Friday, January 30, 2009

Elder Eric Pavlos (Paul) Mortensen on Mars Hill


Note from Eric's Mission President, John Galanos

"At long last, the riots have abated, and we were able to take Elder Mortensen to Mars Hill to read together the Apostle Paul’s great oration to the Athenians regarding the UNKNOWN GOD as recorded in Acts 17. For the first time ever since we have been here, the heavens opened wide and the rains descended continuously. Elder Mortensen, his companion Elder Enslin, my two Assistants, Elders Kendrick and Ruckauer, and I made the ascent like drowned men. Nevertheless, we gathered there; there was no one else there and so we were quite alone; a heavy mist of water hung over the city panorama; the sun was not to be seen; and the rain continued to descend.

We were all soaked through. We opened in prayer and then we started to each take a turn reading Paul’s words from Acts 17. We don’t know which month Paul was in Athens. Perhaps it was a day like this when the heavens opened and not only the rain but the Spirit of the Lord descended upon the hearers of Paul. We all then descended the hill….and the rain stopped, but were still soaked to the skin!

I guarantee you, Elder Mortensen will never forget that damp Sunday afternoon on 25 January 2009."

Note from Elder Eric Mortensen

" I also got to have my Mars Hill experience last week! It was way cool, and way wet. It was pouring rain, so we were soaked by the time we got there. We had an umbrella, but it had to hold me and my companion. We got up there and I made a video on my camera that I will try to send. With president and the assistants, we read Paul's sermon to the unknown God in greek. After that we were all asked to bear testimony in Greek. It was a very special experience, to stand where Paul stood, and read what he taught. It's something I won't soon forget and look forward to getting to do it again as I leave. Did I tell you? When a missionary leaves, all the missionaries in Athens go to the top of Mars Hill along with anyone else who wants to go and the departing missionary bears his testimony in greek and good-byes are said."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Eric's New Year in Greece

Current Area: Aigaleo

New Food Experience:

"Hello everyone!!!
Another week in the life of a missionary!!! This week has been chalked full of the out of the ordinary. First of all, we met the nicest lady on the planet. Actually, she found us. Her name is Olga and she just stopped us in the street. Things are really hard for her lately. Her husband had some kind of heart surgery. We talked for a while about why we're given challenges. She invited us to come to her house at anytime, so we visited her the next day and met her husband and her best friend. Truly genuine greeks, nicest people ever! They then invited us over for New Year's dinner and became really excited and started planning the meal. When we had dinner there were 4 missionaries and Olga and Constantina (her friend). They had made Pastitsio...oohhhhhhhh, pastitsio einai para poli kala. It's kindof like a casserole. They layer beef, macaroni, and cheese, then pour over it some kindof cream mixture, more cheese on top and then bake it so the top is crusted. Now I'm hungry. Anyway we had pastitsio, turkey, mashed potatoes, and this special New Year's cake with 2 coins bake inside, greek tradition."

Another favorite scripture:

"One of my favorite scriptures in 2 Nephi Chapter 4:

It's the lyrics to "I Love the Lord." It expresses the way we as humans often feel: oppressed because of our iniquities and sins, our imperfections. But we know in whom we have put our trust. We can be happy because the Lord has lifted us out of our imperfect state as long as we trust him. I Love the Lord: In Him my soul delights. Greek is really hard, to put it simply. But that's ok, because I know in whom I have trusted, and He has borne me up. Hope all is well!"

Elder Eric Mortensen

New Year's Day:

Greeks are weird. They have tons of strange traditions. My companion told me that when someone moves into a new house, anyone who comes to the house has to throw candy all over the front yard. So we go and buy candy cause Olga had just moved into a new house. After she comes to the door we start to throw the candy. haha She had no clue what we were doing. hahaha Just imagine two foreign missionaries coming to your house and start throwing candy all over the place. She then invited us in. When she opened the door, there was a big key on the tresh-hold. She gasped, grabbed my arm and started whispering something to me. We had to step on the key with our right foot to enter, greek traditions... oh! and then there's the whole cheek kiss thing! Way awkward, my first one was at that New Year's Eve dinner when Constantina greeted us. Just grabbed my arms and went for it. She calls me her doll, To koukla mou. Like I said, way nice people.

Neat Story

Wednesday night was New Year's Eve I think. We decided to go street contacting. We started walking with this guy who wasn't really interested in what we had to say. We had walked deep into a large park in Aigaleo and by now it had got really dark. We started walking hoping we would find someone to talk to. While walking we smelled smoke and heard laughing and talking coming from a gazebo about 50 yards off the path hidden in the trees. It was a bunch of kids 20-25 years old. We decided to avoid them seeing as how it was nightime in the park. Having walked further on, we realized that there was nobody else in the park. We decided to leave so we turned around and headed for the entrance, passing the kids again. We reached the entrance and I had seen nobody there either. I then had an impression. "Let's go talk to them" I said with a sigh. So we turned around and hestated before we left the path. Built up the courage and just went for it. It was 2 guys and a girl. We came up to them and greeted them and surprisingly, they were way friendly and attentive. We taught them about the restoration and bore testimony of the Book of Mormon. It was funny because when I started speaking in greek they all crowded really close to listen because they could tell I was trying hard to speak their language. We taught them from the Book of Mormon and told them that they could know the truth if they would pray and ask God. The girl, saying that she respected my opinion, said we could not know truth from a feeling. But it's a lot more than a feeling, it's a power. I couldn't even describe it to her, because it's real. That same spirit had just barely lead us to them. I testified to her that we could know the truth. All we have to do is ask God, and watch Him work miracles. I then asked her to pray that night. She was a little hesitant at first, but then said that she would try. You know when you can see when the spirit is just working on someone? I saw that. We gave them Book of Mormons and they told us which way to go to get out of the park. That experience was a testimony to me of how valuable everyone is to God. Those kids were the best contacts I have ever had. God's elect are everywhere, and can be found anywhere, even in the worst of places. We just need to rely on the spirit to take us to them and not be afraid to open our mouths when our chance comes.

New Year's Eve

That night we went back to the appartment and made a bunch of food: pasta with meat sauce, margharita pizza, fries, and tiropita (greek pastry). Real healthy, I know. Then we played scrabble until about 11:45p.m. and then realized that we were in one of the largest cities in the world, what were the odds that there'd be a massive firework show? So we climbed the spiral fire-escape to the roof (we're on a hill so we can see all of Athens) and watched as fireworks shot up throughout the valley, the biggest ones being over the Acropolis. It's been a really good week.

Happy 2009, Eric!



Thursday, January 1, 2009