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Four weeks have slipped by

Posted by gramma on March 9, 2019 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (1)

Four weeks have slipped by. Although group English classes were not held this week, we were busy with individual reading sessions from Luke as well as one to one or up to three coming together for English practice sessions with some who are not yet able to carry on a conversation. It was a blessed week with good conversaions and considerable progress toward better English capabilities. In all we logged about 30 hours of reading from Luke and about 20 person-hours of English instruction.

 

Some of those in the Reading sessions from Luke are already followers of Jesus, but some are muslim, but all seemed to enjoy talking about Jesus and what he did and said. One young lady upon hearing that Jesus would ultimately die, asked, with eyes opened as wide as possible, 'but why? If God can do anything, why did Jesus have to die?' Just the kind of question we like to try to answer.

 

That same young lady was part of about 10-12 young refugees that also got to participate in group activities this week with a team of 13 juniors and seniors from Forth Worth Christian School here on a Youngfriends project, another outreach ministry of Let's Start Talking. Phillip and Aimee Woodward were instrumental in organizing and bringing these young people here. The Americans and refugees got to know each other, they had small group discussions on questions that Jesus asked, they played games and on Tuesday and Thursday they ate Falafels and pizza. The refugee young people enjoyed themselves a lot and everyone was blessed by the experience. Wednesday was free day to go to the Parthenon, so the group from Texas and most of the young refugees spent the afternoon together. They loved it. After the outreach activities, the YoungFriends team painted some of the rooms upstairs. Some of the paint made it to the walls, but a lot of it ended up on them!

 

Our last week was chocked full with activities, dinners in homes and restaurants. There was very little free time. Our last night we were invited to the home of Camo and Deman, from Iraq. They are muslim but consider the Omonia church community their 'family'. Whenever volunteers are about to return to their homes, during a Tuesday or Thursday devotional they are offered a glass of water because one of the early refugees said that whoever drinks 'Omonia water' will return. Usually Deman is the one to offer water to the Omonia volunteers. The dinner she and Camo served us at their home was fantastic. There were eighteen of us including adults and kids but there was enough delicious food for a small army. We all sat on the mats they sleep on, gathered in one large room.

 

We have been truly blessed to have been here the last four weeks. We have seen the power of community in breaking down walls that have been built over the centuries. Though many of us are left-brained and like to emphasize the search for truth, most people are looking for a place to belong. Even when they are 'home' some people don't feel like they belong. The refugees here have been ripped from their homelands by various circumstances: war, oppression, economic stress, etc. and they have lost their belonging place. To find a community where they are accepted and cared for (ie. loved) by people who don't know them well and don't even believe what they believe is a transforming experience for everyone. Seeing the smiles on peoples faces is amazing.

Week three is history

Posted by gramma on March 2, 2019 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Our third week started on a high. Mahmood, the younger son in the 'wee' family, made the decision to follow Christ and was baptized on Sunday morning. It has been facsinating to watch his development. Last fall he was the silent, tough guy who was always on the fringes, keeping his distance. Now he is active in the community, often speaking up in English or Arabic, and at times leading prayers. He always has a smile on his face. After he was baptized Sunday, he shared that before he came to Omonia he was in darkness. Not any more. God is good.

 

There are two American families here working alongside us, both of which have committed three months of their time to the ministry. Adam and Amber Wood and their two little girls, Lily and Kate are here from Hunstville, AL investigating the possibility of longer term ministry. Amber taught the lower level English class before Val arrived (and will take over after we leave) and Adam has been teaching Bible studies and has taken on a lot of fix-it projects in the building. They are also involved in the lives of several refugee families. Also Phillip and Aimee Woodward and their two sons, Kellen and Cannon are here from Fort Worth, TX. Phillip is Mark and Sherrylee Woodward's older son and is a physician so he is serving as a health consultant with a steady stream of refugees seeking his advice. They, along with Adam and Amber, have accompanied many refugees to doctor, dentist and opthamologist appointments. We brought Phillip a goodly supply of pre-natal and childrens vitamins to hand out to those in need of such.

 

Another group that has been here since we arrived is Henrich, Silas and Benjamin, all from Germany and working with Operation Mobilization. They are pretty quiet, but they work hard in the background. The first week we were here they were painting two of the offices in the front of the building. They work everywhere and anywhere they are needed. Two went home this weekend but Henrich is here for another month.

 

Thursday was the last day of the teaching term. Somehow three weeks have evaporated, but we have seen definite progress in many of our students. Next week is 'Cafe week' and there are no classes or meals served or clothes given out. It is a chance for volunteers to catch their breath before the next term begins. The three of us had one to one sessions on Friday and will continue those next week on Monday through Thursday. Some of these sessions are reading from the gospel of Luke and some are helping the beginners learn to read and pronounce 'sight words'. It is amazing how much progress can be made in the latter in such one to one sessions. Several are quite diligent in their efforts to improve their English. We love helping them.

 

Saturday, Alice and Theo, who own the Airbnb where we are staying, took us on a tour of Salamina, a small island west of Athens (only about 10 min on the ferry). We visited a statue honoring the sea victory of the Greeks over the Persians in 458 BC. We had a lovely day. In the evening we went to a club soccer game in which Fadi, one of our students from Iraq played. Fadi's team was victorious and he seemed very happy that we came to see him play. He calls us mother and father, as he no longer has any parents and is here by himself. We were happy to be in the stands and shout out his name. We embarassed him properly!

A wonderful second week in Athens

Posted by gramma on February 23, 2019 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

This last week has been fantastic. Working with us this last week was a team from Marseille, France, including Craig and Katie Young and their daughter, Esther, and an Algerian family, Khaled, Mona and their son Missi. The Marseille church also has a vibrant refugee ministry and this was their third visit to Omonia. They led Bible studies, they cooked, they served, and the three Youngs blessed us several times with a beautiful rendition of 'Open the Eyes of our Hearts, Lord' in Arabic, which was so appreciated by the refugees. We actually tried to learn it.

 

We had a good week in all our classrooms. The week of course started with the appreciation luncheon for Operation Mobilization on Monday. Look them up on the web. They work all over the world, supplying workers where needed. They often send several at a time to work with the team at Omonia. On Tuesday after class and lunch, which served well over 100 people at the church, we were invited to a third birthday for a little girl named Lamar. Her parents, Izzat and Asma, are Syrian Kurdish christians and Lamar's brother is Kalil who was baptized last Fall when we were here. As usual the party included LOTS of food, most of it sweets this time. We had a great time.

 

On Wednesday after class, the three of us who are teaching each took a small group of students from Val's class and helped them with their reading and pronunciation using phonetics. On Thursday, we again served lunch to over a hundred and afterwards, Katie and Esther at least tried to teach us to sing 'Open the Eyes of Our Hearts' in Arabic. Arabic speakers might doubt that they succeeded, but we had a great time trying (and we do have a recording of the Youngs singing it). After that we went out for pie with Laura, the long term volunteer who is in charge of the teaching program. We spent our time discussing our students, assessment, the curriculum, etc. It was a valuable discussion.

 

On Friday we once again offered 'one to one' opportunities. Steve had six hours of reading sessions using Luke with five of his students. Val and Cindy worked with a mixture of my students and their students often having two or three at a time, some reading Luke, some practicing reading, pronunciation, etc. In total they logged at least 11 student-hours so it was great day.

 

After our Friday sessions we were invited to the 'wee' family's apartment. We wrote about this family in out Fall blog. A lot has happened since then. Adnan, the patriarch and his wife, Shiraz, and their oldest son Mohammad, were all baptized in January. Also in January Shiraz had a mastectomy to remove a cancerous tumor the size of a lemon. Praise the Lord that surgery was successful and she has recovered marvelously. Keep her in your prayers; she has an appointment on Tuesday to see what further treatment if any is called for. Nine days ago Donia, their daughter, gave birth to a beautiful boy named David. Yesterday was a celebration of all that. And once again we were fed a Syrian Kurdish feast that was delicious, with all 12 of us gathered around the floor sitting on mattresses or the floor. Donia and baby Dawoud (Arabic for David) got to stay in the bed. And yes, we got to hold and feed the baby.

 

It just doesn't get much better than the last week. God is good.

We are back in Athens

Posted by gramma on February 18, 2019 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

We are back in Athens to teach English to refugees as a part of the Agape Project at the Omonia church of Christ here. We had quite a first week. Because of a prior promise to attend Russell's Honor Band Concert, we arrived Monday evening (along with two plus extra bags filled with bought and donated clothing) so we missed the first day of the teaching term, but we hit the ground running Tuesday morning. We are joined by Cindy Robinson from Abilene, TX (and Zambia). The three of us cover three levels of English classes.

 

After three good days of teaching, we spent Friday doing one to one sessions using the gospel of Luke with about ten of our students. After reading on Friday, Val and I went immediately to the airport to spend the weekend with Daniel and Karly Napier (and Rebecca and Kristina) in Thessaloniki where they are beginning a ministry to train refugees who have become christians to be missionaries to their fellow refugees.  Daniel used to preach at the Turnpike church in Santa Barbra and he and his family are dear friends. On Sunday afternoon we returned to Athens so Steve could preach Sunday evening. Whew! But it was a great week.

 

And today (Monday), after teaching, we who work with, and benefit from, the Agape Project hosted a 'Thank You' luncheon for about fifteen people who work with Operation Mobilization, a christian organization that graciously supplies many volunteers to the Agape Project. Refugees did the bulk of the cooking, serving and cleaning. Some of them also testified to how the church here had become their family, how they had lost a family when they left their homeland, but they had found a new one here. They often spoke of how happy they were in spite of their situation. We also learned that over the last three and a half years about 60 refugees have put on the Lord in baptism. It was an uplifting day for everyone. So many smiles.

 

We had a wonderful weekend with the Napiers. During this first year they are spending the bulk of their time integrating into Greek society, learning the language, jumping through bureaucratic hoops and settling in. They are already working with two different Christian groups, making good contacts and identifying likely candidates for the first cohort for training, beginning next year. We were encouraged hearing about their progress and their ideas and hope we encouraaged them some as well. We had a delightful time.

 

Keep us in your payers as we are now in already in our second of three weeks of instruction.

Seven weeks in Athens are over

Posted by gramma on November 17, 2018 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

  Our four-week, turned seven-week project, is now over. What a blessing it has been. We, and especially Steve, have thoroughly enjoyed teaching English to these refugees. Most have fled war or oppression, some have been on the move for more than four years and most are separated from their extended families. Mama Eleni and the Omonia church offer them the opportunity to be a part of a family, to be loved and accepted regardless of their beliefs or their ethnicity, to be part of what we call 'church'. One only has to be in this community a few minutes to see the smiles and hear the laughter to recognize that Omonia has become 'home' for many.

 

  For those of you who are interested in the demographics of this family, we have included in the picture album some statistics for 2018 thus far. It is obvious that many meals have been served and a lot of clothes have been distributed. But we don't want this ministry to be thought of as a place to receive a handout, rather a family that loves each other, protects one another and helps each other. The refugees that come here not only receive but they also give. This is best illustrated by what we refer to as the 'wee' family (so named by Laura, long term volunteer from Scotland, because of their small stature). When they first began to come to Omonia, they were very stand-offish and were not interested in becoming part of this community, God has changed all that. Now they are really the heart and soul of the growing christian refugee group. They generally arrive before any of the other volunteers, patiently waiting till someone with a key arrives. They are three generations. Grandma and daughter, who has a 10 month old and is six months pregnant, help with the cooking and serving on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, grandpa sees that tables and chairs are set up, the two sons help with clean-up, and all three of these adult children are in English classes. Refugees do virtually all the cooking and cleaning up in the kitchen for the Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday meals.

 

  While Mark and Sherrylee were here, we all worked on developing an 18-week curriculum consistent with European standards. The hope is that this will make it easier to manage the many volunteer teachers who come for various periods of time. A standardized curriculum with clear goals for each week of instruction will help provide more consistency in the abilities of students in a given class. The new curriculum and the assessment test that was also developed will be implemented in the new year. We want them to succeed in their efforts and having a curriculum that all will follow will help that happen and for them to progress through the various levels.

 

  We are now in Hamburg, Germany and will return to Santa Barbara in early December. Thank you for all your prayers and support. It was a blessed time for us. Please keep the millions of refugees spread all over the world in your prayers.

Our sixth week has come to a close

Posted by gramma on November 11, 2018 at 6:45 AM Comments comments (0)

  Our sixth week here in Athens has come to a close. The second week of this teaching term is history. Our students continue to make progress. English teaching happens throughout the year using a wide variety of volunteer teachers who come for different periods of time. The two of us are highly unusual in that we will have taught the same classes for six straight weeks of instruction. More commonly, a teacher might only teach two or three weeks. Therefore, it is easy for some topics and capabilities to 'fall between the cracks.' Consequently, Mark and Sherrylee and the two of us are trying to develop a 12-week curriculum with consistent goals for each week and to find tests that we can use to assess goals achievement of the students along the way. This will allow more quantitative criteria to place students in the 12-week curriculum. We better hurry up in our spare time and get this done. We only have 4 days! Mark and Sherry have to leave on Thursday.

 

  Sadly, Friday was our last day of one to one conversation sessions. We will miss these times when we can get to know our students better. We have gotten to see their reading abilities increase markedly, but also we have gotten to introduce them to Jesus and His teachings. One of Steve's readers was a police officer in Mosul, Iraq before ISIS invaded and he and his family were forced to flee to a Kurdish area in Iraq, where they spent over two years before a failed attempt to immigrate to Germany. Eventually, as with most of the refugees, they trekked across the border to Turkey and then made their way to the west coast and into a boat to one of the Greek islands and on to Athens. He has had a hard life; he has lost a stillborn child and two brothers.

 

Our schedule might be of interest. We generally leave our Airbnb that all four of us share shortly after 9 am. We walk about 17 min to the closest Metro station and we ride it a total of three stations but we must change lines in the middle. From the Omonia Metro station we walk about 8 minutes to the Omonia church. We usually arrive about 9:45 so we can have a few minutes to prepare our classrooms and run off handouts on the printer. At 10 am we have prayer time, led by Ana, one of the long-term volunteers. At 10:30 we have an organizational meeting to match volunteers to tasks, etc. Classes begin at 11:30, with a break for tea and cookies at 12:30. We come back at 12:45, that's the goal anyway and then between 1:20-1:30 we meet downstairs in the church auditorium for a devotional before eating a meal at 2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After classes or the the meal we clean up our classrooms, sweep and mop and often stay a while to prepare for the next day's classes. We then head home, ususally pretty well spent.


  The Omonia church is named after the part of the city where it is found. We recently learned that Omonia means 'harmony', many voices as one. If you come to a Sunday morning worship service, you will hear many voices. Alex usually preaches in Greek in short segments, alternating with Joseph, an Egyptian-Greek who translates into Arabic. English and Farsi translation is heard through two sets of headphones while Joseph is speaking. Also one of the ladies provides Russian translation for Eastern European, Ukranians and Russians who might be present. It's a regular Pentacost experience.

 

This week is our last week here. Please keep us in your prayers as our time here comes to an end.

 

We have been in Athens five weeks

Posted by gramma on November 4, 2018 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

  We have been here five weeks now and we had another fantastic week. It was the first week of our second teaching term. Some of the A0 students from the first term were passed on to A1 and some from A1 to A2 and some new people were added to A0 so every class had new students along with continuing students. All the classes are a little larger now. We are able to see progress in our students but only meeting four days a week for about an hour and a half, the advance is not mercurial by any means. Most of our A2 students are still 'beginners'.

 

Thursday we were blessed to hear wonderful testimonies from three individuals with very different backgrounds all demonstrating the power of God. When Steve was here in March, there was a young teenage girl of Bulgarian descent here at Omonia, who could have been described as demon-possessed. She had been lured to the UK by a 'christian' group only to be caught up in human-trafficking. When she came to Omonia she was totally traumatized, basically catatonic, not speaking, having to be fed and she would spontaneously run into traffic and once tried to jump over the railing of the patio at Omonia. With fervent prayer of many, especially a family from Hong Kong who frequently volunteer here, God brought her back. Thursday, without any prompting she came to mama Eleni and asked if she could tell her story during the devotional before our meal. She shared (in excellent English) how God had overcome the darkness in which she lived, how His Word had brought hope to her, how prayer had changed her life.

 

A while later on Thursday in a volunteers meeting, Rostom related his story of how he came to be a christian serving at Omonia. Growing up in Kurdistan (in Syria) he believed in one God but not the one the Muslims call Allah even though he was muslim. On more than one occasion he tried going to Syrian Orthodox churches, but when they learned his muslim name they told him he was not welcome. Eventually he found a christian community that welcomed him and his family, then the war came to Syria and they, as most of the refugees do, made there way to Greece by boat. He said that only one of the three boats that were in their group made it to Greece, one sank and one disappeared. He wanted to go to Luxembourg at first but that door kept closing and finally they decided to go to the UK. They were supposed to get their passports on a Friday and he bought plane tickets to leave immediately afterward, but the passport office delayed the passports until Sunday and his wife, who was pregnant with their fourth child and due to deliver in ten days delivered their third son that Friday night. Rostom said, 'I guess God was saying: stay here, so here we are.' Rostom and his family are strong leaders among the Arabic (and Kurdish) christians here at Omonia.

 

Finally, immediately after Rostom told his story a visiting Egyptian-American who had recently dedicated his life to serving God full-time, testified about his journey. He grew up in the Coptic christian community in Egypt. They were often persecuted by the muslims. He said that when he decided that he would serve God full-time, serving muslims was the last thing that he expected to do. But after being at Omonia a few times, seeing how so many muslims respond to being included in a 'family' that just tries to love everyone no matter who they are and what they believe, his heart was changed and now he serves full-time working with muslims in Egypt.

 

This last week and next week we have a team of christians from South Africa here helping with all the various ministries. It has been great to get to know them. Also on Thursday we had two groups from Singapore, totalling 28 people visit, and they all rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to help out so it was crowded but it was nice to have the help. Mark and Sherrylee Woodward arrived Thursday evening and the four of us were able to read one to one from Luke with 11 different A2 students. Sherrylee will teach the A1 class for the next two weeks and other activities are in the planning. Keep us all in your prayers.

Our fourth week in Athens

Posted by gramma on October 28, 2018 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

  Our fourth week is the so-called 'Coffee week' at Omonia. Everything was closed down or at least it was supposed to be. The two of us worked 'upstairs' all week, having one to one conversations using the gospel of Luke with six or seven of the students from Steve's A2 class. The Omonia church occupies two floors of an office building, the lower floor(on the third floor of the building the way Americans count floors) is where the church meets, where the kitchen is and where there is space for people to eat. The floor above is rented to provide space for English classes, the 'clothes closet', a tearoom and space for an immigration attorney to meet with refugees. Upstairs at least, there was a pretty steady stream of people in spite of being closed! The bell rang often, a little too often sometimes. People came with all kinds of inquiries: could they register for classes, was there a meal, were diapers being handed out. Someone else delt with some of these but often we had to just tell them the best we could it was closed this week and best to come back. So I hope next Monday won't be a crazy day with many new people. It will be the first day of classes which is its own busy!

 

We were able to read a total of 37 hours in one to one sessions this week. We can have reasonably good conversations but even the best of our students are in the beginner-intermediate range in their abilities. Steve also met every day with two A1 students who will be in his A2 class. He introduced them to the material he had covered the last three weeks so they could catch up a little bit. In Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan there is little opportunity nor encouragement to study English so most of the refugees come here having almost no English and six hours per week of classes do not bring them along very quickly. This means that the depth of our conversations is limited, but we can still share some of ourselves and Jesus. Our time has been good and our readers have been coming every day with almost no misses, only for doctor's appointments, appointments regarding their papers or asylum and the like. It has been great to see the improvement in their confidence and their ability to communicate.

 

On Tuesday evening we were invited to the home of Rostom to celebrate one of his four children's birthday. They are a wonderful family who love the Lord and are bullwarks of the ministry to Arabic-speaking refugees. They are christians from the Kurdish part of Syria. We were treated to a typical Syrian Kurdish meal every bit of which was absolutely delicious and there was enough for a small army. It was a delightful evening with lots of laughter, it did our hearts good to see the huge smiles on their faces, as they have found a new life away from the strife in their homeland. Rostom's daughter, who is 14, was baptised recently at her own insistence. Steve has a reader who is a 13 year-old Afghani-Iranian girl who isn't in school. She shared that she has no friends here so we are trying to get her together with Rostom's daughter. One speaks Farsi, the other Arabic but they both are studying English so hopefully that will allow them to grow a friendship that will draw both closer to the Lord.

 

We've been working five days a week and coming to two worship services on Sunday, with Steve preaching at the evening English service, so we took today off and rode the ferry to Hydra, one of the islands. It is also the only island where no cars are allowed, and there are also no bicycles. That is probably because of all the stairs. They walk everywhere and this is not a flat island. They use donkeys for delivering all of their supplies that arrive by way of ferry or other boats. That means everything you need to run a household, shop, school, restaurant is brought to you on the back of a donkey. We hiked up a very long hill, through the neighborhoods, up the cobblestone steps, down the paths to only find we turned left when we should have gone right. But, after climbing one peak, we saw where we should have been and went down across and back up. What a view. It left Steve breathless.

 

Regarding the pictures we post: please do not post them on any kind of social media, especially those of children. If we have permission from those in the photo, we will make a note of it that you can use them.

The End of Our Third Week

Posted by gramma on October 20, 2018 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

  Our plan had been to be here in Athens until October 31 and then move on to do a two-week Let's Start Talking project at Books and More library in Amman, Jordan, but that has changed. Apparently they have 'a local man who is determined to disrupt the goings on of the library.' He has been contacting library members and accusing the library of having a hidden religious agenda and making things very tense there. LST does not want to put the library in jeopardy so the project has been postponed indefinitely. Consequently it has been decided that the McLeans will remain here in Athens for an additional two or three weeks and Mark and Sherrylee Woodward, former directors of LST, will join us in serving the refugees here at Omonia until mid-November. Please remember the Books and More library and its staff in your prayers, that they may continue to provide 'a place where light and encouragement can come to many people.'

 

We have finished our third and final week of the current teaching term. Cindy will attend a retreat for single women missionaries next week before returning to the US and we will read one to one with most of our upper level (A2) students during a one week break from group classes. They seem to be excited to have the opportunity to meet every day to practice their conversational English. All those who have come so far for conversation sessions on Saturday are muslim and at the start of this teaching term most did not join us for the Tuesday-Thursday devotionals, which Mama Eleni usually leads, followed by a nourishing meal. But as the three weeks went by more and more stayed for the devo and meal. Also Steve has been sharing some of the more well-known scriptures (e.g. the greatest commands, the golden rule, the Lord's prayer) at the start of class for reading, pronunciation and vocabulary practice. Initially the response was somewhat tepid but now some are writing the scriptures down.

 

While many services are provided here, those who work in the ministry to the refugees at the Omonia church don't want this to be considered just a good place to get something like food, clothes, legal advice, etc. They strive to make those who come feel a part of a family, one that not only receives but gives as well. Some help with cooking, some with serving, and many just come to hang out, spending 4 or 5 hours at the church or upstairs where the English classes are held. Services are not provided to just anyone who comes to the door, usually new people are invited in by those who already belong to the family. Most have huge smiles on ther faces while they are here.

 

The refugees who come to the shores of Greece are overwhelmingly muslim so the love that is shown to them and the structure that is provided has a life-changing impact on many. On Saturday evenings there is an Arabic bible study, led by Rostom, a strong christian who speaks several languages including English and Arabic, and Jackson, a young American long-term volunteer who is studying Greek and Arabic. So far they have met in one of the classrooms upstairs but last Saturday there were 31 adults crammed into the classrrom that should only hold about 15 and more than 25 children who were cared for by Cindy and two other long-term volunteers in other rooms. This week the adults will probably meet downstairs! A nice problem to have.

 

Our second week in Athens

Posted by gramma on October 13, 2018 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Our second week of teaching went very well. It is a joy to be able to touch the lives of those who have gotten the 'short end of the stick' in so many ways. Eleni sent us this link: https://vimeo.com/185717440?ref=fb-share&1 this week about a Greek Coast Guardsman who had had a hand in rescuing over 5000 refugees from the waters between Greece and Turkey. He has now passed away (at the age of only 44) and we wonder if it wasn't from a broken heart. We urge you to watch this documentary if you have time. It certainly exposes the desperation of those fleeing inhumane conditions in their homelands and their hope for something better.

 

Several of those who pre-registered for our classes never attended so people on the waiting list were contacted and all of us had some new students come this week. Both Val and and Cindy regularly have more than 15 in their classes. Steve has a very steady attendance of about 6-8 in his A2 class. They are mostly men, but he does have a young lady who is only about 13. She, along with a few others in his class do not know exactly when they were born! Interesting.

 

The ministry of the Omonia church to refugees is called the Agape project, seeking to reflect the love of Christ to refugees. Consequently we have relatively little interaction with Greeks. However, on Friday we were blessed to spend most of the day with our landlord and landlady of the Airbnb where we are staying. Actually, Alice is an Egyptian-Greek but she has been here for about 50 years. We had a delightful day with them as they drove us around the south end peninsula Athens is on, visiting the temple of Poseidon and ending up at their home for a wonderful Greek lunch. They have such a great sense of humor and also hearts for those who are in need.

 

On Saturday, we had five refugees come to read one to one and thay stayed for a total of eight hours evenly divided between the two of us. We were able to learn more of their stories, about what brought them to Athens, ISIS, desire for better education. One is a former Iraqi policeman who lived in Mosul before ISIS overran it.  The 13-year old girl was born in Afghanistan but moved to Iran; she said she came here to learn English.


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