Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Surgery and Such

I have not told many people that I am having surgery tomorrow July 20th, but I wanted to mention it here. It is nothing serious or cosmetic, but it is something that will be good for me. I covet your prayers for this time that the recovery would be swift and the surgery smooth. My sister Laura is coming to take me to the hospital and take care of me for the first couple of days and then Jill will take over. Actually, Jill being here is my favorite part of this whole scenario because I find it hysterical. You see, Tiffany and I both needed to have surgery so we decided that we would have it around the same time. We planned it this way so Jill could take care of us. Tiffany and I have shared a lot of life together and this is just one more thing that God has allowed us to experience together. Granted, we are not having even close to the same type of surgery, but it is still surgery all the same. I am so thankful that God has given me Tiffany as a friend and sister and roommate. Here are just a few fun memories that we have shared.

Tiffany and I are only 1 month apart so when we turned 30 we decided to have a birthday party together.

Looking super fashionable in our Singing Christmas Trees ensemble

Tiffany got to see me sing as a Slytherin

In Greece at the Temple of the Goddess of Revenge. We both thought this was hilarious!

As you can see, we have had some great times together! I just think it is so funny that we are going through this at the same time. I am a little bit nervous that the recovery will be quite painful and I have to be out of work for almost 2 weeks, but other than that I feel ready.

We are also moving at the end of August into this adorable new apartment in a more central part of town. We feel like this physical move will, in the words of Jill Jones, "re-launch us on society." I like that idea.=)

Here is a photo that I took when we first moved to Orlando. God has been so good to me and I stand on His promises. The rainbows in Florida are plentiful because of the weather, but each one is a special.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Andros Island

Oh my, I have been on some awesome adventures the past week. On Monday, we went to Andros Island and had a great time. We had to be up and ready to leave the Bible College at 6:30 a.m. to catch a 2 hour ferry to the island. The ride over had some rain, but the scenery was beautiful. Not to mention, the ferry was super nice and comfortable. That certainly is a fantastic way to travel.

Here we are getting ready to board bright and early

It was a cloudy ride over, but that didn't take away from the awesome scenery

I have loved all the old and colorful doors in Greece!

A beautiful church with BLUE on top! I love the blue!

Climbing over to this cool little island

This is the view from the little island. It was GORGEOUS!

Can you see the bridge that I had to climb over? It was an adventure!
Our view for lunch

Part of my yummy lunch. Can you see the Tzaziki sauce? It's most delicious!

Saganaki! Yum!

Swimming in the Agean Sea

Deep thoughts while talking by the sea

Sunset on the Island

So, as you can see, it was a gorgeous day on the island of Andros. The little streets and shops were so adorable. My hope is to one day go on a Mediterranean cruise and see all the Greek Islands. Most of this trip has taken place in Athens, and I LOVE that, but I so look forward to one day exploring more of Greece.
There have been many more adventures since this trip and I hope to post some more updates soon. A small group of us are going to climb Acro-Corinth tomorrow and I hear it's quite the hike. I will be wearing good shoes and lots of sunscreen. It's heating up in Greece!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Acropolis and Mars Hill

Hello Everyone!

I have had a busy 2 days over here and I want to share some of the amazing things that I have seen. On Sunday we went to see the Acropolis and Mars Hill. I mean, I got to walk up and see the Parthanon and walk where Paul walked! I know that I am in a small minority that will ever get to do this and I am most thankful!
The day started out with a beautiful worship service on the campus of the Greek Bible College that we are staying. I got to help lead worship and I was honored to do so. We sang "Open the Eyes of my Heart Lord," "It is Well," and "How Great is Our God." I love hearing God's people sing in beautiful harmony in the rawest of settings. We should try that more often in our churches back home!

After worship, we went and had a lovely lunch of delicious Greek food. The Greeks order lots of side orders and share them. I am a huge fan of eating this way! Some of my favorite foods have been the Saganaki (friend cheese) and Tzatziki Sauce (a yogurt based dipping sauce with cucumber and amazing garlic flavoring. For those of you who know how much I love sour cream, this stuff is addicting to me!

After lunch, we headed off to see the Acropolis and Mars Hill. Unfortunately, the weather had a mind of its own and decided to show off one of the best thunder storms I have been in. The storm had us sitting for 2 hours under shelter on hard marble. The steps up the Acropolis and Mars Hill are SUPER slippery from years of people walking on them, so rain would make them nearly deadly. We did have fun trying to stay warm and waiting for some reprieve. They tell us that it NEVER rains in Greece in June and if it does, it is a passing short shower. I guess Greece decided to be a little different this year....pretty much like the rest of the world!

When we did get moving, everything that we saw was worth the wait! I wish the pictures could do it justice!

There are live performances in the Acropolis. I would love to sing there someday!

In front of Mars Hill

The Niki Athena at the Acropolis. I felt a slight ownership. :)

The Parthenon!

The Temple of the 7 Virgins




On top of Mars Hill with the Acropolis in the background.
The day was long, but so good! We made it home to get a good nights sleep so that we could be up super early to head to Andros Island. It was beautiful and I will be posting some pictures in the next day or so. Tomorrow the Greeks are going on strike, which they tend to do quite often, so public transportation will be very limited. I have no idea what adventure awaits us tomorrow, but I know it will be memorable. Opa!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What's Said on the Bus Stays on the Bus!

I cannot believe I've been in Greece for almost 5 days! We have been venturing into downtown Athens for the past few days and I have seen some fun things. There have only been a small group of us hanging out together since most of the people here are still taking class. As you all know, you start to get pretty close if you travel together in any capacity. This has held true for us as well and we have laughed a lot while traveling on the bus. Oh the joys, and smells, of public transportation! And I have to say, the Greeks love to drive as if the police are chasing them! They must feel like it's more entertaining or something. All I know is that I fear for my life multiple times a day while walking or riding. At least it keeps the blood flowing. ;)

Yesterday, we went into downtown to do a little shopping. The jewelry and handbags and clothes were beautiful and so colorful. We are going to go back another day because it takes more than one day to see everything. Here are some fun pics from this adventure.

Nick or Niko or Nikki are popular Greek names. I must look a little Greek because I get stopped quite often for directions and such. Unfortunately, I have NO idea what they are saying. It's quite hilarious.
One of the coolest things about being here is seeing the ancient artifacts that are dug up. Here is a working aquaduct that was around during the time of Christ! I love being over on this side of the world!
In the Metro Station

Last night most of us decided to go to a small Brittish Pub that was only a 15 minute walk away. We spent most of the time in the beer garden laughing and sharing stories. I must say that this little pub was totally charming and had loads of character. Here are a few pictures from the evenings festivities.

A beautiful sunset unfolded before us as we walked to the pub
Tiffany and I at the pub

Today a group of us went into downtown Athens to go see the changing of the guard in front of the parliament building at Syntagma Square. It was one of the more interesting things that I have seen.

The guards are not allowed to move or smile. I could never do this job!

We start the morning tomorrow with a church service where I get to help lead worship. I love leading worship. It does something for my soul and I hope it makes God smile.
After that, we go to the Acropolis so I hope to have some fun pictures and stories to share with you.

Some of my favorite things about Greece so far:
*Tzatziki sauce....YUM! It goes well with everything.
*Venetti's.... a pastry and coffee shop. Delicious!
*When I'm here, I'm not working. :)
*Traveling with Dr. Lawson
*New friends

Some of my NOT so favorite things about Greece so far:
*It's hard to shave my legs in the shower
*The dollar to Euro exchange rate is TERRIBLE right now.

Have a great day!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Ice Cream Walk of Death

Today was a very interesting day here in Athens. I am here as a guest to Tiffany so while she is in class, the rest of us are out and about in the city. This morning we went to a "Flea Market," which was pretty much like a Farmer's Market with amazing fruits and vegetables and other homemade things. Here are a few pictures of the market.


Some of the most delicious strawberries I have ever tasted!

Olives are big here.....obviously.
After about 35 minutes, we had seen all there was to see of the market. We then decided that because our ride would not be there for another hour and a half, we needed to find a place to have some coffee. We found this cute little restaurant that had an outdoor patio covered in grapevines. I even had my first Greek cold coffee called a Frappe. I had to keep asking for sugar since I like a little coffee with my coffee and cream. I think the owner thought I was a little crazy.
Sipping my first Frappe.
When it became 2 hrs and no van, we began to wonder what we should do. One of the professors tried calling the college on several different phones and the call would not go through. Finally, one of the host ladies came to pick us up in a car. All 13 of us...in 1 car. Obviously, that was not going to work so she took 4 people in the group and was going to come back in shifts. We were about 20-25 mins from the campus so we just sat at the restaurant and waited. After another hour, and more failed phone calls, we decided that we needed to find the bus to take us back. Now we are HOT and hungry and have walked nearly 3 miles to the main street to catch the bus. At this point, we knew we were not making it back for lunch, so we decided to eat at one of the best Gyros places in Athens. Yum! I am glad to say that we made it home just fine and we even had an adventure. If you aren't a flexible person you may not want to travel internationally. It's all about going with the flow!

*Sidenote: The van had broken down and that is why another host came with the car. When she was told to come back to get the rest of us, she heard that we were going to take the bus instead. Language barriers are FUN!

We got back and had some time to rest and then we ate dinner together. I love that we get to eat all of our meals with each other! Living in community is tough, but I believe it was the way God intended us to live. After dinner, we were informed that we were going to walk to this amazing ice cream shop. I do NOT do ice cream at home, but I was told that the milk processing is different here and I should be fine. That got me excited..... until we started to make the trek to the shop. No one told us it would be about a 2 1/2 mile walk on a road with no sidewalks and HUGE barking dogs around every bend. These dogs were so large that they looked more like horses! Also, did you know that the Greeks don't care much for rules such as speed limits or traffic lights? We practically had to jump out of the way many times so that we were not run over.....while the dogs were looking at us like we were dinner. We did arrive safely to the ice cream shop and while we ate our ice cream, I chickened out and went for sorbet, I was wondering how we were going to get home in the dark? The road we walked on was not what you would call paved. Well, almost too quickly, I got my answer. We were going to try and walk some on the main road to cut off a little time and then head to the back roads after that. This way was even more terrifying than the way over! We were pretty much playing chicken trying to get across the main street and were straddling the guardrail while we waited to cross. Did I mention that Greeks don't care much for rules?! For a different take on this trip and this incident, see my friend Tiffany's Blog (just click on her name).

Well, I am happy to say that I am back in the dorm safe and now just getting ready for bed. I will leave you with a few of my favorite, and not so favorite, things about Greece.

What I do NOT like so much about Greece:
*Older Greek woman who yell, or encourage strongly, at you for singing on the bus. I wasn't quite sure what she was saying since I do not speak Greek.
*The lack of deodorant used. I am breathing through my mouth a lot!

What I LOVE about Greece:

And to all a good night!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I am in Greece!

I am in Greece!

Well, after 24 hrs of traveling, I made it to Athens! We rode a bus from Orlando to Miami, flew from Miami to Paris, and then from Paris to Athens. The flight to Paris was a little over 8hrs and we flew Air France. I even learned a few things from flying Air France:
1. The food is generally pretty good. Actually, very good for airline food.
2. They play interesting movies. They played the Justin Bieber movie and "Big Mommas House." I watched the Justing Bieber movie, out of curiosity of course, and found it to be pretty good. Not quite sure what they were thinking with those choices.
3. They mostly have male flight attendants.... who are NOT ugly! That helped the time go by quicker as well. :) Don't judge....
4. When they get on the speaker to say that we are about to go through some turbulance, even though it's in French and sounds pretty, it still sucks to go through trubulance!

When we got to Athens, we were picked up by the couple who are hosting us at the Greek Bible College. Most of the cars and buses are Mercedes so I have to say that we got to ride through Athens in style and comfort. The Bible college where we are staying is so beautiful and well kept. Before we even got moved into our rooms they decided to feed us some of their amazing food. Here are a few things that were waiting for us.

Greece is known for it's olives. They have such a strong flavor.

Isn't is all so colorful and lovely! And SO fresh!
The rest of the day was spent unpacking and trying to stay awake until at least 9p.m. Greece time, which is 7 hrs later than Florida time. This is to help with jet-lag and to get on their schedule faster. I made it until about 8:45 p.m. and then I was DONE! I slept until about 7:45 a.m. today and feel so much better!

Today we awoke to a beautiful breakfast of fresh Greek yogurt and honey, cheese, bread and apricot jam, and coffee!!

This was the big bowl of thick and delicious Greek yogurt and juices and milk.

The honey for the yogurt. Yum!
After breakfast the guests of the students got to go into Athens to get a taste of the public transportation. It was a short time, but just enough to get a small sample of the city. We rode the bus and the metra and could pretty much get anywhere we wanted using these 2 systems. Europe in general does public transportation much better than we do back home.

These types of architectural gems are everywhere. It's crazy to think of how old some of this stuff is.
Me and T-bone right before a delicious lunch. I love that we are here together!
Lunch! Fish (I don't eat fish), fries, salad, and bread.

Some of my favorite things about Greece so far:
*Almost NO humidity! I LOVE not sweating every second.
*We eat outside a lot! Eating outside is one of my favorite things to do!
*I get to see real Olive Trees that have been around for a VERY long time.
*I have seen pottery that is so old it was around in the time of Moses.

Some of my NOT so favorite things about Greece so far:
*Not being able to throw toilet paper in the toilet. Yes, you have to
throw it in the garbage. I will try not to take flushing things for granted at home.
*Greeks like to talk LOUDLY and yell. I have to get used to this. =)

Well, this about covers my first day and a half here. I feel so blessed that I get to be here and experience a new culture and place. Traveling is one of my biggest passions, and I am truly thankful for this time. We are off to a cute little coffee and pastry shop after dinner. I will let you know how it is.

Thanks for the prayers!

Until next time.....