Saturday, August 22, 2009

Home again

There were great things about Greece. I got to meet a large group of extended family, I danced to Greek bazouki music at a christening party, I swam in pristine blue water, and I saw a 2500 year old temple. Aegina was gorgeous, although more dry than I expected. Greece has a definite Middle Eastern vibe to it, rather than European. It was not what I expected. I am grateful that I got to spend time with my family, but I was homesick a LOT. I am glad to be back on American soil. This truly is a great country.

Top ten reasons I am glad to be home:

1. My beach reading in Greece was "The Case for Faith". My stepmom's was "The God Delusion".

2. The primary religion in Greece is Greek Orthodox. This involves saint worship and has little to no impact on the way the people live their lives. It is idol worship and the people don't actually have a relationship with the Lord. My cousins were the godparents in a christening I attended there. They are not even slightly Christian. Religion there is just part of being Greek.

3. You can't flush toilet paper. The plumbing system can't handle it. You have to throw used toilet paper in the garbage.

4. The roads in Aegina are curvy and ascend and descend mountains. My dad was driving our rental car, which was a 1989-1990 Fiat Scudo mini-bus with a stick shift. There are not guard rails on the roads. We narrowly escaped death numerous times.

5. They have nothing but Greek food there.

6. I missed my church family terribly. I was surrounded by non-believers for two weeks straight, and it really made me sad. It was a great time to witness to them and pray for them, but the family I have that lives in Greece don't even speak English, so it was hard to have a conversation. Hopefully I planted some seed of truth among the lies that dictate the way my family lives their lives.

7. NOBODY spoke English.

8. EVERYBODY smokes. By the end of the vacation, cigarettes were starting to look good to me again, even though I haven't smoked in years. You get over the smell eventually, I guess, if you're around it long enough.

10. Oh, mercy, the time difference. 7 hours ahead over there. I have got some major jet lag.

As I reflect on my vacation, I know I was there for a reason. There were many things that went wrong while I was there..I really didn't have a great time. People were on edge, nothing went according to plan, my brother got an ear infection, our quad (four-wheeler) ran out of gas, our mini-bus had a dozen things go wrong, the maid left a cigarette in the toilet..etc. etc. There were moments of hilarity because if you didn't laugh, you'd cry. I had so many people praying for my family to know Christ that I know there was definite spiritual opposition going on. It was a reminder to me that these people I hardly ever see are greatly in need of the living God. Also, it calls me to pray for Aegina, an island full of people who need the Gospel.

As I transition back into my life here, with my church, and with my Bible study, I will not forget to pray for them. I am glad to be home, but I am reminded that this world is temporary, and that there are still so many things left to do! Being around no Christians made it painfully obvious that without Christ, there is NO hope. I really want to keep this with me as I go about my day to day.

Love y'all.

The past two weeks were spent driving from VA to NY, taking a plane to Athens, and then a boat to the island of Aegina, which is where my father grew up. Greece is beautiful, but I am glad to be back!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Like an Indian summer, but no Indians..well..maybe one..

This summer has been one of the best I can remember. I have been involved in a Biblical community in a way that I have longed for..a group of friends that is there for each other..doing life TOGETHER. I am humbled and inspired by these people because every minute of every day is devoted to honoring God..whether we are bowling, having a cookout, playing a game of softball, whatever.. God is the focus. Bringing people in to a family of believers to encourage them daily is what my church emphasizes. It has been a huge blessing to me. I am growing (and not without growing pains..change is not my favorite thing) and being challenged to walk the walk ALL the time.. I know I haven't been writing on a regular basis but please know that I miss you all! I just wanted to share some fun pics from the past couple months..

This is when we scored big with 1 dollar game night at a place cleverly named "The Bowling Alley".

On July 19, I got baptized in the James River in downtown Richmond at a park called Belle Isle. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, and it was beautiful to gather with my church family, my friends and my parents to show my dedication to Jesus. Also, they had a surprise for me. Instead of the pastor baptizing me, they secretly asked my friend Trent to do it. It was an awesome, awesome day.

We took a trip to DC the day before the baptism..not a huge thing for me since I grew up there but it was fun to go with my friends! One of my friends is obsessed with the metro. We played games while we were waiting for the trains and entertained the other passengers.

And we went for a hike in the mountains..

There have been some sad changes, too. My coleader Tuesday nights moved last weekend and I actually was presented with the opportunity to colead a small group for my church. So, with sadness, I will end my work-based Bible study, but with joy I will continue teaching women about the Lord. The best part is that it will still be on the same night, and hopefully I will have some of the same women attend the new Bible study. Then they will be able to meet the girls from church and form great, godly friendships and have accountability. The next pics are from our last night together. We went to Maggianos and when we came out there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky.

I am getting ready to go on vacation. When I get back, summer will be mostly over. I am almost sad that I will miss the rest of the fun times, but I know this vacation will be awesome.Please pray for me to be able to be a witness to my unsaved family members and to be able to really use my free time to be in the Word. I will tell you where I went when I get back! And..there will be more pictures, I'm sure! Thanks for letting me share my summer with you! How is yours going?