We had a day off today, but Mel received some amazing news: she got the residential advisor job for her halls at university! This means that she will be instrumental in helping to pastorally support and encourage the undergraduates in her halls, and she will be able to afford her Masters! Congratulations, Mel!
The day started off with an interesting incident, and all because we (finally – we knew this would happen eventually) locked ourselves out of the flat. (There’s only one set of keys.) We told Jules, who had already arrived for the café, and after ringing around he told us that we were to go and meet a lady called Pavla at St Spyridon’s Church, which is about 10 minutes away, and she would give us the spare key. So, Mel and I left Chris in charge of the café, and headed to the church.
Once Pavla had given us the key, she recommended that we go into the church and see the saint on display in his casket, as it was early morning and the queue was very short. We shrugged and decided to give it a shot, and both of us also decided that, for tradition’s sake, we would kiss St Spyridon’s feet (which were heavily slippered in red and gold velvet).
You could smell the incense as we queued, which got stronger the closer we got to the little room where his body is kept. The people ahead of us were writing things down on paper, and it was only when we got into the room that you could tell what they had written.
The room was small and horizontal, and filled with icons and ornate thuribles, with the casket lying lengthways. At the end of the casket where his feet are stood a priest, and he was taking the paper that people gave him, and praying. We then realised that these were names of people. At the other end of the casket stood a man who was reading from the Bible.
I’m going to be honest: the whole experience was bizarre. We got to the casket and leaned in to kiss his feet (they don’t protrude as much as you think), and then moved along to the top, where you can see his head, still wrapped in grey shroud. We then came out of the church and walked back to the flat, kind of stunned. Everything is done very respectfully, but then it is so far outside of what I’ve ever experienced concerning my faith journey.
Lisa and Jamie came to youth café again today; Jules said afterwards what a wonderful difference he was noticing in Jamie. Before, if he came to church events, he would sit in the corner and not say a word to anyone. But now, he was laughing, chatting, and still showing us magic tricks!
The evening was spent worshipping and praying.
Our Walking Corfu event that was supposed to be happening this morning didn’t, as our tour guide was booked for an official guided tour at the last minute. This was a good thing, as we didn’t get anyone anyway!
In the afternoon, Jules took us north of the island to Kassiopi. The drive was about an hour, following a coastal road that took us through the hills and had some horrifically sharp bends and steep inclines. He was taking us to visit a lady from church called Lorraine, who runs holiday apartments with her husband, Dimitri. Dimitri was currently in hospital having a pacemaker fitted, and Lorraine had been unwell, so hadn’t been able to get to church. Chris brought his guitar, and we went to have a time of worship and prayer with her.
We sat on the front porch outside the apartments, and worshipped freely. Some people opened their doors and windows to listen, and others tried to avoid eye contact! But it was a really refreshing time for all of us, and we were greatly encouraged by Lorraine, who is a real prayer warrior (and she has been sharing our events online with everyone non-stop!).
Jules then took us to a little pebble bay, where we could swim for a while. (He joined us as well.) Chris and Mel went snorkelling and came across two eels fighting, and I found some rocks to scramble on.
After we got home we completely collapsed!
This morning the three of us prayed together, and for each other. Again, it was super encouraging!
We spent most of the day setting up for the Main Event, which meant creating new flyers, and a banner, and Jules and his family did the food shop and prepared all of the refreshments for the evening barbeque, which in the end was manned by Josh, Jules’ youngest.
The evening itself was lovely; we had two taster seminars ran by tutors from Andrioti school. Sasha did a brief talk on art and religion in Greek culture, which was fascinating. She talked about the ancient beliefs that “like attracts like”, so when people sculpted the beautiful, realistic statues of the gods for the various Greek temples, it was because they believed that the gods would then inhabit the statues. This then translated into talismans and lucky charms (for taking the gods on the go with you). She then talked about iconography, and how although some aspects were similar, it wasn’t about God coming to inhabit the picture, but it was more of an aid to helping people to have a relationship with a God was Spirit. (This was the gist; the whole talk was much more elaborate and detailed!) It was made even more poignant because Sasha had attended Sunday school at Holy Trinity 30 years earlier!
After a short break, we were then given a taster lesson in beginner’s Greek. The alphabet is a lot trickier than I thought, as not all of the letters that look like the English letters translate directly across… For example, “P” in Greek is actually “R” in English, and “P” in English is “∏” in Greek! (I also found out that my name in Greek is pronounced “Rev-ecca”, as there is no hard “b” sound.)
Quite a few people came for both of those talks, and then dispersed. But for the people who stayed, there was souvlaki fresh off the BBQ, and Jules, Mel, Chris, and sisters Andrea and Lydia provided us with some live music! Mel sang in Welsh, and Chris sang in Hebrew at one point. We had lots of neighbours leaning out of windows to listen.
It was a fantastic way to celebrate the half way point of Festival Jubilaté.
• “The more we wait, the more He does.” We are seeing God at work in the church community here, which is fantastic.
• Mel’s new job!
• Spiritual attack seems to be manifesting in our technology (more on that in the next update) … please pray that we don’t stress out too much when things seem to fall apart!
• Our events are coming to an end in the next few days, but we have a feeling God has more in store – please pray that we would be open to His promptings and opportunities.
• Please pray for Pavla; Lorraine and Dimitri; those who minister in St Spyridon’s Church; Lisa and Jamie; those who came to the Main Event