Thursday, October 4, 2012

Random Observations and Reflections

 After taking this trip, I have come to realize a few things:
1. Chinese people are more everywhere than I realized! I have to carry more Chinese Bible literature next time!
We met quite a few Chinese backpackers in Ephesus and Cappadocia. In addition,  Chinese yuppies (young upper class professionals) were everywhere on Santorini, all glammed up in designer clothes.  We witnessed a mass wedding on Santorini island where 5 young Chinese couples were wedded right on a hill above the Aegean Sea.

2. Athenian customer service
Don't ever expect the happy-go- lucky friendly customer service attitude you are used to in the States. Most Athenians in the service profession do not have a customer service concept, and are quite impatient if you ask them to repeat something, or to do a little extra. For instance, I asked a waiter on the cruise to Santorini if he could add some hot water for my tea, and he told me to go to the counter myself.

3. Ancient Athenian concept of the Human in comparison to the Bible
In the audio tour we were given, we learned that ancient Athenians believed that humans were divine beings, and that humanizing their gods made them more real. The Bible already tells us that we are made according to the image of Jehovah, and yes, hence, we are a most unique and intelligent creation. Thinking that God is human, however,  just makes one more prone to a prideful and self-reliant attitude...just what Satan wants. Really, can't we just recognize that Jehovah is so much greater than us? (Romans 1:20) Ok, I'll step off the soapbox.

Last night near the Acropolis

Day 17
Tomorrow morning, I am flying out of Athens.
On a spiritual note, we were able to squeeze in two meetings with the Athens Chinese congregation and a visit to Bethel within the last five days. 
The Athens Chinese congregation is quite small but made up of very zealous publishers. Many Chinese people showed up on the Sunday meeting. The Greek sisters work very hard on their Chinese.

I had actually booked a nice hotel in a ghetto area, and I was really praying that we could safely make it home after the Wednesday night meeting. What an answer to my prayers when a lovely sister offered to take us home before the meeting started!

Today, tracking down Bethel was a bit difficult. It was located on a very busy highway full of office buildings. I thought I had the wrong address, but after half an hour of wandering around and asking, a kind man pointed us to the right direction. I don't think I was smart enough to decipher the mini map that the sister drew for me on the metro map.

I thought the circle on the top right meant a cul-de-sac, but finally realized it meant the large circular highway. Anyway, we finally found Jehovah's house and were given an excellent tour.

Cyprus. The red line is the border that Turkey made when it invaded Cyprus in 1947, displacing the local population and replacing it with Turkish, The border is diminished now and Greek-speaking brothers in the South are starting Bible studies with those in the North.
With Andreas, our English-speaking tour guide

Along the Aegean Sea

What day am I on for this trip?
Day 16
In Santorini right now. Time really stops here. One can stare at the sea for hours.
The past few days have been full of discovery.... I know that sounds cheesy. But what I mean is, Athens and Santorini are full of little paths that lead to a spectacular view of the sea and mountains, not to mention an archaeological site dating back to 5th century bc.

Best moments:
Best Moment #1
 The Areopagus rock, it vol.2, p.246, Acts 17:19,20
I could not find this place the first time I went to the Parthenon, but I went after the meeting on Sunday. Because the shorter path was closed, I hiked uphill, taking a strenuous, roundabout route. Getting to the top was really an unforgettable experience; I was sunburned with achy legs and in a full-length dress not exactly suited for such a hike (it would have been too much time to go to hotel). But the idea that Paul set foot on the same rock to teach, and that we are doing exactly what he did by preaching God's kingdom gave me a profound sense of fulfillment. To top off the experience, I asked a Chinese girl to take my picture, and passed her a Paradise tract, which she gratefully accepted.
Areopagus Rock

Plaque in Greek describing the account of Acts 17

Best Moment #2
Watching the Aegean sea while onboard the star ferry
I have never experienced anything quite as beautiful as the dark blue, clear waters of the Aegean Sea. 
Approaching Santorini from Athens by ferry was just wonderful....being surrounded by the sea really gives one a sense of deep peace and contentment.
It was a blessing to be on the sea, thanks to Jehovah and to my generous mother. I was getting a bit tired of the concrete jungle of Buenos Aires.

Best Moment #3
The bus ticket counter
After arriving to the main bus terminal on Santorini island, we had to catch another bus to our hotel. We were looking for here to buy tickets and found this place.
We counted that the "tickets on the bus" sign was posted 9 times on this small space...hahaha...obviously the locals were tired of answering the same questions over and over again, especially on where to buy tickets.

Best moment #4
Hiking from Fira to Imerovigli
On TripAdvisor,  Santorini is described as a hiker's paradise.
And it really is!
I have never enjoyed hiking so much as I have enjoyed it here...especially when you are rewarded with unforgettable views. My mom and I hiked leisurely for about 2 hours, and then boarded a bus to Oia to view the famous sunset. It was a perfect day!