Saturday, November 6, 2010

Move to a New Job

President Charles has two new Assistants Elder Rodriguez and Elder Steeby. I am up in Kifissia now. It is also in Northern Athens so I am in the same branch. I actually live under the mission office. My new companion is Elder Rodriquez of Italy/Argentina. He is really cool. He can translate to Spanish. My life is going to be a bit busy for the next 4 months or so. I am lucky to have time for lunch most days. But I am excited about the new experiences I will encounter.

Mars Hill - Nov.3rd. Another tradition of the mission is to go to Mars Hill for testimonies. A sweet and peaceful feeling was felt today on Mars Hill. You can see that we read Acts 17 in Greek. As we made our way down some contacting was done and pass along cards were handed out.

What an awesome happy group!

We spent the morning at the Mission Home in an Orientation Meeting and then on to Souvlaki Kifissia. President & Sister Charles always take the new missionaries to eat their first official Greek meal after they arrive.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Welcome to the Greece Athens Mission

We are happy to welcome Sisters Gallagher and Braaksma and Elders Yates and Wu. They arrived safe and well. Elder Yates (top left) looks excited to be here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Training Session in Athens 26th. Oct. 2010

Pres. & Sister Charles spent a few days with the missionary leaders in Athens. We enjoyed this training session on the Fundamentals of Preach My Gospel. Role playing plays a big part of our training sessions. We have the opportunity to learn from each others experiences.

Oct 25, 2010

I had another awesome Sunday and week in general. Sunday we decided as a district to try street singing. So all dozen missionaries went to the main square in Athens and sang hymns. We had 2 elders handing out fliers and they gave out almost 200 fliers and things while we sang. It was a great experience. Sometimes you just have to stop and think outside of the box and the Lord blesses you with what you were trying to get. Its amazing the blessings of the gospel. The picture is of a buzzer and the name is Missouri.

October 18th

On Thursday, I was asked to prepare a weekly gospel principles class for church. To be given in Greek and translated into Spanish for a member family. This seemed a bit overwhelming at the time. But I prepared the best I could and then Sunday came. I was the only elder there that could translate, so I got to translate for a senior couple for sacrament. Senior couples are the worst to translate because they don't understand the concept of someone translating live. So they use big words and make weird jokes that don't translate. But I survived. Then I got to have my class. President and Sister Charles decided to sit in so my class was then in Greek, Spanish and also English. Ugh. Again, I survived. It actually wasn't a bad lesson. Even though the Greek translation of the manual is terrible because its in ancient Greek for random words. Then I came down for priesthood and was told a man was here requesting to be baptized. So I went and talked with him and we will start teaching him on Saturday. Then I got to translate priesthood and relief society. Then we had potluck. The picture was taken by a member who said to send it to my mom to show me eating my veggies. Good Sunday.

October 10th - Mars Hill

We gathered at Mars Hill for a farewell for Elder Mortensen. The Athens sky seemed to be in sympathy with us as we said goodbye. Clouds formed, and the soft rain mingled with our tears as we bore testimony and sang our song of farewell. Elder Mortensen shared a poignant story written by his grandfather called The Little Blue Flower. We bid him God speed into the arms of his family. Elder Fingerle followed in the footsteps of our dear missionary brother Paul. He bore testimony about the goodness of the missionaries.

October 10th

So this week we received a call on Wednesday to give service. We were only told where and not what we were doing. It was someone claiming to have known missionaries before. So we made our journey up to where she lived. When we get there the house is a mess and she starts explaining to me what we will be doing. She wanted us to change shirts and then we were going to organize her house. She refused to let us do it in our white shirts so we changed and started sorting. It was the most disorganized and disgusting house. But finally after we finished the kitchen, she took us back into her daughters' room. Her two daughters are like 10 and 9. And she wanted us to sort and fold and pack away all of her daughters summer clothes and get out the winter ones. So many of the clothes hadn't been washed and it was just terrible. She had no idea what she wanted either so she would randomly change her mind. Finally she insisted on feeding us so we grabbed it and ran out. We told our leaders and discussed it and it was decided we would not be going back there again. Just another test of our faith.

Sept 26th

We visited a missionary in the hospital. They made us wear masks so we didn't kill him. It was fun. Then on Thursday I was summoned to the mission home to perform vital tech support on the blog. We also had interviews and on Sat there was a baptism and since the chapel was ours, we had to fill the font. In Greece we have small pipes so that took about 2.5 hours. But the baptism was great and there was a great spirit present for the meeting.

Sept 23, 2010 Zone Conf.

We had zone conference this week with the church psychologist. It was good,it was just about avoiding bad stress.

September 20th

I had my first test of translation yesterday. A Greek member showed up at church and the other older missionaries where in Cyprus so it was me and 2 other elders, so I got to start the translation. Sadly, a senior couple was speaking so it wasn't a great translation because they speak too fast and don't understand "translation." It was tough but I survived. Then I let one of the other elders translate and the member got tired of it and took off the translation headset. That was sad for him but it happens.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week of Sept. 5th

In my first week, I gave out a book of Mormon to a Greek for the first time in Greece for me. It was quite the event. I labored here for 4 months and didn't get to do that much, then in my first day of knocking, I get to give one out. Then this week we visited a less active and invited her to church. She came and to our surprise the other elders had been visiting her every week and committing her to come and she didn't. But we visit her once and she comes. We were really excited to see her in Church. It's been a good week.

Week of Aug. 29

This week has meant lots of changes for me. I am now back in Athens. I am in the area called Halandri. Its in the north. It was formerly closed for a few months and that has made my life rather difficult. We are starting from scratch. We don't know where anything is and we have to figure out something so we don't get lost. My new companion is 6 months out. He is from England as well. His name is Elder Deeley. Together we have the most e's in our names of any companionship. He is really cool. We have spent most of the day cleaning our new apartment. It was a mess from the last elders leaving in a hurry. Otherwise my week was really good. We finished strong but I miss Pafos. I gave a presentation on America for family night. It was fun.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Aug 15th, my Birthday and my Year Mark!

Well this was one of the best weeks ever! That training we did really whooped us into shape. We hit the ground running this week and doubled our lessons and contacts. We even found a family that is very interested. It was an awesome week and I hope it continues. But this week we also had an exchange with the district leader on my birthday and it was nice because they were from my MTC group so it was like last year all over again. But you'll see from the pictures I had a good time. Then for P-day we celebrated my year mark by going to get fish and chips. One of my new favorite foods. It was on this beautiful road.
Birthday breakfast

Everyone who knows me well, knows how much I love a hammock.
The chocolate cake that my English class got me. It was really good.

My strawberry cobbler I made myself for my birthday.

My new favorite meal!
Elder Loynes, my new companion is basically a British version of me. Its quite nice and makes for good conversation.
All this beautiful water and I can't get in, but I WILL be back to swim someday!

Leadership Training in Cyprus Aug 2010

President and Sister Charles spent 4 days in Cyprus with the Assistants, Zone Leaders, District Leaders and Trainers. (Yes, I am now a trainer.) We read and discussed principles from the Scriptures and Preach My Gospel. We watched video clips , we role played evaluated and role played some more. Through it all we became more unified, we felt the Spirit time and time again, and we rejoiced and were edified together.

The role playing throughout the 4 days proved to be most beneficial. Each group rotated between President Charles, Elder Mortensen and Sister Charles. As the week progressed more and more of the principles taught were brought into the role play situations. Knowing of the desire of Pres. & Sis. Charles to have some fish and chips 'English ' style, I knew of a place and was able to track it down. No one was disappointed! Pres. Charles was enjoying himself so much he wouldn't even look up for the picture.

July 25th - Misc pics

As for the last few days, I was in a threesome in Lemassol. We had a good time but on Sunday I had the weirdest experience of my mission. I went to church without a companion. The senior couple brought me to Pafos to conduct the meeting so they were technically my companion but no young missionary was with me and it felt so weird. I did not like it. But I conducted, taught and returned to the other elders. I was also hit by a car this week. I was not hurt. In fact I didn't even fall off my bike. I did more damage to his car than he did to me. I have one tiny scratch on my hand and I shattered his side view mirror and broke his rear bumper off. But I wasn't hurt and didn't even fall off my bike. We both weren't going very fast.

Sun setting on the Pafos Coast line

Elder Lohman playing mini golf on his last p-day.

This is the Pizza Hut we ate at on P-day.

July 11th

Greek chips

New companion for 5 weeks, Elder Lohman.

July 11th - Saga of the bike

In Cyprus every missionary pays 100 euro to use a bike. I did this and was given a blue and silver bike. It was in probably the worst shape I have ever seen. It hardly changed gears and the brakes were bad. But I am no one to complain. And I am fairly mechanically inclined so I tinkered with it and got it use-able. It has been all down hill from there. This week the part of my bike that changes gears in the front was given the ok to be repaired. So I took it in. They told me my bike wasn't worth repairing but they did anyway. On the way home, my back gear changer lodged itself in my tire and broke off. So I took it home and took the part from a parts bike we had and fixed it up. This patch held but I told our president on Cyprus that it was going to die soon and what the repair guy said. On Saturday, we were riding to look for a bike shop and my rear gear changer again lodged itself in my tire and this time, (just showing how good of a handy man I am) it actually bent the tire. I sure got it on good. But my bike was walked home where I threw on a spare tire that had a flat. I then spent the next hour fixing the flat. I finally got one tire to hold air so we set off. We were on our way home and plop. There went my tire. I was out of parts so I gave up and called back the president and told him I would need a new bike. They were not happy with this as many people are asking for new bikes but reluctantly agreed. Today they came to go shopping with me. They loaded the 2 of us elders, the 2 broken bikes and the pres and his wife in the car and drove to the bike shop. Thankfully we found a decent bike and a lady that spoke enough English for president to agree to buy the bike. I rode home a happy missionary. Then we rode to the internet cafe. Sadly, on the way, a very un-cautious woman threw open her car door and hit me. Catching my pedal and smashing it to pieces. Brand new bike. 1st ride. Broken. I stopped and just looked at her. Then she had the audacity to tell me that "I can go" like I was the one at fault and she wasn't going to press charges. I wasn't in missionary attire but believe me it took everything I had not to tell her just what I thought of her. But such is life. Its in the past now.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 3, 2010 Zone Conference

Missionaries making sure their bags are packed with some emergency supplies. (Not sure what the look on my face was for.)

The Assistants Elders Grow and Mortensen baked a cake for Elder Balhorn's birthday. Bottom left picture is a line up of the birthday people for June and July.

Zone Conference seemed to be enjoyed by all, exceptional presentations were given by the missionary leaders and Elder Bell.

Sister Davis in Athens put together an emergency pack for each of the missionaries. In the top left of the picture Sister Sorensen had a line up to show different ways to use a piece of material. Some examples were a head covering, a sling, protection for nose and mouth(that's me). They also had food, flashlight, laminated copies of important identity papers and much more.

One More Picture of the Baptism

Ron was about to be baptized in that glorious Mediterranean sea. With him from left to right are President Higgins, Elder Steeby, Ron and Elder Bavelas. Nothing can hide the smiles and the joy of such a momentous occasion. Rashida Charles, Mission Pres. Charles' wife, mentioned that at last Zone Conference, they heard that Elder Steeby had just finished reading the Book of Mormon in Greek. "What a great achievement, we are very impressed well done!"