NCC's mission team to Thessaloniki, Athens, and Corinth

Archive for March, 2012

Greece in Pictures… of Amanda

Amanda was one of the fearless leaders of Team Greece 2012.  She’s in comedy school.

Amanda's ready for her closeup

Amanda's ready for her closeup

Amanda excited to be in Greece

Amanda excited to be in Greece

Amanda being Amanda

Amanda being Amanda

Amanda won the Uno tournament. Can you tell?

Amanda won the Uno tournament. Can you tell?

Amanda sleeping on the bus

Amanda sleeping on the bus

A toast to lunch

A toast to lunch

Amanda in a crowd.  Yes, she's there.

Amanda in a crowd. Yes, she's there.

Amanda finds a turtle

Amanda finds a turtle

Amanda and Jason practicing a pose. Of some sort.

Amanda and Jason practicing a pose. Of some sort.

Amanda and Jason.  Umm, not sure.

Amanda and Jason. Umm, not sure.

Amanda navigating Athens

Amanda navigating Athens

Amanda's ready for lunch

Amanda's ready for lunch

Amanda finds the hotel

Amanda finds the hotel

Amanda at Hadrian's Arch

Amanda at Hadrian's Arch

Amanda, Sunshine... and TJ?

Amanda, Sunshine... and TJ?

Amanda leaving Agamemnon's Tomb

Amanda leaving Agamemnon's Tomb

Amanda at Mycenae

Amanda at Mycenae

Advertisements

Corinth!

(Due to internet issues, our final posts are going up late)

Team at Erastus inscriptionThe team woke up early on Saturday morning to continue our touring with Voula. Our first stop was the beautiful Corinthian Canal. We learned about the Diolkos — the road travelers used to drag their boats across the Isthmus so they wouldn’t have to go all the way around the peninsula. We visited the Diolkos, which was used from the 6th century BC to 1st century AD, on our way back to Athens at the end of the day.

After visiting the Canal, we then headed for Corinth. We toured the Roman Forum, took our places in the ancient starting blocks, and stood feet away from the Bema, or judgment seat – the one very specific place in Greece where it can be said with certainty “Paul was here” (see Acts 18:12). As we toured, we had a hint at just how good Paul was at communicating truth in the culture he was called to serve. His illustrations seemed to come alive as we stood amidst the ruins of Ancient Corinth.

As we stood at the bottom of the Acrocorinth, once the home of a Temple of Aphrodite, we learned about the immorality that was facing the Corinthian people. The issue of sex slavery that we have been confronting on this trip dates back very far in our history.

While at Corinth, we also saw the “Erastus stone,” an inscription that says Erastus the city treasurer laid the pavement at his own expense.  This is Biblically significant given that Erastus is mentioned three times in Scripture as one of Paul’s companions and specifically identified as the city treasurer of Corinth, making it clear that the inscription refers to the very same person.

We had another delicious lunch on our way to Mycenae. Our first stop was Agamemnon’s tomb, which dates back to the 12th century BC. We then headed up the citadel at Mycenae. Some of the ruins at the citadel date back as far as the 16th century BC — that’s old.

It was another incredible day with rich Biblical and ancient Greek history — a fitting end to our time in Greece.  We concluded the evening with a team dinner and debriefing, followed by an extremely early morning on Sunday for our flight back to the states.

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Temple of Apollo

Temple of Apollo

Team in front of Temple of Apollo

Team in front of Temple of Apollo

Team in front of the Bema and Acrocorinth

Team in front of the Bema and Acrocorinth

Nicole and Andrea at Starting Blocks

Nicole and Andrea at Starting Blocks

Erastus inscription

Erastus inscription

Agamemnon's Tomb?  Or his dad's?

Agamemnon's Tomb? Or his dad's?

Diolkos

Diolkos

Lions Gate at Mycenae

Lions Gate at Mycenae

Jason at Mycenae

Jason at Mycenae

Luke and Ashley atop Mycenae citadel

Luke and Ashley atop Mycenae citadel


Athens!

Team in front of ParthenonWe began the day with a 4-hour tour of Athens led by Voula, a Greek believer who was the guide for last year’s Greece missions trip, as well.  We went on a bus tour of the city, viewing the architecture of many buildings, stopping by the Olympic stadium, and swinging past the Temple of Zeus.  But the main event was the visit to the Acropolis.

Per its name, which means high place, the Acropolis was a bit of a hike.  But at the top we saw the Parthenon and the other temples and gained a wealth of historical information from Voula.  After that, we headed for Mars Hill, where Paul had encountered the Areopagites.  We then headed through the Roman forum to grab some gyros for lunch.  The afternoon afforded us our first window of free time to explore the city, which for most of us included a lot of souvenir shopping.  At the end of the day we gathered for dinner, devotions, and a time of sharing testimonies.  All in all, a very good day.

Tomorrow we’ll be up bright and early to hop on the bus and head to Cenchrae, Corinth, and Mycenae – our final day in Greece!

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium

Team members at the Stadium

Team members at the Stadium

Mars Hill from above

Mars Hill from above

Climbing Mars Hill

Climbing Mars Hill

Team members on Mars Hill with Acropolis in background

Team members on Mars Hill with Acropolis in background

Odeion

Odeion

Parthenon

Parthenon

Team members atop Acropolis with A21 wristbands

Team members atop Acropolis with A21 wristbands

Erechtheion

Erechtheion


Philippi!

Team at PhilippiToday we traveled.  A lot.

We kicked off the day by piling into a rented bus for a trip to Philippi.  We joined up with a missions team from Evangel University which is working with the iHeart Cafe and made the 4-hour roundtrip trek.  There we explored the remains of an ancient Roman forum and two basilicas, in addition to visiting the museum on site.  We then headed over to Lydia’s Pool, to see the place where tradition says Paul baptized Lydia, the first Christian convert in Europe.  We checked out an Orthodox chapel nearby, then stopped by an overlook over the city of Kavala, which would have been a much more scenic view if it wasn’t raining.

We then headed back to Thessaloniki in time to catch the train for a 7-hour ride to Athens.  We’ve checked into our hotel and visited the roof for an incredible view of the Acropolis at night.  It’s now 2am so that’s about it for today’s update.

Tomorrow we have a 4-hour tour of Athens (with the legendary Voula), some missions filming, and a bit of free time.  Can’t wait!

Philippi Basilica B

Philippi Basilica B

Lydia's Pool

Lydia's Pool

Orthodox Chapel

Orthodox Chapel


What You Should Know and Do About Human Trafficking

In this video, Team Greece 2012 member Emily Hendrickson shares some of the information we’ve learned about human trafficking, as well as some action steps we all should take to shine our light into dark places.


Raising Awareness

Passing out FlyersAfter spending a couple days learning about the issue of human trafficking, today we took action.  As Phil reminded us several times, the problem would be 80% solved simply if everyone knew about the issue, so raising awareness was the order of the day.

After circling up at the iHeart Café, we divided up into teams and headed over to Thessaloniki’s two major universities, one of which is larger than America’s largest university.  Together, the Aristotle and Makedonia Universities make up 1% of the population of Thessaloniki.  Our teams spread throughout the different schools of the universities, engaging students in conversation to tell them about human trafficking and the A21 Campaign, as well as inviting them to a Uno competition (yep, everyone in Greece knows how to play Uno, too) in support of the A21 Campaign at the iHeart Café tonight.  We made contact with the professor of a Criminal Diplomacy class who would like the A21 folks to come talk to his class, so that was a major win!

Uno CompetitionWe’d planned some other outreach efforts for the day, but they were circumvented by the weather (after promising to rain all week, it finally did so today).

Tonight, we gathered at the iHeart Café for the Uno competition, which was won by our very own Amanda Giobbi.  We then headed back to our hotel for a final debrief with Phil and Nina.

Tomorrow it’s off to Philippi to visit Biblical and early church historical sites, then we’re catching the train to Athens.  Let the Biblical (and classical) history education begin!

Uno Competition at iHeart Cafe

Uno Competition at iHeart Cafe

Team Debrief

Team Debrief


Bulgaria, Thessaloniki’s Red Light District, and Team Reflections

Nina and the chicken on a swordToday we drove from Thessaloniki across the Bulgarian border and through several small Bulgarian villages, typical of the places many sex trafficking victims come from.  The closed-down schools and shuttered homes indicative of a dying village illustrated why so many Bulgarian women are susceptible to offers of jobs in Greece.  They go expecting to work in hotels and restaurants, but instead end up raped and abused until they are “broken” and won’t dare run away as they are forced to work as prostitutes.  40% of the sex trafficking victims the A21 Campaign works with come from Bulgaria so they are focusing on prevention there, helping people be aware of the dangers posed by traffickers.

From the villages we then drove on to the nearest city – Sandanski.  It’s a city to which many villagers are drawn hoping for a better life but many find anything but – it is known as the sex trafficking capital of Bulgaria.

After lunch in Sandanski (chicken on swords!), we returned to Thessaloniki where we had a little free time before eating Greek Mexican (yep – Mexican with a Greek twist) for dinner.  We then toured Thessaloniki’s red light district, driving through areas of the city (not far from the hotel we’re staying in) where there is brothel after brothel.  It was only 10pm, so there wasn’t much activity, but we knew it would be much busier if we returned at 1am or so, even though it’s a Tuesday night.  It was extremely disconcerting to see all the new construction and nondescript buildings in the area, including a new 5-star hotel going up right next door to brothels.

After returning to the hotel and debriefing as a team, Andrea, Jason, and Sunshine shared some of their reflections on what we’ve been learning.  Hear what they have to say in the video below.