GREECE: Ice Cream, Whip Cream and CHERRIES on Top
By January I had already decided I was NOT going to the medical conference in Greece, when Michelle messaged me. Michelle declared that she had finally decided to attend the conference in Greece and would I please consider joining her? So back to the prayer list went “to go to Greece” or “to not go to Greece”? Some decisions are hard. This one was especially tough for me, because Darron and Jacob would also be traveling outside of Papua at the same time. Our trips would overlap a week and we would be apart for three weeks. That would leave 3 Boyd Boys home alone in Papua for a week. Like I said, some decisions are hard to make. Feeling I needed wisdom, I asked two seasoned women, who have already raised their children here, what they thought about leaving children alone in Papua? They both assured me that the experience would instil trust and would be a good thing verses negative. The turmoil of Greece was another distraction in my decision making. However, people assured me it was safe. At last I felt peace about going for it. Tickets booked. Anticipation began to build.
The medical conference alone is a huge treat. Like a big bowl of ice cream on a hot day. From a full venue of more lectures and presentations than one can possibly attend. To a faculty that truly cares and want to hear our stories and offer encouragement. To field reports from missionaries that often leave ones heart brimming full of the sacrifice, passion and calling. From 8 a.m. until 8ish p.m. our days were full with just a few windows of breaks for food and a 3 hour late afternoon break. Also the weekend was free.
The location was like a dream or the whip cream on the ice cream. Greece……. it was unlike anywhere else I have been. The Mediterranean Sea (specifically the Aegean Sea) was lovely and right out the back of our resort. We were assured that it was safe for us to walk/run on our own as women. I enjoyed running along the shore of the Sea and yet I found it strange as I never run on the streets of Papua alone. Every day beckoned blue sunny skies.
Seeing the Parthenon was such a fantastic glimpse of the people of Athens 2,000+ years before.
The museum was incredible. The preservation and desire to gift humanity with this historical place was much appreciated. It was built so that you could look down into the old ruins through well planned openings and glass. Many of the statues and artifacts inside the museum are the originals, as they understand that the weather and pollution are to harsh on the original structure. Any statues or carvings they take from outside, they replace with a replica. The lady’s below are the originals that stood over a mans tomb, the original is pictured to the right of it. A Lego creation of what they believed the Parthenon would have looked like before it was destroyed, was Lego inspiring.
Then to stand on Mars Hill and listen to Act’s 17 being read and to understand Paul’s words in the light of what we had just seen and learned made words leap to a whole new level of experience. Also to see some of the outdoor amphitheater’s, and to know that Darron had sung in some of them 22 years before with a college men’s choral group was fun. He had talked often to me about Greece and it’s beauty.
Also on the weekend, Michelle and I were able to go Island hoping.
Our absolute favorite place was the first stop. Hydra, a city built on a hill. Only 5 cars are on the Island. Heavy loads are carried by donkeys. Those donkeys know how to climb all the stairs to take people’s luggage to their little Inns. It was delightful. I would go back to Hydra and spend at least a few days there, verses less than 2 hours. I can still see the cobblestones and the bright colored paints decorating door frames and chairs, and smell the wisteria and feel the donkey moving under me.
The FOOD! I better not even talk about the food, but I have to! : ) Coming from Papua it was glorious. OLIVES. CHEESE. BREADS. SALADS. GREEK YOGURT. I’ll just stop……. oh, but did I mention ICE CREAM?
It would not be fair for me to write about Greece without mentioning the upheaval that this beautiful country is facing. Shop window, after shop window stood completely empty. Displaying the countries economic status for all to see. Graffiti was everywhere.
During our 10 day conference, the airlines went on strike one day and on another day the taxi’s went on strike. The country is 98% Greek Orthodox, with the Christians being less than 2%.
One of the Christian workers shared how they are trying to minister to the 60,000 refugees trapped in Greece. 15,000 of them are trapped at the boards. Over 6,000 refugees are sleeping in tents. This man’s organization is serving 6,000 hot meals, over 2 x a day. 44% of the refugees are children. The refugees were over 2 hours away (by train) from where we were staying. It was easy to imagine that the problem did not even exist and yet there was an element of the weight of it all in most faces of the Nationals. I asked my taxi driver,on the way to the airport, how the people of Greece felt about the future? “Desperate”, was his answer.
The CHERRY was being with Michelle for eight days. Michelle and I were THE (prestigious haha) college NURSES 23 years ago. We had our own apartment attached to the college infirmary and we would occasionally host co-ed evenings (that we were not supposed to). Then we went on a crazy adventure together, to the Jungle of the Philippines. This picture is in 1994 at the airport when Michelle and I were off to the Philippines. Pictured with us are Michelle’s brother, Rob and our good friend Donna.
I stayed just less than one year and Michelle stayed for THREE. That year cemented our friendship, despite all the stress of living in a bamboo hut, no electricity, culture shock, sickness, love (for Darron and I) and “I will not be in love” (for Michelle and Carl) and a three hour hike to the nearest road. So many stories. We managed to be in each other’s weddings (yes,Michelle eventually decided to love Carl), but we both agreed that weddings hardly count as good girlfriend “chat” time. Here is a picture of Michelle at my wedding, with my Grandparents.
Through the remainder of the next 23 years, we could count less than one handful of times that we had seen each other for maybe 1/2 a day, with children and husbands in tow. We loved seeing each other’s families but our kindred hearts longed for more. Now to be in Greece, together……endless 8 days of girlfriend time sandwiched in between our mutual love to learn and medicine. Wow. What a gift! We giggled, laughed, cried, exercised, shared makeup, talked and talked and talked some more, we reminisced, and reminded each other of forgotten details and of all the life that had happened in between being in our 20’s to somehow slipping into our 40’s.
We shopped and ate so much yummy food together. Our kindred spirits deepened as we shared about our mission service, (Michelle serves along side Carl in South Africa) and our mutual dream to go back to school and get further education in nursing. And we spoke into each other’s lives like only an “old” friend can. And this story would not be complete without telling you that I had the joy and responsibility of “nursing” Michelle’s foot along after a Bunyan surgery. Every opportunity we could, that foot was elevated. : )
Thank you Michelle. Greece was amazing, because of you.
It would be enough, if that is all that happened in Greece……but more took place there. My desire to press on for a Family Nurse Practioner Degree was sealed and confirmed all the more. Also a deeper understanding and appreciation for nurse educating in local oversea fields and Member Care for missionary’s in field were very shaping thoughts for me there. Meanwhile, all the guys faired just fine. What a recharge to be given cherries on top of a bowl full of ice cream and whip cream. Indeed a delicious gift from the Lord.