Category Archives: Van on the Run

How my son is doing.

Many of you have asked how my son is doing.

For those who don’t know, my son, Jackson, nearly died on April 13, 2017, when the 15 passenger van he was driving flipped on I-70.  He was just west of Strasburg, Colorado.

Here is the newspaper article where the picture appears:

He and a friend, Mitchell, were heading home.  They had finished a photography road trip out west.  You can look at some of their pictures if you like.

You can see some of their pictures if you like.

Here is Jackson’s Instagram:

Here is Mitchell’s Instagram:

My son was critically injured.  Miraculously, he survived.  Even more miraculously, he is recovering at a ridiculous rate.  We are so grateful.

My wife, Gretchen, has been blogging through the entire ordeal.  You can follow her updates here:

As for me, I’m not blogging through the events the way I would like.  Had to get back to work.

How can I afford to move my family to Greece?

Yesterday during one of my classes, a student asked, “Mr. Thomas, How can you afford to move your entire family to Greece?”

Good question.  I frequently ask myself the same question.

First, let me start with the “why”.  Why have I moved my entire family to Greece?

It’s simple.  I want to master the Greek language.  Modern, Biblical, and Classical.  By my own estimate, I believe this is going to take about 10 years.

I first decided to master the Greek language about three years ago.  Immediately, I began looking into the academic route.  Since Vanderbilt University is a half-hour from my home in Franklin, Tennessee, I began my search there.  The search ended almost as quickly as it began.  To study the Classics at Vanderbilt would cost about $45,000 a year.

Since Vanderbilt University is a half-hour from my home in Franklin, Tennessee, I began my search there.  The search ended almost as quickly as it began.  To study the Classics at Vanderbilt would cost about $45,000 a year.

$45,000 a year?  “For that price,” I thought, “I could move my family to Greece!  Hey.  Wait a minute.  For that price, I could move my entire family to Greece!”

And, that, my friends, is how this all began.

It turns out, I could move my family to Greece for much, much less.

So, how can I do this?

The story is a long one.

I will start with the short version.  Perhaps later, I will write out the long version.  Right now, I have about 200 emails to respond to.  The short version will have to do.

When moving overseas, the main expenses are food, lodging, and transportation.

First, my family eats food in Tennessee.  I can’t seem to get them to stop.  Now we are in Greece.  They want to eat food here, too.  There really is no cost difference here.  We eat there.  We eat here.   We are not spending any more on food in Greece than we were in Tennessee.  However, my wife does feel that the price of food has gone up in Greece since last year.

Second, we rent out our home in Tennessee.  We live in a condo.  We have lived in condos for 20 years.  Housing is expensive in Franklin, Tennessee.  We bought a condo while we saved for a home.  While we were saving for a home, the prices of homes skyrocketed.  Now, we cannot afford a home.  Oh well.

We live in a condo.  We have lived in condos for 20 years.  Housing is expensive in Franklin, Tennessee.  We bought a condo while we saved for a home.  While we were saving for a home, the prices of homes skyrocketed.  Now, we cannot afford a home.  Oh well.

Last year, we rented our condo.  The rent there paid for our rent here.  This meant that we were really not paying for housing.  This year, we did not have as much luck renting our place in Tennessee.  But, we are still hopeful.  A friend is showing our place while we are here.

We do not have a car over here in Greece.  We use cheap public transportation.  Public transportation here costs much less than gasoline back home.  We are actually saving money on daily transportation.

In the end, airline tickets are the only real expense.  And, they are a real expense.  I wish there were a way to avoid this cost.  There isn’t.  I looked.   We can’t drive to Greece.  I did look into taking a cruise to Greece.  But, cruising cost more than flying.

Life in Greece is not as glamorous as all of my friends think it is, but it is also not as expensive as everyone thinks it is.

It is my goal to blog daily about our time over here, but, for now… back to that overwhelming mountain of emails.

Settling in…

After days of travel, my family and I are settling in at our apartment in Greece.

I am going to begin blogging once more.  It was my goal to blog every day this year.  I lost quite a few days due to travel, but, that’s okay.  I will be picking up the pace again… starting now.

There are many questions to answer.  In class today, one of my students wanted to know, “How can you afford to move your entire family over to Greece?”  Good question.  I intend to blog a response tomorrow.

Another student wanted to know, “How do you stay motivated to learn new things and how can I (the student) keep myself motivated?”  I hope to start a series of responses to that question as well.

As for now, I am dealing with new, unanticipated problems.  Classes today worked.   For that, I am very grateful.  I was able to teach from Greece last year, and I was quite certain I would be able to teach from Greece this year.  Alas, it seems the internet may be a bit slower this year.  Naturally, I am not thrilled about that.  Still, classes worked today, and for the most part, my students reported that the experience was not all that different for them.

Now, I am in the process of uploading the classes from today and I have hit a snag.  I have not decided if it is a major snag.  The upload speed in Athens (in our apartment, at least) is not good at all.  It usually takes me about an hour to upload 3 videos at home.  I have been uploading today’s classes for about an hour now, and I have one video at 15%, with two videos in line.  Not cool.

I am not exactly sure how I am going to solve this problem.  But… that’s okay.  Seems like there is always a solution.  I just have to go hunting for it.

On the bright side, there is a small restaurant around the corner that serves cheap, delicious gyros.

It’s 11 pm here.  Goodnight from Athens.

A note from my wife…

Dear Friends and Family,

You are receiving this letter because I wanted you to hear from
me, rather than “through the grapevine”, about an opportunity
that God is opening for us to serve in Greece. A year ago, we
were able to serve the refugees with Servant Group International.
It had a lasting impact on all of us. Sitting at an abandoned school, in classrooms that were now homes to 3 or 4 families, we listened to personal stories of rafts sinking, buildings bombed, homes destroyed, forced military service, and walking miles to escape. These people, who had nothing, invited us to sit with them, eat with them, share tea with them.

Since that time, the plight of the many refugees that are still stuck in Athens has been on our hearts and in our prayers. More are still coming, although that flow has slowed some since the borders north are now closed. These individuals need supplies, ESL classes, places to take showers, but also they need encouragement and a reason to hope. How very excited I was when SGI contacted me to see if I would be interested in going back to be the field co- ordinator for teams going over short-term. This will allow me to continue to listen and love.

After a trip to Atlanta last month, I was approved for a Visa and we are now making plans to leave for Greece in late March and be in Athens for @ 4 months. During this time, I will be working with monthly short-term teams sent over through SGI. The teams along with myself and our girls will be working at local ministry centers and or refugee camps. We will sort and deliver supplies, help with children’s activities, cook, help with ESL classes as well as shop to meet unmet needs. Dwane will be continuing to teach his Latin and Greek classes online while studying Greek at a language school in Athens. Jackson will be joining us in Greece, later in the summer.

We are excited to see how God has been orchestrating all of these details, long before we knew of His plan. We are excited to go and serve and invite you to come also (contact SGI). We also invite you to take part through prayer support and financial giving. My goal is to raise $6000 in support to help cover my expenses each year.

You can send a one-time gift, or if you are able to donate monthly, your support will be held for me at SGI in an account and will be sent to me as needed.

Thank you for your prayer, encouragement, and support.

Blessings, Gretchen Thomas

To donate online, please visit, go to the donate page, and select my name from the pull-down list.

Wichita, Kansas

I will be on the road for the next few days.  My son is touring with the Rock and Worship roadshow (as a photographer).

I will be hanging out in local Starbucks coffee shops.  Trying to catch up on emails.

On March 2 (today), if you are near 29th & Rock, 3000 North Rock RoadWichita, Kansas, feel free to stop by.  I will be tired of emails by the time you show up.  🙂  

Tomorrow (Friday, March 3, 2017), we will be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

On Sunday, March 5, 2017, we will be in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

From there, we head to San Diego, California, where we will be attending a conference from March 9 – 12.

Maybe I’ll see you out there!