Hello Friends, For the first part of this week (Thanksgiving week for the Americans) we did the I am’s of Jesus found in John. It was a great time of learning a little bit of how Jesus meets each of the I am’s for us today followed by some group discussion. It was a good reminder class for us. I also got my hair cutely braided this week. And as I live in Albania and they had a mud slide in June there is sand in the well and so sand in our showers sometimes. I call it free exfoliant! I also get the chance to share our family’s Advent tradition so some friends and I made ornaments for our Jesse Tree! It was fun to share the making of the ornaments with them! They turned out pretty great. We do a devotional each morning and hang an ornament.
My family group also finished a puzzle we had been working on for a while. Well, Brailee, Liz, and I finished it. It was fun, but challenging.
We spent two of our three full days in Thessaloniki. The first day we did a museum that gave the history of the city. At the top you could see the city and the Aegean Sea. We then went to Aristotle Square and saw the statue of Aristotle and hit up Starbucks so I could get a Thessaloniki mug! We also saw the church (from the outside only unfortunately) Agia Sophia. Our second day in Thessaloniki we saw old ruins of the city. Walking along the sidewalk to the Roman Forum part of the “street” is “torn up” so you can see the old Roman road below (The Road Paul would have taken to the city from Philippi). It was so cool to see. We then saw the Roman Forum. In the forum was the market place. We were guessing it might have been where the Jews, in Acts 17, would have gotten people to cause trouble from Paul. They had a beautiful amphitheater where Nicole and I read Acts 17 about Paul’s time in Thessaloniki. We then went and saw the church of St. Demetrius, the saint of the city. It’s a beautiful church and is built on old Roman baths. We then walked and saw the Arch of Galerius (Kamara) and the Rotunda near by. The Rotunda was first a mosolium turned church (where it was given a beautiful mosaic) turned mosque turned back to church. We then went and saw the old ruins of a castle. It was very fascinaiting. (P.S. The photo of cheese is feta...haha!) And Chi Rho (the XP thing) is common on churches. I thought it was pretty cool!
We traveled to Philippi one day. It’s about a 2.5 hour trip from Thessaloniki. Most of it is just a bunch of old rocks, but some is well preserved. The early church still has most of it’s mosaic floors. We saw what the prison Paul and Silas were in looked like. It was quite tiny. The five of us read Paul’s letter to the Philippians in Philippi. Nicole liked to remind us that the places where the Roman gods were worshiped are now ruins, but our God is still being worshiped to this day!
It was so amazing to see the old ruins of these places. Never in my life did I think I would be able to travel where Paul traveled! If you ever have a chance to go see any place that is recorded in the Bible I urge you to take the opportunity.
Yesterday (The 2nd of December) we went to the town, about 1 hour away, Leskovik. There we prayer walked, did some street cleaning, and did a kids ministry. It was a good day, but when we returned a lot of were just purely exhausted. It felt to me like I was hit by a semi. There seems to be a lot of spiritual warfare there and even though we couldn’t particularly feel it in the city, I think we felt it after we had returned. Prayers for the town and the couple that is reaching out to their city are appreciated. We also have a team that goes there weekly. On a lighter note we took a big bus (like greyhound size) to the city and here are some videos and photos of the beautiful sunset of our drive! Note to mom: be careful watching!