Monday, November 27, 2006

My Theology Classmates

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On Sunday evening, we had our American friends over for dinner and games. Our neighbors, the Lillies, also came over to play (this is our usual Sunday evening activity). Anyway, we had a great time. The top photo did not come out very well, but I wanted you to see our friends.

On the left is John Harper and in the middle is his wife, Marina, with their new baby Amelia. (They are also in the bottom photo.) They've been here for 2 years.

To the right of the baby, and fawning over it, is our neighbor, Ann Lilly. We are SO blessed to have them as our neighbors! I think Greece may have driven us insane already if it weren't for them.

On the right is Brendan Schettig (foreground) and Philip Navarro (back), who have been here for 4 years and have been invaluable in helping us navigate the chaos that is Greek bureaucracy.

It's a nice little group (or parea, as they would say in Greek) of classmates and friends -- we are fortunate to have them.

That's about all that I have to report recently -- otherwise, it's just learning Greek, Greek, Greek -- not very glamorous. The School is trying to organize a day trip to Vergina this Saturday, so I may have some photos and so on from that trip. Vergina is the (disputed) burial place of Alexander the Great's father, Philip II.

For those of you who check in frequently, sorry I haven't been posting much recently. I (really!) hope to have more to report (and time to report it) soon.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Elder Paisios' Monastery in Souroti

On Sunday, after church, I asked my Greek friend, Paris, to have coffee with me and help me improve my conversational Greek. I find the reading and grammar to be much easier than listening, so I'm always searching for someone who is willing to sit through my terrible Greek and help me improve.

Anyway, we went for a coffee and then he suggested we drive over to the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, which Elder Paisios founded in Souroti, about 10 miles from here. Even though it's so close, I hadn't been there yet because we don't have a car and it's off the beaten path. Well, it was beautiful! We venerated the relics of St. Arsenios the Cappadocian (whose feast we recently celebrated), and then the grave of Elder Paisios.

The monastery also has a nice bookstore which prints a few of their own English translations. They also have a series of colorful kids' books in Greek; I picked up one -- maybe it'll help us!

Sorry -- since it was a spur of the moment thing, I didn't bring the camera. Next time!

After I returned from the monastery, our friend Emmanuelle invited us to a psarotaverna (fish restaurant) along the gulf with a group of Greek friends. Eager for another opportunity to potentially practice Greek, we went. As usual, however, they enjoy practicing English (and their English is much better than our Greek), so a lot of the conversation was in English. Oh well -- we'll keep trying!

Tomorrow, I'm having coffee with another friend from church who has been very helpful and patient with me in our Greek conversations. Hopefully, if I don't weary him with my Greek, he'll continue meeting with me!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

St Gregory Palamas

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Today, after Greek class, our friend (and my Greek classmate) Emmanuelle and I walked to the Metropolitan church of St Gregory Palamas to venerate his relics. The top photo is of the entrance and the bottom photo is of his relics, which had been moved to the center of the church for the feast.

Well, like everyone else around here, I seem to be coming down with a cold, so I better go finish my homework and then rest.

Guest Room Schedule

Rooms are booking up fast at the Hotel Edwards -- get yours before it's too late! (The rates are very reasonable.) ( ;

December 15-January 12: Roger Michael Basaraba, from Spokane, WA

February 20-March 20: Elise Writer, from Yakima, WA

June 17-July 2: Gregory's parents, from Maryland

We're really looking forward to seeing all the friendly faces from the US! Come and visit!

Monday, November 13, 2006

My Cooking Adventure

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I invited two of my Greek classmates (both theology students from Romania) over to our house for dinner on Sunday night. Usually, my job seems to be to invite lots of people to our house, and Pelagia’s job is to do all the cooking. I’ve been very happy with this division of labor, but she suggested that maybe I might want to try cooking some time, so I went for it this weekend.

I saw a very nice pork roast at the butcher and decided I wanted to do something with that, but I didn’t even have the foggiest notion of where to begin. Fortunately, our neighbor, James Lilly, is an excellent cook, so he gave me some ideas what to do. I took this photo when I took it out of the oven. I was very surprised, but it can out well!

One of my Romanian friends ended up having a bit of an emergency, so they didn’t come. The Lillies then we’re able to taste the fruit of their advice – we ate and played mahjong at our place. It was very nice.

Today, it’s back to the grind of learning Greek. The past month has been absolutely exhausting. Today was a bit easier for some reason, so I’m taking hope that things will start getting better and that perhaps I’m actually learning something!

Tomorrow (Tues, Nov 14) is the feast day of St. Gregory Palamas (at least according to the Thessaloniki typikon), the city’s second biggest saint. His relics are located at the Metropolitan cathedral. Our French friend Emmanuelle and I were talking about trying to go tomorrow morning before class, but I suspect it will be mayhem. We’ll see…

Anyway, we’ll have Vespers as usual here in Panorama at Agios Georgios, which will be nice.

Panagia Achiropiitos

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On Saturday evening, we decided to get out, so we went to Vespers downtown at Panagia Achiropoiitos and then met up with some of the other American theology students afterwards.

Panagia Achiropoiitos (Made Without Hands) is a beautiful church (see photos above). It is one of the four oldest churches in Greece, which all date to the 5th century (three of the four, by the way, are here in Thessaloniki). According to one source I read, it derives its name from a wonder-working icon of the Panagia which miraculously appeared in the church in the 12th century.

After the service, the Karchers introduced us to Fr. Spyridon, a wonderful, gentle priest who serves as the confessor for most of the Americans who run through here. He speaks English very well and his Greek is so clear and precise that even I could understand some of what he was saying to John!

Pelagia was supposed to meet us there, but she had taken the bus out to Ikea and some other stores and somehow managed to get on the wrong bus. She ended up being stuck on a bus out to the boonies for 3 hours before she got back to town! Anyway, we finally met up with her and we had a nice time with some of the other Americans. We went to a café (very Greek!) and then got some souvlaki pitas (also very Greek!). ( ;

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Learning Greek

Well, unfortunately, we don't have any exciting photos to post this week. The weather here is turning cold, the hours of sunlight are dwindling, and I seem to spend all my time learning Greek -- or, rather, being humiliated by my 18-year-old Balkan classmates who seem to pick up Greek in a week or so.

Pelagia, meanwhile, is taking Greek half-time and she's also doing several odd jobs. The potential job with the interior decorator didn't work out because, for some strange reason, she thought Pelagia was some kind of fine arts oil painter rather than a house painter. Anyway, another part-time job has fallen into place this week -- a rather wealthy Greek woman has hired her to help with odd jobs around her house here in Panorama. One of the jobs she had her do this week was replacing light bulbs -- yes, really. It's not quite as bad as it initially sounds -- they're halogen bulbs which are tricky. Pelagia has also become the handy-woman around around apartment building. Amazingly, our landlords (who are elderly, traditional Greeks) have paid her to do some odd jobs such as repair the ceiling in someone's apartment. (Traditionally, only men would be considered capable of doing something like this.)

Well, that's all for now -- I have to get back to my homework! I promise we'll try to do something worthy of note to report on soon! ( :

Saturday, November 04, 2006

This week

Well, it's been a very busy week. Constantine Zalalas stayed with us until Wednesday. On Tuesday evening, we had a nice gathering here for all the Americans so that they could all welcome Constantine.

On Thursday evening, the Metropolitan of Thessaloniki came to our parish here in Panorama, to bring the relics of St. David of Evia for veneration here. We had beautiful festal vespers with the bishop on Thursday evening. The church was absolutely packed, and there were even camera crews for the local TV news. It was funny to see even the news cameramen making the sign of the cross behind their cameras during the service.

This morning (Saturday) there was liturgy (as usual) while the relics are still here. Another American couple, the John and Eva Karcher, from California, along with their three little girls, came up for the liturgy and then we had breakfast at our place afterwards. Our neighbors, Ann Lilly and her mother Margo, also joined us. It was very nice -- the kids LOVE our cat, Mo-mo.

The weather has turned VERY cold here, with high winds. There's even a chance of snow tonight or tomorrow. Of course, the building's heating system broke down last night.

In the top picture, we have (from clockwise): Pelagia, Eva, John, Ann, and Margo. In the bottom photo, we have Anna (back) and Melanie. Posted by Picasa