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Day 1 & 2: Travel Day & An Introduction to the City of Athens

Quiet anticipation hovers as students arrive, slowly at first and more rapidly as the time approaches 7AM. It is a mixture of excitement for a trip long-awaited and a dash of nerves for the uncertain and potentially unexpected. Luggage tags are handed out (thank you Meipoom-Jones’!), last minute to-dos are turned into to-dones, and a group photo is taken. Parents pray for their children, give big hugs, solicit promises of good behavior and good pictures upon return, and say final goodbyes. We are ready. 

Our first flight to Toronto is uneventful (in the case of traveling, the verb uneventful actually carries a positive connotation!) Ava is looking forward to the connections to Greek and Roman mythology, an “obsession” when she was younger. Keagan has always wanted to travel to Meteora because of the “architecture and the landscape”. Madeline can’t wait to try the food. 

Throughout our travel day, a number of interested people stop us to ask about our group. One in particular was confused because we were all wearing Greece shirts and yet none of us spoke Greek! We had the opportunity to tell people about our travel plans and have some positive interactions. 

On-flight entertainment for our long overnight flight from Toronto to Frankfurt varies amongst our group from Agatha Christie mystery novels (S.S.) to Winston Churchill biographies (E.H). Movies of choice include Barbie, The Marvels, and Wonka. But mainly, as they should, students attempt to sleep. We have a long day ahead of us. 

We thank God for a very successful travel day. We made all our flights, being ready for our boarding times with little to no stress. The same was true as we touched down in Athens in the early afternoon and met our fantastic tour guide, Eleonora. She has a wonderful demeanor, helpful and calm, leading us where we need to be and giving us insider information about the country where she has lived for 20 years and led tours for 9 years. She flew down from her home in Thessaloniki this morning to meet us in Athens. 

Peering through the tinted windows of our charter bus, Athens reveals itself as a sprawling city of concrete, boasting 3 million people, a third of the population of all of Greece. As we enter the city itself, it closes tightly around us. Streets are narrow and full of people and vehicles bustling and moving like a current. Serah notices the Jacaranda trees, blossoming in vibrant purple, lining the streets. While beautiful, we learn that April is early for these trees to be in full bloom. It is 7 degrees hotter here than is typical for this time of year, and the locals fear the heatwave that may be fast approaching with the summer months. When we got off the plane ourselves, we were hit with 27 degrees of humid air. 

Making our way into Constitution Square, students notice Greek flags hung from street lights, balconies, and the facades of white stone and pillared buildings. Eleonora informs us that March 25 is the anniversary of the start of Greece’s struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire. She also explains that this is a celebrated date in the orthodox calendar, as the day that Mary was visited by the archangel Michael and told she would bear God’s son. Nationality and religion are so connected here that one’s religious identity used to be on their official paperwork. About 97% of Greece is Orthodox, a minority are Catholic, and none, but maybe a few foreigners, are Protestant.

Once off the bus, we followed Elenora, or Elie as she is also called, through the winding, narrow streets to a beautiful Orthodox church followed by a treat of Gelato to help us combat the heat and tide us over until dinner. As we walk towards the entrance of the Agora, the Acropolis of Athens stands majestic atop a mighty hill, providing us a taste of what we will see up-close tomorrow. 

The Agora is the true epicenter of Ancient Athens. It literally translates to “meeting place” or “assembly” and that was the exact purpose. The ruins include a shopping center, amphitheater, multiple temples, and civic offices. As much as the Agora was a place of literal association, it was also a place of the meeting of ideas. Socrates, Plato, and numerous other Greek philosophers would have shared their ideas here. This is where Paul preached the gospel of Jesus to the Athenians on his second missionary journey. In Acts 17:16-34, Paul preaches in the synagogue at Athens and also discusses with the Greek philosophers in the Ancient Agora. In this city of many pagan gods and goddesses, Paul reveals the nature of the ‘unknown god’ whose inscription he has seen on a pagan altar. Paul says, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needs anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else”. Students had time to explore the site with their friends before heading to supper. 

We are served authentic (we are in Greece after all!) Greek food: Greek salad with a block of feta like you’ve never seen, gyros (pronounced with a hard “g” sound we were informed), and Greek yogurt with honey for dessert. A musician plays the traditional bouzouki in the background as we linger to sit and chat in the cool of the evening before heading to the hotel for the night.

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Renae Warne


We pray for guidance and protection over the students and chaperones as they travel throughout Greece. May they hold deep gratitide for this amazing experience and fully embrace all opportunities granted to them and learn and grow from them and be forever shaped by them. We pray they know they are loved and missed but also know that those who love and miss them have deep desire for them to be deeply enriched by their experiences in Greece. We know you are travelling with them Lord.....may they be safe and healthy and happy....and not too jet lagged❤️

Jen scheck


Good morning (or good evening?) guys! Glad to see you are all safe and sound and the adventure and experience is underway! The blog link was sent out on Monday evening and you are being covered by the prayers of your families and school community. I hope you can be present in each moment and that you are enjoying the sights and sounds - and tastes - of Greece. What an amazing opportunity you have to walk through this piece of the history of our faith. I hope you will be changed and challenged through God’s presence and people while you’re there! Looking forward to seeing more and to hearing all about it! Have fun! Be safe! Make good choices! Enjoy! You are loved

Pauline Deglint


We are enjoying the posts and are kind of living vicariously through your experience. It looks amazing so far!!! We are praying for you all, for a beautiful and amazing trip, and many great memories together. God bless you all ❤️.