Sunday, November 29, 2009
" I had another awesome experience doing a white board in front of the White Tower. We set it up there on the promenade and wrote on it "Questions of the Soul" such as "Does God exist, Did we exist before this life?, what is the purpose of this life?, and where will we go after death?" within ten minutes a crowd had started to gather in front of the board, just staring at it. We started talking to as many people as we could, then this old Greek guy walked into the middle of the crowd and said in a loud voice, "What group are you from?!" I told him that we were Mormons and then he said, in the same booming voice "ahh! the Mormons! Let me tell you something about the Mormons!" He turned to the crowd which was getting bigger by the second (greeks are really really curious) and he says "Mormons are the most loving, most christian group in all the world! They make the finest, most intelligent people! They don't drink, they don't smoke! They've created one of the finest universities in all the world! They live by the highest standards of conduct! Are they not Christians?" The crowd was eating up all his words. One lady even started saying out loud, "They're Christians! They're Christians!" Coming from someone who is Greek orthodox who believes that you must be orthodox in order to be a christian, that's a big compliment. He further explained that he had been to Utah several times on business as an engineer and has been to temple square and knows our doctrines quite extensively and just laid it all out. Apparently he had lived next to a Mormon family who had shown him a lot of kindness and had explained clearly the restored gospel. I stepped in and began to relate the message that we had to share and he testified to everything that I had too say. We met some really great people that night who had a real desire to learn more and an really deep impression was left on a crowd by one of their own. So cool!!! I'll definitely never forget that experience."
Well you guys, I have some bad news. Mom, don't freak out. haha Our zone leaders moved apartments this last week and we helped them do it. They lived five stories up, and while carrying some boards down the slick marble stairs, my left foot slipped out in front of me and I landed with my right leg bent behind me.(That's my bad knee) Slid down a couple of stairs. I didn't do anymore work. It's my knee that hurts, considerably weaker. I have my knee brace on now which helps a bunch. I decided to wait a week to see how it feels before deciding whether or not to go to the doctor. On a positive note, it feels a lot better than it did. I'm hoping that it's just bruised or something. It doesn't hurt so much anymore. It just feels weaker. I can walk fine, and just as much as before I fell, so that's not a problem. I just thought you guys should know, don't worry though!!!
Teaching in the Square:
I don't have much time, so I'll quickly tell you the highlight experiences of my week. This last Thursday, Elder Lohman and I were on an exchange with Elder Middleton, one of our zone leaders. We went to a place called Kamara, a square in the center of the city that runs from the university to the sea, to do a survey asking various questions about what people believe. I wasn't having too much success. I talked to a man who wasn't watching where he was going because he was staring at my name tag so intensely. I asked him if he would like to do the survey and he just went off about something. I couldn't even tell if it was greek at first; I guess I wouldn't know if he was cursing me out. Anyway, he made some pretty intense gestures and walked away. Crazies. So I turned around to find a guy in his twenties staring up at me, laughing. "Not too Christian is he?" he said in an English accent. I responded, "What can you do?" So I asked him if I could do the survey with him. He waited for a second and then gave and had me sit down next to him. "Alright" he said, " but I'm going to be the worst person you've ever talked to." I laughed and said, "We'll see" We did the survey and I was suprised at the answers he gave. He said that he believed in a greater power, and that that power governed all things; that it was selfish for us to think that we are the only world to contain life, and that that power governs all life, in all other worlds as well. He said that we can communicate with that power and that we can receive answers. He said that he believes Christ was the maker of Mary, that he made her famous, basically denouncing the divinity of Mary which is such a popular belief in Orthodoxy (sometimes Mary, or "Panayia" which means "the highest of all women saints", is worshiped more than even Christ himself). He said that he's had a very hard life; that in one year, his wife left him for his best friend, taking his daughter and all of his money, he lost his job, his father died, his dog died, his cat died, he moved to greece for a girl who dumped him, leaving him totally alone in Thessaloniki with no home. "I believe in work", he said "work, work, work, the power of the individual. I told you I was going to be the worst person you ever talked to. Alright, give me your speel, sell me God." I felt pity for him and thought it almost funny that he thought we were so different, when in reality our believes matched pretty closely. I told him that he'd be surprised at how similar his beliefs were to our church's doctrine. I told him that a great power does exist, and that I call Him God, and that He is the governor of not only this world, but of all the many worlds which He has created. I told him that we can communicate to Him through prayer and that He does respond. I told him that Christ is our savior, not Mary, and that He has called a prophet today, whose highlight message has been that there is no substitute to hard work. I guess he was kind of thrown off by this; he had expected me to start yelling at him preaching damnation or something. I guess that goes to show you how unorthodox we are. haha I told him that I wanted him to do something, pulling the Book of Mormon out of my bag. I told him that if that power really is God and that He is literally our Heavenly Father, then there would be nothing stopping Him from answering a prayer from one of His children. I asked him if he'd read and pray and that, for sure, he'd receive an answer, and that he's know that someone is watching out for him. He then said, "I've talked to Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics, and Mormons before; but none of them were able to impress me like you just did. Where's your church? I'm coming this Sunday, if I don't have work." He caught me off guard. At no point in the conversation did he seem to show much interest. "Yeah, I don't know how you did it, but you have my attention." It's amazing what the spirit can do. I know, for sure, that there was nothing I did to impress him. It was the spirit working with someone who had been sufficiently humbled to where his heart could be opened. Unfortunately, he had work this last Sunday (he works on boats in the marina close to the church), so hopefully he'll be able to make it next Sunday. His name is Kallos by the way, Cal in English. I hope he makes it all the way!
One Year In Greece!!
YEIA SAS OLY!
This week is the week that I hit my one year mark! Can you believe it? I can't. By the way, I hit one year on the 8th of October, not the 10th, so Thursday!!! It's a pretty big deal among the missionaries I guess. We're going to celebrate by going to a traditional Greek taverna Thursday afternoon for lunch. Something to look forward to I think! I'll be sure to take a lot of pictures! The end of the transfer is also coming up. President was up here last week and gave us some info. He said that there will be more changes this transfer than the last transfer, which is surprising because not one companionship stayed together last transfer. I think it's most likely I'll stay in Thessaloniki, possibly training! That'd be challenging. Training means that I would be companions with one of the seven newbies coming in this next transfer. Cyprus still won't accept Americans, so that option is out. We'll see what happens!
The past two weeks have been so crazy it's kind of desensitized transfers. I'm staying in Sikies in Thessaloniki! Woo hoo. I expected it. I got a new companion though! It's funny how I haven't kept the same companion for over one transfer. His name is Elder Stephanson from Texas. What to say about him... he's wayyyyy tall, about a head taller than me and his humor is really similar to Ken's. haha Elder Harris will be coming back up today with his new companion, Elder Foerster from Germany, and we'll be living together. Elder Lohman flew off to Cyprus yesterday. He was really excited to be going back. I told him he'd have to come to California for Thanksgiving next year because he's never experienced it, and he's pretty serious about it now, so be expecting one more!
One year celebration at the Traverna