Festivals and Tournaments

The kids of Neos Kosmos, a mostly Albanian area of Athens:
I'm helping a little girl walk on stilts.

I'm getting help from a girl I taught to walk on stilts so that another girl 
can walk on stilts. 

An intense game of tug-of-war. I'll have you know, the girls won both games.
The Diablo. I cannot do this.

A group game called splish-splash. It was the kids' favorite.

We even had a clown!

Bob Hill (a missionary and professor at the Greek Bible
Institute) put on a magic show for the kids as a way
to introduce them to the gospel.

The kids were enthralled by the magic show.

Camille ran Twister. A sweet girl helped her translate, and in 
the process, Camille learned her colors in Greek!

Elise was our master face (well, mostly body) painter. She 
can paint a dinosaur or dragon better than anyone.

The hula hoops were a big hit.
Camille made some awesome braided bracelets for the girls during
a tournament.

The tournaments are well attended. They all get into the games.

There are big kid teams...

... and little kid teams.

After the games were over, the older boys requested some "boy" 

All the supplies were purchased for the festivals and tournaments with our ministry funds. Thank you for your support! You made this fun possible!


Just a little prayer update.

Friends, family, prayer warriors-

I have a few requests this morning that I'd love for you all to know about and pray about.

We start festivals today! You can pray for patience, especially in the language barrier. None of these kids will speak English; they are all Albanian and speak Albanian and Greek. You can also pray that God opens my ears and mind to hear and translate, because I know that I could communicate but I've lost so much of my vocabulary and with the change in pronunciation, I'm not noticing that I know what people are saying. 
On that subject, I've got a pretty awesome story for you really quickly. When we were in the Red Light District, an old woman ambled past those of us who were standing on the street and praying. She said some things that I didn't understand, but then she said, "Blepo kala, efharisto." I wasn't really paying attention because I didn't expect to understand. But I did!! She said, "I am seeing good, thank you." You have no idea what that felt like. I know that ordinarily, I wouldn't have understood what she said. But God allowed me to remember.  He gave me that gift. He let me use my studies for the benefit of encouraging our team and for a glimpse into the heart of a Greek woman. Seriously, whoa. 

Also, you should pray for our team's health. Camille was sick yesterday, Emily was sick before bed last night, and Joanna got sick early this morning and still doesn't feel well. My room is well so far, and WE WILL DEFEAT THIS! We keep telling each other that we aren't going to get sick. So far, it's working. But I did make the mistake of not putting on any sunscreen, so my body hurts a bit every time I move...

Thank you all! Your support and encouragement allows me to be here. I am blessed.
In Him,



These last few days have been interesting. Some rough, some relaxing.

On Sunday, we attended First Greek Evangelical Church of Athens for the first time. It's the church at which we will be spending the rest of the summer. After church, our team and a bunch of other members of the church changed into matching shirts and headed to clean up Mars Hill (Acts 17- the Aeropagus). You can see the whole city from that giant rock. It's right next to the Acropolis so it's also a fantastic view of hte Parthenon. We had been cleaning for about twenty minutes when we paused to watch a storm roll in across the city. It didn't take long for giant (I mean GIANT) raindrops to start falling on our heads. Obviously, we headed down off the giant rock in the middle of the city and huddled beneath trees lower down. As we tried to wait out the storm, lightning struck the Acropolis and a mound of stone tumbled down. It was such an awesome display of God's power. He didn't need us to clean that hill. He didn't (and doesn't) need us for anything, but He has graciously allowed us to work for Him and His Kingdom. We needed that reminder though, and it stands in stark contrast to the day that followed.

On Monday, Dina (the wife of the dean of the Greek Bible Institute) took us into the Red Light District. She works with Nea Zoi ("New Life" www.neazoi.org), an organization that enters into brothels to offer help and support to prostitutes, whether they are there willingly or whether they've been trafficked into Greece. Dina works to form relationships with these women. You can't go into the brothels and meet different women every week and never follow up. Dina knows these women. She knows their pasts, their families, their hearts. She's been working with Nea Zoi for eight years, and in that time, she has only helped about five women out of the brothels. The newest and biggest problem right now is the need for a safe house for the women once they come out. Right now, there's really no place for them to go. The closest Christian house is in Thessaloniki, but these women need to stay close to Nea Zoi for support or they'll return to prostitution. A young girl in the United States began raising money for a safe house, and it's because of her that the project is even off the ground.
Our entire team went into the Red Light District, but Dina took one or two of us girls in at a time. Everyone else stayed outside to pray. There are 300 brothels in Athens alone (prostitution is legal here). It's a heartbreaking sight. We would pray with our eyes open because we were in the most dangerous area of the city. That meant that we had to watch as man after man walked through door after door. I cried. I don't think that I can possibly explain what I felt that day. Men walked around in daylight, on their lunch breaks, talking on their cell phones, and holding their heads up high. They had no shame. Some would walk out one door and into another. It could have made me hate all men, but instead I would think about the men standing next to me. Tyler, Trevin, and Jaimeson stood solidly beside us, praying just as hard and feeling just as heartbroken. I don't think I've ever felt real righteous anger, but every time a man walked in or out, I asked God to forgive them. To forgive them for the hurt they were causing themselves, their families, the girls. To forgive them for their perpetuation of sin. To forgive them for their pride. I've never done something so hard; my heart has never broken so sharply. I don't know how Dina does it every week.
Satan has dominion over those streets, but I saw God at work. Pray for Brothel 19. Dina is friends with the madam there and is hoping that she will convert her brothel into a prayer house.
I pray that when I return home, I don't remain blinded to such prevalent sin. Atlanta is the human trafficking capital of the world...

A praise! Emily arrived late Monday night safe and sound! Our team is complete!

Tuesday was a complete turnaround. As a break for us after a hard day and as a way to break Emily into our team and this country, we were tourists for the day. We went up to the Acropolis but noticed a threatening sky so we headed into the museum first. We then walked up the hill to the Parthenon. It was the perfect day. It was cool and the sun wasn't so intense. We took tons of photos.

Wednesday was supposed to be our first day of work with the teens in downtown Athens. However, as you probably know, there were strikes and protests in the city. We decided it wasn't safe enough, especially with baby Carter. We stayed back for the day and cooked for ourselves. Most delicious meal yet! It was also the night of the lunar eclipse, and we had a stellar view from on top of our roof. Spectacular.

Yesterday we had orientation for the youth events (the festivals and tournaments) we will be putting on and helping with. I was nervous about how this would work, but I'm feeling so much better about it all. I can see how God will be working through us in these kids. I'll talk more about that once we get started in that ministry.

I have so much running through my mind. Pray that God helps form my thoughts and mold my heart.
This country needs so much prayer. So much prayer.

καλη νικτα
"Good night"


By the way, Camille has a couple of wonderful blog posts on Nea Zoi and our time in the Red Light District.


For Your Trash

γα τα σκουπιδια
"For your trash."

Sorry for the long hiatus, but we spent the last week in Volos, a city about four hours from Athens. As Meletis, the pastor there, said, "We are washing the feet of Volos." We were welcomed into his family and his church, but all we wanted to do was serve them. I know that we will spend this whole trip wanting to serve others, but being served so much greater in return.

We picked up trash around Volos for three days, and we spent one afternoon passing out bags at a busy intersection, hoping that instead of throwing their trash out the car window, they would put it into the bag and then put the bag in a garbage can. We would walk up to car windows, say "γα τα σκουπιδια" (the only phrase Meletis taught us), hand them a bag, and hope that they understood. We handed out 2500 bags in just a couple of hours. It was amazing what kind of response we received. There were people who turned the bags down, but they were greatly overshadowed by the many more who were thrilled to have something for their trash. The bags were also an advertisement for the Greek Evangelical Church in Volos. We picked up trash on beaches, in parks, and along the side of the road. We were honked at in appreciation quite often. Meletis has a uniquely congenial relationship with the Orthodox Church in town, so we were never criticized for our work. The last day, a man walked up the other side of the fence we were cleaning and invited us to see the archeological dig that was happening on his property. It was an amazing gift.

The Team. Trevin, Rachel, Camille, Elise, Joanna, me, and Tyler on top. After day one of trash pickup.

Our view while picking up trash on day one.

Throughout the week, we formed pretty close relationships with Meletis' children and the other youth in the church. Our second night in Volos, we joined the youth to watch Fiddler on the Roof. We haven't stopped singing "If I Were a Rich Man" since.

On Sunday we joined for worship at the Greek Evangelical Church in Volos. Angela, Meletis' wife, is from Massachusetts, and she graciously translated for us through headsets. It was nice to be able to understand the sermon this time. That morning was also the first time that we have taken communion since our arrival here. It's always an adjustment to learn how different churches take the sacraments, but we just observed and followed along. After lunch, we headed to a little church about two hours from Volos. It's in a village called Karditso, which means "little heart". It's right in the center of Greece. They congregation there is seven people large, and the average age is about 70. Only four years ago did the church start up again. They had been facing so much persecution in the past, that the congregation that had been around fell apart. Every time they would meet, people would throw rocks at the windows. They don't have a pastor though. Pastors from the surrounding areas take turns driving out there. There is a book store in the village that needs someone to run it. Whoever runs the book store will pastor the tiny church. Pray that God will find the right person for that job. Instead of a sermon that night, Rachel, Camille, and Trevin gave their testimonies. It's difficult to give a testimony here because we have to pause after every phrase to allow for translation. These three did an incredible job! The congregation appreciated having us there and sharing with them.

After our second day of picking up trash, we headed to the beach for some much needed relaxation. We may or may not have eaten gelato twice that day...    :)

On our final day of trash pickup, we only worked in a small park on the beach. We collected at least 50 bags of trash in that one area. We didn't even make a dent in the trash that was there. We ran out of garbage bags and had to quit. It's amazing that there can be so little concern for clean streets and beaches in such a beautiful part of the world, of God's creation. I'm becoming so much more aware of how I'm treating this earth that doesn't belong to me.

Before Wednesday night Bible study at the church, Meletis took us to Meteora, a fantastic part of Greece. It's home to many monasteries, 11 of which are still in operation today. These monasteries are suspended on rocks that jut straight up out of the ground. I have no idea how high up they are, but it's high. It's how steep the rocks are that is the most impressive. It definitely makes one wonder about how monks ever got to the top to build in the first place. Meteora was actually the first place we went when I came to Greece on vacation two years ago. Had you told me then that two years later I would be spending the summer serving the people of Greece, I would have laughed. It's always been a dream of mine to be here doing God's work, but I never really thought it would become a reality. God works in mysterious and wondrous ways, and I am thankful that He has given me this opportunity and provided me with such amazing support. On Wednesday night, Tyler, Elise, and I shared our testimonies, once again allowing for translation. I was very afraid to do it. I have never shared my testimony, and I don't particularly like it either. But I had it written down so that I wouldn't get nervous or confused. God definitely pulled me through.

After Volos, we returned not to Peireas, but to the Bible Institute in Pikermi, outside of Athens. Our mentors, Christi and Jaimeson were here to meet us. They had only made it to Greece the day before because their school is on the quarter system and had finals in June. Friday night we were blessed enough to attend the wedding of two members of First Greek Evangelical Church here in Athens. It was a packed wedding, with a wonderful sermon (again we had translator headsets) and gorgeous ceremony. We felt like a part of something powerful.

We have been given a better idea of what we will do for the remainder of our time, but everything is subject to change. We will mostly be working with youth by helping out at the festivals, basketball tournaments, and running the teens camp at Kalamos our last week here. Today was our first day of attempting to clean at Kalamos. The whole camp is open air, so a year's worth of dirt and pollen was caked onto the floor of each cabin. We spent today sweeping. We will return to continue cleaning every Saturday for the rest of the month.

Our final team member, Emily, should be joining us any day now. The plan is for her to be on a flight arriving in Athens on Monday night. Please be praying for safe travels and efficient preparations for her. We are all very excited to have a complete team finally!

God has been showing me so much of His heart, really breaking my heart for what breaks His. As Americans, we have it easy. The evangelicals in Greece are deemed heretics by everyone (because almost everyone is Greek Orthodox). Even in Greece, we interns don't face much persecution. We aren't heretics because we are Americans and they expect us to be protestants. But they think that evangelicals are going against their people and their ancestors and their culture by not being Orthodox. Pray for these people, for the evangelicals and the orthodox. Meletis asked every day we picked up trash for forgiveness for those who created the mess. What an example of hope and faith!

After church tomorrow we will be picking up trash in Mars Hill. You should all read Acts 17 in support and preparation.

"I love you"

Feel free to follow along with Elise, Tyler, Camille, or Emily. If you'd like to see more photos from our time in Volos, click here. It is the blog of one of the youth at the church in Volos. His name is Alex, and he picked up trash with us every day.




I feel like we’ve been here forever already! Each day goes by slowly, which I love. Greek time is the best. We start our days no earlier than 10 am. Lunch is between 1 and 3. We tend to take naps in the afternoon :) All of the stores are closed from 2-5 ish so there’s nothing else for us to do. Hahaha! We eat dinner no earlier than 8. We’ve still better pretty tired so some nights we are in bed between 11 and 12. However, all of us girls are in one room, which means that a couple of nights we staying up until 2 am talking about our pasts and doing some good girl bonding.

The mosquitoes here are vicious. We killed five in our room before going to bed last night. Unfortunately that wasn’t all of them. I woke up with two few bites on face and a few more on my arms, hands, back, and sides. I’m so glad I brought Benadryl gel. It’s been saving all of us from scratching off our skin. I think it’ll be a little better once we are at the Bible College. There will be less access to our rooms for the bugs.

There’s been no lack of food, that’s for sure. Vicki continues to feed us well, often commenting on the fact that we don’t eat enough and are all too skinny. Her sister, Lily, has been doing quite a bit of helping out these last couple of days as well. As I write this, she’s in the kitchen preparing something delicious. Since my last post I’ve had slouvaki, Spanish tortillas, cherries, some kind of melon (I’m not a big fan of melon. I don’t like honeydew or cantaloupe at home, but by golly, this was stellar), numerous ice cream desserts, strawberries, mashed potatoes, some kind of cooked potato in oil (really wonderful), Greek salad, some kind of sausage, chicken, ham pasta, and more nutella than I care to admit. I need to stop eating. I’m worried about not fitting into any of my clothes by the end of the trip. I warned my team that they might be seeing quite a few appearances of my sweatpants…

On Sunday night, we went to hear the men’s choir from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago at Second Evangelical Church in Athens. They were phenomenal! They sang in English mostly but closed with a few Greek hymns. We got to talk with them after the concert. It was nice to talk to other college-aged Americans about what we were doing here for the summer. They were very nice and had been having an awesome time touring Greece. They just headed to Cyprus, so please pray for travel mercies for them.

On Monday, we cleaned up around the church. Judging from the amount of stuff we took to the trash, it really needed to be done. Pavlos had mentioned it on Sunday at church so a few of the church members came to help us. It was another wonderful opportunity to meet more people and form relationships. One of the men was telling us about living here in the 60s and 70s during the dictatorship. He and a few other members of Greek Evangelical Church in Peireas were sent to jail for something they didn’t do. They were there for three days before they were cleared, but because they were falsely accused, the church was given the freedom to operate without persecution. His point was that sometimes God works through trials and sufferings. The time they spent in jail was awful, but it was worth it. He also told us about all the times the church building (we are living above it) has been destroyed. It was destroyed a number of times by the Orthodox Church before they were given freedom, and it was bombed during World War II. It’s amazing. Through persecution and hard times, they always rebuilt. They knew that the spread of the gospel was more important. It’s something I need to remember.

Tuesday morning, Vicki took us to another market. This one had so much food! Everything looked absolutely wonderful, especially the fruits. That’s where the cherries and melons came from. We brought tracts with us to hand out. They were just small flyers about the gospel. We weren’t ready to actually hand them directly to people yet, so we did a sort of reverse pick-pocketing. We would hold a tract surreptitiously in one hand and then drop it into someone’s basket when they weren’t looking. I was quite a chicken at the beginning. During our first walk through, I only gave out 3 of my tracts, but I started to feel better about it towards the end. When we left I only had two left! Proselytizing is illegal here so we have to be careful about what we say and do and how we approach it. We don’t want to overstep our boundaries. I ask for prayer in this area. I think we are all afraid of broaching the subject with someone that doesn’t want to hear it. I, for one, haven’t taken the chance. Pray for courage and direction. Pray that God gives us clear and safe opportunities.

This will be my last post for at least a week. We are going to tour the Bible College tomorrow and are taking some of our stuff over there (like my computer) because we leave for Volos on Friday, and I don’t want to take everything. I’ll be off my blog, email, and facebook. If you haven’t heard from me, don’t worry. We will be picking up trash with the church members in Volos. That’s how they grow their congregation. No one in Greece picks up trash (or throws it in trash cans) so it’s unusual to see and causes people to stop and ask why. Pray that we have many opportunities to share the gospel. Pray that our team grows even closer. Pray for health, safety, and stamina.

Please feel free to read the blogs of my teammates as well. Tyler, Elise, and Camille all have blogs.

I love you all, and I appreciate all of your prayers.

In Him,