Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Transfer to Thessaloniki !!!
The new threesome: Elder Harris, Elder Lohman and Elder Mortensen
You guys!!!! I'm soooo excited!!! There was a reason I didn't send you an e-mail yesterday...know why? Because I was traveling... YES, I've been transferred to Thessaloniki!!!!!!! You called it dad! Oh my gosh it's such a cool city and our apartment is insane! We got our calls last Friday and traveled yesterday by train. I had to be at Athens' train station by nine in the morning for a 7 hour train ride. We got to the apartment around 5. It's so cool!!! It's all blue and white with tiled floors. The kitchen is open, connected to the living room. The living room has surround sound speakers with subwoofer and reclinable leather coaches with foot rests that pop out. Off of the living room and study room is double glass doors that lead to the balcony that has 4 lounge chairs and a charcol barbeque grill. The study and living room both get tons of natural light from the windows. The study has two massive wooden desks for personal study. But the BEST part, is our blue and white painted roof patio with an unobstructed ocean view, so nice! Our area is called Seekayus. We live up on the hill, hence the amazing ocean view. We can see the ocean through our glass windows as well. The city is amazing too! I love Athens, but Thessaloniki is soooo much cleaner. It has more of a village feel to it. Athens attracts all the foreigners and refugees which make it kind of slummy in some areas, but you don't see that in Thes; just Greeks. Athens also has a lot of graffiti; not so much here. In case you don't know, Thassaloniki is in northern Greece and is an ampitheater shaped city that hugs the Aegean sea and slopes up the mountains. It's the second largest city in Greece. This morning we took a walk to get familiar with the area. We started walking and found ourselves in this tight street market selling everything you could imagine; exotic fruits and veggies, meats, fish, spices. Thessaloniki is actually one of the biggest ports in all of southern Europe. Turning a corner while coming out of the market, we discovered Thess' shopping district; two gigantic columned porches that led down to the water front. The water is lined with a promenade that spans the entire length of the city. It's so cool!!! Exciting times! There's five elders total in Thessaloniki and two sisters.
Oh I forgot to tell you; I'm in a threesome. My companions are Elders Lohman(pronounced like Looman) from Sweden and Elder Harris from Utah. They're way funny. Elder Lohman is just 2 months farther along than I am, and Elder Harris is four months further.Transfers were intense this time. Not one companionship stayed together and almost everyone changed areas.
So much to say and so little time! I was actually supposed to be the senior companion, but President kind of messed things up and gave Elder Harris the responsibility. That's alright with me. Less pressure I think. Last night we had a pretty funny experience as well. We left the apartment to find a grocery store and got lost. We found a big church and called our zone leaders to ask them how to get home from the church. They thought they knew where we were, but it turns out we had walked to the farthest reaches of the universe and were in some neighborhood clear up the mountain. We were running all over the place trying to find something familiar and just kept ending up back at the church. Our ZL eventually figured out where we and told us to take the bus in front of the church, but we took the bus going the wrong way, so we made this big loop through the neighborhood and ended up back at the church. We had to laugh at ourselves. Eventually it took us home though.
Well you guys, I don't have to much time left. I hope you all have a great week! Until next time!
Ancient City of Corinth
Yeia Sas styn oly tyn eekoyenia mou!
Thelo na mono milaw styn ellinyka, y'afto boreete na deete pos fenete. I'm kindof in a greek speaking mood right now. It's great! I feel like I'm getting comfortable speaking and understanding the language! Before I didn't understand everything, just bits and pieces; but now, ola kala! (everything's good)
Whew, I'm tired. We went on our zone trip today to the ancient city of Korinthos (Corinth). It was way fun!!! Last night we slept over at another companionship's house and woke up early (6:30) to make pancakes. yum. We took a bus along the coast (an amazing ride). We first saw the city and then checked out the castle above. It was way fun.
Transfers will be coming up here soon, where could I be going? I think I'll stay in the center. Some missionaries think I'm going to Thessaloniki. That would be tight.
Well I'm literally out of time. Have a great week!
One of our AP's is launching a new program called the Athens Visitor's Center. He wants to turn downtown Ancient Athens into something like temple square; Temple Square being the heart of the latter-day church, and Athens being one of the major centers of early christianity due to Paul's travels. Like temple square has sister missionaries from all over the world who give tours, so would Athens, only with Elders instead of Sisters. They would give tours of Ancient Athens, talking about ancient religion, politics, language, and life-style as they go. The tour would wind around the acropolis and ascend Mars Hill. A copy of Acts 17 would be given to everyone and the tour would end discussing Paul's influence on the greek society and how that lead to the restoration. This idea has caused some debates among the missionaries, but President is behind it. We'll see how it tastes after trying it. I'm excited because one of my favorite subjects in school was history. Obviously the missionaries don't know anything about greek history, so Elder Meister(the AP who's leading it) will hold two classes this week teaching everything he knows about ancient Greek civilization, including a little bit of the ancient language! He knows a lot because that was his study in college. Of course it will be a free tour provided in pretty much any language you can think of seeing as how the missionaries are from all over the world. Everything has been checked with the church lawyers and Frankfurt gave the ok to give it a try. We'll see what happens!
New Mission President: President Christopher Charles
So, the new President is awesome!!! I think I've told you a little bit about him. Yesterday, he gathered all the missionaries in the North Chapel to go over the missionary handbook and then after wards, we had our General Priesthood meeting. He's really stressing exact obedience, so he stated all the rules right then and there, but in a nice way. Then, he gave an amazing talk at the Priesthood Meeting. He said that he had something on his mind since the beginning of his mission, something he needed to address. He said that he didn't want to see any contention within the church in Greece, and that as we obeyed that ideal, we would be promised a temple in Greece. Pretty cool huh? He even had the zeal to ask Elder Perry if he could begin a search for land to build a temple in Greece. He said it was laughed at, but Elder Perry gave him permission. He said it may not happen in the immediate years, but that it would surely happen, a Greece Athens Temple. He's quite an inspirational speaker. I think Greeks in general have that ability: a booming voice, hands flying everywhere. hahaha. He speaks with a lot of passion, as Greeks/Cypriots do. He's Cypriate by the way. His Greek is at a very low level right now, because he's spoken English most of his life, but he and his wife are picking it up very quickly. President Galanos is an excellent speaker. He was a great president. It was great to serve with him.
Teaching an old friend:
Here's some more exciting news!!! We went to Olga's house to say goodbye. We had an awesome dinner, pasta soup with Greek salad and bread. We've tried to teach Olga every transfer I was in Aigaleo, but it always seemed like she was uninterested and would try to change the subject. This time she seemed frustrated about something. She asked "Why are you so busy?! What do you do all day long?!! I told her that we teach people the gospel. Then she said " Don't give me that! What do you do?!! Why have you kids come here?!! What do you have to offer people?" I think it's kind of tortured her inside because we always tell her how busy we are she's never known exactly what we teach. So I told her "Alright, Olga, I tell you exactly what we teach people." and she said "I'm listening to you" We taught a very powerful first lesson. At times she tried to change the subject, but we didn't let her. She listened to Joseph Smith's story and accepted everything without an objection. At the end we bore powerful testimony of prayer and she ended the lesson by saying one herself. After 8 months of contact, Olga has finally made it to investigator status. She told us after wards that she's wanted to come to church with us. She said that she knows the Orthodox church thoroughly, she's been, but she wants to see ours because we're different somehow. Luckily Elder Southwick is taking my place in Alexandras and he'll be able to take her. The gospel brings joy into people's lives, and it lasts as long as you want it to; that's what it was created for; that's why we were created. That joy comes in no other way than by following the commandments of God. It's real and people can see it.
A spiritual thought:
Just to close on a spiritual thought. I was reading yesterday in Proverbs 3:5-6 (scripture mastery Neil) that talks about a little bit about faith. It says "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths." So, it's pretty straight forward. A lot of the time we don't understand why we have to do something, or understand why things are the way they are; but as we put our trust in God, it doesn't really matter, because we know he'll direct our lives for good and make us prosper, and then as we grow in experience, the understanding comes. That's how faith works, it's a test!
Alrighty, have a great week!!!
Presvyteros Eric (: