June 27th, 2017
This morning I woke up early again and almost finished getting caught up with my blogging! It has definitely been something that has been hard to stay on top of, but also completely worth it. I know it will be great to be able to reflect on all of my experiences here in Greece. When I finished writing, I took some time to read my Bible. I was still going through all of the sacrifices the Israelites had to make in Leviticus and was continuously reminded of how Jesus is our perfect sacrifice.
We headed to the church around 10:00 AM with the intentions of arriving at 10:30 AM. When we arrived, we had a meeting with Eleni about what we should each be doing for the day, although it was pretty much similar to yesterday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the busy days for the church of Omonia because they serve lunch on those days.
For the beginning part of the day, I wandered around doing pretty much nothing, which was kind of frustrating considering I had such a fulfilling teaching day the day before when I was working with Laila. It was also hard because there were more people today so I felt especially useless that I was not doing anything.
Finally, a man and his wife came up to me and asked me for help with their English. I primarily was teaching the man while his wife just watched and occasionally commented or repeated something I said. It was a very different experience than the day before because this man knew very little English and also wanted to mainly focus on writing. The day before, he and another girl here named Sommer started working on the alphabet, they had gotten up to P.
The most challenging part about teaching English was that the man needed to learn very simple words to write, but I did not want to insult him by picking words that were too basic. Starting on Q was also challenging because there are only so many simple Q words. It got easier once we got to S and T because he would say words that he wanted to learn how to spell. We finally stopped a little before lunch time. As we were finishing up, he taught me how to say hello and thank you in Arabic and told me he would test me tomorrow.
Austin and I found a seat for the devotion and were joined by a young girl from Iran named Amena. I probably should have been focusing on the devotion itself, but I was distracted by Amena braiding my hair and interacting with me. Sitting in front of us was one of the missionary’s two kids, Psye and Tessa. Austin had spent the morning working with the children, so I think that made them feel more comfortable around me. Amena ended up giving me one of her string bracelets and promising to make me one the following day. Although I was not focused, it was a really enjoyable devotion time.
For lunch, we had sweet rice, potatoes and chicken, and pita bread. Austin and I sat outside with a table of Arabic speakers that only talked to each other. Although it was frustrating not being able to really engage with them, it was cool that we were still welcome to sit with them. Relationships can still be formed, even if talking is not involved. God’s love goes beyond language barriers.
As we were cleaning up, Eleni stopped us and told us to all go into the main area and sit because there was going to be a baptism. As everyone gathered together, Trevor took us through his collection of songs in hopes of getting the children to calm down. Once everyone was more or less together and sitting, the baptism itself began. The man was a friend of someone who came to the church and just through different conversations he had during the day, he found his way to Christ.
After the baptism was finished, we had the opportunity to go up to him and hug him. He seemed different. When he came into the church that morning he seemed reserved and closed-off and now he was hugging us with a huge smile on his face, calling us his sisters and brothers. Before he left he said, “Today I came to get help. Tomorrow, I come back to help others.”
As we were leaving, I hung out with Psye some more hitting a balloon back and forth and then he wanted to play some hand game. He was about ready to teach me when Rusty grabbed me and told me it was time to go. I left, promising Psye that I would hang out with him tomorrow.
The original intention was to go to the beach today, but because of the baptism, we were at the church for a lot longer than expected and, had we gone to the beach, we would only be there for about forty-five minutes before needing to head back home. Instead, Austin, Devon, Jordan, Ryan, Emily, and I played Catan. I was winning when we finally stopped for dinner because I had a monopoly over all the clay. However, I was also the largest target, so I didn’t have much I could do when the robber was constantly getting placed on my resources.
For dinner, we went to a burger place that was trying very hard to look like the United States in everything from the decor to the music. Once we finished eating, we continued our American food binge and headed to Dominos to pick up a Nutella pizza. Then, on the way back, we got a pre-dessert of gelato. Ultimately, I think I rolled home more than I walked.
We were slightly late to get back (not that anyone really paid much attention to time here!), so we went directly into our daily reflection time. Today, I saw God through the children. It had been really hard to not work with the children when I knew that that was something I was good at and had a passion for, so when the opportunity arose to interact with them, I definitely saw that as something given to me from God.
Before going to bed Austin and I hung out outside and talked for a while. It was nice to have someone to just kind of debrief with after a long, exhausting day. After saying goodnight, I crawled into bed and was out cold.