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26 January 2009

Preparation for a Tea House

Every Saturday the gang of team members and volunteers turn up early to start packing and bagging food to be given later to the refugees that come through. On any given day the numbers might range from 700 to 900. Right now the majority of the refugees that come through the ARC (Athens Refugee Center) are families from Afghanistan, but there are many others as well.

There is often extra things to give away, like oranges or milk, which come from various donors. God provides in the most unusual ways for sure!
To keep some semblance of order, and for recording, the refugees come through the door and then line up to be noted in the computer database. Anyone who has come through the doors for food before has a Helping Hands number, which allows them a number of tickets for food. A new-comer must some kind of paper so that we can enter them into the computer. The data is only used for us, but it helps to keep track of the numbers and families versus singles and so forth. This is the hardest part of any Saturday, as the lines are long and hard to police. It must be frustrating indeed to have this aspect, but in order to serve 700-900 there has to be some kind of order.

Both sweetened and unsweetened tea is served from the kitchen window in colorful plastic cups. A refugee can have as many cups as they like, and come back throughout the day as many times as they might want. I find that people have their favorite colors! And despite the amount of sugar in the tea, I have to say that it is rather good.

Outside the kitchen the refugees present their tickets to those handing out the food packets. These two volunteers are ready for the day, with bags to pack both oranges and milk as well as the normal bread with feta, olives and peppers.

The doors open at 11:45 and the ARC is open until 4:00 pm for chatting, playing chess and checkers, drinking tea, watching the Jesus film and enjoying Providential encounters. We also welcome anyone wanting to stop in on their journey and help, so come on over!

18 January 2009

Ruins and Remains

Recently I was invited along for a personal tour of Corinth with Sam and Fran and their visiting friend Judy. The tour began with a view of the cannel. It made me dizzy I must say, but it was an awesome sight.
Our little group then headed to the site of ancient Corinth, which sat at the foot of the mountain.

Sam was a wonderful guide with some Scripture passages, as well as facts and a map of the city in it's height.

What struck me the most was the fact that despite the amazing construction, all had gone the way of destruction. It seemed just a perfect reminder that all things of man's making are fleeting. Not to mention that it really drove home to me the fact that Greece has held onto much of its idolatrous past in the remains of ancient idol worship temples. All desire to visit such temples and such fled at the thought that these were places where idols were worshiped...a strange reality.

In the museum there are some stones which indicate that a Jewish synagogue was indeed located in ancient Corinth. It was amazing to see the writing and wonder about those who worshipped there, and those who shared the gospel in that spot.

I also marveled at how much people believed in supersitions. A display showed how early healing treatments took place, with the patient making a clay replica of whatever body part which was ailing them to then be offered up to the gods for healing.

The goddess athina is pictured with an owl in her hand, which is still a symbol in the city of Athens. It is no wonder that this city has so much lurking in the shadows when it is named after an ancient idol!

This Bema is perhaps the place that Paul stood when questioned before the authorities. In the distance could be seen on the top of the hill the temple to aphrodite, the goddess of love. We read that it might take almost two hours to climb the hill to the temple, where at least 1000 temple prositutes waited. I was shocked to really contemplate how much of the current situation has been shadowed by the sins of the past. I could not get over people taking such lengths to serve an idol, and rejoice in their followings.
With these thoughts in mind, our little group marveled at the perserverance of the saints before us in light of the ancient Corinthian culture. It made so much more sense to see that hill looming over everything else.

Any good tour must end with food (I believe that is a Proverb?!?), so we enjoyed some great tradional Greek food and fellowship.

11 January 2009

Chinese Shops and Starbucks

Hanging out in Athens with a good friend was a fabulous way to celebrate the holidays!

Jean Corley and I took advantage of the shopping and the Starbucks within walking distance. It was rather rainy, but our dedication was complete and we braved it anyway...even got some deals from my favorite stores...the Chinese shops!

We went tourist shopping with two of the gals here Christy and Tasha, and enjoyed messing around in the Plaka area downtown. As a Christmas gift I also was given a fun brass coffee set, which can be seen in various shops around town.

The sea was a last stop on the fun Christmas visit. Even though it was rather cold and windy, it was still a beautiful sight. So...who's coming next to visit?

New Year Greetings