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26 December 2008

Christmas Eve in Athens

Christmas Eve breakfast was out on the balconey in a lovely house where I am honored to housesit. I have to admit that despite being homesick and missing my family, it was a very fun treat to have such a sunny spot for the holiday morning!


The holiday progressed with two new gals coming over to celebrate, and enjoy a fine dinner together. We were later joined by festive teammates as we attempted to create egg nog and watch 'traditional' Greek parties on TV. It was a memorable Christmas Eve.




Christmas Day brought some Greek sights, such as a nativity scene and church bells in the background. I had a lovely walk to dinner with believing Iranians hosted by Sam and Fran. We shared testimonies, trials and jokes about life in other countries. It was an evening to honor God and remember His testimony in our lives. I felt as if I was sitting in the presence of those who God might use to one day change the history of Iran.




22 December 2008

Regular Life

A 'normal' day has yet to happen to me, but there are a few stables in life like my room with Sam and Fran. The balconey, on warm days, is where I have my breakfast of oatmeal with walnuts. The rest of the apartment is open for light which is such a wonderful addition to the day.





My room is decorated for Christmas with some lights and candles, and even a package sent from home to be opened on a day of celebration! I have really settled in and love the freedom to be part of the family, as well as have my own space for skyping and reading and solitude.


I even have my own litte bathroom!

Sam spends much of his ministry time talking with people and discipling, as well as learning various languages on the computer.

Fran is the grand cook and has made many a good meal which I have loved! So far my favorite is curry with various veggies, from their garden!
One of my favorite things so far has been to see the little signs for Greek cafes, but with the same spelling as the Russian cafes so loved before. I've yet to visit, but will plan to do so over the holidays as they are all along the sidewalks and streets.

18 December 2008

Christmas Celebrations

The team prepared for the Christmas parties over the week, but final preparations made for a tense group of celebrators! All came together in the end, as ususal however for a great time!


(Notice the beverage of choice for the team ... although coffee is a close second!)

The kitchen was busy throughout the day, with food for over 100 people each evening. The Persian feast was rice, chicken and a cabbage salad which many enjoyed. My role was in the kitchen cleaning up two of the nights, and I have to say that I've never seen so many dishes!

Tables were arranged with a believing table host, whose role was to share the good news, and then a table runner for supplying all the possible needs. One night Laura and I shared a table, and had a fun evening talking to some Russian speakers.


The program was first actually, with a puppet show and games for all. Then a speaker shared the true story of Christmas and offered His book as gifts for those who sought Him.



It is amazing to think how such a busy and relatively chaotic event can bring fruit, but such is the nature of the incredible Master we serve!

03 December 2008

Retreats

This past weekend the Helping Hands team went for a retreat up in the mountains of Greece. We drove four hours to the north (I believe anyway!) and ended up on the side of a mountain overlooking some villages near the port city of Volos. It was a breathtaking view when the fog did not cover over everything!


Our hotel was right in the middle of the moutain, so it made for some fun cozy nights with fires and games.

The retreat centered on worship, fellowship and a discussion of core values and evaluating team ministries in light of those values. I found it to be a rather interesting discussion since I the 'newbie' and had only had one week of 'experience'!

The surrounding area was fun for walks up and down the mountain, and I found the side markers of Greek Orthodoxy to be particularly fascinating. They made for wonderful reminders on the road of God's presence everywhere.

This part of Greece is known for their candied fruit, which was sold in a nearby village. I must admit to loving their hot chocolate more than the candied pears and such, but it was fun to take photos of the sights!


On Sunday we worshiped with the Volos Greek Evangelical Church, and were treated to a outdoor barbecue Greek style. It reminded me of the Russian shashliks that I have loved since my first times there. The Greek weather for the barbecue was fabulous, and we ended our time with a walk along the port.