I have been in Greece for almost a month. I am practically half Greek at this point. I figured I should record some of my reflections, and any good stories from the past month.
The first week I was here, I spent acclimating to the culture, the different pace of life, and trying my hardest to learn Greek. Changing my sleep schedule was not too difficult. It took me longer to adjust to the pace of life – more relaxed, but still needing to get things done. One big meal a day, around 2:30 or 3:00pm. Different food – more cheese and bread and honey. Mmm feta 🙂 And people always feeding you! If you’re hungry or stuffed! Self-control…out the window. Ick. Much less emphasis on exercise, more on relaxing and enjoying people’s company. Definitely a test of my self-discipline.
As far as events, during this week I was introduced to the youth Kali hangs out with – Niki, Elli, Daniel, Mohammad, Evangelos, Despina, Eirini and Anastasia. Pray for them, if you would. They are at varying levels of faith and commitment, and of course come from varying situations. Some are immigrants without families, some have family issues, and all are in need of love and friendship. Anyway, I met them when they visited the house, or came to the Balkan Center (Long’s church), or when several of us girls went out for a night downtown. I also had several heart-to-hearts/theological discussions with the youngest Long daughter, Kali. It’s funny how theology and other deep things all go together. Kali and I had a particularly enjoyable conversation one evening on a coffee ship in the bay. There are several ships that serve drinks (especially frappe, the official coffee drink of Greece!) and take those on board for a half hour cruise around the bay. Great!
With week 2 came the transition of having more people in the house – Dawn, Lawanda, Shari and Joey arrived for the women’s conference. That was an interesting time – more transitions! I did alright at first, but near the middle of their time I started closing up. Thank the Lord for the quiet and personal time I had at night with Kali. We stayed downstairs one floor, with Papou, so as to give the ladies and Joey beds to sleep in. At night, after the busyness of the day, we would get in bed, turn off the lights, and more often than not, would start opening up to each other about what was weighing on our hearts and minds.
The women’s conference was a blessing to the women who attended. Here is what I wrote in my newsletter about it:
Immeasurable Joy in God’s Presence was the theme of the women’s conference held at the Balkan Center Anagenesis, the Long’s church. The conference was focused on the Father heart of God, on the value He places on women, and on the deliverance He provides from Satan’s deceptions and schemes.
A few ladies flew in from the United States for this conference, and have been staying with us at the Long’s house. One of the ladies did most of the preaching, one shared her testimony, and one was the prayer and ministry time leader. Many women were encouraged by the conference. Several women came to the Long’s church for the first time on Sunday. And one young lady became a believer because of the conference!
The conference was a great success, and the Longs will be scheduling another one for next year. Praise the Lord!
A rough outline, to be sure. What this does not communicate is the growth we have seen in the church since the conference. To me, at least, it seems that church attendance has been continually increasing since the conference, and that both the leaders of the church and the laypeople are re-energized because of the blessing of the messages, the prayer, and simply the presence of the ladies. By the end of their time here, we all felt a lot more like a big family (jokes and friendly “abuse” included) brought together by God than a bunch of strangers thrown together. I can honestly say I miss their presence here.
During the couple of weeks the ladies were here, we did many things outside of the church building. Shopping at stores and in the downtown market, site-seeing (Philippi, and monasteries for the ladies), eating at authentic Greek restaurants, eating authentic home-made Greek meals, and just relaxing. Perhaps one of the most memorable nights was a night spent at home, during the last few days. Kali and Niki were sitting on the couch with Shari…and they decided to attack her collar bones, grabbing at and pinching them. They pounced, and Shari tried to fight them off, but to no avail. Her face got red, she was laughing to hard she almost could not speak, and eventually slid into the floor and scooted away, out of their reach. Facebook has documentation of this 🙂 Also very memorable was all the teasing Maria dealt out to Joey and Shari, because of Joey’s Greek heritage. Maria kept on alluding to Joey staying in Greece, not going back to the States, and eventually shifted to him coming to visit for several months. She kept at it, and by the end of the trip, Shari was seriously considering it. It was also amazing to see Joey open up, going from almost catatonic and silent to speaking, smiling, and even taking part in jokes every once in a while.
That is all for now. More stories to come!
Maranatha. Find your Bride pure and devoted.