The rocky, brown mountains of the Attica region dominate the view when traveling through the area in which we dwell these days. It has a rugged beauty of which we've become quite fond. This week, we said goodbye to brown and hello to the green of the Peloponnese. My new favorite, the silver-green olive trees (as many as the eye can see rolling through the hillsides), the kelly green citrus trees (lemon, orange, pomegranate), the neon green of the grapevines, the dusty gray-green of the fig trees, and the forest green of the cypress shooting high into the sky dominate the earth. Upon entrances into the villages through which we pass on our drive, color comes into play. Orange dots of what my mother has always called trumpet vines look familiar to me. Yellow sunflowers cheer to us. Bougainvillea blooms are beginning their adieus but still show off some of their pinks and reds. And although the oleander's blooms have already departed, I know that its pink, orange, red, and white lined the roads just a couple of weeks ago. The blue of the sea is everywhere in Greece and is deeper and more cobalt than my words can describe, but the abundance of the shades of green are what I find myself yearning for lately. The rolling hills of the Peloponnese deliver.
Our HUG group saw a lot this week. We'll process over the next few days what we learned from James - the best tour guide in Greece! We've experienced and learned about the Corinthian Canal, Ancient Corinth, AcroCorinth, Epidaurus, Nafplion, Mycenae, the Beehive Tomb, and Ancient Olympia. James has filled our minds and has woven Biblical history and the history from textbooks together, connecting many dots for us. He has a talent of storytelling to which people relate and from which people want more and more. Once James has one's attention, he keeps it. He is full of integrity, professionalism, and love for history and people. I enjoy listening to James and learn something each time I hear him. He's a believer, and that makes all the difference. I consider the sharing of his knowledge a gift for which I am thankful.
But during this trip to the Peloponnese, James gave us more. He shared his family with all of us. The HUGers arrived at his home during the early afternoon hour. His father, mother, wife, and children opened up their home and their hearts to us. It was a joy.
After cokes, cheesecakes, and coffees, we toured their olive grove. We learned from James' father about the differences in the types of olives their family grows - olives for eating and olives for oil. We also learned about protecting the trees from insects that have the ability to wipe out production. I found it fascinating that a generation ago, olives were harvested in early December but now early November because of global warming. Olives aren't just tasty to this family. They are the means by which they live. And it's on generational family land that they dwell and work, making the "business" of olive production a part of them; it's a beautiful way of life.
Spending time with James' friendly American wife was fun! A former teacher, she's now teaching her own children about the most important things in life. Conversation with her is easy - that's a big compliment. Her smile lights up a room and is welcoming and generous. Watching her in her motherhood role was beautiful. Her children are polite and enjoy life. They are a testament to her love for them.
And seeing who James comes from helps me to understand why he thinks how he thinks and feels what he feels. James' mother is Italian and delightful. We talked about plants, foods, the land of Greece and Italy, and how much HUG loves James. She took us to the roof to look out over the land of her husband and brother-in-law - a beautiful view. Her pretty eyes are full of love. A-C practiced Italian with James' patient mother. She is truly a wonderful lady. James' father is Greek and looks like he stepped from a movie screen. Clay practiced Italian with him. He led our olive grove tour and spoke with pride of his work and his family.
Before we departed, we circled around the family - the grandparents, parents, and children. We sung of loving them with the love of the Lord and of His love for us. The looks on their faces as we sang was a precious gift that I stored in my heart that will stay with me for quite some time. Many learning experiences made this week great, but my favorite memory from the Peloponnese trip is spending time with James, who is becoming part of our personal lives since we've moved here, and the people who love him and who allowed us into their lives. What a treasure.
God shows us love through our family and through the family of others. And he gives us the earth to care for and use. Love, family, and land. Connection with people here in this part of the world, sharing this journey with my own special peeps, and giving me a strong dose of green this week. What blessings He showers! My cup runneth over.
|Harding University in Greece||
HUG fall 2015