Video Blogs of Jenna’s Visit!

I really like editing together vlogs with varying levels of seriousness, so when Jenna said she was okay with my documenting our adventures, I had a ball!  Here are the vlogs I made of her four-day visit!

1|  Jenna arrived in the afternoon and we hurried downtown to do a little sight-seeing and a LOT of eating.

2|  We made the most of our tourist day by visiting All The Things:  the Acropolis and its super-cool new museum, the Temple of Zeus, and the 1896 Olympic Stadium, where we were big weirdos and it was so much fun.   Continue reading

Sounio Vlog!

I created a YouTube channel, creatively named ItIsTrish | inGreece, to post videos and vlogs about my adventures in Greece!

Last Saturday, Anthi and I went to Sounio to explore beaches and see the Temple of Poseidon.  It was SO good to get outside of Athens and be surrounded by nature.  And it was fun to get a little creative and tell my story with video rather than the written word.  I hope you enjoy this peek into my life in Greece!

I’ve Arrived in Greece!

The power went out three times during the flight from Detroit to Amsterdam. Everyone had settled in with movies or TV shows when suddenly all the screens went blank. A couple seconds later, all the overhead and tracking lights went off too. In the dark, hundreds of people sat silently for a good three minutes before someone official made an announcement saying yes, the power was out, and they were rebooting the media system. 

It was a real testament to people’s patience and endurance…and also a hilariously scary picture of how useless we would all be in an emergency. 

Halfway across the Atlantic, I hit the “What am I doing!?” part of moving. It’s such a strange feeling to realize you’ve decided to leave everyone and everything you’re familiar with and intentionally surround yourself with the unknown. Not only that, but I spent nine months fundraising and preparing to do this to myself!  With all that forethought, it took actually flying for the panic to set in.    Continue reading

Dinner with Persephone by Patricia Storace

51bQ2iwdmPLA travel memoir about a woman who lives in Athens for a year?  How could I pass that up?

Fortunately, if I ever write a memoir about MY year in Athens, it will be distinctly different in feel and tone.  Storace is almost to poetic in her language for my taste – instead of describing where she’s going or who she’s hanging out with, she jumps over the details in order to describe general trends and observations.  Which are totally interesting, don’t get me wrong.  But it doesn’t actually feel like a travel memoir.  Instead, it’s something more like an emotional evaluation of Greece – past, present, and future.   Continue reading

Looking Forward to Greece

One of my DTS friends recently decided that she and her husband are moving to England instead of staying in Texas.  I freaked out, screaming, “Oh my gosh, that’s amazing!  You’re going to live in England!  That is such a cool opportunity!  I’m so jealous!”

She stared at me for a moment.  “Tricia.  You’re moving to Greece.”

I gasped.  “You’re right!  I’m so cool!”

I was flabbergasted.  I guess I’ve been so involved in the planning, and worrying about the fundraising (donate here!), and thinking very practically that I forgot:  I’m moving to Greece.  I’m going to live in Athens for a whole year!  This is literally a bucket list experience (which I would prove with a picture of my bucket list notebook, but it is already packed for my move to Peoria), and I don’t think I’m appreciating it enough.

Luckily, I have friends like Michal, who share my love of traveling (read about our Puerto Rico vacation or our New Orleans weekend) and ask me, “What in Greece are you most excited about?”  Well, here’s my top five.  Continue reading

The Struggle to Go with a Servant’s Heart, When I Want to be a Hero

I’ve been thinking about working in HD.  My reflex is to think of myself as these girls’ savior, and I plan how I will help them and love them and show them Christ.

Today I got a glimpse of something else.  I stepped outside of myself for one moment, which is both a profound relief and an intense discomfort.  I thought about each individual woman I will meet.  I thought of a young girl who will be bold and brash and powerful.  I thought of another woman who will be timid, thoughtful, and scared.  I thought of another who will ignore me, lost in her own world, unwilling to be helped.    Continue reading

Gifts of SIngleness: Use Them or Become Resentful

While I was trying to decide whether to stay in Dallas after I graduate from DTS or else move to Athens, my biggest Dallas advocates were repeating the same variety of advice:  Settle down.  Start investing in long term 1) relationships, 2) career, 3) housing.  Stop running.  These messages were internal, too.  After all, I’m 26-years-old, and Facebook is full of my peers marrying, buying houses, and even creating the next generation of adorable little girls and boys.  Picking up and moving overseas is such a post-college phase (and, uh, coincidentally, exactly what I did post-college).  A phase you’re meant to grow out of, right?

I felt vaguely guilty about my decision to choose Athens over Dallas despite feeling deep in my bones that it was the best choice and that it was where God was uniquely calling me.  That guilt disappeared during a conversation with my friend Jennie.  She affirmed my decision, then said, “It’s so great that you can just decide to move halfway around the world.  I have a hard enough time [taking her four children] into town to buy groceries.”

Suddenly things made a little more sense; stability and security are wonderful things, but so are freedom and adventure.  The former are more easily acquired through marriage, while the latter tend to find expression in singles.  This is, obviously, overly simplistic.  Singles can be stable and marrieds can have adventures.  But generally, I think this division is fairly accurate.

I have a long and varied relationship with my own singleness.  Sometimes I am desperate to be married, and other times I want to run as far away from the possibility as I can (these mood swings often coincide with the health or destruction of my friends’ relationships).  I have felt the cultural and Christian pressure that implies I am “less than” because I am single.  I have also felt the warmth and inclusion of marrieds and singles who welcome me into their homes and lives.  I used to think that being single was essentially a waiting game; over the years I have started to embrace my singleness and see it as the gift that it is.

I have more time to myself, more creative energy, a greater ability to serve others.  I can make decisions without aligning my plans to someone else’s, and I can be spontaneous in a way my married friends (especially those with children) simply cannot.  In short, as a single woman, I have more freedom and adventure.

So back to those itching thoughts about security and settling down.  Talking with Jennie, I realized that in many ways, I was hearing the message “Act like a married person.”  Having described the benefits of being single, I’ll now say I think the benefits of marriage are primarily security and stability (relationally, vocationally, and geographically).  I was being told to value the gifts of marriage above the gifts of singleness.  And subconsciously, I had started to agree.

Now that the subconscious was conscious, my anger flooded in.  No way was I going to feel bad about being single!  No way was I going to agree with societal pressure.  If I get married some day, and I hope I do, I will pursue and enjoy the gifts of stability and security.  Until then, I intend to embrace the gifts of singleness–I want to pursue freedom and adventure.  I want to be spontaneous, to use my nomadic ability to travel the world and connect with a vast network of amazing people.

Not that all single people need to travel in order to feel self-actualized.  But I do think that single people need to look at their life situation and seek out opportunities for freedom and adventure, whatever that may look like for her or him individually.  If single people do not take advantage of these gifts and instead pursue security and stability exclusively, I think we will become resentful.  I did, when I imagined my life in Dallas, living in the same place, working in the same place, year after year after year…alone.  I have seen this happen to single men and women–they get so locked into finding a good job and buying a house that they then obsess over finding the missing piece:  a husband or wife to complete the set.

I don’t want to become so focused on what I don’t have that I forget to appreciate what I do have:  the ability to relate broadly and meaningfully with many people, the freedom to be spontaneous, and an adventurous spirit that says “yes” before “let me check with so-and-so.”  I want to love being single while I’m here, for as long as that might be.  Deciding to move to Athens has renewed my ability to embrace my singleness.

Tricia Leaves the United States for the First Time

August 2004 – Athens, Greece

The first time I left the United States, I was sixteen and wearing a yellow polo shirt and homemade khaki skirt.  The airport seats around me were filled with ten similarly clad people; I suppose to other people we looked like a cult.  In actuality, we were a Southern Baptist handbell choir, which, now that I think about it, still seems like a cult.  For those not in the know, perhaps you are imagining a bunch of sweaty African Americans pounding their fists on pulpits while simultaneously ringing those tiny Salvation Army bells.  You couldn’t be more wrong–we were a white, diversity-less group of mostly-mild-mannered men and women (and teens).  As for handbells, well.  Watch this video (it isn’t us).

It was 2004, and we were on our way to Athens, Greece.  The summer Olympics were beginning, and we were going to take advantage of the tourist influx to bring people to Jesus via music.  More specifically, we would draw crowds with our fancy handbell ringing, and a team of college students from Somewhere in the Midwest would talk to people and try to convert tourists during their vacation.

Regardless of whether my opinion of speed-evangelism has changed or not in the last ten years, it is true that we got to ring handbells in some pretty amazing places.  The first night we played on the  front stoop of a church that overlooked Hadrian’s Gate.  Later we rang the theme song to Chariots of Fire as the Olympic torchbearer ran down the street twenty feet in front of us, then gave each other ecstatic high-fives at the end because OMG IT WAS LIKE A MOVIE.  Once we rang on a sidewalk overlooking the Aegean Sea while men clad in Speedos politely applauded.

When we weren’t ringing handbells, we were sightseeing, and it was during those momMars Hill3ents that a love of traveling settled in my bones.  Being Christians in Athens, we excitedly climbed to the top of the Areopagus and posed as though our group leader were Paul in Acts 17 (Bible nerd fun).  I walked the excavated roads that Paul’s apostolic feet might have touched, and I scuffled around in circles to increase the odds.  For the first time, it struck me that the Bible is a historical document.  The things written in its pages actually happened, and I was standing in a story I had heard a hundred times before.  Suddenly my faith felt deeper, history felt nearer, and the United States felt…insufficient.  There were layers and layers of history in this new city, and all the fireworks in the world couldn’t change the fact that my home country was a historical baby.  I wanted to see more.  I wanted a broader perspective.

On the flight west over the Atlantic Ocean, I wasn’t sad to leave Athens.  I knew I would be back someday, to this city or another or the whole world.  I wasn’t done finding and sharing truth all over this beautiful damaged planet.  I was already looking forward to the next trip, wherever it might be.