I have been back in the states for a few days now; getting over a stomach bug, exhaustion, and some vertigo issues. Thank you all for the prayers of a safe return; it has been quite the journey.
The last few days of my time at the camp was spent tarping some tents and working some nights supervising and guarding the gate to the single women’s entrance of the camp. The night shifts were from 4pm-12am, and then the Greek police lock up the entrances. For the most part, the nights did not bring any big issues for us. Although I find no logic in the placement, they put the juvenile boy section right next to the single women’s section; hence why people at both gates are needed at all times to keep track of who goes in and out. The juvenile boys are boys under the age of 18 that have no family. A big issue at Moria in the boys section is the self-harm of cutting. I don’t know all the psychological reasons why they choose to do this, but I hear a big part is because it makes them feel like they have some sort of control in their life. Please pray for them in this specific area.
Before one of our night shifts, a team member and I went into Mytilini to a toy shop. When we first arrived to Mytilini at the beginning of our trip, we made a stop at a community center that Right4Aid runs and is close to Moria. At this center, they provide showers and washing machines for refugees to use. They also have tables for kids to do coloring and crafts. Jill and I saw the little play area set up for the little ones while we were there, and we both looked at each other with the same thought; there were very few toys, and the ones there were in bad shape. It was advised to us during our training not to bring gifts and whatnot to the refugees, because everyone would then be asking for them. However, she and I saw the opportunity to contribute, without causing chaos. We purchased new toys for the community center as a way for us to anonymously bring some entertainment for the little ones while their moms are at the center washing clothes and handling other obligations.
Our group also took a Sunday afternoon to visit the Lifejacket Graveyard in Mythymna, about a 90-minute drive from where we were staying. It is a graveyard full of wrecked boats, rubber dinghies, adult and child lifejackets, and discarded clothes from refugees that are still existing and from those who did not make it across the Aegean Sea alive. One’s eyes cannot fit the view all in one picture... hundreds of thousands of lifejackets are dumped here. Although “lifejacket” is a strong word. Many of them were stuffed with cardboard and shipping styrofoam. The smugglers that provide these jackets have no care for the life of the people they are “helping” bring across. It is one of those sights one would have to see to understand... it is too hard for me to put into words. But over 600,000 refugees have come to and through this island since the crisis began.
On our last day in Moria, we worked women’s day. This was held at another community center called Ephraim, that is in walking distance of Moria, and it was there our group spent the next four hours teaching and helping women make friendship bracelets. I have never made so much jewelry in my life. It was a great turnout, most being Afghan women. They also had a section where women could get their hair styled, and then another little “spa section” where they could get hand massages and their nails done. There were some other outreach teams there as well to help out. It was a great opportunity to get to talk with them one on one. This community center also hosts a tea time for women throughout the week as well as a men’s bible study. Bibles are illegal to bring inside the camp, but those who are searching have a place where truth can be found.
I also had the opportunity to attend church while on the island. It was such a beautiful experience to be able to worship with the saints of many tribes and nations. The gospel was presented in three different languages with translators there. There were even some Muslims from the camp with their families in attendance. It was an incredible thing to see.
This was the most physically demanding trip I’ve been on. It was also emotionally, mentally and even spiritually exhausting having to say no to so many basic human needs. Spending the majority of my service in the olive grove, we were often asked for things like more space, more tarps, fans, provision of electricity, shoes, etc. We can only give what the Greek government provided us, and the government does not care about these people; that was evident to us on our first day there. Much had to be surrendered to God, because much was not in our control. All we could do was sympathize with them and do our best work for them with the tools that were given to us. It was hard to say goodbye to Mr. Shebli... but we were able to get him a couple gifts and he was reminded that he was being prayed for.
God has put much on my heart for the trafficked and refugees of this camp. He has put desires of ways as a church we can help them, and I look forward to sharing them with you all in time. I am sitting in my room writing this to you all... at Moria, four families would be “living” in this size of space. God has been so gracious in giving me so much; my heart is so thankful to have what He has blessed me with. We let little inconveniences in our lives become such big matters, and we truly don’t know how gracious our God is to give us shelter, clean water, proper plumbing, electricity, fresh clothes to wear everyday of the week, three meals a day, an opportunity to have a job... until you see so many without it. We are not entitled to these things, these are gifts from God... gifts that most of the world doesn’t have, and I pray that in the times to come, hearts will be opened to share these gifts to fellow image bearers.
I cannot put into words how grateful I am for your involvement in my life. These mission trips cannot be done without you. I have never felt alone on these outreaches, and am so thankful to be part of a family that loves Jesus, and wants to share that love with me and others. THANK YOU.
In His Love,
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” -Abraham Kuyper