27 Apr 2016

Week 91

Athanasios's Birthday Party at church

"Hi! It's been a great week, we had 6 lessons which was fantastic. We have a new friend who is someone that Athanasios found on the bus on his way to FHE at church! We had three lessons with him, and we've also started teaching M. again after a short break."

"On Thursday we spent a large section of the day with Austin Heder which was a lot of fun, we got lunch with him then had him with us for two lessons. He's a really nice guy, and it was nice to hear about his mission in Quebec and how it compares with the mission here. (Although the truth is that no mission compares to this one really! ;) ) On the way back to the mission home we had a minor car accident where a guy on a scooter hit the back corner of our car as he went past in the middle of the two lanes, which dinted the car a bit. He fell and hurt his hand a bit, but no one was seriously injured. It also popped the tire and Austin and I put the new one on while Elder Mead directed the traffic around us! It was an exciting end to a great day. The car will have to go to the garage, so we'll have to take care of that at some point this week."

"What you wrote about explaining what you're doing reminds me of training a new missionary!" 
( Elder Teals mum has a student Physio with her for 6 weeks) 
"Although it's always amazing how quickly new missionaries pick things up, and it's no surprise, they've been set apart for the job! The added complication with training, is that you're explaining everything in a language that they're still getting to grips with!"

"It's great to hear that the stake is focusing on the area plan so much. I've seen it make a difference over here, and it's such an inspired plan. If a person really can become spiritually and temporally self-reliant, and then is enabled to do missionary work for both the living and the dead, they're really on the right track!"

"It's always funny that we have 6 lessons and call it a really good week, whereas there are missions where that's your average day! I don't know how they would have time for so many lessons! But having so few means that we really value them. I was thinking about it a few weeks ago as well, and one of the reasons that I'm glad I was called to a foreign-speaking mission is that I think if I had been always teaching in English I would have been focused too much on explaining things well and presenting logical arguments, like a debate that I could use to convince someone that what I'm saying is right. The process of learning a language has made me have to be based on simpler things, and now that I can speak about and discuss complex topics in Greek, I don't over-do it, as I've learnt the importance of relying on testimony and not having to prove that I'm right all the time."


18 Apr 2016

Week 90 Thessaloniki Edessa

"It's been a really good week! We went to Thessaloniki Friday to Saturday where we had training with the missionaries, visits with members, and then on the Saturday a trip to Edessa which I think is the most beautiful place I've been to in Greece! When we visit Greece after my mission we'll have to go there, it's not far from Thessaloniki and it was amazing, I'll send you some pictures."
(Edessa in North West of Thessaloniki, near the border with Macedonia)

Inside the water fall


"We weren't able to have any lessons this week between the trip to Thessaloniki, a service project that we did earlier in the week and our new friends all being busy, but M. was at church on Sunday which was great. And the weather is amazing now, it got up to 33 degrees at one point in the week. It's really strange to be in the car in the evening, it can get past 9 o'clock and still be around 25 degrees, and I'm sure it will get even warmer! I'm much more informed about the temperature now that we have the car which tells us, whereas last summer in Cyprus all I knew is that it was ridiculously warm!"

"It's strange to think about how different the organisation of the church is here and at home, where there are stake leaders and multiple wards! Of course it's the same basic structure, but functionally it's so different as we have so few members!" 

"The training was really good. We did something similar to what we had done in Cyprus last week but adjusted it a little and it went really well. We again focused on seeking and obtaining revelation for our areas and our responsibility to do so, and we had a big focus on the scriptures. Over the last couple of weeks I've really enjoyed studying 1 Nephi from the perspective of finding the evidences of Nephi's study of the Old Testament, it's been really interesting. And yeah it was really good to see Brother Todi and President Tanto."

"I've done 34 flights during my mission now I think, it's as normal as getting on a bus at this point! You'll be fine! Just remember that any shakiness or noises you hear are supposed to be there, it's that that makes the plane work at all! And if you have a choice try to sit towards the back, you don't hear as much from the engine and mechanical noises."

"This week we have an orientation meeting at a day center for homeless people that we're hoping to start volunteering at, and then later in the week we have training here in Athens as well as a meeting for the missionaries that are coming to the end of their 12-week training program. Hopefully we'll be able to have a few lessons as well! And today is Athanasios' birthday, so tonight we're going to have cake for him at FHE at church. I'm going to make banana bread, I'm really good at it now!"

"This weeks service was at Praksis, the same organisation where we did the last service project. We were sorting donated clothing into categories so that it can be used where it's most needed! We got through way more than they were expecting us to, and we had to stop early as they didn't have anywhere to store all of the bags that we had finished!"

This week we had far too many pictures to put them all on the blog. Click HERE for the rest

In other News.... Elder Teal comes home in 100 days !!! Not that we are counting !

12 Apr 2016

Week 89

There can't be too many missions in the world that drive on different sides of the road, depending on which Zone you are in! The Greece Athens Mission's two Zones are Cyprus and Greece. Cypriots drive on the left, Greeks drive on the right!

This Week Elder Teal and Elder Mead flew to Cyprus for a training meeting.
The plan was to go on Thursday but Greek the air traffic controllers were on strike.

"It's been a great week! Our flight on Thursday was cancelled! We found out on Wednesday morning and quickly changed the flights, so we left Wednesday afternoon instead! It was a bit hectic but we got there with no problems. And yeah it's getting much warmer now, we're back to wearing short-sleeve shirts, I've missed it! I think I'm definitely going to miss the sun when I get home, especially as I'll be coming from a Greek July!"

General Conference

"We watched the general women's session and the Saturday morning session, and they were both good. I especially liked the talk about the hymn Be Though Humble (Elder Snow) , and Elder Stevenson's talk about how a car needs keys. Also I liked the talk about how we have to forgive (Elder Duncan), and that doesn't mean that the person who wronged us will have no consequences. It made me think about the repentance process and how if we don't forgive people straight away, it's like we're putting ourselves in the Saviour's position like it's up to us to decide, when really it's not!"

"It was also strange to watch all of the talks in Greek and to have absolutely no problem understanding, like watching in English. I've watched General Conference in Greek every time whilst I've been in the mission, and it's been great to see my progress with the language every 6 months."

"I haven't seen Elder Kearon's talk no, which session is it in? We won't see the Sunday afternoon session in church until the end of April, so I'll probably watch it in the office before then."

We had specifically asked Elder Teal if he had seen this conference talk as he met Elder Kearon when he visited Athens, along with Elder Ballard, to see first hand the refugee crisis. 
(That was way back in week 69
The talk speaks of Elder Kearon's experience on the island of Lesbos

In other news

"We received an email from President Heder about absentee voting, as he had received directions from higher up telling him to encourage missionaries to take part in postal ballots if they can. I know there's a couple of votes coming up, including the EU referendum? I was hoping you'd be able to have a look at it for me and register me if possible? And then you'll need to send me some information about the things that I can vote for so that I can make a decision. 
Sorry to put you to the trouble!"

"And we won't get new missionaries now until my group leaves, so we might be a bit down on numbers for a while again! I know my release date is July 28th, but I don't have any info about flights yet "

"Elder Mead and I are doing great. It's been good to have three companions in the same area as I've got to see different ways of doing the same job, and it's kept me from settling in to the routine of doing things in a certain way just because that's the way we did it before." 


"With (the former) Elder Johansson visiting the office"

"In the Jacobsens' car on the way to Limassol, Cyprus"

Realising on Pday that he hadn't taken many pictures to send home, 
Elder Teal asked Elder Mead to take pictures on their journey to Lidl !!

snippets from this weeks journals

"Elder Mead and I designed posters for the Restoration and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ that match the one we made for the Plan of Salvation." 

"I caught up on my journal and started the new one. It was strange to realise that less than half of this book will be used during my mission and the rest will be when I'm home and in university."

"On the plane I was sat with a nice old man and we had a pleasant chat during which he offered me some of his wine which I politely declined. At the end I gave him a pamphlet which he gratefully accepted." 

"President Jacobsen did really good training for his last time as they will go home next week. He has a great knowledge of the scriptures. I'm sure that the last training he gave will stay with the missionaries for a long time, as he spoke powerfully about about the importance of prayer and fasting." 

"In the evening we went to Panayiotis's and Georgia's house for dinner and Pavlos was there with us. It was nice as always to be in their company, they really are some of my best friends." 

4 Apr 2016

Week 88 McLent

This was our one picture for the week, with a comment...

"This is a picture from McDonald's, it says McSarakosti, which means McLent. Lots of Orthodox people don't eat meat as part of the Lent fast so they have special "fasting menus" in most of the restaurants! I thought this was funny, so I took a picture!"

One of the joys of learning Greek, is that in the written form there are two versions. 
The word Lent, using the Greek Alphabet is Σαρακοστή and using the Latin alphabet is Sarakosti

The use of Latin Characters for writing Greek, know as Greeklish, has been around for a long time particularly when other nations and faiths were predominant in Greece. But in modern times Greeklish has come into its own, because many computers and smartphones do't have Greek character sets. Greeklish has become an informal, quick and easy modern communication method. 

Week 88 emails 

"I'm great! The weather is so nice today, it's bright and sunny!

It's been such a busy week! The time has flown by because we have so much to do, and we were only in the office for one day as well! We have lots of new friends that we're working with at the moment so we have a lot to do, and it's great. This week on Thursday and Friday we'll be going to Cyprus for training, and we're looking forward to that too.

I've not seen any of General conference yet, we'll be watching it throughout the month of April, as each Sunday we'll have the sacrament and then a session of conference. So we'll get to see all of it eventually!

The pictures from the wedding are so nice! Having all of them makes the day last forever!

We had a couple of really good lessons this week which were probably the highlight, and the whole day on Saturday was really good as we were going from appointment to appointment literally all day, it was amazing! We played football with A.s' grandchildren which was fun as well!

We have 3 or 4 new friends that we're working with at the moment and it's great to be teaching almost every day. Elder Mead and I are doing great together and are getting along really well too! 
We told President that it was one thing when he had two Englishmen for assistants, but now he has two Northerners! 

And I'm sure we'll love it in Cyprus as usual! I'm so grateful that the airport is in Larnaca because we get to see all of my friends there every time we go!

The Greeks have not yet celebrated Easter, For them it is 1st May, hence they are still selling McSarakosti's !  "Many Orthodox churches base their Easter date on the Julian calendar, which often differs from the Gregorian calendar that is used by many western countries. Therefore the Orthodox Easter period often occurs later than the Easter period that falls around the time of the March equinox." source

This is a picture of  Elder Mead. Elder Teal and Elder Donker from way back in week 50
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