Saturday, August 18, 2012

Our Weekly Schedule on the Island of Cyprus

A little bit about our work here in Nicosia. We begin each day with couple study and prayer, and we close each day with prayer. On Monday we observe "P" (Preparation Day) day. That is - we clean house, do our laundry and go grocery and other shopping. Then Monday evenings we usually teach 1 or 2 investigators with the young elders and then we direct the YSA Home Evening. Tuesday afternoons we have District Meeting at 2:30 PM, we alternate weekly District Meetings in Nicosia or Larnaka, and at 6:30 PM we have our Greek lesson (love it!). We may also teach investigators after that. Wednesdays we share teaching appointments with the young elders. Thursdays, Institute Class - 7 PM, I teach the Book of Mormon. Fridays, we teach investigators with the young elders and then have YSA Activity Night. Twice a month on Friday night I make dinner for all in attendance, and twice a month I make a dessert for all. After the new school year begins I will be cooking a lot more because students will be coming to the church during the day. So I will be making lunches and snacks and probably more dinners. The YSAs will come to the church during the day because they need to rest, read or play games and fellowship between classes. We also provide space for them to study quietly if need be.
Once-a-month we drive to Famagusta on the Turkish side, or to Gierne (in Greek, Kyrenia) to meet with the Nigerian members who are students in colleges in those two cities, to hold a Sacrament meeting. Once-a-week we will be having Skype sessions with the students to provide them with Institute classes come September.
Now for a little more on the Island of Cyprus: Cyprus, from the Greek word pronounced kupros, meaning copper, is a prominent land mass in the northeastern Mediterranean Sea, off the shores of Cilicia (southern Turkey) and Syria on the continent. Measuring about 150 miles / 240 kilometers long and 40 miles / 65 kilometers wide, it is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean.
The history of Cyprus reaches deep into ancient times. Although the pagans regarded it as the birthplace of their non-existent false god Zeus, Cyprus was the scene of numerous events in Bible History, where some Bible translations refer to it by the name Isles of Chittim or Kittim. As the above Scriptures from Daniel specify, Kittim is also a place involved prophecy of the last days.
As its name indicates, Cyprus has extensive copper deposits which attracted many conquerers to the island over the past 3,000 years. In their turn, Egyptians, Assyrians (see Ancient Empires - Assyria), Phoenicians, Hittites, Greeks , Romans, and in more modern times, Turks and British all controlled the island to some degree. It was also taken during the third Crusade.
During Old Testament times, many Jews had already settled on the island, and many of their descendants were converted by Paul and those associated with him during his travels.
Paul's group travelled from Salamis to Paphos on the island, and while at Paphos, Sergius Paulus, the Roman governor of Cyprus became a believer in Jesus Christ (Acts 13:7,12), despite the efforts of Elymas the sorcerer to prevent his conversion. For his wickedness, Elymas was temporarily deprived of his sight by Paul (Acts 13:7-11). Barnabas and Mark were later active there after they separated from Paul (Acts 15:36-39). The Jews and converted Christians were expelled from the island during the reign of emperor Hadrian (reigned 117-138 AD).
What prominent apostle was from Cyprus? (See Acts 4:36)
We will also be visiting three other cities on the island (Larnaca, Limossol and Paphos)to establish, support and assist the YSAs and Institute teachers at least twice per month. Once-a-year we are planning to have YSA Conference. This is essential for unity and support of the YSAs on the island. (See the map below - we are based in Nicosia, in the middle of the island.)
We love the youth of the church. They are the same no matter where you live on the earth. They are exuberant and excited about the Gospel, and they find it so easy to bring their non-member friends into their circles to hear the missionary discussions. We are so proud of them all.
On Sundays we are very busy during the three-hour time block. I often play the piano for Sacrament Meeting as well as for Relief Society. We will also be teaching the investigators "Gospel Principles" very soon. Then, twice a month we meet with the YSA representatives to plan their activities for each month. It is also our duty to teach new member post baptismal lessons, which we do several times a week because of the influx of new members.
Many days of the week we drive throughout the island to familiarize ourselves with the locations of members or other landmarks useful to our callings. We also visit members in these hours to encourage them about coming to church. Our branch is small, as are all the others.
And our new members are often ex-pats, so they do not stay here. They are students or they work here for awhile, then leave to go to other countries or back to their home country.

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