Sunday, December 14, 2008

Protests & Riots Continue

Well, I have a few things to tell you about today.
  1. Visa. I got all my paperwork submitted and will be receiving a 5 year visa in a month or two! This keeps me from having to exit and reenter the country every 90 days, saving both time and money. I was given a paper to verify my legal status until my official visa arrives. It took a little over a week to get everything the city hall requested, so I actually received my paper on the last day that I could legally be in the country! If they hadn't given me the paper that morning, I would have had to have flown to another country for a day or two. It was a good morning.
  2. Language. I have one more week of my second language course. My next course will start Jan. 12. I am looking forward to the time between classes to review and practice more of what I've learned.
  3. Riots. We have had 7 days of protests and riots with this possibly being the 8th. My family was asking how close we are to the action, and I told them that we live far away and not to worry. Well, I was right in telling them not to worry, but I also want to give them an idea of how far we are from the center of Athens. So, I google mapped/directioned our apartment to Syntagma Square which is in the center of Athens. About 6 miles. Admittedly, closer than I thought. Growing up in the States, that seems like nothing. But, from our apartment to the center there are no open spaces and no highways. So, six miles of building after building, stoplight, stoplight, stoplight...six miles seems like a long ways.
    I hadn't had any encounters with protesters or rioters until this past Friday. I was on my way to class and got caught in a mess of traffic. My first thought was that the public transportation must be on strike. After a while of going nowhere I thought there must be a car accident. A little while later a police officer on a motorcycle drives through the parked cars (this, by the way, is how all the bikes drive here). Later on an ambulance forces it's way through the traffic with sirens blaring and lights flashing. Must be an accident right. Wrong. I finally reached a point where I could see what was going on. About 50 or 60 teenagers were blocking the road. They had pushed trash dumpsters under the streetlights in an intersection. Some were sitting on the dumpsters, others were blocking traffic by just standing in the way. And then, there was one guy who was selecting people to go through. Only two or three cars were allowed through at a time. When this 16 year old kid pointed to me and shouted back at his friends, they moved aside enough for me to squeeze through. I couldn't believe what was happening! I couldn't believe the cop that drove by didn't do anything. This is a small picture of what is happening all over the country. The police are handling these situations as if they have been disarmed and stripped of authority.
    I have more to say about this topic than should be legal to post. So, if you have a question or a comment or something to throw out for discussion, please post a comment.
    Our prayer for the Christians here and the churches is that we would view all of this through the lens of Christ. There are some fundamental root issues behind all this mess that need to be addressed. We pray that we are a part of the healing and the solution. We pray for deeper understanding and appropriate action. Please pray with us for this nation!

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Hi Matt! It's interesting hearing your stroy of the riots after hearing it from your mom. I wonder what your thoughts are? I had to take my Dad to hospital for an angiogram, was a close call to open heart surgery. Thank God and prayers, he had 3 stents put in. We'll have to give you the details later. We miss you for the holidays! Kevin