Sunday, September 26, 2010

Coming Home/ Goodbye to Greece

Hello Everyone!

And so begins the big week! This one is going to be hectic. In fact, I have only 30 min to write this letter. We're off to the airport to pick-up the elders and sisters arriving from Cyprus. We'll then do a massive drive around Athens dropping them all off at their apartments. I'll be playing navigator because nobody else seems to know the city well enough.
Today we woke up at 6 a.m. and help a Filipino lady paint her house. Got it done, so that feels good; and then we went to the store and stocked up on food for the week. 8 missionaries will be staying with us for the next 4 days because the new missionaries arrive tomorrow! Everyone is pretty excited. I've got a plan ready on how I'm going to help him learn the language and love the culture. New Missionaries really are just like kids because they follow your every move and absorb what you do and say like a sponge. When I get done with him, he's going to be... Greek! I noticed something today that I love so much about the Greeks: We went to a bakery for breakfast and I watched as the women worked behind the counter. It's interesting to watch their hands. All the movements are really precise and seem to flow. That's true for all Greeks. I guess that sounds pretty weird to you guys. Weird Eric. hahaha
I've seen a change happen in Manolis. He's started coming back to church as of a couple of weeks ago, and now there's a joy is his voice that wasn't there before. We've agreed that we're going to party at the taverna before I leave for good (I should have about 3 more days in Athens before I leave for California). I don't mean to make you guys trunky, but, do you know what today is? August 30th! This is the day I would have been flying home on. That would have been one big mistake. I'm so glad that I'll be staying until October. Then I'll be ready to come home.

Alright, I hope you're all well

Love, Eric

Yeia Sas everyone!

Well, I'm finally back in Thess! and back to the internet cafe... a small price to pay. We've had the chance to see Takis and Beatrice again. We had told him that we were coming. He's changing! I can see it! I see it in every person that progresses in the gospel. There's a real change that happens. It must go along with the personal radiation concept that you sent me dad. He was given some new books by the missionaries that were here last: A Marvalous Work and a Wonder, and Our Search for Happiness. He loves them, will not put them down. I'm kind of worried because of that actually because he's stopped reading the Book of Mormon. During our discussion, he asked the question: What/Who is the Holy Ghost? He turned to his wife and she said that she wasn't exactly sure. "Nobody really knows, it's a confusing topic for many" We opened up the Book of Mormon to Moroni 10 and read about the promise, about how we can know truth by power of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is the means by which man can receive a testimony of God and his Son. In Romans 8:16 the bible says that the "Spirit beareth witness with our Spirits." Takis came to church the next day. We had some good meetings. I got up during testimony meeting and bore my testimony about the Holy Ghost and who he is. It was pretty powerful. I wondered about how much he had absorbed.

We also had the chance to go and see Zoitsa, of course. She's doing well, but her work has been hit hard. She's facing heavy persecution for being associated with the church. Old regular clients have dropped contact with her completely because they saw the missionaries coming over to her house. It's too bad really. She told me though: "I hold my beliefs strongly, I will never change" Zoitsa's hardcore.haha
Her daughter joined us about half way through. We asked her about how she felt about the church and our message. She said that she really likes it. She has a lot of faith, which is a cause of why she's such a good person. We asked her if she'd like to be taught more. She said yes! She said that she was at a store where there was a tv playing. Someone was flipping through the channels and then stopped and our temple in Salt Lake was on the screen, some kind of travel show. She knew what it was when she saw it and it made a big impression on her. She's really cool. Her name is Petrina, about 27 years old, with a personality that matches her mothers.

We're off for lunch at a restaurant in the sky! In the Thess TV tower. Should be fun! I'll have to send pictures next time.

Have a great week everyone!

Love, Eric

Yeia Sas Everybody!

We've started to teach a nephew of a member family. His name is Xristos. He's about 20 years old and is a soldier in the Greek army. He's learned a lot from his family and can see how happy they are because of their beliefs, so he wants to be baptised as well! He's a great guy. He really has a solid desire to do the right things. We'll be going out to see him today.
I'm currently translating the Joseph Smith movie into Greek, so we hope to show that this coming week. I think it will help a lot of people really understand the restoration and Joseph Smith better.
My companion is Elder Kopischke, from Germany, and yes, he's the one I wanted. He's a great guy with a strong desire to work hard. We've been working on his language skills and he's improving quickly. I'm going to take him and the other elders out to a greek taverna today to get a taste of the greek BBQ. Looking forward to that!

Sorry I didn't write last Monday. We went down to Athens for zone conference for the past couple of days and didn't really have a chance to breath. It was nice to see the other missionaries again though. The train ride is wearing me out. I've taken it maybe 11 times. We arrived home last night at 2:30 a.m. because there were some technical difficuties with the train and we had to stop for a long time. So I'm super tired right now. We also went to Kavala this last Sunday. It's also known as Neapoli, the place where Paul landed when he first came to Europe.

On a positive note, we had an awesome lesson with Xristos this last week! Have I told you his story yet? He's the son of a greek member family here in Thessaloniki. He's 20 years old and is a soldier in the greek army. He's been searching for the true church. He's impressed with the kind of people the church members are and also with his families testimonies. He's come to church a couple of times. Anyway, we've taught him a couple of lessons. In the first one we asked him if he would prepare himself to be baptized on a certain date. He didn't really answer us straight. A couple of days later, he gave us call and asked " are you still holding that baptismal service on October 3rd?" I said yes. and he said " well, I'd like to be baptized as well. I've read some of the Book of Mormon, I've prayed about it, and I've fasted for three meals. I received an answer and I know it's true." WOOOHOOO! We're so excited for him. We just hope he can make it though, and of course we'll help him every step of the way.

Well you guys, the clock's ticking. I can't believe it. I thought about it for a moment yesterday: in 3 weeks I'll be in California. What? Is that possible? Can missionaries go to California? hahaha

Love, Eric