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This Wednesday I will again travel to Katerini, Greece for a two week trip – but this time I don’t go merely as a volunteer, like I have the last two times. This week when I arrive, I will be training for my placement there as a GMI for the coming year. Rather than volunteering in whatever area needs my attention, my time in Katerini will be focused on training me for my role within Perichoresis when I move in the fall.

You see, my time in Budapest comes to a close at the end of September, at which point I will return to the USA for a month or so to figure out my visa situation and do other miscellaneous things, and then in late fall I will officially make the move to Katerini for my new GMI placement.

My job as a mission coworker in northern Greece will be vastly different from the work I’ve been doing here in Budapest, but it’s still related. In Katerini, I will be part of a small holistic integration team that will work with up to ten families in the small city, eight who are refugee families and two that are Greek families who were hit hard by the economic crisis. The aim is long-term support and integration into society for the families – the refugee families who have chosen to stay and build their life in Greece, and the local Greek families who need a support network to get back on their feet.

Instead of being seen as “just a volunteer,” which can happen here in Hungary, I will be a full member of the integration team in Katerini, working closely with the Project Coordinator to facilitate the daily administration of the project. I will do in-depth work with the families who are part of the program, getting to know them and supporting them as they begin anew in Katerini, while also contributing to the behind-the-scenes work of running the program – like data collection, report writing, etc.

My work in Katerini will be a combination of office work and time in the field, getting to know the project beneficiaries, and this is what my upcoming trip will aim to prepare me for.

Having a full two weeks in Greece will help me meet the beneficiaries and staff that I will be working with, get my housing figured out, look into phone plans, figure out how to get around town, and other things that will be vital to my everyday life in Katerini. This prep time before my move is invaluable and will make my transition in the fall that much easier because I will already be acclimated to the area.

I’m so thankful to all of the churches that I’m connected to for providing me with this opportunity: Perichoresis and the Evangelical Church in Greece for finding my housing during the trip, Global Ministries for covering the cost of my accommodation, the Reformed Church in Hungary for providing my airfare, St. Columba’s Church of Scotland for giving me nothing but love and support, and my David’s United Church of Christ family for encouraging me and believing in me this entire journey. My journey and calling grow stronger because of the communities of faith that I am connected to all around the world.