30 Dec 2014

Week 22 Athens

It's transfer day and Elder Teal has moved from Thessaloniki to Athens. He is clocking up his air miles, Last week he flew to from Thess to Athens for Zone Conference and this week he has flown back to Athens again, but this time to stay for at least the next 12 weeks.

"...because Elder Lyttel is training one of the new missionaries I've been here in Athens with Elder Potter for the last couple of days (his old companion Elder Johansson is training as well). After tomorrow I will be in my new area, which is Ilion here in Athens. I'll be with Elder Seluhins (he's from Latvia and he only has about a month left), and I'll be the District Leader in the Greek branch! I'm really happy, I think I'm going to love it!"

In my new district there are 6 elders, 2 sisters and 2 couples, so it;s a lot bigger! And you'll never guess who the 2 sisters are.. Sister Indelicato and Sister McKenna! They're staying together but moving to Athens. and Sister McKenna will be the Sister Training Leader. I also have the Zone Leader in my District, Elder Morgan (he's from Chorley, we get on really well) 

Elder Seluhins "...speaks quite good English actually, but his first language is Russian. I'm glad to be with a companion who's first language isn't English because it will be even easier for us to do SYL (Speak Your Language), which is the mission rule of always speaking Greek to the other missionaries"

Christmas was great, and I really enjoyed Skyping you all! It's seemed like such a long week because of everything we've done, I've had 3 plane journeys! The activities we had with all the missionaries in Athens just before Christmas were really fun as well, we had a great time. 

And I'm excited to be back here in Athens! Yesterday we went up to Mars Hill with the new missionaries. It was really good, and it's so strange that it was 3 months ago already that we were up there for the first time!

Mars Hill
P-Day visit to the Parthenon 

Some of P-Day was spent visiting some historic sites with Elder Potter



The Parthenon Completed 438BC


Old Temple of Athena
Odeon of Herodes Atticus Built 161AD
Fun at Zone Conference



26 Dec 2014

Christmas Day 2014

Skype.. We love you !

Along with thousands of other missionaries around the world, Elder Teal called home via Skype on Christmas Day. We had 45 minutes of chat. It was good to hear his voice and see how happy he is.

It was a little strange that he had to think about speaking in English. Mission guidelines are that they all speak to each other in Greek, Occasionally Elder Teal would turn to one of the 3 other missionaries off camera, in the apartment with him and chatter away in Greek. Then turn back and have to correct himself into English to talk to us.

Here are a couple of clips we recorded from the call.. Firstly when we asked him to speak Greek to us and he started singing with Elder Lyttel. Then a couple of things he found funny. Finally he recited Joseph Smiths First Vision to us, The other 3 missionaries couldn't help joining in something they new so well and shared so often ! 

22 Dec 2014

Week 21 Thessaloniki

"December in Greece, orange trees everywhere, and sun over the sea. It's still freezing though!"


Teaching update..

"We had to drop G unfortunately. He wasn't progressing and didn't want to keep commitments, and at the end of the day didn't really believe the things we were telling him, he just thought they were nice lessons. He also has a lot of anger because he's had a difficult life and it's made him a bit disillusioned with everything. We told him he has the tools now, he has the Book of Mormon, he knows how to pray, he knows where the church is and he has the missionaries number, it's down to him when he is ready to actually make changes in his life.

B is still doing well. The only problem is with him coming to church, because he has responsibilities in his own church. He needs to understand Priesthood Authority and that it was lost and restored, that's his main obstacle at the minute. He really likes to focus on and talk about the grace of Christ, and wasn't a big fan of the scripture that says by grace we are saved after all we can do. He said it makes it seem like we have to earn grace, when really it's something that we are all given freely. I explained that what he calls grace we call the enabling power of the Atonement, and that Christ enables us to do all we can do, and then still makes up the difference when it's not enough. He really liked it, and I think it was a breakthrough moment for him.

This week we made a big effort with street contacting. In District Meeting last week we talked about how we can use the Book of Mormon better in order to turn our large number of copies given out into large numbers of lessons. As a result we tried a few new strategies with the book in contacting. I tried asking questions with answers that I could show people from scriptures, and it went quite well. For example
Why are we here on Earth? (Alma 34:32)
What is most important to you in life? (Alma 46:12)
What is something you learnt from your parents? (Enos 1:1)

It went really well! We also showed people the picture of Jesus visiting the Nephites and asked what they thought was happening.

We would then explain what was actually happening!"

From Home

We had managed to find a pop up nativity to send to Elder Teal
which appears to have made it safely to Thess.

"My little Christmas display, card from the First Presidency, and my bookshelf"


Light entertainment !

Due to Elder Lyttel being off colour on Sunday they spent the day in the apartment, seems missionaries find strange things to do, when they take time out !


"Fashion show of awful outfits based on the polo shirt Elder Lyttel bought in Cyprus for 50 cents"


"Apple face I carved whilst Elder Lyttel was ill yesterday (Sunday) 
and we were inside all day. 
He's fine now"

Elder Teal did confess to us that his fashion expertise let him down, when he arrived at a district meeting mistakenly wearing the jacket from one suit with the trousers from another ! !


Last week I asked Elder Teal to share his Testimony in Greek. 
So if you understand Greek, this is for you.

As always clicking on a picture will make it bigger, some you may not want to though, this week !!!

15 Dec 2014

Week 20 Thessaloniki

Elder Teal in his new coat with Sister Tripi
Another week has passed and has seen some changes. Sister Tripi has now finished her mission and gone home. She has been replaced by Sister Mckenna.
Although Irish, Sister McKenna went to University in Manchester and attended about 3 years of Institute classes that I taught. In fact one of my few achievements in class, was to prove that eating 3 olives in a row makes you like them. It worked on Sister Mckenna anyway, which I am sure she is glad of now in Greece! 
The other change is Elder Teal's new assignment to serve as the Thessaloniki District Leader. Elder Lyttel has obviously trained him well and continues to train him in his new role. The District Leader is responsible for the other missionaries in the "district" or geographical area. In this case it's basically all Northern Greece, but just 2 Elders, 2 Sisters and a Senior couple.

There have been some unusual highlights in the form of food.

"Oh and beans and toast, woooo! They don't sell beans in Lidl which is the only place close enough to do shopping, but the ones in our emergency storage were going out of date and need replacing, so we got to eat the old ones! " Who would have thought beans could be such a luxury?

It seems that the second batch of home made Haggis was not quite as good

"Mark 2, we've had it twice altogether now. The second wasn't as nice as the first, maybe because the hearts and livers have been in the freezer for a while now! I don't think we'll have it again haha."

"I have only played the piano at church the two times, when Sister Tripi wasn't available, and now that Sister McKenna is here she will do it as she can actually play the piano properly! 
I will still be able to email next week because we don't leave for Athens until the afternoon, so don't worry! I asked the Wests about Skype, and they said we can do it whenever, when is best for you?  
I think the Everitts will be bringing up some of the packages when they come to talk in church on Sunday (President Everitt is on the mission presidency), so it should be fine when we come back on the plane as we won't have a lot of stuff still there. Our investigators.. well.. G isn't doing too great, he's still struggling with the word of wisdom and law of chastity, and doesn't seem to have a real desire to change. This week is going to be make or break, if he doesn't start keeping commitments we will have to move on. B is doing well, still really wants to find the truth but is still very rooted in the Bible. A really nice guy though, we just need to get him to find his answer!

"Studying for B. scriptures in English and Greek, institute manual, True to the Faith, his questions on a sheet of paper And a dictionary! We teach him in English but it's really useful to use the Greek scriptures to find meaning lost in the English translation"

Scripture Thoughts... 

And it came to pass that he spake unto Nephi (for Nephi was among the multitude) and he commanded him that he should come forth.3 Nephi  11:18

"That is a good scripture, I really like how Jesus goes on to ask why they didn't include some of the prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite, then causes them to be written. The Saviour is literally the editor of the Book of Mormon, and obviously cared enough about what it contains to read it and check carefully that everything was there that needed to be" 

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.1 Nephi 2:16

"And I love how Nephi shows the difference between him and Laman and Lemuel, that he was willing to humble himself and ask. Then Sam demonstrates one of the other gifts of the spirit by believing the testimony of another person (his brother). it shows how we all receive our answers in different ways. The whole Book of Mormon is full of fathers teaching their sons, I found so much when I read through with that topic. "

"Favourite scripture, I dont know the exact reference but it's from the end of Jacob, when he says how they lived out their lives like a dream, as a lonesome and solemn people. It really highlights how his whole life was full of affliction (he was born in the wilderness, and his later years he spent trying to keep his extended family faithful and at war with his cousins) and yet he was still always faithful."

8 Dec 2014

Week 19 Thessaloniki

This week we received letters in the post from Greece... In Greek ! Fortunately we all got our own letter in English and the family letter was alternate paragraphs of Greek followed by the English Translation. He does apologise that he was rushing so the hand writing is not his neatest, cant say that I even notice the quality of the hand writing!!!!

On the evening before Elder Teal left for his missionary service I was privileged to be able to use
the Priesthood that I hold, to give him a Fathers Blessing. One of the things that was said in that blessing, is that he would have the "gift of tongues"
Paul mentions this gift when speaking to the Greeks in Corinth. It is believed to be the ability to speak to others in their native language, not your own. 1 Corinthians 12:10 I think that the ability to read, write and speak Greek to this level (no doubt it has mistakes) is miraculous. Like the other missionaries in Greece and the thousands more around the globe, this miracle takes place on a daily basis. It also helps that he has an excellent trainer, Elder Lyttle to coach him. Although we do wonder if he has learnt to speak Greek with a Scottish lilt !


As always Mondays bring emails and it was good to hear the missionaries were safe and well after reading news reports of riots in Greece and particular Thessaloniki. (the 6th anniversary of the death of teenager Alexandros Grigoropoulos) It seems the unrest was confined to a small area and the Thess missionaries had not known much about it, other than being asked to stay away from the town centre.

 Pictures from Sister Trippi's last Sunday

Some Questions and answers

The computer you use to email is the keyboard English , if so what do the Greeks do with it?

"It's an English keyboard yeah, but you can just change the language settings in Microsoft, in the toolbar at the bottom, and then the keys correspond to the Greek letters. It's done by the one that looks or sounds the closest, but sometimes it takes me a few guesses to find the right key for the letter I want in Greek ha ha!"

"I was wondering....what do you actually put on the blog? Because I don't write anything specifically for it, is it just excerpts from my emails or something? And do you do it like it's me writing it or do you make it obvious that it's you compiling it? I just don't want it to look like I'm going on blogger whilst on my mission haha :P 

I take all your emails and share the bits I think are interesting, along with pictures . I generally add some commentary. If you quote s scripture I link it to the actual scripture on lds.org The content is basically 80% you . 20%  me so it's our joint missionary effort. I never share anything from your journal entries though. I make it very obvious I'm compiling it. In fact I always put your words in quotes"" I don't include full names of your investigators just first initials (I've read somewhere we shouldn't) if you mention books or lessons I may or may not include it. My overriding aim is to present the life of a missionary and his family at home.

"Ha ha ha well it sounds like people love it, keep up the good work! I'm excited to sit and read it all when I get back, it will be interesting to see the bits that you thought were the best!"

How is your new coat?
"My new coat is great! Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture, so I'll send one next week, it's very nice though! And it's warm as well, even if I only have a shirt on underneath."

How are your friends that you are teaching?
We have three really good investigators at the minute, G, J and B. They are all so different and have such different levels of experience and knowledge, but they're all really great people. I think I will be friends with them even after my mission, I just really hope they'll progress to baptism! G is still struggling with the Word of Wisdom, and B still has concerns about how the Book of Mormon clashes with the Bible. J has only had two lessons until now, but it's going really well with him. He studies biochemistry but doesn't see evolution as clashing with creation, and has a lot of the same opinions that I have. He's a really nice guy! 

Were there any disturbances?
Yeah there were students protesting in the city centre, we were just told not to go into the center. We don't know much about it really. Last night we were on the seafront doing a whiteboard and we could hear whistles and shouting from the center, but I don't really know what was going on."


It wouldn't be a blog post without the Lyttel/Teal cook book. This week its Paella

Spiritual thought

"I really like the story of Lazarus, it's one of the only instances when Jesus is really distressed about the situation, it says he was troubled in Spirit, and it really shows that even he had to exercise faith in order to perform his miracles. I also like how Mary (or it might be Martha) says, if you had been here he wouldn't have died, which shows she had some faith but didn't really understand the power of the Saviour. I also really like how before he comes, the Saviour tells his apostles that Lazarus has died by saying he's sleeping, and they don't understand, so he has to tell them outright that he is dead. It shows that the apostles at that time were really just fishermen, and their understanding was limited, and shows how far they had come by the time they wrote their epistles in the New Testament."

1 Dec 2014

Week 18 Thessaloniki - The White Tower

This is the White Tower of Thessaloniki,

The Tower is now a buff colour but has retained the name White Tower. It now stands on Thessaloniki's waterfront boulevard, Nikis (Victory) Street. It houses a museum dedicated to the history of Thessaloniki and is one of the city's leading tourist attractions. The Tower is under the administration of the Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities of the Greek Ministry of Culture. 

Elder Teal loves history and prior to his mission, while studying for his A levels he found time to read Homers Iliad and Odyssey. That's Homer the ancient Greek poet, not the yellow cartoon guy! Before he left for Greece we watched Troy together and he taught me the history behind Hollywood's take on events. Last Monday the missionaries in Thess had a P-day outing to explore the tower. 

View from the top

Thessaloniki District (Elder and Sister West behind the camera)

Sisters look out to sea
After touring the tower they headed down the sea front a sculpture entitled "Umbrellas"

"umbrellas" picture by Elder Lyttel
Giorgos Zogolopoulos was a prominent Greek sculptor whose works frequently included umbrellas. He was particularly concerned that his sculptures should co-exist harmoniously with their environment so he frequently collaborated with architects. In the last period of his work, since 1972 the element of motion has remained a fundamental feature of a number of his compositions along with the additional water and sound. His works adorn public places, squares and official building, most of them located in Greece, but also at the European Council Building in Brussels This particular rendition of “Umbrellas” located at the seafront in Thessaloniki was constructed in 1997.

So as you can see P-days are not just about washing, shopping, emailing and cleaning !

The weeks report...

"G is struggling with the Word of Wisdom and also hasn't yet committed to live the Law of Chastity, but he wants to keep the Word of Wisdom and sees why the Law of Chastity is important, so we just need to keep working on it with him. We're going to have President Tanto come with us to a lesson to explain the blessings that come with the LoC (eternal family) and share how it has blessed his life. 

We have a new investigator called B who firmly believes in the Bible and is interested to discuss our beliefs with us, he's a really nice guy. We're just struggling to get him to see the need for the Restoration, for him the Bible is perfect and was never lost."

 "We also have a guy called D who is a historian, and very much doubts the veracity of the Book of Mormon. It was a tough lesson but he was impressed by our testimonies and devotion to the work, and wants to meet up again. 

Elder Lyttel and I are still having a lot of fun together, and we've also done really well with our cooking this week. We've had a different meal every day (although we did have two dinner appointments so only cooked 5 times) and they were all really nice!"

Home made Haggis !
From Journals we have also read that Elder Teal has now completed his 9 week in field training with his Companion / Trainer. We assume this means he is no longer a "Greenie"

 "Highlight maybe would be yesterday in the evening, we went to a less active family because they requested a blessing for the mother. We had the Wests with us and we gave a nice spiritual thought and then the blessing. Then we talked for a while and got to know each other better, hopefully they'll be at church next week! "

 "I finished the Book of Mormon this morning! I've written down some of my thought's I'll send you a picture. My favourite scripture of the week is in there as well. I was really touched by the stories of Mormon, who tries in vain to lead his people to repentance and eventually there is nothing more he can do, and of Moroni who sees the destruction of everyone he knows and loves, but remains faithful and carries out the work he's been asked to do". 

To save you eyes, I have typed it out !
"I have just finished the first read through of this copy of the Book of Mormon. I wanted to do what Elder Bednar suggested and read highlighting everything I came across relating to a scripture topic. I highlighted in yellow the relationships between parents and children, and in green the topic of prayer. I also underlined in Red every time the Lord, Heavenly Father, an angel or The Spirit speaks, and in green every time a prayer is quoted directly. It has taken just over a month to read through and I have really enjoyed doing it. I have read for around 20-30 minutes in personal study every morning and sometimes longer, and I also read while on the train to and from Athens for Zone Conference, where i got through 40 chapters in two days. As I have read through it has fit together a lot better as a plot with places and characters, and I think I have a lot more familiarity with the locations and time frames now. I particularly enjoyed reading Mosiah and the first half of Alma (the reign of King Mosiah) and also the war chapters. I found also that I really enjoyed or at least was moved by the rise and fall of the Nephites. As it had only been a few days before when I read about the coming of Christ and the state of Happiness that existed afterwards, it made it all the more saddening to read Mormon's account of the destruction of his people' "But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return" Mormon 6:20 I have also noted a few subjects that I want to study in more detail, which are things that have interested ma as I have been reading. Over the last month my love for the Book of Mormon has grown immensely. I have learnt so much and I cant wait to start reading from the beginning again tomorrow. There are so many stories and people in this book that I love so much, and that I know I can still learn so much more about. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and for the opportunity I have to read and study from it everyday"


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