30 Mar 2015

Week 35 Athens



Often new missionaries have the chance to visit Mars Hill as part of their induction, due to delayed flights this wasn't possible for Elder Burton. So Elder Teal took him to see the site mentioned in the Book of Acts as a P-Day activity last Monday. The weather wasn't brilliant and it was a little quiet, they were however stopped for a chat by an American LDS family who hadn't realised there were missionaries in Athens.

"It's been a good week! We had one lesson with a man called K, and it went quite well, but he had a lot of questions about things he'd read on the internet. If nothing else he left the lesson wanting to learn more, and he said that he's searching for the truth, so that's a good place to start!

I'm really enjoying being back in Athens, it feels like the heart of the mission where the most things are going on, and you get to see the other missionaries a lot as well. I also love being in the Greek branch, I had a talk yesterday and it went really well, it was great to just be able to speak Greek without having to wait for the translation as well!

My clothes and things are fine, but today I think I will buy some trainers for running. Elder Burton likes to run and I want to get back into shape (I've ran once my whole mission), and although we do a lot of exercise with weights I'm pretty sure my cardiovascular fitness isn't that great. When I ran in my flat Adidas shoes it hurt my feet quite a lot, so I want to buy some better ones today.

And I'm going to get another shirt out of my suitcase which is in storage, as I only have seven with me. But I have spares in my suitcase so it's fine. And all my other clothes are fine as well, but I think I will buy another cardigan at some point as it gets warmer and I won't be wearing my coat,

The weather is getting better, and the forecast for this week is looking great!

I haven't had any packages yet, but I may get some this week as I will be going to the other district's district meeting to see how they're doing, and the Assistants are in that district so I'll ask them to bring my mail with them.

I was the final speaker at church on Sunday, the topic of Missionary Work. I shared some scriptures and sections from PMG, and it went great!

The branch is bigger than Thessaloniki, but not huge, I'm not sure in terms of numbers.

We will watch General Conference on the 12th in Halandri Chapel. I'm not sure what language it will be in, I'd like for it to be in Greek though and we will have a meal together with all of the members afterwards!

The highlight was probably my talk, or the lady that gave out sweets in the street, you can read about that in my journal!"

"As we approached the apartment we met a man who said he knew us. I explained how we have transfers and that the old missionaries had left. He was a really nice old man, he just kept saying over and over that we're such nice guys, greetings to your parents, may your siblings live long, may we all have health and love, and other Greek niceties that are funny when translated into English."

"At one point we were talking to a man when a little old lady came up and sad "sweets, sweets" (In Greek) and gave each of us a sweet. The man we were talking to seemed to know who she was, so he was laughing as we had a really funny conversation with her. She said she couldn't read but wanted to take a copy of The Book of Mormon anyway, saying that her children will read it to her. When I asked why she was giving out sweets she said "to sweeten the world!" The whole conversation was hilarious, she was such a sweet crazy old lady. It's at times like that I absolutely love being on a mission, there's no other way you'd get to have such funny experiences with so many weird and wonderful people. We got the Metro back and at the stop there were a few guys from Senegal, selling shoes and handbags. I had a conversation with a couple of them in French."

"At the mission home.. There was a funny moment when we 4 missionaries accidentally locked ourselves out, in the back garden, when we went out to look at the (empty) pool, and President came down to find us all standing there on the outside of the glass door,"

Finally in this week running up to Easter we would love you to watch this 2 minute video that speaks of the reason we celebrate. This is part of a series of media that the church has produced in 2015.

Click HERE to see events in Jesus Christs final week.

23 Mar 2015

Week 34 Athens

Transfers !!! Its been a busy week for the Greece Athens Mission. 
Elder Teal has packed up Elder Tornar and sent him to Cyprus.

Just kidding, but the two of them have left Thessaloniki and flown to Athens. Elder Teal will be staying in Athens serving as the Zone Leader and training again, this time Elder Burton an American from Iowa. Elder Tornar has flown on to Cyprus to serve as a District leader.

Transfers and new missionaries, means there is lots of opportunities to meet old friends at the office as people pass through. New missionaries get to spend a day or two at the office for training and orientation with their new companions. It was like a mini MTC reunion for Elder Teal as Elder Peel and Elder Dixon are training too, so along with Elder Tornar they got to share a room overnight at the mission office.  

In particular Elders Teal and Peel were reunited for a couple of days....

Old hands !

Not Fluent in Greek? The jokers decided to swap tags !

Elder Teal and his new companion Elder Burton.

About the move.

"In case you haven't already heard, I'm in Athens again! I'm training Elder Burton, and we're in Agios Dimitrios. I'm also the Zone Leader for the Greece Zone! I'm looking forward to the opportunity! It's been good so far, although it's only been a couple of days. For most of the week I was in the office waiting for my new companion and then having the orientation with him when he arrived. We got into the area on Saturday, and I don't know anything about it really so we're still finding our way around. Everyone says it's a great area though so I'm looking forward to being here!"

"... the plane from Cyprus had arrived with Elder Dixon and Elder Peel who will both be training. It was good to see them, especially Elder Peel whom I haven't seen for a long time! And it was good to be able to have a real conversation with him in Greek, as at the beginning we couldn't really speak to well. He speaks really well now, and its interesting to see how he has Cypriot figures of speech and I have Thessalonian, or more generally Greek as their isn't a very strong dialect or accent in Thessaloniki"

".. Elder Peel and I still have the same sense of humour and had a lot of fun catching up. Hopefully at some point we will serve together, or at least in the same country, but saying that we will probably swap countries in the next transfer Ha Ha

" Elder Burton was understandably a bit nervous but also excited to talk to real Greek people. The first women we started a conversation with gave us her name and phone number, which was absolutely great, and a good start to the transfer . We continued to talk to people and it went fairly well. Elder Burton said people talk a lot faster than he expected them too! I remeber in the begining when I couldn't really understand what people were saying at all, and it wasn't fun. He did really well though and didn't have a fear to talk to people which was great."

"......just before we had to finish finding we decided to knock on a door right near our house. They immediatly invited us in and asked us to sit. It was a young Georgian family with a small son. We didnt have time to teach a lesson as we had to get home, but we introduced ourselves, gave them a copy of the Book of Mormon and set an appointment with them for tomorrow evening..."

16 Mar 2015

Week 33 Thessaloniki - Zone Conference

Its Zone conference time again. The missionaries serving in Greece form a Zone within the mission and meet together monthly for training and instruction. Elder Tornar and Teal flew down from Thessaloniki to Athens to attend and stayed at the office for a couple of nights. 

Zone Conference was a chance for the group that trained together in the MTC to have a picture together, minus their friends that are serving in Cyprus.

It is also Transfers this week, swapping companions and areas. Many missions have transfers every 6 weeks, but in Greece it is every 12. I guess with such a low number of missionaries to swap, if it was every 6, you could end up serving with the same one again! We won't know where transfers will take Elder Teal or who he will be with, when he emails next week. In fact even though it is happening this week Elder Teal didn't yet know this morning. As pre-mission parents you know from hour to hour almost where your children are, it has taken us some time to get used to not having a clue from week to week!

"So it's been a good week, unfortunately we've not had a lot of time for lessons with the trip to Athens, but things are going well. We had three people at church with us yesterday, and had a lesson with one of them after the meetings. We have also started to make notes and leave lots of good information in case we have new missionaries that won't know the area or the people too well. 
I feel like I will leave, so yesterday we had our farewells after church, which wasn't sad but I will miss the members here very much. Brother Todi called me this morning, he wanted to say again how grateful he was and to tell me that I really do have a family and a home here in Thessaloniki whenever I want to come, which I hope to do as often as I can after my mission, We also have our trip of Albania together to look forward to! I feel like I'm leaving home again! haha
And yes it is a nice place. It's not necessarily the prettiest of cities, but it has a charm and character that is unlike anything I've seen anywhere else.
I think Thessaloniki will be a top destination for family holidays when I have a family of my own haha! There's not really a beach though, it's more of a city holiday if you come here."

"Hopefully I'll see Elder Peel this week depending on how the transfers fall."

As Elder Tornar, Elder Teal or both may be leaving the branch they have been in, they said their goodbyes on Sunday after church. Of course they may be saying hello again if they stay !!


On P-day 

"..we went to a tourist shop to buy a T-shirt, and suprised the woman by speaking Greek to her. A man in the shop told me I look like someone from Greek television and asked me if I was Thessalonikian, which I was very happy about as it means I'm getting the accent right."

 About flying to Athens for conference 

"I figured out that today was the 10th flight since the start of my mission, many of which were this same journey.. On the plane Elder Tornar gave a Book of Mormon to the woman next to him, but she read it a bit and handed it back at the end of the flight"


"We walked along the street for a while and had so much finding success! We gave away all our books and had only two left, one in Albanian and one in Bulgarian. I saw a man and could tell he was Albanian from his face, so we talked with him and gave him a book. Just before we came home we met a Bulgarian lady which meant we came home with completely empty bags." 

District Meeting in Thessaloniki.

"I shared some of the things that I considered to be successes, I got quite emotional and it got difficult to speak. I just wanted to express that I was grateful to the other missionaries for the work they have done in this area which is so dear to my heart. As we build up the church here we are helping the members, for whom being a church member is no easy task. I love these people so anything we have done that has helped them is success for me."

Elders Teal and Tornar have served together so well, they have done all they can to share the gospel with everyone they come in contact with, but understand their success is in lifting and building others in any way they need.

9 Mar 2015

Week 32 Thessaloniki

"It's been really good! We have two new investigators, the parents of C. from last week! But unfortunately C. had surprise news that he had to go into the army for 9 months for his National Service, so he will have to be baptised when he gets back They didn't get to church as they took him to Sparta yesterday where he has his basic training, but they want to come next week if they are back in time! We also had a meal with them at their house which was really nice."

"It's so wonderful to see lots of people in the church on a Sunday. The members here have been through so much for their beliefs and all they want is for their little family to grow. And we have the opportunity to help it to do so!"

Transfers are coming up on the 19th of March.. Any thoughts?

"I have no idea where I'll be going, and I won't find out until maybe Tuesday or Wednesday next week (the transfer is Thursday). It's exciting! I can see it happening that I'll go to Cyprus just in time for Elder Peel to come to Greece haha! He told me you sent him a package? Hahaha!"

"I don't know for definite, but I think so having been here two transfers already. I want to stay and I want to leave. I feel like I have fulfilled my purpose here and if I were to choose to stay it would only be because I love the city and the people. I think I'm ready to do the work that is waiting for me in other areas now! And no, no news, other than that Elder Johanssen who would have been going home on the 16th is extending for three weeks! He wants to help with the reading of the translation of General Conference, and it was his choice to extend."

How is the Language going?

"My language skills are doing great! Some of the people in church have started asking me how to say things in Greek (the ones from Albania for example), and every week I get lots of compliments on my translation which is really nice! , I couldn't have done it by myself!" (Referring to the Gift of Tongues) "I studied French for 5 years and I can't even have a simple conversation now!"

On the subject of Language we also learnt a new word from Elder Teal Gringlish or Greeklish. Used to enable Greek to be written on a standard Qwerty Keyboard

For example

In English:     Hello my name is John
In Greek:        Γεια σας το όνομά μου είναι ο John
In Gringlish:   Geia sas to ónomá mou eínai o John

"Gringlish it's called, the young people use it quite a lot on the internet. It even talks about it in the Comprehensive Grammar book that we have, but because it doesn't have set rules it doesn't discuss it in detail. It's interesting though as sometimes you have to choose between what is the same phonetically and what looks the same. For example the Greek Beta has the sound of the English 'v', but looks like an English 'B', and the same with omega which looks like a 'w' and sounds like an 'o'"

" In Preach my Gospel it tells us we should very rarely have an interaction with anyone without asking them to do something that will help strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ"

"We nipped out to buy water from the nearby shops, knowing it would be our last chance to of the day to talk to people. We said a prayer that we would be able to give out 2 copies of The Book of Mormon. We saw two people and they both accepted a copy. We also got the address of the young man and the other was a young woman whose phone number we took to pass to the Sister Missionaries. Its amazing blessed we are when we set specific goals and we have faith, that we can fulfill them."

"I am excited to read about The Beatitudes even the word has so much more meaning in Greek.. It means 'The things that someone has to have for someone else to be able to see them, and know that they are happy' I love how Greek can express so much meaning with one word"

Finally, each year the church chooses a theme for the youth to learn about and follow. This year it is Embark taken from the scripture “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day” (D&C 4:2).

7 Mar 2015

Με λένε Βενιαμίν Ντεϊλ

Με λένε Βενιαμίν Ντεϊλ, είμαι μέλος της Εκκλησίας του Ιησού Χριστού των Αγίων των Τελευταίων Ημερών και εγώ υπηρέτησα μια ιεραποστολή στην Ελλάδα και στην Κύπρο, αγαπάω το Ελληνικό δήμο με όλη την καρδιά μου ειλικρινά. Μόνο επιθυμώ το καλό για το δήμο αυτό. Επέστρεψα στην Αγγλία 7 μήνες πριν, από την ιεραποστολή μου. Εάν κάτι σας έχει κάνει εντύπωση από όλα όσα στην ιστοσελίδα αυτή, η εάν ενδιαφέρεστε στο παραμικρό βαθμό σας προσκαλώ να βρεθείτε με τους ιεραποστόλους, η τουλάχιστον να αποδεχτείτε ένα αντίτυπο του βιβλίου του Μόρμον. Πάνω υπάρχει μια επιλογή να meet with the missionaries στα Ελληνικά Γνωρίσετε την Ιεραποστολή, να κάνετε κλικ εκεί. Ξέρω με βεβαιότητα ότι θα επωφεληθείτε από αυτό.

(Benjamin is a former missionary and will be writing Greek language blog posts for us in the future)

6 Mar 2015

My Greek Friend

When we started this blog, we wanted to share Elder Teals missionary experiences, mainly with family and friends. It wasn’t long before people we didn’t know, started reading along too. Some readers are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we always try to give background to what Elder Teal is doing and why. We also set up a Facebook page to allow people to easily get Blog updates and the page now has 250 Followers. From time to time we also share some of our experiences as missionary parents. 

Just a little over a month ago I was in the grounds of the Preston Temple and I received a Facebook message from a young man in Greece. He assumed that the message would go directly to Elder Teal. I explained I was Elder Teals Dad and I could pass a message on. 

We chatted for about an hour (his English is excellent) and my friendship with Efthimios began. 

Efthimios is not yet a member of the church, he lives in area of Greece approximately 4hrs drive from a church congregation or missionaries and is aged 20. About a year ago he acquired a Book of Mormon by requesting one from the churches Greek website. He still has never met missionaries face to face, but has chatted to Utah based ones online. 

Over the months since reading the book he has started reading more church literature and has come to realise some important things. In our month long friendship I have been able to pass his details to Elder Teal and they now chat each week on the phone. I have also been able to post some church materials to him and we message each other quite often, sharing our favourite gospel videos and thoughts. 

I asked Efthimios if he would share his thoughts about the gospel and favourite scriptures, so I could share them on the blog. This is what he wrote… 

My name is Efthimios ! I am from Greece and I have discovered before 1 year what the Book of Mormon is and how wonderful are the answers about Christianity based in the Mormon theology! I have made a long journey to find out what exactly Mormonism and Christianity are! I was baptised as an Orthodox but I never was consciously! So I decided to convert to Tibetan Buddhism! And then Mormonism came to my life! From a simple video about Mormonism. 
Different aspects of the LDS Church came to find what I have thought that Christ is and how we can be saved through Him and our Heavenly Father! 
''For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.'' [ 1 Corinthians 15:22
It is a great chance that I've found out about the LDS Church and a greater one that I want to be baptised. I know that our path to our Heavenly Father would be very difficult but as Latter Day Saints we have to consider what a big sacrifice was made by Jesus in the cross and from the pioneers to establish the Zion and build up the Temple in Salt Lake City, the New Zion. 

''Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. [ John 19:29-34 ]. 
We have our Prophet that cares for us and leads the Church that Jesus Christ established with our Prophet Joseph Smith. The General Authorities are true disciples of God and his beloved Son and our Saviour Jesus the Christ. May we have deep faith in the Living Prophet and the words of Christ to guide us: 
''And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.'' [ John 14:3 ].
''Now, therefore, hearken, O ye people of my church; and ye elders listen together; you have received my kingdom.'' Be diligent in keeping all my commandments, lest judgments come upon you, and your faith fail you, and your enemies triumph over you. So no more at present. Amen and Amen. [ D&C 136:41-42

The Book of Mormon changes lives, without any missionaries. With just a determined desire to find out if the Book was from God, Efthimios has gained a testimony that it is. Missionaries don’t go out to convert people they go to share a message and allow them to discover truth themselves. We are not sure how soon it will be, before circumstance will allow Efthimios and the missionaries to meet, but he continues to study, learn and prepare to be baptised , He also continues to read our blog, so to you my friend Hello and thank you for sharing…and you still remind me of  Vincenzo di Francesca :)

3 Mar 2015

Week 31 Thessaloniki

Elder Tornar said this outfit was "very British", so I had him take a picture
"It's been great, we had 5 new investigators.
We had 3 in church, and hopefully we'll have even more next week.

We've been really blessed this week! We weren't able to have a lesson with our Lawyer friend but he was at church with his wife for the first time in 8 years of contact with the church, so that was great!

We also had another man at church who has a baptismal date as well and is progressing really well towards it already  We had a lesson on Monday with a couple from Nigeria, and the husband is a pastor in the Pentecostal church, and he had a couple of concerns about if the Book of Mormon detracts from the Bible, so we'll talk to him about that again.
And our new investigator C. has some different beliefs, but as we teach and bear testimony you can see in his eyes that he believes what we teach, and is changing already. It's like in the Book of Mormon when King Lamoni tells Ammon that he will believe all of his words. We teach in English so that Elder West can be the member present more easily, but at one point in the second lesson I had the impression to bear my testimony in Greek and tell him that God loves him and is so happy with the progress he's making, and I could tell that it meant a lot to him, it was so amazing."

"I also enjoyed translating on Sunday, especially in Sunday School. Studying the New Testament has helped me to learn lots of words and phrases that sound really good, and I was able to use some of them this week"

"Our Teaching Pool isn't a puddle anymore, It's turning into a teaching ocean!"

"A group of stray dogs joined us for our white boarding on Tuesday, they weren't interested though unfortunately"

"So yesterday we helped Brother Todi with his FamilySearch.org as it doesn't exist in Greek, and he's not great with computers anyway. We put in the information he had and requested ordinances for when he goes to the temple with the Tantos later in the month. We were able to request 8 B,C,I,E and 3 marriages, as well as 3 sealings to parents, it was so amazing! He was really happy and grateful afterwards, and said to me that we have "put a stone into the building of his family's salvation", which meant a lot"

As Latter-Day Saints we believe that ordinances such as Baptism and Eternal Marriages need to be performed for our ancestors on their behalf. This is a Vicarious work, it does not mean that our ancestors have to accept the ordinances, but it gives them the choice. Interestingly although we are the only faith that does this, the idea is not unusual, just forgotten The title Vicar comes from the same root and a time when working on someone else's behalf was more common.

"The bikes on the front balcony, thought you might be interested to see them. We've been using them a lot more recently"

Journals. We love that Elder Teal wants to share so much of his mission. Each week he takes pictures of each days journal entry and emails them to us. He doesn't write with the intention of sharing or blogging, so often we get to see more of his daily life and feelings. As he continues to serve he is seeing success for his weeks of obedience and finding. He has always tried to live mission rules with exactness believing it would bring blessings. He is happy for us to select bits to share here. 


"I love this country, this language, these people and I am so indescribably happy." 


"We dropped Elder Tornars suit jacket off at a dry cleaning place, and whist we were there the lady asked Elder Tornar where he was from. I then said, and I'm from England, and she was really surprised. She said she had assumed I was Greek from my accent, which I was incredibly happy about afterwards. A goal I had for this transfer was to be easily mistaken for being a Greek, so that there exists no communication barrier at all, and I’m starting to get there." 


"...we carried on and I asked an old lady if she knew the address. She went out of her way to walk us right to the door, and we had a lovely chat as we walked. She gave us her phone number which we will pass to the Sister missionaries, and left us by wishing Gods protection for us and lots of other nice things. Once inside the building we couldn't find the man we were looking for so we knocked a door to ask. The man who answered didn’t know him either, so we told him about the message and he gave us a phone number and said we should come again when he’s not as busy"

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