I had a busy afternoon.  We learned that there was a horrendous 100-car/truck pile up near Leduc, Canada, in a snow storm – they took at least 100 people to hospital!!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Thurs. Mar. 21st 2013

It is very quiet around here!!  The kids emailed that they arrived safely.  Back to the job in earnest today.  Sis. Elks came and Elder Elks and Brent went to the phone company and then moved some furniture from the apartment that is being closed.  Sis. Elks shadowed me in the jobs this morning – she is very good and will be just fine (even though she says she’s nervous!!)  We ate Greek salad and fresh bread for lunch and then they went.  I’m still washing bedding and towels, but am making good progress and also catching up on my blog.  We had a lot of demonstrations today – I hope there were no problems.  It was either very smoggy today or maybe just humid and misty – at one point I thought it would rain, but it didn’t.  Brent was able to get the meds that he wanted for his rash today, so I hope it works!

Wed. Mar. 20th 2012

A gorgeous day.  Brent & I drove Pres. and Sis. F. to the airport to do the Cyprus & Thessaloniki trip.  The morning was spent packing by Brenda, Dave & Sherry, while Grandpa entertained the kids and Grandma did a couple of office jobs and cleaned up.  Dave and Sherry really wanted to check out a super market here and Brent and I wanted to show the kids our “Hundred Acre Wood” – a small forest that we go through when we go to the grocery store – however, we only had time enough to drive through the forest in the end.  We did that and the little ones were suitably impressed and asked where the Hefalump was!!  Then we headed to the airport and arrived in plenty of time.  We went to the McDonalds there for lunch and all too soon we were saying our goodbyes.  That was hard, but not as hard as it might have been if we had maybe six months left to serve – instead we will be home in 20 days all being well.  Got back to the office and I started washing sheets and towels etc.  The washing machine and dryer  are very slow, so I expect it’ll take me a couple of days to get it all done.  I received phone calls from the zone leaders regarding their April supplies orders and two other "help" calls and so it goes – problems here and problems there.  Brent has gone to the drug store to try and get some meds for a rash that just won’t clear up!!   They weren’t open!

See you in 20 days!!

IMG 1531

Tues. Mar. 19th 2013

The weather forecast was iffy again today, but as the day got going it got better and better, so our Corinth trip began.  First though, the Elks arrived once again to cover for us – we can’t express how grateful we are to them – and Brent and Brenda went and purchased a birthday cake for Davey as we planned to celebrate a little bit, his birthday which is coming up on the 30th.  For one reason and another we didn’t get on the road until 11 am, but it’s only about 1½ hours drive and we were there by 12:30.  We went straight to the Ancient Corinth site and headed up to Acrocorinth -  A road twists from the ancient site to the summit, which is a  rugged limestone sugarloaf mountain that rises 566m (1,855 ft.) above the plain.  On a clear day, the views from the summit are great.  We drove to the parking lot which is just below the summit, but hiking up to the fortress/castle is really no place for the physically challenged  -  “Demanding walking, limited paved areas, and lots of uphill hiking over rocks etc. But the views are spectacular, and the little chapels, the cannon, and the medieval atmosphere are very cool indeed.”  Even where I was in the parking lot, it was amazing.  I sat in the van with the door open and took in the view and listened to the birds – it was very peaceful.  The rest of the crew were up there for about 1½ hours and they came back thirsty and a little bit red from the sun.  We went down the mountain to the ancient site and walked around the ruins a bit and ate some food that we had brought with us and topped that off with an ice cream treat from a little kiosk.  The kids found a playground  while Brenda checked out a pottery shop where she purchased a few items.  Then it was time to head home but first, we had to stop at the Corinth Canal and was fortunate enough to be there as a ship was being towed through. This canal separates the Peloponnese from mainland Greece, connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf and is quite something to see. Once home, we had souvlaki and gyros for supper and the surprised Davey with a cherry cheesecake.  It was a lot of fun.  Then Brenda and Sherry did loads of washing in preparation for packing in the morning.

As you can see it was warm and the little ones had no trouble making their way over rough terrain -

IMG 1498

This was my view from the parking lot up there -

IMG 1499

Here's the whole crew with one of the towers of the fortress being restored in the back ground -

IMG 1507

Lauryn, Sophie & Rhys back down in Ancient Corinth in front of Apollo's Temple -

IMG 1513

The ship passing through the Corinth Canal -IMG 1519

Mon. Mar. 18th 2013

President came to pick up the Assts. at 8:15 am to take them to the airport as they were headed over to Cyprus a couple of days sooner than Pres. & Sis. F. so that they could work with the missionaries over there before they arrived.  Elks kindly came to “mind” the office while we were gone – they are the best!  It was very overcast and quite cool, but not much wind!   That was a bit of a problem, because it is “Clean Monday” and it is a tradition in Greece to fly kites on Green Monday.  Here’s a bit from Wikipedia – “Clean Monday is a public holiday in Greece and Cyprus, where it is celebrated with outdoor excursions, the consumption of shellfish and other fasting food, a special kind of azyme bread, baked only on that day, named "lagana" (Greek: λαγάνα) and the widespread custom of flying kites. Eating meat, eggs and dairy products is traditionally forbidden to Orthodox Christians throughout Lent, with fish being eaten only on major feast days, but shellfish is permitted in European denominations. This has created the tradition of eating elaborate dishes based on seafood (shellfish, molluscs, fish roe etc.).  People on Clean Monday usually take their picnic baskets and put inside fasting foods because it is the day that Lent begins”.  We met Frosts at a soccer field not too far from the office and had fun trying to get the kites up in the air, but they were the wrong design or they just needed more wind, so we gave up on that after a while and got back into our cars and headed to Sounio – about an hour and a quarter south of Athens.  That is one of my favorite places – however, it was even more overcast down there and was drizzling a bit.  Frosts had suggested that we go to a “Taberna” (tavern) that they knew of, just down the hill from the Temple of Poseidon.  Of course, there, you ate fish that day and the bread that they talked about.  There were shrimps about 6 in long (head & tail on) and some deep-sea bass and one other kind that I couldn’t pronounce or spell!! – there were chips(fries) and fried cheese and Greek salads.  They were crowded in that place, but, it was located right on the water with maybe a 5 foot strip of sand at the front, so, the kids went nuts.  In no time they were out there with shoes and sox off and searching around in the water for little fish.  One of the kids had a bit of bread and thus they found their little fish in short order – they went after that bread like a bunch of piranhas.  It was like pulling teeth trying to get them to leave, but we finally got on the road and went up to Poseidon’s Temple, took a few pictures, had a quick look around and came back down – it was drizzling and very cold.  We headed back to Athens on the coast road which was pleasant in the van out of the cold and still a lovely drive.  When we got home, we were really tired, so we just ordered in pizza for supper, got the kids to bed and the brave adults stayed up and played word games – while us wimps went to bed.

Brenda & Dave in front of the Temple of Poseidon

IMG 1494

Sun. Mar. 17th 2013

Brenda was up bright and early and looking very spiffy  -  I don’t know how she did it – she’s still on Calgary time and must have been desperately tired.  We were all ready to go to church and get there with time to spare, there was a phone call and then when we were all settled in the van, we had forgotten some plates that had to go back to Halandri, plus Ralph’s letter – so! we just barely made it on time!!  I did my talk and then we had the treat of Dave & Brenda & kids singing a primary song – then it was Dad’s turn to talk.  We were glad that was over, but the song was absolutely super.  The Elks came to our meeting instead of Athens 1st just to hear the kids – they are so sweet.  We had pork roast, mashed potatoes, carrots and Greek salad for lunch followed by Sis. Freestone’s wonderful chocolate cake – yum!  The missionaries ate with us also and they were a wonderful addition to our group.  Dave took the kids for a walk while we cleaned up and after that we did a lot of visiting and played Banana Grams (a word game that Bunt brought with them – it’s really fun.  The kids were really good.  Alyson Frost called and we planned to have them join us on our Sounio trip tomorrow.

This is Lauryn and Caitee Frost standing outside Halandri Chapel..  Lauryn and Caitee began emailing each other soon after we began our mission here -

IMG 1478

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Sat. Mar. 16th 2013

Well, it’s just about 8:30 and Brent & I are the only ones up yet – not surprising!  The weather looks iffy at the moment so we’ll have to brainstorm when everyone gets up as to where we should go today.  We decided to go to the Acropolis!  Elder Elks and Sis. Elks came to the office as they had offered to “cover” for us while the kids are here so that we can spend time with them and take them places – so Elder Elks drove us down to the centre of Athens.  That was a fabulous help. One, because we had to go in the van and there is no parking to be had in the centre for ordinary cars let alone the van! - and two, because Elder Clark hates driving in the centre.  Unfortunately, it was windy, cold and overcast when we got down there.  But that was good in one way, because there were very few people there, just the same, we did freeze ourselves - but, we did have a good look at everything and when we came down from the Parthenon I stayed at the foot of Mars Hill while the others went up there and had a quick look.  They just couldn’t go home without seeing Mars Hill, especially when they were so close.  After that, we went to introduce them to moussaka - the Greek national dish!  We went to the little place that we have been to a couple of times before and everyone was really impressed with that dish.  It was then that I discovered that I had forgotten to bring my cell phone along with me!!!  So then began the search for a pay phone.  Brent finally found one so he could call Elders Elks to come back and pick us up.  While we waited – Brenda and I went to the Plaka to see if we could get some gifts.  She did OK, but I had forgotten to get some cash from Brent!!!  Meanwhile, Dave took the kids to a park.  We got back to the appointed meeting place and Elder Elks was already there, but no sign of Dave and the kids!!  When we left them, they were on their way to the park, so we reasoned that they were there somewhere so Dad and Brenda went looking for them.  They returned minus Dave and the kids but Brent had fallen and scaped his knee and strained his left arm!!!  Poor guy!  he just can’t win.  So then, Brenda went off at a run across to the park – I was very nervous about her being off on her own, running around a park in the middle of Athens.  I don’t know how long she had been gone – it seemed  like ages – and I was beginning to panic.  It was then that we saw a little kid come out of the Acropoli chapel – then there were others – sure enough, it was Dave and the kids – one of them had to go to the bathroom!!  So then, it was back to worrying about Brenda.  Bless her heart, she finally turned up and we were waving at her from a distance that everything was OK – she was so out of breath and I, for one, was sooo relieved that everything turned out OK in the end.   So, it was back to the office and pick up the Elks and go to “Three Pigs” for supper.  They really enjoyed that place and we had a lovely time together.

Sherry, Dave, Lauryn, Sophie, Erik & Rhys by the Acropolis

IMG 1450


Brenda, and the kids to the left -

IMG 1459

Friday, 15 March 2013

Fri. Mar. 15th 2013

The day we have been waiting for ages!   As soon as we got up, Brent went on to Flight View on the computer and watched the progress of the kid’s flight from Calgary to Frankfurt – when we checked in about 8:30 our time they were alreadyover Greenland.  We had a busy day again doing the last minute things and our office jobs.  Sis. F. called to tell us she had made a cake for our family, so went over to the mission home and got it -  she is sooo thoughtful and we had a nice little visit with her as well.  It still looks like we could get rain any time – overcast most of the time but with sunny patches now and then with the temperature around 16C.  Hopefully it will get a bit warmer.  We went to the airport about 10:15 pm and their plane was 5 mins late.  Seems like we had to wait forever for the kids to come through the gate – but – oh! how wonderful to see them and to actually be able to hug them!!!   They looked sooo good, but tired.  However none of us seemed to feel it much and we just kept on talking and talking and didn’t get to bed until 1:00am.  The children had a peek in the “yard” and saw one of those palms that look like a giant pineapple and they were freaking out about that.  It’s so fun to see things through the eyes of little guys!

Thurs. Mar. 14th 2013

Rushed around madly this morning getting things ready for the arrival of the kids and then hit the office and entered two baptisms during which time President dropped by (Sister F. Is not well today!) and Elder Elks with missionary helpers – they are moving furniture etc. from an apartment that is being closed.  The Assts. went on a teaching appointment to Sean Moore – it didn’t go well and maybe visits to him are coming to an end.  Brent and I went and did a big shopping this afternoon so we will have enough food etc. for the kid’s visit.  We made meatball stew for supper and after I worked on my talk for Sunday.  President says Sister F. is feeling better tonight.  It has been a very windy day and overcast – it looks like it is getting ready to rain.  We are now about six hours away from the time the kid’s plane leaves Calgary

Wed. Mar. 13th 2013

We were off to an inauspicious start this morning with one of the trays on the door of the fridge falling off and Brent began a repair job on it before he got out of his pjs etc.  The job took longer than he thought and suddenly President F. was here to work in the office and Brent was scrambling to get presentable.  It was pretty funny.   I spent half the day making up white binders for incoming missionaries ( It contains lots of instructions for them and pages of Greek language helps).  It’s a big job making covers, copying the information to go into the binder and then binding it altogether with the plastic Circlex.  President stayed for lunch and left soon after.  The rest of the day went quietly.  The weather is changing and we are probably going to have rain in the next day or two  -  ☹

Tues. Mar. 12th 2013

Tidied up and got ready for Mission Presidency meeting.  President arrived with treats in hand to celebrate Elder Elks’ birthday which was yesterday!! Yum!!  I sent out the welcome letter to Hansens and booked flights for the Assts. to go with President on the next mission tour.  Sis. Elks didn’t come today and so Elder Elks went home for lunch which left us with just the Assts. to feed – we made Greek salad and Brent purchased some good, fresh deli bread.  Between jobs, Brent and I made a big apple crisp as we were assigned to bring dessert to the couples meeting tonight at the Mission Home.  As usual, it was a great time with lots of fun and President showed a movie called “Beyond the Blackboard” about a young teacher on her first job and she had to teach homeless children with all the problems that you can imagine that might be there in such a scenario.  It was terrific.

Mon. Mar. 11th 2013

Our returning missionaries made it into the car by 6:30 am OK!!  It is so hard saying goodbye to them – they are all such good young people and you get very close to them, especially those who have worked in the office with us.   The Assts. looked very tired today – I think they are basically worn out with all the chasing around they had to do – making sure the returning missionaries were where they were supposed to be and with whom they were supposed to be – pretty much at their beck and call.  This morning, after the flights left, the Assts. went to get their license plates back.  They went to the place that they were at on Saturday where they were told to come back today and were met with – Oh! you are in the wrong place – you have to go ?? to pick them up!!!  They went there and finally got the plates, but what a lot of messing them around.  VERY frustrating!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Sun. Mar. 10th 2013

One months to go!    We had to take the 7-seater to church this morning because we had 5 missionaries, plus Brent & I and Sis. F. all needing a ride!!  It was a bit squishy, but it all worked out.  There was a much better attendance today and the weather was super – got up to 19C.  It was pot-luck also and we took Hawaiian beans – two people brought pastichio!  Sis. Frost and Caitee were back from their trip to the States.  This afternoon there was lots of traffic in the Mission Office because of the ones leaving wanting this and that.  Elks came over here in the evening to borrow boxes as they have to move stuff out of a vacated apartment tomorrow.  We could hear the missionaries downstairs still packing and joshing around until fairly late which was probably not a good thing as they had to be in the car in the morning, ready to go to the airport at 6:30 am!!!

Sat. Mar. 9th 2013

We went grocery shopping.  The Elks picked up the two sisters and the two elders that had not been to Corinth and took them to see it.  The other elders went to do their traditional last shopping for souvenirs etc. – but they couldn’t do it at the Plaka because of demonstrations going on there today – it’s a shame.  The Assts. were supposed to have been able to pick up their license plates today that were taken away from them ten days ago.  They had even phoned yesterday to confirm that they could get them today, but when they got there they told them they would have to come back on Monday – that’s just typical of how things work here!!  Kristina came to clean thankfully.  It’s a lovely day so far – it’s a bit cloudy but fairly warm.  It was noisy and busy here in the office tonight - the elders that had gone shopping and the ones that went to Corinth congregated here swapping stories and generally just visiting - so we were "chaperoning"!!!

Fri. Mar 8th 2013

Brent got the mail – there was a lot and he hid a parcel from me!!  It was the FiberSmart  -  now I don’t have to order any more as I will have enough to last me until well after I get home!  It’s a big day for all the missionaries going home on Monday -  today they all have their final interviews With Pres. F. and a special luncheon at the Mission Home and do the traditional trip up Mars Hill for their final testimony bearing.  The Assts. have been on the go since Wednesday evening picking up missionaries and taking them to apartments or planes and it looks like they will have a bit of a break now from all that now.  The Elks brought the sister who is going home to the Mission Home at 9am and then stayed with us until lunch time at which time they had to head out to complete a Humanitarian project at Damaris orphanage.  So while they were here went did some more training with them – they are so good and are “getting it” really well.  Brent and the Assts. went to a print shop to pick up the bookmarks that the Assts.  ordered weeks ago.  We took the Cyprus mail over to the Mission Home for President to take tomorrow and Sis. F. gave us each a plate of food for our supper.  She is so sweet.  Brent got some pictures of the plum tree which is now blossoming outside of the kitchen.

IMG 1414


IMG 1417

Thurs. Mar. 7th 2013

It’s raining!!  And President, Harry, Wilderspin, Reading and Jensen left for Corinth this morning early.  Sis. F. called about the “history” that we are supposed to report on as couples for the respective branches that we attend – we went over that for a while trying to fill in the gaps for January & February.   Brent & I both got haircuts which will be our last ones here in Greece!!  Maria’s cleaning girl came to do the stairs and Brent had told Manolos to tell her that there is a big patch of mold on the ceiling up on the 3rd floor – she did a great job of getting it all cleaned off.  I worked on the release package for Smiths who go on 28th March and tidied up a lot of little messy things.  I received answer from Area Travel regarding Nicholls and Brandenburg.  The plan for Nicholls’ trip fell through as the flight that they told us about was only available until April and so it won’t work for May travel – so we are in the process of figuring out another flight.  The Assts. and Wilderspin came back from Corinth tired and very wet – especially the feet!!  They cleaned up and we had souvlaki and hamburgers and cheesecake for supper!!  Now they have gone out to the airport to pick up two other elders that will be flying home on Monday morning.

Wed. Mar. 6th 2013

Did a few tidy-up jobs and then pushed forward with cleaning out cupboards.   It was a nice day – mixture of sun and cloud, but still a bit nippy.  President came over and we cleared up a bunch of things for him.  The Assts. came back this evening after being on and overnight exchange and then they went to the airport to pick up Elder Wilderspin.

Tues. Mar. 5th 2013

President had a Mission Presidency meeting.  Sis. Elks came and she worked with me on secretarial duties and then we sorted out some cupboards – we threw out a lot of old stuff and things are looking a lot better.  President brought over some apple pastries and Sis. Elks brought some chocolate cake – so we were well treated today.  We made carrot soup for lunch, which went down well.  Brent is feeling a lot better today.  The weather was nice and sunny too.

Mon. Mar. 4th 2013

Brent said the pains are not as strong today, but he feels really tired.  It is Prep Day and I did the washing and ironing and a few office jobs.  It was a partly sunny day – quite pleasant.

Sun. Mar. 3rd 2013

We woke up to a minor thunderstorm with plenty of rain.   Brent still not good – Elder Jensen seems better, but Elder Reading is now hurting lots!!  Pres. & Sis. F. picked me up to go to Sacrament meeting at Halandri – then, as Pres. had to go down to Acropoli after, he dropped me off back at the office.  I made some very mild/bland chicken soup with rice in it for the sickies and it went down OK.  However, everyone headed back to their beds after so it was a REALLY quiet afternoon.  Later I watched Music and the Spoken Word and then, with the Assts. President Monson’s biography, “ On the Lord’s Errand”  - it was really good.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Sat. Mar. 2nd 2013

Went grocery shopping at 8:00am – we took the Assts. too since they are without car privileges still.  Pushed along all day getting caught up on stuff.  Brent and the Assts. seem to have come down with some tummy upset!!  The Assts. had to cancel an appointment!!  Hopefully they’ll recover soon.

Fri. Mar. 1st 2013

We were up and out early this morning.  Left at 6:45 to go to the airport to see the Maxwell off on their way home.  We met at the airport at 7:15 and everything went smoothly and soon they were ready to go through security.  After a little short visit and some picture taking, they went off through the maze and pretty soon were out of sight.  It was sad – they are such sweet people and who knows if we will ever see them again – it was a privilege to know them.  The Elks came back to the office and Sis. Elks and I did the Book of Mormon order – that is one of the more challenging monthly tasks.  After that, we booked some flights for elders that will be coming back here from Cyprus – they will be travelling home on March 11th  -  that is another job that can be a pain.  Sis. E. doesn’t hear well and wears a hearing aid and when she had to call in to get the booking finished, she couldn’t hear what the girl was saying.  I’m wondering how she will manage with that problem.  Meanwhile, Brent & Elder E. went to the Post Office to see how our picking up the mail works and followed that up with telling him about some of the financial stuff.  Manalos, (Maria’s supervisor/gardener) came by to drop some bills off for us to pay – dealing with him is fun at the best of times – it’s good that he brings an interpreter!  The Assts. worked in the office for most of the day and had lunch and supper with us.  They do not have the use of a car yet – President told them that they’ll have to use the bus and metro until they get their license plates back (10 days)!!!  I wonder if he’ll make them wait that long?  We receive more tags today – the rest of the Jan. 2nd order.  We went out to the airport at 9:50 to pick up Pres. & Sis. Freestone returning from Germany.  It’s fun driving with them – you catch up on everything.  With the Maxwells going home  today,  Athens now has only three couples, not counting President & Sis. F.    Couples are really important to the young missionaries - they go all the time with them on teaching appointments - especially where there is only a single lady, and couples are essential to helping transport the young missionaries (especially when there is luggage involved) - also when they are sick and need to go to the doctor. So we have three couples!  The CES couple don't have a car, so that makes two couples left - Brent & I do not go with the young missionaries very much because of the nature of our calling and the fact that we are far away from any of the proselyting areas.  So that leaves the Elks, and they are going to be taking over here - so do the math!  Pres. and Sis. F. just came back from a Mission President's Conference in Frankfurt and sad to say, as they visited with other Mission Pres. and their wives, the story seems to be the same everywhere - they can't get couples.  In Madrid, they do not have an office couple, but have had to pull young missionaries in to man the office!! so it would seem that could be the way of the future.  Trying to get couples now is like hen's teeth - especially since 58 NEW missions have just been announced and they are looking for couples  etc. for those missions.  It's going to be interesting - we know it will all work out - but probably not in the way it has been functioning before.

Thurs. Feb. 28th 2013

Went to The Mall and got a really nice cheese slicer and was supposed to go to Plaisio on the way home to pick up the folders that we had ordered, but we ran out of time because we had to be back so that Brent could meet Sophia (lawyer) at the bank.  He did that and it still took a long time to get the transaction done, but not as long as some other times!! The wind was blowing pretty hard today and the house across the street where the renovations are happening had their fence pulled down and a deep hole was dug all around the fence line for the new foundation for a fence ready to be poured – but they had it taped off and the wind had blown the tape onto the road, so Brent went over and fixed it. Maxwells, who are going home tomorrow called to have me do their boarding passes on-line.  Just as well they did, because, when I tried to enter the Booking Ref. for Elder Maxwell, it didn’t work.  After a few phone calls, I discovered that when I informed Germany (when they were doing the original booking) that Sister Maxwell’s passport was still under her previous name, they issued another ticket for her.  They did that by splitting the original ticket and issuing her a new one – not realizing or maybe forgetting to tell me that Elder Maxwell’s ticket received a new Booking Ref. at that time.  Once I got that straight there was no problem.  Elder and Sis. Elks came over firstly, so that I could teach Sis. Elks how to do the statements at the end of the month – and secondly, to meet the Maxwells here.  The Maxwells had to bring their car up here and leave it here and so the Elks drove them home and will pick them up early in the morning and drive them to the airport.  The Maxwells didn’t get here until 6:30 and Brent cooked up a pork and potatoes supper while I “taught" Sis. Elks and we ate before the Maxwells got here.  It was a blast as usual.

Wed. Feb. 27th 2013

Brent drove President & Sis. F. to the airport at 7:00 am – they have a Mission President’s Seminar in Frankfurt.  On the way back, he dropped the car off at the garage for servicing. We took some pictures of the almond tree next door – it's in blossom and it’s awesome.  The garage called to say the car was ready so the Assts. drove Brent down to pick it up.  Someone from Finance in the States called asking if we had received the new bank cards for the missionaries  – so we can expect some changes in our accounting I should think.  Work-wise it was a very good day for me.  With very few interruptions I was able to get a lot of cleaning out of files done (still not finished though) and subsequently lots of shredding done.  The Assts. came home with their tail between their legs – they had parked illegally down at one of the missionaries’ apartments and when they came out they found the police had removed their license plates!!!  That’s what they do here – take the plates and you don’t get them back for 10 days and there is a 40 euro fine as well!!!

Beautiful blossoms -

IMG 1414

and more  -

IMG 1417

Tues. Feb. 26th 2013

Brent did the mail run.  Presidency meeting this morning.  Elks arrived and shortly after Elder Maxwell arrived.  I did more training with Sis. Elks.  We processed some Paymentnet transactions.  Then I helped her put her Chicken lasagna together – Brent went and got some fresh bread and we made a Greek salad.  After lunch Sis. Elks and I did the March Supply orders for Athens and Cyprus – then we began going through files so she could become familiar with them.  It was a full day and boy! am I tired.

Mon. Feb. 25th 2013

Prep Day – but we worked anyway.  It was another beautiful day and nice enough that I put the socks out on the rack outside to dry – first time this year!  The heating is run by oil here and the Mission Home received a delivery this morning.  Oil delivery guys are notoriously dishonest and this morning we had a new guy come and surprise, surprise, this man and his son turned out to be honest.  Brent had the tank measured and he knew exactly how much he needed and when the job was done, the level was within 2 mm of what it should have been.  Brent was very happy.  President had quite a few jobs for us to do today, so we had a full day – but it was a good day too.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Sun.Feb. 24th 2013

We were wondering if we were going to find any water in the basement of the Halandri chapel as that area was one of the hardest hit in Friday’s flooding.  Fortunately, everything was dry.  It was a beautiful sunny day – got up to 19C. and we didn’t feel really cold in the chapel today so maybe temperatures are beginning to rise.  Just an average attendance at church oday – Sis. Frost and Caitee are in the States visiting Sis. Frost’s mom.  We made Sweet & Sour Meatballs with rice for dinner and the Assts. joined us.  They brought some really delicious cake with them – yum!  About 7:00 pm Brent & I went out to the airport to get Pres. & Sis. F. who returned from Cyprus.  It’s always fun to catch up on the news of Cyprus and their trip.

Sat. Feb. 23rd 2013

Mixture of cloud and sun and about 16C. today -  way nicer than yesterday.  Brent went with the Assts. on a teaching visit to Shawn Moore.  I hosed down the front entrance walk – yesterday, because of the storm, red mud had pooled on the tiles and looked gross, so I did the Greek thing and hosed it all clean!!  Brent & I sat in on a teaching lesson with the Assts. and Harry.  It went well.  The rest of the day was cleaning up odd jobs – mostly updating different binders and cleaning part of the mail room and getting rid of old materials.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Fri. Feb. 22nd 2013

We woke up to a huge thunder/lightning and rain storm.  Brent went to get the mail in a hurry so he could get back in time to drive Pres. & Sis. F. to the airport.  He came in the office and sat down and reached for the waste basket, took his shoe off and the water just poured out of it – and he was holding his socked foot over the basket and it was dripping too!!  Where he had to get out of the car down at the post office, it was running a torrent about a foot deep and there was no way to get to the post office without having to wade through it!  After getting into dry socks and shoes, we left for the airport with Pres.& Sis. F.  Not too far from here, there has been excavation and pipe laying in one of the narrow streets.  When we got to that spot, we found that it was blocked and we began following a long line of cars, going round these tiny little side “roads” (nearly all of them one way) all headed in the opposite direction of our destination and Pres. was beginning to worry that he wouldn’t make it to the airport in time to check his baggage.  Finally, one of the car up ahead just turned onto one of the one-way streets (the wrong way) and before long we were on the main road headed in the right directions.  However, we were in a major traffic jam just inching along!!  When we finally got down to the circle which connects you to the “freeway” call Attiki Odos, we thought we would be OK, but it also was only doing 20 to 30 km – not the usual 100 to 140 km.!!  The rain was coming down in torrents and we began to get small hail!  Enough, that there was a build up of white at the edges of the road.  What really made us laugh was that at each underpass, there was a little group of cars taking shelter!!!  It wasn’t even pea-size hail!!  As we drew nearer the airport the rain eased and the road was better and the traffic move more quickly – as a result, President JUST made it before they closed the baggage check-in.  Brent & I decided to park in the Ikea parking lot (which is right by the airport close to a run-way) until we could see that the storm was abating.  As we looked north, it was black and buildings in the distance would be visible one minute and then disappear from view.  The lightning was spectacular from our vantage point.  The storm just didn’t seem to be lessening or moving and after 15 minutes or so, it began raining where we were, so we decided to go.  We found that it was an easier drive until we got to the circle and immediately, as we exited, we found ourselves inching along once again.  About halfway up Kifissias to where we turn off, there is some kind of an enclosed natural area the wire fence of which sits a little higher than the road and natural area all slopes down toward the road.  As we reached that area it became apparent why the traffic was so slow.  Muddy water was cascading through the fence and on to the road – it was probably about 18 in. deep.  One car was dead in the middle of it and only one out of three lanes of traffic was getting through.  After that, we had no problem.  Closer to home, we passed a car at the side of a road which was parked – but, a manhole cover was stuck under the rear of the car with the force of the water pouring out of the manhole – it was like a fountain bubbling up and over!  When we got home, Elks phoned – they were sitting in the dark!   Earlier, they had tried to go somewhere in their car, but as soon as they got out onto their road they found that they weren’t going anywhere!  They live on a slope of a hill and the streets around there are also mostly one-way – so if you pull out onto your road and drive even a little bit, you have to go around “the block” so to speak to get back in. The traffic was jammed everywhere there too and it took them 45 minutes to get back.  They have an electric gate opener and another for the common garage.  They got in OK and no sooner walked in to their apartment and they lost power.  No lights, no elevator and can’t get out of the garage or the gate.  They were sitting in one room with candles lit!!  They said it was nice to have a forced rest!   All the streets around them drain onto a main road below and many of the manhole covers had popped on that road, so they had to close it for some hours.  Soon after that phone call came another, from our landlady in South Africa.  She had been watching the 12 noon news and they were reporting on this storm in Johannesburg, so she phoned to see if we were flooded again or not (we flooded about this time last year in a similar storm).  The Assts. were away on an exchange today and won’t be back until late tomorrow.   I worked on more updating stuff, distributing the tag order, and sent out orders.

This is where Brent got his shoes full of water!

IMG 1409 2

Thurs. Feb. 21st 2013

We went to Plaisio and picked up cartridges for the printer etc. and went out to Ikea.  We needed sheets to replace those that are on our bed as they are beginning to fray!  Took us ages to figure out what ere top sheets and fitted sheets and then the sizes were not clear.  On the way home it was raining and we noticed that on the part of the windshield where the wiper don’t touch, the rain drops were muddy (red)!!  Brent figures there may have been sand/dust in the atmosphere from a dust storm in the Sahara!   Spent the rest of the day answering emails and updating the Address Binder -  it was so old,  had to check most of the listings to see if they were still current and that really took time!

Wed. Feb. 20th 2013

President flew to Thessaloniki this morning. We were wondering how that was going to work out because there was a strike of airline workers scheduled between 6 am and 10 am and his flight was supposed to depart at 9:45 am.  We check later in the day to see if he had arrived OK and he said that there were no delays – they just boarded the plane normally and it left on time.  So much for the strike!  The Assts. were busy all day away from the office, so it was really quiet and we did get a lot done – for once, Brent didn’t have to go out anywhere.  The sun came out today and we actually had more sunshine than we had clouds – it was really nice.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Tues. Feb. 19th 2013

Brent went for mail and on his way back, he came with salad makings, bread and cake for lunch.  Elder and Sis. Elks came to help us in the office.  President had Presidency meeting this morning and had me book a quick flight to Thessaloniki.  While Elder Elks was in Presidency meeting, Sis. Elks and I went over the Office Manual and she learned how the office operated..  We had lunch.  We prepared penne and tossed salad.  That went over OK.  After lunch President confirmed with us that Elks will take over our spot in the office, if by that time no one has been called to serve here -maybe a miracle will happen - but it's getting to the point that even if someone was assigned here now, they likely wouldn't be arriving before we left.  So, we continued with the orienting and Elder Elks helped Brent.  Rainy, cold day again.

Mon. Feb. 18th 2013

Brent and Pres. F. went to the bank together give them a signature for something – then went to the hardware store and purchased a pair of bolt cutters!!!  It seems that someone has been removing our lock on the chain to our parking space at Acropoli, so they are going to remedy that situation!!  Spent the day clearing up little outstanding jobs and worked on the office manual in the afternoon.  We were invited over to the Mission Home for pizza supper.  Also invited was an investigator of the Assistants – Shawn.  We had a fun evening with Pres. And the Assts. demonstrating how Family Home Evening works.  Saw a couple Mormon Ads on the topic of thanksgiving and then each of us expressed something that we were thankful for.  It was a nice evening.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Sun. Feb. 17th 2013

Still raining when we woke up – but stopped in the late afternoon.  I’ve had enough rain!  We took a taxi down to Acropoli where we were assigned to speak today.  Our topic was the scriptures.  Again I had to give it by reading a sentence and the translator (standing beside me) would translate it.  It’s really hard to get feeling into what you are trying to say doing it that way – at least, it is for me.  It was very quite for the rest of the day.  I got a few emails done and  around 3:00, we ate dinner with the Assistants.

Sat. Feb. 16th 2013

Up and out to do grocery shopping early.   Both Brent and I worked on our talks for tomorrow.  However, Brent took time off to get his hair cut!  The Assts. went to an exchange so they won’t be back until tomorrow.  Sis. F. called  - she wanted to make a banana cake for Pres. and she grabbed a box of cake mix and did it  -  but  -  the box was not white cake mix – it was lemon cake mix and she tells us that lemon and banana do not go well together!!  So Brent  unknown to Sis. F., went to the deli and found her a white cake mix and dropped it off to her – she was very grateful.  So, later, she came over with samples saying that she was sooo disappointed – the cake had come out of the oven just fine, but as it sat it went flatter and flatter and denser.  She feels that it is not good, but we ate it and it is great – I think it just needs to be called squares – that’s all, because they were delicious.

Fri. Feb. 15th 2013

Pres. went to Cyprus early this morning and was over here to collect the Cyprus mail.  I didn’t sleep well last night – the pain woke me several times so Brent said it was time that I should get an x-ray. So he took me to the same hospital that he had tests done at last week and they did an x-ray and an ultra sound – thankfully everything was normal – I just have a cracked rib.  That jaunt took from about 11:45 until 3:00 pm.  It’s STILL raining and when we got home I was freezing!  I got a couple more of my tasks done today, but not what I was hoping to get done.  Rick Skyped wanting to know if we wanted him to start any seedlings.  The Assts. ate with us tonight and we had a good visit.

Thurs. Feb. 14th 2013

Valentine’s Day!   They don't celebrate that here.  President was over to have his meeting with the Assistants.  I’m starting to make some headway on the office manual, but there is still a long way to go.  Brent had to go down to the lawyer’s office today.  It’s right in the center of Athens and he hates driving there, so he drove to the Metro station and took the Metro the rest of the way.  It’s raining again today, so it wasn’t a great trip for him.  I hope it’s not raining tomorrow.

Wed. Feb. 13th 2013

Clouds were dark and threatening when we got up and by 10:00 am we had thunder and lightning and pouring rain which last until about 3:00 pm.  -  crazy weather!   President had interviews all day down at Acropoli and was over here to get some things early before he went down.  Elks came over – they are now going through office jobs with us to become acquainted with everything just in case they have to take over when we go, but they are so good, having had much experience in Church finances and other areas that they take to it like a duck to water!  There has been no sign of replacements for us as yet.  We have been informed however, that two more US couples are coming to Cyprus, which is part of our mission, but US couples can’t get visas for Greece!!  The missionaries had been out all morning and came back at 11:30 am and since they had to leave at 1:00 pm. to go down to Acropoli (the Elks too) we ordered in Souvlaki and gyros for lunch.  It’s always fun when you have a group like that together.  It was hard to concentrate in the afternoon – having had a good lunch and such dreary weather outside, all we wanted to do was sleep!!

Tues. Feb. 12th 2013

Brent went and got the mail and was able to get the Assistants to take most of it to everyone the Specialized Training meeting because everyone was there today.  President was over early to get some materials for it and he was still insistent that I get “rest and heal”!!!   It was a really quiet day with everyone else at the meeting so we plugged away at our tasks and really got a lot done – so that was nice.  The Assts. and the Thess elders didn’t get back here in time for supper, so it was just Brent & I for a change.

Mon. Feb. 11th 2013

Another beautiful morning with lots of sunshine – however, Brent said there was ice on the car when he went to the bank.  We went to the deli to get a few more things in preparation for the couple from Cyprus (Mawlams) arriving this afternoon – there’s a Specialized Training meeting tomorrow – to stay with us.  That was until President called and learned that I had a cracked rib!  Now I’m “grounded’!  He & Sis. F. will host the Mawlams and I was told that I was to stay here tomorrow instead of attending the meeting.  I argued all I could, but nothing would move him from that decision!!  I should have kept my mouth shut.  I was so looking forward to getting together with everyone!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Sun. Feb. 10th 2013

It was an absolutely gorgeous day!  It got up to 16C. and for most of the day there were no clouds – it really felt like spring.  Church was good.  It was pot-luck today and we took Shepherd’s Pie.  Yesterday, down around Kifissia center there were a couple of hundred police and riot police etc.  Apparently the Prime Minister lives in the area and they may have been there just for his protection, or maybe he had an
important visitor there.    Later, I was running to answer a call, I tripped and fell – it looks like I have cracked a rib!  It is really sore.  We drove to the airport and got Pres. & Sis. F.   There were all kinds of Papas around – 12 on their flight alone and a few in the waiting area (they are the Greek Orthodox priests).  Maybe they do transfers just like us!!!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Sat. Feb. 9th 2013

We went and did the grocery shopping.   We noticed on our drive to the store and back that some tress are already blossoming  -  yea!!  We plugged along in the office all day.  Among other things, I got all but a few of President’s flight bookings done which took forever because we still have to call in to Aegean to finish the booking - you enter everything on-line and after you have done that, then you call in and they virtually go through the whole booking with you - I figured that it takes that phone call on an average of 15 minutes each and there were nine bookings!

Fri. Feb. 8th 2013

Brent went for the mail and hurried back because we had to drive Pres. & Sis. F. to the airport.  We hurried back as Brent had to check in with the doctor about his results and they all turned out well – no real problems.   Brent was supposed to go over to the Mission Home to let Dimitris and an electrician in to hook up the new pump, (it is supposed to circulate the hot water) but phoned to say the electrician couldn’t do it until next Friday!   The Elks stopped by to get the key to the Mission Home as they needed to get a couple of desks out of storage.  When they came back we shared wraps for lunch.  They didn’t stay very long and we got back to “the drawing board” as they say.  Aegean Airlines had a 30% off special on international flights, so that generated a long list of bookings that President F. wanted me to do – meanwhile, I’m still struggling to find extra time to complete the office manual.  Oh! well.

Thurs. Feb. 7th 2013

President came over and got Brent about 8:30 to take him to a doctor appointment that he had arranged for him.  It was clear over the other side of Athens close to the Mediterranean – a suburb called Glyfada.  The doctors wanted to do a bunch of tests to make sure there was no major problem.  He got home at around 3:00 pm from that – he will get the results tomorrow – but it doesn’t seem that there is much wrong on the surface thankfully, so that’s great.  Meanwhile, I went down to Kifissia center to keep my appointment at the hairdresser’s  - I got a perm.  It’s been blowing like crazy all day and about 5:00 pm, all heck broke lose with a major thunder & lightning and rainstorm.  It was good to be indoors!

Wed. Feb 6th 2013

Brent woke up feeling weird - kind of dizzy and very anxious  As we began our day in the office, we got a call from President that he has flooding in the basement, so Brent went over.  It was likely them that President figured that Brent was not himself When Brent got  to the MH, he found that the landlady had her man come and deal with it.   Brent no sooner got back and one of the apartment owners called saying we weren’t paying him his full rent.  So Brent had to check that all out.  Before he got very far on that, President came unannounced, and took Brent to have his blood pressure checked.  It was around 140, but President is worried about the headaches and his loss of vision from time to time.  We have been thinking that it is because of tress – however, today’s episode seemed different, so President got a doctor’s appointment for him for tomorrow.  Brent had asked Sis. F. if the roast (that she fixed for the couples'  meeting last night) had any MSG on it or in the gravy and she said that didn’t in the roast, but thought there could have been a little bit in the gravy, but nothing major.  Later she called back to tell us that one Sister had poured three packets of Knoors Salad Maker (lots of MSG) into the salad, which Brent ate.  So we started backtracking on what he had eaten over the last day or two and we found that he has had quite a bit of MSG!!  Then, Sis. F. told us what she found on the net about MSG and reactions to it.  It would seem that Brent’s actions today was a classic MSG reaction.  Knowing that has eased his mind a lot and has quit worrying mostly about what he might have wrong with him.


Tues. Feb. 5th 2013

Brent went for the mail and picked up squash and bread to make soup for lunch.  Pres. had Presidency meeting this morning and then left around 11:30 with Kelley Tedd to go and look at a property.  For nearly a year now, they have been trying to find a suitable property to move to from the Acropoli building.  There is no parking down at Acropoli and demonstrations often go by there, making it unsafe for the African members to come to Church – plus the building is old and cramped and things keep breaking down all the time.  They came back to the office later with photos etc. showing a building that they think will work well, so now all the contracts and dealing begins.  If they do get it, it will likely be 2 to 3 years before it can be used.  Then it was our turn to show Kelley all the things we felt we were in need of!  He wasn’t much help with our computer networking problems – he will order us a new UPS back-up thing, but the big thing was the large copier – it broke in the fall and we’ve been trying to get it fixed or replaced.  Back then we were told that it was old and you can’t get replacement parts for it any more.   He tried a bunch of things with it to see if he could nail down what exactly is wrong with it, but came up with the plan that he ask will some tec. guy about what he thinks wrong and if he says it can’t be fixed then, they’ll try and replace it!!!  We had a couples meeting over at the Mission Home tonight and we took veges.  It’s always fun to get together and tonight was no exception.  It was a kind of a send-off for the Maxwells as they return home on 1t March.


Mon. Feb. 4th 2013

The Assts. were out early this morning as they had to get the van ready for a trip to Corinth.  In the end three vehicles went because so many wanted to go.  We didn’t go and had a terrific day catching up on stuff.  We also went to the bank and the money (church) that was transferred here on the 23rd January finally came.  Apparently, when it was sent originally, it had the wrong a/c # on it and it went back, so after another try, we have it.  Even so, it took us about an hour there waiting for them to fill out forms and have different people sign them and phone calls to authenticate the transfer and so on and so on.  Totally unreal!  We also went to the wonderful bakery Beneth (pronounced ) venetey.  We purchased a cake as we are supposed to have Harry coming over and we went over to the international store looking for pearl onions for a vegetable dish that we are supposed to fix for a couple’s meeting tomorrow night.  I worked on up-dating the office manual most of the rest of the day.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sun. Feb. 3rd 2013

President went to Acropoli, so he was over early to change cars.  It was Fast Sunday and the testimonies were really nice.  The Assts. had an investigator come today – so they were happy.  Just after Sacrament meeting, Sis. Frost came to me saying that Julianna hadn’t come and wondered if I could teach Caitee again!  I kind of went over the lesson and felt that because it was Caitee (she is wonderful to teach) I could wing it.  It was about the “Gifts of the Spirit” and went along fairly smoothly and we had a good learning time together.  We made “Emily’s Chicken” for dinner.  It was a lovely day – got up to +19C. – but it was REALLY windy.  I guessed that that would blow in some bad weather and when I looked on the net, sure enough, we’re supposed to get rain tomorrow!

Sat. Feb. 2nd 2013

Ground Hog Day!  We’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to get the result of what happens at home until tomorrow – because their tomorrow doesn’t start until our 6:30 pm our time!  A lovely sunny day – cool thought.  We sure have been noticing that there are more birds around singing different songs -  songs that we haven’t heard since last year.  There are some really pretty  songs.   President came over to meet with the Assts.  We pressed on with our month-end tasks.   The Assts. gave me a phone list to revamp with many changes on it because of the transfers – not only missionary changes, but also they created a new district!  All this is on Excel which I hate working with – so, instead of making food for lunch, I persuaded them to bring in pizza.  They did ☺   Ground Hog didn’t see his shadow –  so, the saying is that we’ll have an early spring!!!

Fri. Feb. 1st 2013

What a crazy start to our day.  First I managed to drop a very small make-up brush down the sink drain!!!  Thankfully, with Brent’s help by taking the drain apart, I have it back – that’s all we need is to have a plugged drain.  Then, when I came down to the office, I found the lap-top wasn’t charging.  By that time Brent had gone to the post office and he was late getting back from there because they had no electricity!!  -  so they were lined up waiting to get in.  In the meantime, I was trying everything I could think of to fix my problem.  I tried the plug in different receptacles in the power bar, but none worked, so I reasoned that my cable was broken and then I started worrying about where I could buy one in Athens – but, no worries, Brent arrived and discovered that the one half of the power bar was not working!!!  (It's actually a back-up unit for when our power goes off).  He found another place to plug my lap-top into and - problem solved and I was happy again!!    We received a call from the distribution center about the wrong shipments of the Books of Mormon.  They apologized profusely and said they had shipped the right order today and the French books would be picked up by a different carrier.

Thurs. Jan. 31st 2013

The Assistants took two elders to the Cyprus plane this morning early and then, later, President took the four going to Thessaloniki to the airport.  Now all missionaries should be in their areas and everything should settle down for a while. Elks had been transporting missionaries around for President in his 7-seater and they came back to swap back to their car.  President came while they were still here, but he left before we had lunch – so, Brent & I and the Assts. and Elks had lunch together – naturally, it was fun!  So! then It was back to work for me.   President and Sis. F. took Brent and I and the Assts. out to diner tonight.  We went to the Mexican Restaurant that President likes to go to, but it was closed!!  We don’t know if they’ve gone out of business or were just not open when we went there – it was a bit early by Greek standards.  We told them about a Chinese restaurant that we recently found called “Nui” – so we went there and it was REALLY nice.  The service was very good as well as the food.

Wed. Jan. 30th 2012

Had an early phone call from President – one of the new sisters (who was staying at the Mission Home) left her bag with all her toiletries in it over here last night – so he dashed over here to get it!!  The new missionaries had personal interviews with President during the morning and after   had lunch there, followed by a four hour training meeting.  Therefore, it was reasonably quiet over here and we took full advantage of that.  The Assts. were here for a little while and, again, could not access their “Common Files” – so we called that tec. guy back and they worked on it for a bit – they didn’t get it fixed though as the Assts. had to go to that meeting, but they now think it is the Assts’ computer that’s got the problem.   I got all the pictures of the new missionaries made for the board – they took ages to do – so much adjusting of the photos etc.  Late today we learned that another 24 hour strike of transportation will be in effect which includes the train to Thessaloniki – which four missionaries were to travel on.  We had to do a quick switch and get them onto a plane – but it worked out OK.  The meetings at the Mission Home finished about 5:00 pm and we were expecting the elders who are staying downstairs to be coming back with leftovers from the dinner today, but learned a bit later that they were all watching a video “Seventeen Miracles.”  I don’t blame them, it’s such a nice feeling there in the Mission Home.

Tues. Jan. 29th 2013

New Missionaries arriving and Transfer Day!!  Brent went for mail and was able to give the Cyprus mail to the missionaries going there this morning.  They left here just after 8:00am to catch the 10:05 flight.  The traffic at that time of day is insane.  Brent got a call from the tec. guy regarding his computer being locked up and they spent ages trying to work out that problem.  They finally did, thank goodness.  We received what we thought was our Book of Mormon order of 12 boxes of Greek BofM, but no – they brought 12 boxes of FRENCH.   We had a bit of a quiet period for a while, but then the fun really began – elders that were trying to get up here to the Mission Office were stuck because they got so far on the Metro, but couldn’t get the bus the rest of the way because of a strike!! The next things was, the van and another car went to the airport to pick up the new missionaries and their luggage.  They all finally arrived back here and it was super seeing the new ones in person – whose pictures we have been looking at for months now.  They are really nice young people.  President whisked us all away to the “Three Pigs” restaurant for a late lunch.  When we got back from that, it was Brent and my turn to orient the new ones.  It was then that they began to show just how tired they were. Having been on the go for about 20 hours they had every right to be tired, but there was still one more thing for them to do and that was to take the traditional trip up Mars Hill (by the Acropolis).  poor kids, they were REALLY ready for the sack after that.

Mon. Jan. 28th 2013

There was an email on my computer from Davey this morning – a map of the new boundaries in West Stake.  Eighth and Third Wards are no longer and looking at their ward – Bow Valley Ward – it is HUGE!   They have a new Bishop also – David Turner.  We had the privilege of HT/VT his grandma for a long time.  Maxwells were wondering about the baggage policy on their flight home, so I asked Area Travel if the senior couples get the “free 2-bag” allowance like the young missionaries do.  The answer was yes!  (That will helps us too).   Transfers began tonight with the Assts. picking up all that will be flying to Cyprus tomorrow.  There is always a little buzz of excitement when a bunch of them get together and we noticed quite a bit of extra noise coming from downstairs – it was kinda nice – felt like we were back home!

Sun. Jan. 27th 2013

Yet another cloudy, cold miserable day with a few showers!  I went to Church all prepped up to teach Caitee in YWs.  Just remember, there are only 6 kids in the Branch and last week, Caitee and Tyler graduated from Primary – so!  There is only one YW and one YM – in other words, just Caitee and me!  I invited Sis. Elks to come and join us, which was a good thing.  Having been a seminary and institute teacher for many years, she added some zing to the lesson and it went quite well I thought.  The lesson was on “What are the roles of the Holy Ghost.”  We also took a bunch of canned fruit and vegetables as they are collecting such for the orphanage that our humanitarian focus has been on.   I haven’t said much about wild dogs here – there are LOTS of them – I’ve only known about one incident before today where people hurried away from them – it was when three missionaries got up early in the morning to see the sunrise on top of Pentelis Mountain (just back of us) and they encountered a pack of wild dogs and left hurriedly. Today, we were almost home – down our street and down the hill – about 6 blocks away – this lady was walking her older dog and a pack began to harass this lady and her dog.  We had actually passed her and decided to back up to distract the dogs.  They were somewhat distracted, but as we began to pull away, the wild dogs began to attack again, so we just drove slowly along with the lady and her dog until they were out of danger.  A bit scary!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Sat. Jan. 26th 2013

Went shopping as usual.  Christina phone – she couldn’t get here because the buses are on strike!!!  For the last 5 days the metro, buses and trains have been on strike intermittently.  It's all over another austerity move - to take about 500 euros from the metro workers monthly pay of 2500 euros.  Worked on getting the February Supply order in.  Elks stopped by with more new bedding for the missionary apartment downstairs.  Elks stayed for supper and we ordered in Chinese food that was pretty good.  It was another dreary day with some rain and a little bit of sunshine here and there – quite cool though.

Fri. Jan. 25th 2013

President, Sis. F. and the Assist. Went to Cyprus this morning.  I worked most of the day on the Young Women lesson to teach Caitee on Sunday.The tec. guys called to fix the Assistant’s computer.  It would have been better if they had been here, but we tried to help the best we could.  There was some problem with the Assists' “Common Files”  -  as they were working on them they would sometimes disappear – and when they went to open them, sometimes they couldn’t – but they’d be there the rest of the time!!  They do a lot of figures and the problem is a great inconvenience.  Anyway, the tec. guy can’t fix it until they get back from Cyprus – it sounds like they think it has something to do with the firewall.  President ordered some whistles for the missionaries to carry for safety.  Brent’s not impressed with these new ones – they are not loud like his whistle it – they are a higher pitch, but ARE very shrill though.

Thurs. Jan. 24th 2013

Pouring rain today, but not that cold.  Spent nearly all day working on the new Office Manual.  It’s pretty hard to do a good job after being at it for nearly eight hours solid – I really began to lose focus towards the end of that time.  The new monitors are all hooked up.  They are a little bit bigger and I think they have more pixels because the picture is amazing – it’s so much clearer.  The Assts. got the transfer itinerary finalized today.  That is a huge job – making sure that people get moved to the right place at the right time – both coming and going!  -  I get a headache just making the plane bookings for them!

Wed. Jan. 23rd 2013

Went down to the residency office this morning.  We parked at the Eko garage (about 6 blocks away because parking is impossible on the street) and walked to the office.  We just gave them our passports and expired residency paper and a photo and they put everything together and within half an hour we were out of there – it was great knowing that we were “legal” again.  Went to the deli on the way home and  purchased some interesting edible – it turned out to be a pickled caper flower bud.  It looked like an odd shaped olive with a long stem and it tasted somewhat like an olive!!   The monitors that were ordered as a result of my monitor “dying” came today.  The are a little bit wider (which is nice).  Another nice day, but a bit cooler – 16C.  Elks cam by to deliver new bedding for the missionaries’ apartment downstairs and, of course, we had to have a little visit. That downstairs apartment hasn't really been up-graded for a couple of years and pillows were missing and they were short of sheets, blankets and duvets.  Some stuff had to be thrown out it was in such poor condition and with another batch of new missionaries coming on the 29th, it will be nice to have it looking better.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tues. Jan. 22nd 2013

Meeting day today and it was mail day too – so while Brent we nt o get the mail I cleaned up the office. President, the Elks and Elder Maxwell arrived, and Sis. Elks helped me by shredding old documents while the Mission Presidency were meeting.  I had to do 14 more flight bookings to day for transfers – and because of that annoying phone-in requirement for those with U.S. credit cards it took me ages.  We made carrot soup for lunch and the Elks stayed.  President and the Assts. went down to Ines’ restaurant for lunch – it was her birthday and she invited all the missionaries to it, but we didn’t go.  While Sis. Elks was shredding she noticed that some of the documents were way more recent than 2005 – somehow one of the 2012 storage boxes got into the pile to be shredded and after she had noticed that they were 2012, she came to me and asked if she should be doing them!!!   I’m glad she noticed before they were all gone, but it can’t be helped, it's just one of those things.  Elder Elks helped Brent a lot today as well.  We are so grateful for all they do for us.  It was another nice day – 17C.

Mon. Jan 21st 2013

A beautiful day – got up to 18C.   Worked on getting President’s March flights booked.  It is such a pain as you can do it online only so far in the winter and then you have to call in and finish it with the airlines’ people – all because our credit card is issued from the U.S!!!  We really don’t know why it only happens that way in the winter – we suspect that in the tourist months they don’t have time to check all the credit cards!!   Anyway, that takes a big chunk out of one’s day and I resent that as it doesn't seem to me to make much sense - being that part of year they do it and part, they do not!  Being Prep Day, the Assts. Were here to do their letters – all the missionaries do their letters on Mondays – they have to go to an internet café or someplace where they can use someone’s computer – the Assts. Are lucky because this is their “home base.”  They were given some Spring rolls and a noodle dish from Dolly (one of our Filipino ladies)  and they shared it with us for lunch. 😛

Sun. Jan. 19th 2013

There were a few more people in attendance at Church today.  It was a special day for the Frosts as it was the twins -  Tyler and Caitee’s – 12th birthday and they both graduated from the Primary program.  Tyler was sustained to be ordained as a Deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood.  When we got home the pork roast just about done and we had mashed potatoes,  Brocolli/Cauliflower with cheese sauce and carrots with the Assts..  We hadn’t quite finished lunch and President & Sis. Freestone came over with his brother and wife to see the Office and meet us all.  They are great people.  Although he’s a U.S. citizen, he’s a lawyer and they live in England.  Bro. Hicks (from the Embassy) had given Brent Pres. & Sis. F’s lost passports at Church so he returned those to President then too.   We received an alert from the U.S. Embassy that a bomb had gone off in “The Mall” – one of the bigger malls in Athens and one that we shop in occasionally -  it was a small bomb and only two security guards were injured, but even so, it’s not nice for that to be happening in a public area in broad daylight.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Sat. Jan. 18th 2013

Did our grocery shopping.  Elks came by around 10 am – they were headed for Thessaloniki as they have to speak there tomorrow.  It's a lovely sunny morning and we would love to go on that journey with them - it would be a hoot. They collected mail to take up there for us.  I am still plugging along up-grading the Office Manual – it takes ages – I think I got everything noted about the White Binders for new missionaries and finished up tidying up the spot where those materials are stored that you use to make those booklets.

Fri. Jan. 17th 2013

It’s raining again, but not so hard this time – it sure is dreary though!  Karen Skyped in response to my email for help regarding a “Word” document on which I had lost some of the text that I had entered!!   I actually had multiple copies of that document and I just couldn’t find the one that I had been working on.  So now, after deleting all the “wrong” ones, I should be OK!!  It was nice to have her moral support and a good visit as well.   I continued to work on up-grading the office manual.  It’s taking a long time – I hope I can get it done before the new office couple take over.  We haven’t received any notification of anyone coming to serve in that position yet!  We had a great experience tonight.  An Elder Peterson, serving in Albania had contacted our Assts. to see if they would do a Baptismal interview for a young Greek person – since the little guy only spoke Greek and they had been trying to do the interview with his mother translating.  The problem was that the Mom seemed to be telling her son a lot more than just asking the question and fielding the answer!!  So Elders Wilderspin and Jensen did the interview on Skype and we got to listen.  It was pretty cute, but in the end the little guy (age 8-1/2)  decided, he would rather wait until he comes back to Greek because he can’t understand anyone there in Albania.

Thurs. Jan. 17th 2013

We went to KEP - the residency permit office - in response to their asking us to come and renew our residency for another year.  Ethel (lawyer) was concerned that they would insist that we show that we had 48,000 euros in our bank a/c.  So, we met Ethel there and she basically did everything.  All we did was give her our passports, residency blue papers and sign papers there.  In the end, we find that Ethel has somehow managed to get them to extend our papers to cover us until we leave - we just have to go back next Wednesday with our passports etc. plus a photo each.  We didn't have to beef up our bank balance or anything, so we are very grateful.  We called President as soon as we got back to the office with the good news and about a half hour later, President arrives with cupcakes from Sis. F. to help us celebrate!!!  She is a sweetie.

Wed. Jan. 16th 2013

We have thunder/lightning and pouring rain today!!!  It gets sooo dark - it's like dusk instead of daylight.  We received a packet in our mail box at the post office yesterday with no address on it.  It was mailed in China and the return address was very clear and had a phone number on it.  We took it to our meeting and asked everybody there, but no one knew anything about it so we opened it and found a large card with  a Greek name on the outside in a plastic envelope together with a small gift wrapped box.  We called the phone number and were pleasantly surprised that the person spoke English so well.  The sender's name was Suzie and Brent asked to speak with her, but she was not there but they gave us her cell phone number.  Brent called that number and got her and she also spoke English quite well - however, it took a couple of tries to get her to understand that we were calling about her package with no address on it and that if she would give us the address we would send the package on.  So she asked us to email her so she could read our email address and thereby send to us the much needed address for the package.  Mission accomplished!   Another bizarre thing - We received a call from DHL saying they had a package to deliver and it said "tags" on it and they wanted to know what that was.  We explained that they were the badges that our missionaries wear on their jackets.  He said that the value was 73 euros (which was about right) and asked if we had a broker (we didn't) and he went on to explain that the broker cost would be 101 euros and taxes etc. would be 150 euros!!!  Total - 251 euros!  and followed that information with the question - "Do you want them delivered?"   We told them to return them to the sender!  We order tags from the BYU Bookstore MTC branch and I'll call them tomorrow and let them know what we've done and asked them to send them ordinary mail.