26 Jan 2015

Week 26 Back to Thessaloniki

"Hi everyone, I'm online here in.... THESSALONIKI! Hahaha I'm back! I'm District Leader again and I'm continuing Elder Tornar's training! (He came into the mission 3 weeks ago) 
I can't wait to tell you about my first week back in Thess! I flew up this morning so I'm pretty tired, but I'm excited to be here!" 

(The flight must have been early as this email was received about 11am Greek time)

"I'm really happy to be back, I know the area, my Greek is better now and I have more experience, so I'm hoping to make a big impact here. Also it feels like coming home after a being on holiday in Athens haha! And I'm a trainer which is crazy, but Elder Tornar is great and I think we'll get along really well. It's crazy how I'm training in my second transfer though!

Elder Tornar is from France! Maybe I'll be able to remember some more of my French whilst I'm with him! I had to use it in another lesson the other day. I was with Elders Dastrup and Murphy for a few days whilst I was between companions, and they had a lesson with a Syrian man who spoke English, Greek and French, and all 3 not very well. with a mixture of the three languages we were able to get through to him and we had a really good first lesson, and he set a baptismal date!"

News from last week in Athens

"Angelo's (member in the English branch) famous banana pancakes! He promises them to all of the missionaries but very few end up actually going haha,
I went with Elder Lohman during our exchange."


"Me and Elder Lohman! It was an unusual exchange as it was his last ever full day of missionary work, and it was a great day!"

"The road behind the Ilion apartment, it's a dingy little alley, and the sign says the name of the road. It's called "Street of Dreams" hahaha"

"The leavers in the airport this morning, with President Freestone and with Sister Everitt

We were all together in the airport this morning and went our separate ways. I was on the plane by myself which was unusual ha!ha !

My spiritual highlight this week was yesterday. We had a testimony meeting at the mission home for the four leaving missionaries. It was going to be at Mars Hill but ended up getting changed. It was just the four leavers, plus Elder Leppard (the AP who isn't one of the leavers), the Mannings the Freestones and I (I was only there as I was in transit haha). 

We had a big meal then a really nice devotional in the living room. We all shared three things we have learnt from our missions, then the leavers bore testimony in Greek and in English. It was a really spiritual meeting and I really enjoyed it. Elder Lohman and I got along really well, (the tall blond Swedish Elder), Elder Koponen is fantastic (from Finland, the other AP, and although we didn't spend much time together we always got along really well when we were together), Elder Smith was Elder Peel's trainer and is a great guy, and Elder Seluhins and I were good friends. It feels like older brothers are leaving home! 

"I'll tell you one reason I'm excited to be back in Thess, the shower is wall mounted and not handheld, and you can flush toilet paper! You can in the Ilion apartment as well, but generally in Athens you can't and it has to go in a bin next to the toilet, which is lovely! It's not a problem here in Thess though 

Okay everyone I need to get going now. Sorry I've been a bit all over the place this week, and there's probably loads I've forgotten to tell you that I'll remember during the course of the day. I'm a bit tired from the journey this morning so I'll have everything in order and do it properly next week!

I hope you have a wonderful week!"

Just for the purpose of record when we look back on this post, today the Greeks elected a new Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras. Elder Teal said early in his email that the mission handbook tells them not to comment on Political or social events in correspondence home. So as always he was obedient and didn't.

19 Jan 2015

Week 25 Athens

Confused ? Wondering if Elder Teal has been transferred to another mission? 
No, this week he went and spent some time with Elder Dickenson on a one day "exchange"

"A relic of Elder Lyttel's time in the Piraeus apartment that I found whilst I was there! 
It's not a real kilt, just a towel."

Perhaps he's missing his Scottish friend.

"The area of Piraeus (I don't know how to spell it in English), where I had an exchange at the beginning of the week. I was with Elder Dickenson. DLs organise exchanges to see how the missionaries are doing and to provide help with specific concerns. it's a beautiful area, in the North of the city on the coast"



Football enthusiasts may recognise the last two pictures as Karaiskaris Stadium, home of Olympiakos. 

Last week we mentioned a Baptismal interview we asked if the Baptism took place.

It did yeah, on Saturday! Unfortunately we weren't there as we had two lessons planned for the evening, but apparently it was great. Baptisms take place in Halandri as they have a font there. It happened 5 or 6 times because he didn't go fully under, he was scared of the water as he has asthma and it made it difficult for him. Elder Morgan performed the baptism. And yesterday we had the confirmation, by Elder Lohman. It was really good and the phrase "receive the Holy Ghost" is perhaps even more powerful in Greek that it is in English.

Blog and Facebook spreading.

"A lady in the Greek branch this week told me she'd seen the facebook page (she speaks English as well), and she knew I was in Thessaloniki before I was here, it's strange when people have heard of me beforehand!"

If you are that lady and you are reading this week, please say hello to Elder Teal from Mum and Dad.

News from the field

"Haha I'm glad you liked the map, (See the last blog post) it's so inaccurate geographically, but at least you know who's where now! I want to give as much information as I can over time for you to get a better idea generally of what it's like here, and for it to not just be a mystery!
 Yeah Elder Seluhin is looking forward to visiting him, he keeps asking me for recommendations of shops he should go to whilst in England! He's also hoping to go to the YSA ward whilst he's there, so maybe Rachel will see him as well. He goes into the office on Thursday and goes home on Monday, so I'll have anew companion by Thursday, exciting times! I'm excited to see what will happen, but I think I'll still be here in Athens

It's great news about uni, I don't have to worry about it at all now which is fantastic, not that I was before, but just that it won't be a problem in the future.

The Uni comment refers to the fact that we have finalised his university deferment till he returns in 2016. He has a place at Manchester University to study for a Masters Degree in Aeronautical Engineering. Yes our Greek Geek wants to be a rocket scientist !

I don't know about economic problems, and we haven't received any special instructions, but I know the elections are this week so there are stalls out in the streets advertising the different parties which is unusual.

I read an interesting scripture this morning (I think it was in 3 nephi 9), about how God gives us trials so that we will remember him and do the things we need to do to return to him. If we didnt have the trials we'd carry on as we were and fail ultimately, so the trials are actually blessings. There's also a good article in the Liahona (October 2014) about the Jaredite barges, and how the same waves that buried them in the depths of the ocean also carried them towards the Promised Land.  

The talk about grace (His Grace is Sufficient) was great, thanks! 
 We only had one lesson this week unfortunately, we need to find more people to teach! .Zone conference this week was also really good, as was leadership counsel and our district meeting. I also had an interview with President which was great as well (just the regular monthly one)"

"Elder West looking good during the monthly birthday section of Zone Conference."


Each week Elder Teal talks of his efforts to place, or give away copies of The Book of Mormon. If you don't know why, it is because we believe that reading this book can change our lives. As one of the Book of Mormon prophets said (Alma 37:6)

"by small and simple things are great things brought to pass"

15 Jan 2015

Missionary Working Areas around Athens

We received a letter in the post from Elder Teal today. Part of the letter was a sketch of how Athens is divided into areas for the missionaries to work. The missionaries in the yellow areas are all one district assigned to the Greek speaking Branch The missionaries in the blue areas are the second district and are assigned to the English speaking branch. 

I don't think that the areas have any relevance to where the apartments are. 
It may not be the most accurate map of the suburbs of Athens

The missionaries in Greece only work in and around Athens and Thessaloniki as they are the two biggest areas of population and where there are chapels to attend.

13 Jan 2015

Week 24 Ilion Athens

Seek out the lost ! Well they thought there was only one MacDonalds in Greece, but they found another. (There is probably several just not in the areas missionaries cover.)

Mission Life

"it's been good! We've done a lot of street contacting haha, we only had 2 lessons unfortunately! It was a good week though and we've worked hard. There were a couple of days when we had 6 or 7 hours of street contacting, which is very tiring physically!

Our teaching pool is more of a puddle if I'm honest, we don't have many people to teach at the minute. We do have one family who we're excited about, and they have three young daughters. We had one lesson with them and went back for a second but they were busy and asked us to come back next week.
We also had a lesson with a Muslim man (he had to have an interview first with President Everitt), but he isn't really interested in changing, he just wants to learn academically. That's not why we're here though, so we won't be teaching him anymore. He came to church yesterday which was great though, and he's a really nice man, he's from Syria. He was a teacher/economist there and has fled from the civil war. He also got separated from his family who are still in Syria. Hopefully he will continue to come to church and when his mind has been opened he will be ready to learn.

That's so great that you'll be baptizing someone! I know it's not the measure of success but I really hope I'll be able to have at least one baptism whilst I'm here. just to help be a part in such a life changing event in someone's life. I was a witness at Artemis' baptism in Thess but it wasn't us that taught her so it wasn't really the same. I also had a baptismal interview in my role as District Leader yesterday, which was a big responsibility. It went well and the man will be getting baptised on Saturday all being well! He has been being taught by Elders Morgan and Dickenson in Peirias."

All around the world, the responsibility to determine if someone is prepared for baptism, always rests with the missionaries in leadership positions, rather than the local church leaders.

Ilion (North West Athens) A little cold but much better than last week


"We were in the Greek and English branches yesterday, in order to be in the English branch for our Muslim friend. We don't have as much to do no, the members teach usually in the Greek branch. It's nice because I can just enjoy it, and it's also a great way for me to learn more Greek!"

The Greek speaking Branch Elder Teal is assigned to meets in the morning and the English speaking branch meets in the same building in the afternoon.. They have both as a significant number of church members in Greece do not speeak Greek as a first language.


"I really enjoyed my exchange with Elder Morgan this week, it was a really good day. We had some good finding experiences. Spiritual highlight would probably be yesterday in the baptismal interview, the interviewee left the room and myself and Dimitris (from the Branch Presidency) prayed to know if he was ready. And he was!"

Favourite Scripture

"I like the scriptures from chapter 43 (I think, you should check), of Alma, where it talks about Moroni preparing his many with armour, and then inquiring of the prophet where they should go. If we prepare physically and spiritually, we cannot fail!"

"I really like the section in Preach My Gospel as well at the end of chapter 9, where it talks about how No Effort Is Wasted, we have raised a warning voice, and we have done what is required of us "

Next Transfers

Elder Seluhin completes his 2 years of missionary service in 10 days so there will be more changes.

"He goes into the office on the 22nd which is a Thursday, and then he will go home on the following Monday. All the going home missionaries will have some fun activities and trips with the President in their last couple of days, so I'll probably get my new companion on the 22nd, but I have no idea where I'll be! I could be here or maybe even in Cyprus, i have no idea! I think it's more likely however that they'll reshuffle things here in Athens and I'll stay here. As 4 elders are leaving it also means that 2 proselyting areas will have to close again for a time, I don't know which they'll be though."


We love receiving comments on the blog, and wanted to make them easy to find in the future, so we have created a page for them all to be collected to you can find them HERE or have you noticed the Menu bar across the top of the blog? There are lots of pages to look at including Teals, Mission Boundaries, The Church in Greece/Cyprus and more.

5 Jan 2015

Week 23 Athens

The weather

People often comment to us that it must be nice to be warm in Greece over the winter.
This is a group of pictures Elder Teal sent home this week, Yes it snowed in Athens..

"Snow! It was whilst we were on the bus travelling to the mission office on New Years Eve, it was only snowing in the area where the office is though, which is about an hour out from the centre of the city."

"Yeah it's been really cold! I don't know if it's just me or what, but it's been so cold! The other day I was wearing my fleece, raincoat and overcoat all together!"

To be fair it was a little unusual and he has got used to warmer temperatures so feels cold when we might consider it summer !

"..sometimes I look at the thermometer whilst I'm sat shivering, and it's like 14 degrees! That's warm!"

The week and new companion

We come from very different backgrounds, but we're getting along. It's also strange for him with having around 3 weeks left of his mission, he's really in the final stages."

"The area is good but it's been quiet in the streets because of the holidays, and we haven't really found anywhere yet where lots of people congregate like we had in Thess, so we've had less people to talk to in the street."

"The highlight of the week would probably be the activities we had on New Years Day, it was a lot of fun. I wrote about it all in my journal so I won't explain everything that we did, but it's always good everytime we all get together. We also had a really good district meeting this week about how we can Find when we Teach and Teach when we Find, with some really good role plays, I love having such a big district because we can have a really good discussion."

"Also church yesterday was really good. I bore my testimony during the Fast and Testimony meeting, after Pres. Freestone gave me "the eye" from the stand that I should get up. Afterwards I got a lot of compliments on my Greek which was nice, especially form the branch presidency who are all Greek and speak very good English as well."

New Years Day activity at Halandri chapel
Elder Seluhin (Latvia) New Companion

Morgan (Chorley)    Teal    Seluhin (Latvia)

Potter    Murphy    Dickenson

Dastrup (America)    Leppard (Crawley)

Thanks for Parcels

"... I got all my Christmas parcels from the office, including the ones that were sent to Thess, on New Years Eve when we were there for activities! I had one from Auntie Ruth, Auntie Lizzy, and Grannie Jean! I also got the diary that you sent, thanks! Please say thank you to the others as well, it was all really nice stuff!"

Finally we have all missed the pictures of food so here is a meal cooked this week.

Back Home

On the flip side of missionary life we had the privilege of driving a Sister missionary, that we have got to know and love, to the England Manchester Mission Home, so she could start her journey back home. It is the first time we have done this and it seemed a bit like saying goodbye at the MTC again.

Sister Dushku had served in our home ward twice, once as a Greenie when Elder Teal was at home and at the close of her mission for her second time, adding up to 9 months, 2 Christmas Days and a Thanksgiving meal with us. Over our 22 years of marriage we have had hundreds of missionaries come for meals. Many have become good friends. Seeing their selfless service and looking after them makes having a son away from home a little easier. With over 80,000 missionaries in the world, wherever you are you can get to know a couple of these inspiring young adults.

Sister Dushku (Left) teaching her Greenie Sister Tholen, how to dig our garden 
on her second assignment to our ward.

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