Warren and I have been in Greece for the past 2+ weeks for a Christian and Medical and Dental Association medical conference. We are re-connecting with old friends serving around the world and making new friends, as well as taking continuing medical education coursework. This is the first year this conference has taken place in Greece and is better attended than all other conferences. I was able to serve as an obstetrics model for the ultrasound course...fun to share our expectant baby with others. It is fun to see the baby twirling around, folding its' hands together, kicking, etc...This is a very active little one!
It is inspiring to sit in a room of doctors and nurses from all over the world, 75 countries in all, with so many young people and get continuing education. We met several Congolese also attending the conference who will be looking for places to work in a few years. It feels like a privilege to be working alongside our African brothers and sisters on a daily basis in a national mission hospital as the sole ex-pats. We are in a unique partnership. As I sit here in Greece I find myself thinking about them and missing our home there as I receive messages from our Congolese friends. It feels so good to know that people miss us!
One of the highlights was visiting the Acropolis and Mars Hill in Athens. Our guide was a Greek Christian scholar who was very interested in helping us to understand the Biblical history of according to Paul. Interestingly Paul walked into the city of Athens, a city full of idols, sat down with the Greek philosophers and leading teachers of the day. He decided to talk about a place everyone had heard of and probably offered sacrifices to: "Alter to the unknown god.". They were offering sacrifices to Agnostos Theos, among 12 or so other deities. "The Unknown God" was a bit of a placeholder in that day for the deities which the Hellenistic society had not yet found. A Story of Diogenes Laertius, a philosopher of that day, there was a flock of sheep that wandered around Athens during that day. Where sheep lay down a sacrifice was made to the local god of that place and an alter constructed. As it goes, the location of the "unknown God" was a place sheep went to lay down that did not have a diety or alter associated with it.
After learning the significance to philosophers/Greeks of the day, can you imagine the boldness of Paul as to step in to declare the identity of this Unknown God as the man who was resurrected from the dead. Paul declared that the creator of the world does not live in temples made by human hands and is not served by human hands. Then he says that we were created by the God so that we would know him and find Him..."we are his offspring." Then it follows that if we are his offspring that we are like him and divinity was not a matter of gold or silver, as we are living. What crazy boldness! He might as well have been declaring the foolishness of the idol worship of the day, and some mocked him while others wanted to hear more. Paul had a very relevant message and one the people were perhaps well prepared to receive. It seems that the Greeks recognized that there were spiritual realities of which they were ignorant.
Although the times are different and for the most part people do not sacrifice to idols anymore, God is still unknown by many in today's world. There may be a "space holder" in people's lives, a void they are trying to fill. Maybe Paul's message would not be so different today....would he address our materialistic/busy culture?
Warren and I are finishing our time here in southwestern Greece on the Peloponnese with a few days with Warren's folks. It is so nice to have uninterrupted time with them. Anita is still swimming in the pool which helps her arthritis. This is a big trip for them from Switzerland and we feel so thankful for their health and that we can enjoy things together. Today Warren and I explored some castle ruins from the 12th century and walked through a gorge in thigh-high water to see some caverns/stalactites. Yesterday we hiked to the Neda waterfalls, after a long and winding road through the hills surrounded by olive trees and tall peaks. It is really beautiful country and it feels like we are stepping back in time in these small villages. We hope to return to Greece in the next few years to see more historical sites...it is fantastic.
We are so happy to be in Greece together as we await the coming of our baby. We do also look forward to returning to Nyankunde very soon!
Lindsey and Warren