One of the challenges and benefits of being in the Service is the potential for travel and living in other countries throughout the world.
Our time in the Service brought us to Frankfurt, Germany, Seoul, Korea, Tegucigalpa, Honduras and, even, San Francisco, California. In 1986 we received orders for an assignment in Athens, Greece.
This assignment was incredible as it assigned me to the Joint US Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) in Athens as a liaison to the Greek Army for Aviation acquisitions. I was required to attend the Language School at Presidio, Monterey for 10 months to take Demotic Greek language (spoken Greek). I was also to receive a transition from rotary wing or helicopter aviation into fixed wing aviation and qualification into the C12 or Super King Air airplane. This was all pretty challenging and a blessing!!
During the Greek language training we were oriented into the history and culture of the Greeks and if you've ever seen the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it perfectly depicts the culture and family life of the Greek people. The only difference in Greece is that they speak Greek, duh!! It is a very, very tough language to learn, even if you have a propensity to learn other languages. It was arduous with six hours a day of Greek language immersion and up to four hours per night of homework..
Learning about the culture was extremely interesting as, I'm sure most of you know, it is one of the oldest cultures in existence with a rich history, and, oh, by the way, the New Testament was written in GREEK!!! So, the 10 months of language training and 4 months of transition training seemed like an eternity, but, in January of 1988 the five of us; Anne, Sharra, Garren, Taylor and I boarded the commercial flight to Frankfurt, Germany and a C141 flight out of Germany into Athens, Greece. Yup, a C141 flight from Germany because it was a security risk for military on orders to fly commercially into Athens due to the Achille Lauro highjacking in 1985 and the killing of an American sailor on a TWA airliner. Additionally, there was alot of nationalistic antipathy against Americans from a terrorist group called November 17 targeting American military personell. In fact, we had a Navy Captain killed by November 17 while we were in country. It was a pretty tough psychological time for the family, but, thankfully, it was also an amazing place to live and travel.
Ok, so, "To Pascha", what does that mean? Well, the second most important or celebrated holidays in the USA is Easter and we know that Easter is the celebration of the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ just as the number one celebrated holiday is Christmas, the birth of Christ. Greek culture is a Christian based culture and it is said that if you're Greek you're Othodox Christian and if you're Orthodox Christian, you're most likely from Greece. Well, living in Athens Greece, "To Pascha" is the number one holiday in the country. To Pascha is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ in Greece. So, Easter is the most celebrated time in Greece. The traditional greeting in Greece during Easter is; "Christos Anesti or Christ IS Risen and the response is "Aleithos Anesthie" or He is Risen, Indeed. What a cool statement, huh? I loved that!! I used to confound some of the Greeks while during the year, I would address them with that greeting. It used to be pretty humorous as they didn't quite know how to respond since it wasn't "To Pascha". But, isn't that the truth of EVERY DAY of the year; "Christ IS Risen!!" "He IS Risen, Indeed!!"
Our time in Greece was wonderful, yet, very challenging. We had our third daughter, McKenzie, while in Greece which is an incredibly amazing story on it's own. I was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel while in Greece and, as I've shared earlier received a message from the Lord for our future in ministry through golf. One of the greatest things that resulted from that experience was knowledge of the Greek language and how it has helped me understand the word of God in a deeper way.
Thank you, Father.
Christ is Risen!! He is Risen, Indeed!!
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