Some of you will remember that in March I celebrated 6 months in Greece, so on Western Good Friday I invited a few friends over for afternoon tea. In some ways this marked a turning point because I began to realise I could flourish in Greece, there was no turning back now, this was where God meant for me to be for the next three and half years or even more. Greece is home and I love it, my job at Nea Zoi working with the girls and building relationships, learning Greek even with all its difficulties, the friends I have made, the city, the people and their relational nature and my flat.
Afternoon Tea to Celebrate 6th months in Athens
However, there are times when I miss the UK, especially my family and friends, my church, my old job at Centrepoint. I miss hanging out with my large family especially my nieces and nephews. I miss going out with friends for coffee, brunch or even lunch. I miss my church with all its social interactions, coffee/tea after each service for chats and socializing, the grapevine lunch, quiz night, and café style church with tea/coffee and snacks, I miss building relationships with the girls I used to work with and wonder what has happened to them.
One of my missionary friends reminded me when she shared from her own personal experience that it is important to be content with what you have. Paul in Philippians says it so well.
I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles. Phil 11b-14 Msg
I strive to be content with my circumstances especially living in Greece but I know that most of the time I find it difficult because of worries about living on support knowing that I have not raised all my support and learning Greek. I have learnt that if I am content in all circumstances I can make it through anything especially with God at my side and He will always provide an answer to my prayers but not in ways I expect.
Greeks have very few second hand shops that sell clothing or furniture, so if I need something I either have to shop in Ikea or H&M this can be expensive. Greeks tend to throw away most of their unwanted furniture by leaving them near big rubbish bins and sometimes I have found items which I have needed for my flat. Last month I found a white Ikea stand alone shelf near my flat which was a bit bruised and battered, and with the help of a friend we managed to carry the shelf to my flat and once it was cleaned up it looked rather good. This was an answer to prayer because I needed it for storage.
Recently I have become impatient with myself I know that I need to learn Greek to be able to communicate but at the same time feeling that I am wasting time because I am not doing the outreach work with Nea Zoi, and yet also knowing that what I am doing is still mission. This month a colleague and I were able to take one of the girls we work with out for coffee. This was great, it was a chance for all 3 of us to chat, catch up with her, have some fun and encourage her about God. This was a real answer to prayer.
As the weather has become warmer in Greece I have been suffering badly with allergies and I have had to take time off from Greek classes and attending team meetings. My allergies are part of an ongoing problem which have been with me for years. I find if I sit in the sun and accumulate enough vitamin D on a daily basis the problem seems to go away
I just recently had two weeks Easter holiday. It has been a chance to relax and have fun with friends and not have to worry too much about learning Greek, but it has also been a time to revise for my Greek test. It has been a real answer to answer to prayer as I felt that learning Greek has been very tiring and difficult. It also gave me the opportunity to witness the Good Friday and Easter festivals in Greece.
Ice Cream with friends
The Greek Orthodox Easter Festivals
Χριστός Ανέστη! Christ is risen
Αλήθος Ανέστη! He is risen indeed
This month saw the Greek Orthodox Church celebrating Easter. Greeks have different dates for celebrating Good Friday and Easter and the week leading up to Easter is called Μεγάλη Εβδομάδα (Holy Week). I attended the celebrations with friends.
The following happens:
On Maundy Thursday a service of the Holy Passion is held and preparations are made to celebrate the Resurrection. They prepare τσουρέκι (brioche) and cooked eggs dyed red which symbolises the rebirth of life and nature.
On Good Friday the day of his death, and being taken from the cross and buried, the people decorate the Επιτάφιος (Epitaph) with flowers to symbolise the crown and thorns of Jesus. Devout Orthodox Christians do not eat anything. In the evening an Epitaph mass takes place and ends with a procession of the Epitaph through the streets, villages and city listening to prayers and reciting funeral psalms
The Epitaph at a local church near my home
On Easter Saturday morning the μαγειρίτσα (maghiritsa) is prepared, a tripe and herb soup for the Resurrection Night. Before midnight people attend a mass holding white candles which they light with the Holy Light and at 12 midnight they celebrate the resurrection of Christ with bells, drums and fireworks. People say Χριστός Ανέστη! (Christ is risen) and the response is Αλήθος Ανέστη (He is risen indeed). Afterwards they go home and gather around the family table and crack the red eggs and eat the maghiritsa.
Lighted Candles at a local church with friends
Eating maghiritsa – tripe and herb soup
On Easter Sunday the 40 day fasting comes to an end and they prepare lamb on spit. The atmosphere is full of joy and excitement and they eat and drink till late into the night
Lamb prepared on a spit
On Easter Sunday I and my friends went to a restaurant to eat lamb roasted on a spit – it was very nice.