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.