Learning to Love

June 21st, 2017

This morning I wanted to wake up early to get in some journaling, but I ended up waking up late, like really late, like late to morning devotions late. It all worked out, it was definitely just a slow start to the day. In our morning devotion, we read Romans 13:8-10, 14. It was the perfect passage to meditate on as we prepared to go to the retreat in Corinth because it was all about love. Christ is love as if we are striving to be like Him (as we should be), and then we must also be striving for love.

After we finished our devotion we headed to the Acropolis. It was a decently far walk away and I had not had time to eat breakfast, so by the time we arrived I was incredibly hungry. We went to look at some ruins and then asked one of the information booths about pricing. It would cost thirty euro (fifteen for students) to get a five-day pass to all the monuments in the area, or twenty (ten for students) to see just one. Clearly the first option was the best; however, we would be in Corinth at a retreat for the next three days and then we would be back in the church.

While everyone was arguing about what we should do next, I interrupted and asked if we could move this disagreement to a place with food. Devon quickly agreed with me and the group went off in search of a café. We ended up at this little place that had AMAZING crepes. I ordered a white chocolate, coconut, banana crepe and it was exactly what I needed. Well, until I spilled white chocolate on my one white shirt that I had plans to wear at least a couple more times. We decided to just walk up towards the Parthenon and see how far we could get until the tried to make us pay.

It was well worth it because we were able to find some other rocks to climb up on that were beautiful and had an amazing view. According to someone in our group, there was a sign saying that Apostle Paul actually taught from these mountains. It is so surreal to think about the apostles walking where we walked, sharing the love oIMG_6739.JPGf Christ, the same thing we had come to Corinth to do. We were able to all spread out on the hill and take some time to just meditate, take it all in, and thank God. Although there was so much spiritual, Christian history, there was also a history full of paganism. All of the beautiful monuments were erected for the pagan gods.

When we reconvened and started walking back I felt myself begin to hit a wall. It wasn’t anything big, but I was getting stressed, fast. It was a combination of my foot hurting and the stain on my shirt and just other little petty things. While the rest of the group went to lunch, I stayed back and packed for Corinth and tried to get the stain out of my shirt. Although I made it slightly better, there was still a large water stain.

The group came back and we grabbed our backpacks and got ready to leave. When we left we headed to the train station where we took one train to another train that took us to Corinth. On the second train, a man came up to me, put his hands on my shoulder and started talking to me in Greek. Luckily, a Greek woman across the aisle told him to go away. As we disembarked the train and exited the train station we found the van that would bring us to the retreat. They were short one seat, so I opted to just sit in between Nicole and Austin on Devon’s backpack.

Walking into the retreat I was both amazed and disappointed. The location was beautiful. It was a four-star resort that had a flat pool that overlooked the Mediterranean Sea. However, we were on a mission’s trip to serve the less fortunate and we shouldn’t be relaxing. I wanted to do something to distract myself from my frustrations, but everyone else was going swimming and I had a broken foot and no bathing suit, so that was not an option for me. Instead, I holed up in my room and allowed my frustrations to spiral out of control until eventually I just gave up and went to sleep.

I woke up not feeling much better but knowing that unless I got up and went to my obligations, I would never get anything from these next three days. The next item on the agenda was our first lesson. Alexander from the Omonia Church of Christ was our first speaker and he talked about the general theme “Loving Your Neighbor As Yourself.” He emphasized that our sin nature makes us want to not talk about ourselves, but if we do not know ourselves we are not able to know our neighbors.

Furthermore, when we avoid reaching out to someone in love, it isn’t a brain or “hardware” problem, it is a heart problem. This statement really impacted me. I had been saying I wanted to do more to help the homeless in my area and yet I didn’t really take action. I am called to love. I am called to love the widows and the children and the poor and the disabled. When I get home, that is what I am going to do because that is what I am called to do as a child of God.

This message really impacted me and was what I needed to really refocus and re-energize myself for the rest of the day, the retreat, and the trip. The refugee families that we are serving need an escape to a four-star resort. They have mostly come from being extremely well off in their home countries, but then after being forced to leave, forced to conform to a situation where they are mistreated. One of the women in charge, and Alex’s husband, Eleni, said to us, “You have all heard rumors about how the refugees will change us, well they have, but not in a bad way, rather, in the most beautiful way possible.”

Through the transition periods, I was able to get to know some of the other missionaries that were volunteering at the retreat. I got to know two people that were coming from the UK, Trevor and a woman whose name I cannot remember for the life of me. They were older and they talked about how blessed they were to be able to use their retirement to serve Christ.

For dinner, we got to eat at an AMAZING buffet that had a copious amount of food. Rusty had challenged us to spread out and sit with different people. I ended up sitting with two women, Rachel and Michelle, who had been working at the church in Omonia for a while. Michelle and her husband Nathan were moving out to Greece after this summer to become full-time missionaries. IMG_6753.JPGShe shared part of their journey with me and it was very encouraging to my own journey to possibly pursue missions long-term. Stephanie, Alex’s younger sister, was sitting at my table as well and after we finished we walked around for a while talking to various people. We also tested out the chairs by the pool because they looked comfortable and were not typical looking.

About twenty minutes after we were supposed to (we were running on Greek time), we had a meeting that was supposed to inform our Delaware group what we would be doing here at the retreat. Although the intentions were good, it was not helpful whatsoever. Once they dismissed us from the meeting I went upstairs and blogged for a while, determined not to fall behind even without the Wi-Fi to post for a couple days. When I finished writing about yesterday, I showered and then went to sleep in our nice, air-conditioned room.

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