June 20th, 2017
This morning I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to start exploring Greece. I got up around 7:30 AM so I had time to finish typing up my blog posts for Mexico as well as my first day (two days???) in Greece. When I finished I grabbed my Bible and was finally able to finish reading Exodus. It had been way too long since I had had my Bible time and I did not realize how much I missed it and needed it until now.
Eventually, we all gathered for our morning group devotion time. We read the John 4:27-38, which focused on us reaping what God has sown and just attributing all things to him. It was a really good passage to begin the trip because anyone who becomes a believer through my conversations with them is just me telling them about a gift that GOD has given them.
Afterward, we prepared to go to the church that we would be working at for the week. It was about a fifteen-minute walk to reach the church, but I didn’t mind because it gave me an opportunity to look around. At the church, we met the woman in charge as well many of the other volunteers working there.
It was really cool meeting one girl who is volunteering there from Alabama because she was a Disability Studies major, which is my minor. She told me about this seven-week camp that she worked at every summer that is specifically for children and adults with disabilities. When I went to check it out I found out that they not only have counselor opportunities, but there were also Public Relations staff members that learned how to run all of the media over the course of the seven weeks.
There were people from all over the United States as well as people volunteering from other countries. The church had a center during the day for various refugees in Greece. They offered them English lessons, played with the children, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, fed the families. Around 12:30 we got to experience one of their devotional lessons. This guy who would be moving to Greece with his wife to be a full-time missionary talked about how light and dark are opposites, but in Christ and his light, we can have eternal hope and love. As he spoke there was another man translating everything into Arabic.
When he finished we all reached out to the people next to us to hold hands and pray. As I did, I grabbed hands with this young, refugee girl who had disabilities. She looked up towards me with the biggest, most beautiful smile. We then proceeded to pray over our lunch in English, Arabic, and Persian. The lunch was delicious although I am still not entirely sure what I was eating. We continued talking to various volunteers and refugees until about 2:30 PM when they closed up for the day.
Back at our apartment, we tried to figure out what to do with the rest of our day. We ended up going to Mt. Lycabettus and hiking up to the top. It was not a very strenuous hike, but I was definitely working up a sweat by the time I reached the top. The top was absolutely amazing as we had a view of basically everything in Greece, including the Acropolis (see the photo above!). The joke of the day was that everyone should keep pace with the person with the broken foot… then maybe we would actually get someplace quickly. Considering I had a fast walking pace BEFORE the broken foot, I was not slowed down that much. While up top we saw an area of green in the middle of the city, assuming it was a park we decided to go check it out.
On our way, we walked past a board game store that had basically every board game ever and then some. For our group, we bought Greek Catan, which was super awesome because the pieces were more in depth than typical wooden Catan pieces. I also decided to buy Ticket to Ride Europe because I thought it was fitting to get it in Europe. It was also slightly cheaper, especially considering we made friends with the students working there so they gave us a six percent discount.
Once we forced ourselves to leave, we went to the park to wander around. It was pretty cool to have this wooded area in the middle of the city. There were also lots of cats, which were both a good thing and a bad thing. It was great because cats are great, but I couldn’t touch any of them so it was a struggle.
Almost everything in the park, and in the city, in general, was covered with graffiti. A decent amount of my team complained about this, but I saw it differently. First off, graffiti can be beautiful in a different kind of way. It’s not the preserved ancient structures, but it still is a way of expressing oneself. Also, in regards to graffiti within the city itself, it’s not really appropriate to talk about how horrible it looks or how it is such a shame because this is someone’s home. One of the main things I learned to be more aware of in Mexico was that although we may not speak the same language, most people know some English and facial expressions are universal. It isn’t our place to go into someone else’s home and be like. “Wow… this must have been really nice… like thirty years ago.” It’s just frustrating and something I feel as though people need to be more aware of.
When we got back to the apartment I tried to write for a little while, but I think at some point I drifted to sleep because when I woke up it was time for our evening meeting. We talked about where we experienced God during our day. For me, I saw Him in the strength that He gave me to walk and hike on a broken foot. I am so blessed for this opportunity and the ability to do everything while injured.
After our meeting, we set up Catan. I did awful and felt as though I let down all my Catan playing friends, but it’s hard when there are six people playing and you get no wheat.
That being said, once the game finally ended I was exhausted and frustrated, so I decided to just throw in the metaphoric towel and call it a night.