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.
Monday, 25 February 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
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!
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!