27 Oct 2014

Week 13 Thessaloniki

"This is our area that covers the whole city, and technically it's also a huge area around the city as well. It goes to the borders with Bulgaria and Macedonia, and a long way South as well, the only problem is that there's only the one church, so people wouldn't be able to get to church. There's a city called Kavala about 2 hours away with around 30 less active members, because the church closed there a few years ago, I don't know why. But the people there cant come to church because it's too far! I think the missionaries there used to get arrested a lot."

Some weeks due to a large number of questions from us and answers from Elder Teal, the emails become confusing, so to make it easier to follow I have matched questions and answers. from a couple of emails !

Hello , are you ok ? So what's been your weeks highlight?

"I'm not sure what the highlight would be, it's been a really good week, we've had some lessons which is always good! Yesterday I played piano in Sacrament! It wasn't great if I'm honest but it was something to sing along to, and I think people appreciated it, and it was funny. 

We've started to use the bikes now which I love, I didn't realise how much I would enjoy it. They’re really good bikes and it’s much easier than walking or using the bus. I've also discovered that the bakery just down the road sells really nice really cheap biscuits, so that's great, and when I went this morning I got an extra one free!"

Been white boarding, done your own this time? 
"Yeah we do it every Sunday! Last week we had a question saying "What is important?" and a list of things like God, family, love, happiness etc. and used it to get people talking, which worked really well. This week we had the question "What brings you happiness?" and used it to talk to people about the Book of Mormon. It's really good every time we do it, and it's a great chance to improve my Greek as well, talking to people in the street."

Are there street dogs in Thess like Athens ? Can you get a picture for Jessie’s Facebook page? "There are street dogs here, but we're warned not to go near them as some are vicious and might have rabies or something. The ones that you could get close to are usually really old or really ill, and it would be a really depressing picture, it makes me sad every time I see them. It would be more like a Save the Street Dogs picture, which I don't think is what you were really meaning."

They are re showing the Joanna Lumley Greece programme on TV we have seen the 1st two again and are looking forward to episode 4 as it's Thess.
"Ha-ha great, you might see some places I know!"

I am sure mum has told you elder peels parents are coming to our house on Friday? 
"Ha-ha yeah, that's great! If they’re anything like Elder Peel you'll get along great!"

What has stood out to you from your study this week ? 
"This week I've started Elder Bednar's idea of going through the Book of Mormon and highlighting everything with relation to a specific topic, I’m doing relationships between parents and children. I really love 2 Nephi 1, where Lehi is exhorting Laman and Lemuel to righteousness. You can tell that he has worked out his own salvation and made his election sure, and now before he dies is desperate for his sons to see the light, it's really touching, especially verse 14"

Elder Bednar suggested using a softback copy of the Book of Mormon and working through it marking everything relating to one topic. 
Then get a new copy and do the same again with a different theme

What’s the weather been like? According to my app you seem to have had some rain but it’s not always accurate.
"It’s really cold, but my fleece and coat work well together so I’m fine. I have my hat and scarf as well, so I’m fine :)"

Hows the Greek? It's going well?
"I can feel my understanding improving as I start to pick up what people are saying when I overhear conversations in the street and on the bus. I like to ask people on the bus questions about the language or for directions for places I don’t even want to go to, just so I can hear them talk and get used to trying to understand the accent. I can understand perfectly when the other missionaries speak Greek, and when people who are foreigners here speak it's quite easy, it's just with actual Greeks that I sometimes have trouble, but it's improving! And 9 times out of 10 I can say myself what I want to without a problem :)"

What hymns did you play? How much did you remember?
"Is the hymn book thinner as not all translated? It’s thinner yeah, but I just played from the simplified hymn book in English. Yeah I can remember the basics of hand positioning and things, which is enough, but I hope to improve as I do it more! I had to play Sweet is the Work, Jesus Once of Humble Birth Now Let Us Rejoice, And the last one was quite funny because it's really fast and parts weren't great haha!" Elder Teal only has a grade 1 piano certificate from about 9 years ago. Brave lad! !

Hows the food?

"Shop baought Yiro (delicious greek kebab) and chilli and rice Elder Lyttel and I made"

Don't think they area starving then !

Have any packages arrived yet ? 
"They haven't, we only get mail when people come up from Athens or when we go down there, so it might not be until zone conference that I get them. Someone might bring them up before then, but it will have to be someone who drives as they wouldn't be able to bring them on the plane. Elder Lyttel said it sometimes takes like 3 weeks for parcels to arrive in Greece at all, and then they have to get up to Thess."

Have a great week! 
Lots of love, 
Elder Teal Jnr.

20 Oct 2014

Week 12 Thessaloniki

"Some pictures from the paralia (waterfront) from where we did a whiteboard yesterday, and there was a really nice sunset. The boat you can see is a party boat, they pull up at random points along the front with music playing and let people get on, there's a bar and they serve food. The Scottish tourist you can see is my companion"

"Our area, its huge. (The area between the sea and the thick yellow line)"
"Me in the apartment and doing some ironing."
 How was your week, what was your spiritual highlight?
"Thank you for your prayers and fasting, we definitely feel like we're receiving massive blessings! We had another Hand of the Lord moment coming home from “whiteboarding” again last night, I forgot to take pictures of my journal this week so you'll have to wait to read about it until next week, but in short Heavenly Father makes it incredibly easy for us to get home when we're trying to be obedient. There were two occasions of us praying at a bus stop, opening our eyes and the bus instantly coming around the corner, and one of a ticket conductor saying our tickets were invalid and kicking us off what turned out to have been the wrong bus, and where he kicked us off was exactly where we needed to be to catch the next bus. So yeah, keep praying! I'm not allowed to ask you to fast (it's in the handbook) but if you want to do it of your own free will then go for it! ;) We're definitely being blessed for our efforts, and we've had our first few lessons this week, which have been great. Our Albanian friend has a baptismal date for the 22nd November, and he was at church again this week! :D

Spiritual highlight has to be the journey home again! I have seen how Heavenly Father is so willing to bless us when we're on the way home from doing His work and trying to be obedient by getting home on time. I no longer believe in coincidences, and I have seen so many direct and instant answers to prayers, it's amazing, and my relationship with my Father in Heaven has grown tremendously."

How is the Greek going ?
 "The Greek is going really well! I was a bit discouraged at one point during the week as I sometimes struggle to understand people in the street, especially when they go off topic because I don't know the words. I can definitely feel myself improving though, and when we taught a less-active family this week it felt like I could just have a normal conversation with them, like all of the times that new members have come to Oldham and we've got to know them, so that was really good.
Also I'm getting really good at street contacting now, I can approach and talk to someone by myself with no worries, have a full conversation, (try to) get their details and say bye! And yesterday in church I translated in Priesthood! Brother Todi taught in Greek and I translated into English for the people that don't speak Greek, it went really well, and it was great practise for my understanding.

It’s strange though, because I pray in Greek I've started thinking of Heavenly Father as a Greek speaker, it's made me less narrow minded about language and how God truly understands everyone!

The Greek is going great! I push myself with contacting and talking to everyone, and my companion pushes me by dropping me in the deep end mid conversation sometimes, and I'm seeing huge improvements!"


"My Greek scriptures! I have a list of my favourite scriptures from each of the Preach My Gospel topics, and they all have tabs in my Greek Book of Mormon. Also my Greek Bible, it has cool pictures and diagrams in the back about random things like Jewish planting calendars and things!"
Favourite Scripture?
"I can’t think of a favourite scripture of the top of my head for this week, but 2 Nephi 31 continues to amaze me and be an important part of my mission."

How is Elder Lyttle
"I get on so well with Elder Lyttel, we're having a really fun time together! We have a laugh every day and we're loving it. We often sing to each other in mixed Greek and English, it's hilarious. And we just do silly things in the apartment like elastic band fights, it's funny. But yeah we work really well together and he really pushes me. In the street he stands off to let me talk to people, so I have to carry on myself and can't just fall back on him to speak for me."

"Finally, Bike safety is fun! We don't use the bikes because Elder Lyttel has a bad knee. He actually had to go home because of it, and came back to the mission whilst we were in the MTC."

Eating well?
"We're eating great, we cook together everyday.
We've had pasta and curries, and last night I made a really nice Greek salad,
Granny Jean would be proud!"


"Oreo milkshakes made by Elder Lyttel,
Greek salad made by me, and melon prepared by both of us!
I chopped, he did a weird ball scoop thing :P"

How is the Branch you are serving in?
"The branch is lovely. There are maybe 15 members (active) so it's really small, but everyone there is there because they really want to be, you can really see the Gospel in action. We've had one lunch appointment so far, with Brother Todi. He's amazing, he's from Albania and he talks to Albanian people we meet on the street over the phone for us and invites them to church. He's like 4 feet tall and always wants hugs, it's hilarious.
We ate a sort of bread thing made from cheese, flour, spinach and some other things I don't know the English words for, it was really nice! But there was so much of it, we had to take some home for later. He doesn't have much money and lives in a tiny apartment, so it was a big deal for him to make food for two hungry young men, and we were very grateful."
Lots of love
Elder Teal Jnr
Finally a thought from Dad.
Each week as I compile emails sent to Elder Teals mum and myself, I am amazed to see the growth in our son. Some thing stood out this week. I should have remembered from my missionary service but time and life dull my memory. It struck me that my son is finding Gods hand in the simplest things. Elder Teal and Elder Lyttle's prayers are not for wealth or luxury, they are for a safe journey home so they can be in the apartment on time, to be obedient. They are praying for the chance to speak to people. In these simple yet profound questions, to a loving Heavenly Father, they are finding answers. If you ever questioned why missionaries live strict rules and denied themselves phone calls and the constant noise of technology.. this is why, so they can develop a relationship with God that will remain with them through their lives. These two young men are strengthening their testimonies in a living God, not by great signs and wonders but small miracles, I would overlook in my busy life.
As a family we were fortunate to have enough, to invite 4 missionaries into our home for Sunday dinner yesterday. I was moved to read a man invited our boys into his home to share whatever he had. It is these simple things that touch the heart of a missionary Dad. 

13 Oct 2014

Week 11 Thessseloniki

Elder Teal has moved areas. We had expected he was going to stay near Athens for the next 12 weeks, but that's not the case. He has been transferred 520Km North to Thessaloniki (Thess) if the name sounds familiar, its because the Apostle Paul wrote a few epistles to the Thessalonians.

He has a new companion Elder Lyttel from Scotland. The area is much more Greek speaking, so it will give him a chance to hone his language skills. Although he may well speak Greek with a slight Scottish lilt after the next 12 weeks ;)

What's your new area like ?

"Yeah it's really lovely, it's such a pretty town. The people are nice for the most part as well, and willing to talk, even if they're not interested in the message. In Athens everyone was just so busy all the time, but there things are more relaxed. The Greek is going well, I'm at the point where I can do a full street contact by myself now which feels good. Sometimes I have no idea what someone is saying, but that doesn't matter because I know what I need to say!"

How do you find people?

"We just set up a white board on a stand in the street, and talk to people. Elder West (senior couple) did the picture for last night..... I sent pictures to mum of some of our ideas for the future, I'm excited for it. The people are so curious, so it helps to make them stop so we can pounce on them with the message ;) Sometimes I'll be talking to someone or a couple, then other people will walk over to see what's happening. before I know it I've got 6 or 7 people listening to my broken Greek about the Restoration, it's great. A lot just tilt their head upwards towards us, which means no, and keep walking, and some just say "Orthodox" and keep walking. I'll talk more about that in the letter I intend to write this afternoon."

We also receive pictures of Elder Teals journal entries. Its an easy way to share his week without writing it out again. As a parent you worry about your son, but as this excerpt from his journal shows the Lord keeps them safe, after a busy night speaking to people they got  going home...

"By the time we finally found a bus it was half  9 and we weren’t even sure if it was going to the right place. Elder Lyttle asked a man on the bus who was a bit scary looking, but he turned out to have been placed there as an answer to our prayers. He and his son got off the bus (which wasn’t their stop) and walked with us for about 20 minutes, practically all the way home. They will have had to walk back to continue their journey. As we walked Elder Lyttel got the Dads details and I talked to the son and gave him a Book of Mormon, which he said he would read. It was such an amazing miracle. I was worried we weren’t going to be able to find a way home because we were so lost, and the Lord put people right under our noses (literally it was a full bus) who were willing to walk us all the way home, and also hear our message. Later Elder Lyttel joked about how they probably weren’t real or were angels… We definitely saw the hand of the Lord today, and I’m so grateful for our entitlement to heavenly help and guidance when we are doing the Lords work. I’m grateful for our two 'angels from Georgia' (Near Russia not US) who helped us get home..
Ps we placed 20 copies of the Book of Mormon this week.

This journal entry was from Sunday 12/10/14, Fast Sunday.. The day members of the church choose to sacrifice food and donate the value to those in need, it is also a time to petition the Lord for you hearts desires. Guess what missionary parents pray for ? We don't believe in coincidences.....

"Coincidence, the lords way of helping and remaining anonymous"

6 Oct 2014

Week 10 Athens

"Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, HIM declare I unto you." Acts 17:22-23

Almost two millennia ago the the apostle Paul visited Athens and  from the top of Mars Hill, preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. This week Elder Teal and the rest of the Greece Athens Mission met together on Mars hill and held a Testimony Meeting with each other. For those that don't know..

 “A testimony of the gospel is a personal witness borne to our souls by the Holy Ghost that certain facts of eternal significance are true and that we know them to be true. Such facts include the nature of the Godhead and our relationship to its three members, the effectiveness of the Atonement, and the reality of the Restoration.” —Dallin H. Oaks

Each of the group from the MTC stood and shared their testimony in Greek to the other missionaries. Of course their was also plenty of photo opportunities ! (Clicking on any blog picture will enlarge it)

Where He is staying...

Elder Teals companion, Elder Fletcher has been quite ill with a viral stomach bug which put him in hospital for a night or two. So Elder Teal got to move between a couple of flats during the initial days in Athens, also temporarily being with different missionaries.

The apartment in Acropoli is one of the highest in Athens so has some amazing views...



But with Elder Fletcher out of Hospital the two of them were dropped of at the apartment they will be living in for the next 12 weeks. A place called Sepolia. By all accounts its not a very affluent area of Athens but full of friendly people and convenient for the Metro (Underground) The chapel is about 30 minutes away via public transport. Once there, the Branch has about 10 regular members plus visitors and missionaries.

"You can really see the Gospel in action. In a branch this small the only thing keeping the members here is their faith and testimonies, you can really see how committed they are to following Jesus Christ. There was a man baptised not long ago, so I had the privilege to be in the circle when he was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood this Sunday. I also lead the music in Priesthood, I learnt how to conduct whilst I was in the MTC so they'll probably get me to do it every week in Sacrament now. " 

The apartment in Sepolia, Room to Study, cook, exercise and sleep (there's a bathroom too)



There are more pictures in our online album HERE 

1 Oct 2014

Welcome to Greece

Tuesday was a busy day for the MTC group, it was fly to Greece day !!

Nine weeks of general missionary and language training are now over and its time to go serve the people of Greece.

Our day started with an email at 4.02am

"Hi! It's so early!

We're on our way out now, just thought I'd send you a quick email to let you know we're leaving. I had a busy night of packing and managed to get just about under the weight limit with both suitcases!

I've been made Transport Leader, which means I need to make sure everyone arrives safely. It's a big responsibility, but hopefully everyone will pull together and make my job easy.

I'm not going to ring from the airport, I need to make sure everyone is where they should be and we wont have much time in the airport as it is. Sorry! I should be able to email from Greece when I get there.


Lots of love,
Elder Teal"

At 5.24am we had a text with photographs from Janet Fletcher a friend that lives 10 mins from us. The Fletcher's son has been home from the Athens Mission for a short time recovering from a shoulder injury. They were at the airport to put him on his return to mission flight,with the rest of the MTC group.

The 6.00am flight from Manchester to London was followed by one from London to Athens. We tracked these flights on an iPad !! So we know he got there safely !

At 14.26pm we got to see some tiny pictures of the group in a training meeting in Athens. Courtesy of a senior missionary Elder Howels via the Mission Families Facebook page.

At about 7.00pm we had a phone call from Elder Teal to tell us he was "Safe Happy and excited" Mum was out at church Dad was walking the dogs !! So Elder Teals big sister answered the phone. Dad sprinted home after a call from the girls piano teacher that was at our house and mum got to talk via a mobile held next to the hose phone.

He also told us that he had been assigned to serve in the City of Athens area for the next 12 weeks. Missionaries serve for "transfer periods", In Greece these periods are 12 weeks long. 
For the first transfer period missionaries receive additional, in the field training from a seasoned companion they are assigned to serve with. Missionaries are always in pairs and will go everywhere together. This group from the MTC has effectively doubled the number serving in the Greece Athens Mission so all existing missionaries have been assigned to train a newbie. (New missionaries are refered to as "greenies") 

Elder Teals trainer is ... Elder Fletcher ! See above !!

It seemed strange for us as parents to go to bed one night with a trainee missionary 40 minutes up the road at the Preston MTC. Then go to bed the next night, with a missionary out in Greece....

Week 9 MTC

This weeks MTC report is taken from letters only, as Elder Teals P-day was full of preparations to leave. Understandably we had very little in the way of emails this week. Each Friday the postman has delivered an envelope with a 2 sided A4 letter each this week was no exception. 
Rather than pick highlights I am just sharing the "Dear Dad" letter in its entirety, I think it sums up his feelings well. He is prepared and ready to go to serve in Greece. 

As parents we are really grateful for all those that have played a part in Elder Teals MTC training. I think he has literally had the time of his life, his life will never be the same and he has made life long friends.

Unexpectedly as parents, we to have made new friends through a Facebook group 

In particular we would like to thank Elder Peels family who have become good friends and we have communicated on a very regular basis ! We can see why Elder Teal and Elder Peel became good friends, our families are so alike.

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