On Wednesday, we had a day off! (I know, it’s only day 2…)
We had a prayer meeting together (Mel, Chris and I at the flat, and Jules in his home – he still wasn’t very well), and then we grabbed a load of flyers for the various events that are coming up and headed into the main part of town to hand them out. Mel taught us her ways in how to give out flyers successfully, which worked because we got rid of them all!
In the evening, we went to Mamma Souvlaki’s for dinner. Souvlaki is a popular Greek food (essentially meat on a skewer, served with pitta and salad). We got chatting to the waiter there, who was telling us what it was like to work in Greece. He said that he worked 12 hours a day, every day – very few people had days off. But he said that one day he would go to his eternal rest and know Jesus. When he wasn’t being so serious, he was entertaining us with stories, and doing impressions of scenes from old movies.
On our way back to the flat, we stopped to hear a live orchestra playing an ABBA songs medley, and ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ by Andrea Bocelli, amongst other songs. (You couldn’t help but groove along to ‘Mamma Mia’!)
That night, none of us could sleep, despite being exhausted. It was almost like something was stopping us from dropping off. Around 3am, we eventually got to sleep, but the mystery wasn’t solved until the following morning…
I was up and dressed fairly early so that I could go downstairs and make sure that the youth café was set up. When I went outside, I found that there were the remains of drinks cans on the table, and cigarettes littered the floor.
Jules had explained to us that, as the church is quiet at night, and removed from the absolute centre of town, a group of youths had taken to using the courtyard in the early hours of the morning to smoke, drink, and chat. He said that if the neighbours hadn’t complained, he wouldn’t have known (as no one is ever in the church at that time), and he asked if we could try and meet them and connect with them. We couldn’t sleep last night because there were young people outside, and God wanted us to go and meet with them – but we insisted on staying in bed, and as a result, couldn’t sleep!
We didn’t have anyone at the youth café this morning, but after it had finished, I went to go and see Sandra Tombrou in her beauty shop – she was going to come with her assistant Anastasia and do a free pamper evening at the church. It was lovely to catch up with her; Jules and Trish had introduced me last year when I came to visit.
Chris, Mel, and I looked at Ephesians 1 this evening, and then we stayed up in anticipation of meeting some young people this evening. We’d left them a note outside, explaining that we’d like to meet them and bring them refreshments, and to ring the bell when they arrived. We didn’t hear anything, and went down around 1am, and met two lads – Andrea and Costas (19 and 17 respectively). Costas spoke little English, so Andrea translated for him, but they were very laid back – we talked about hobbies, and jobs, and about what we were doing here. Andrea said that he was training to be a plumber, whilst at the same time working at a petrol station and he had a job installing CCTV and security cameras.
They offered us cigarettes (amongst other things), but we politely declined, and they left around 2am. What was clear to us is that they aren’t the only two youth who frequent this area, and they certainly aren’t the ones causing the neighbours to complain, so this will be an ongoing project! We definitely feel like being here means that we can be a presence to these young people – it’s very interesting that they’ve gravitated to a church of all places…
Today was St Spyridon’s Day! Spyridon became a bishop after his wife died, and took part in the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. His well-preserved body is paraded in a golden casket through the town, and into the cathedral, where his feet protrude so that people can kiss them. (This is usually done by people who want healing.) They put slippers on his feet that need to be replaced on a regular basis because they wear out so quickly!
We caught the back end of the parade, as his body was taken into the church. The priests carried a canopy over the casket, to protect the saint from the sun, and people threw confetti from their windows. There were so many bells! And several bands and orchestras.
In the afternoon, Jules took the three of us south of the island. (We explored while he worked.) Our first stop was in Perama, where after a drink we paddled in the sea near to a bridge that is right next to the airport runway (separated only by a small stretch of water), and so we watched planes landing and taking off. It was instinctive to duck, they were flying so low!
Our next stop was further south. Jules went to lead a joint service at a Catholic church in Messonghi, but he dropped us off at the beach first. It was lovely to swim in actual cold water! Mel and Chris did a lot of snorkelling.
When we got back, we packed up Mel’s circus things and headed out to the Spianada (a big square next to the cricket ground, between the sea and the town) to run our circus skills workshop. Having forgotten about St Spyridon’s Day, we were pleasantly surprised to see how busy the square was, with live music and stalls, and people milling about EVERYWHERE. So, we set up at the end of a row of stalls with plenty of space, and within minutes we had children coming up and staring as Mel juggled with both clubs and balls. She then spent the evening teaching children how to juggle; it was a real success! At one point, a whole family came to watch – they must have had about 15 toddlers between them – and so Mel showed them the water balloons we’d prepared. Carnage followed!
It was a fantastic way to end the day, and what was great was the fact that we were doing something with no agenda. Although we were advertising our other events, a lot of people couldn’t understand that we were simply wanting to chat and entertain without trying to sell anything.
• God is really and truly working here! We are seeing more and more of him as the days go on
• That Jules’ health has improved considerably, and that we are all still in good health!
• That our meeting with the youth has been fruitful and pleasant so far
• For the waiter at Mamma Souvlaki’s; Andrea and Costas, and the other youth who use the church courtyard, that they may know Jesus personally
• That we would have the courage to take any opportunities God gives us to bless others