Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Top 5 things I'm enjoying about the U.S.

So I learned from a friend in Thessaloniki that a great way to train our minds to be optimistic is to daily list the joys in life. I'm not much of a journaler (fancy notebooks make me feel like I should be writing something in them all the time... and I can't handle that kind of pressure!), so I wanted to share here instead.

I am dealing with a lot of reverse culture shock and it's easy for me to be negative about American culture these days. So... here is my Top 5 List of What I am Enjoying About the U.S.

1. Washing machines & dryers are wooonderful
In Greece we had a very tiny washing machine (that was rough on our clothes), and no dryer so I hung them on a rack to dry. Which means it took about 2 1/2 days to completely finish a load of clothes. I'm seriously loving the 3 hours it takes to do huge loads of clothes here. I just don't know what to do with all the time I have left over!

2. Central Air
In Greece the air units would keep us cool in our little apartment, but I became a little Balkan and bought into the idea that they make you sick when they blow directly on you. So it's nice not being paranoid about the Air Conditioner now. Haha, it's ok to judge me on this. :)

3. Frozen food
The food in Greece was incredible and I miss it SO much. But I have to admit that cheap and easy frozen food is quite convenient, even if it isn't good for you.

4. Goodwill
There wasn't anything like Goodwill (that I knew of) in Thessaloniki. Here in the States, that's where my husband and I love to get clothes! So cheap and all they need is to be washed! Plus most clothes are better quality here so they last a good bit longer.

5. I don't have to give exact change at any store!!
The first time I handed a $50 bill to a Greek at the grocery store I realized it was a bad decision. I got a nasty look and stared at until finally she snatched it from me and gave me my change. I quickly learned that it's just their culture! So far since we've been back in the States I've tried to give exact change and I get more nasty looks because I'm taking so long to count out pennies. I guess I will adjust back to just handing over bills soon. :)

So there they are! If you've been overseas I would love to hear your Top 5 of the country you fell in love with, or your Top 5 things you missed while you were gone!

Monday, June 27, 2011


So I knew that coming back to the states would be hard...
But I didn't know how hard it would be!

Praise God that He gave us a wonderful time of debriefing and relaxation in Paris, France before we returned back to busy America. We had time to process our time in Greece a little before jumping into our "home culture" again.

"home culture..."


Ugh, what does that even mean?

For me, I guess it means the culture we grew up in, understand the language of, and the place where our family is...

So why has it been so hard to adjust back to something that we had only left for 6 months?

Kolby and I fell in love with the culture, people, and work we were a part of in Greece. Three things that we just haven't been as crazy passionate about in the States. Of course we love our friends and family... and of course we understand that God has us here for His perfect plan and purpose. But if we weren't sure before, it has been made even more clear in the past 2 weeks...
that we are to return overseas ASAP.

We decided the best method to go across the ocean again is for Kolby to complete a few more years of school (while I work) and then we can jump into an exciting journey internationally again.

So in the meanwhile, that means two years in New Orleans, LA! How exciting! The culture of New Orleans is said to be like no where else in the world! We can't wait to dive into it all! Praise God He has already given us some wonderful friends in the city to enjoy it all with, and He has already shown us a couple of ministry opportunities that seem to be calling our names!

But classes do not start until August so we won't head out there until the first week of the month. That means house jumping between parents and friends... which obviously means this married couple doesn't have their own place to just "be" in.

Please pray for us!
We are beginning to accept this summer as a time to love on family members/friends and have some wonderful closure with South GA culture... but we're struggling with truly embracing this time. Please pray that we cling to the God who knows every single detail of our futures, and that we trust in Him to provide financially, emotionally, and spiritually.

We're learning that "home" is where we are together and abiding with our Father who provides in ways that we could never figure out on our own. And hopefully one day, we will not only appreciate this, but like it that way.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Platea Aristotelus

Since in Thess, my husband Kolby and I have played soccer (aka football) at Aristotle Square too many times to count. It’s usually with children (between 6 and 12) who are also students in my English class, mixed occasionally with a few older friends. We yell at each other for kicking the ball too high, sing when we score a goal, break up fights when a play wasn’t called “right”, and sweat until we go buy the nearest kiosk out of bottled water.

The whole soccer experience alone has been enough to write a book about, but the atmosphere of Aristotle Square... maybe 2 books.

From the two prostitute women who watchus play football as they’re bored waiting on “business”… to the Albanian men who lay down in the grass that is most often used as a pet bathroom… to the Bird Lady who seems to always be methodically feeding her precious (disgusting) pigeons… and over to the Greek Yayas who always walk straight through our football game (even though there is puh-lenty of sidewalk around us) as if we’re in her way: Platea Aristotelous is a diverse mass of Thessaloniki culture at its finest. I wish I could more vividly describe the scene to you… thankfully I have a fewsnapshots for some support. J

While Aristotle Square really is such a strange place to hang out at, it has become one of my favorite places here in Thessaloniki. I sound crazy right?

Of course a huge part of that is because of the memories I will carry with me forever of football games with students and friends (primarily Afghanis, but also some Philistia and Roma). But I also love seeing culture in such a relaxed mode as I described earlier… something about it is so raw and real. You know, the stuff you don’t see in pictures of Greece on Google images.

And honestly, as shabby as it is on the north part of the square, it’s just the opposite on the south side. Cross the main road, Egnatia, and you will see a touristy environment. The buildings are beautiful, they have palm trees and gorgeous flowers planted straight down the middle of the square, and if it’s a clear day you can see Mt. Olympus when you look out into the Aegean Sea. The market is connected to the square, and I must say that the market is a must-see experience for any Thess visitor (a variety of fresh olives, Thessaloniki salt and pepper shakers, and olive oil soap… all kinds of cheap stuff that is great for souvenirs!). Aristotelus leads straight down to Paralea (the sea wall) and this long stretch of pavement that drops off into the water is also a must-see. It’s pretty perfect for long conversations, bike rides, or date nights.

You see, Aristotle Square - the center piece of Thessaloniki - has its ups and downs just like anywhere else you go in the world. Right now I’m struggling with going back to the States, mainly because I’m not good with change and thus I’m focusing on the negative. But when I keep away from negativity and I focus on all the good I get to go back to, something in me gets excited to go back.

I will miss you a LOT, Platea Aristotelus. Hope I made an impact on you, and I hope to see you again one day!