Here’s a first-hand account from one of our team members one what it’s like to serve refugees in Athens.
It’s been a whirlwind this week. It’s hard to reconcile the anxiety and hesitancy I had right before arriving to the joy that seems to course through my soul. It is not a sugar sweet happiness, but a joy that is laced with sorrow and grief and injustice. The stories I have heard even in these first days have broken my heart many times over.
I was expecting it to take a few weeks to start to feel at home or to form relationships with depth. But the first day I was here I went to a ‘squat’, or unregistered camp, in an abandoned school a few blocks from my apartment. I was talking to some children and immediately was drawn to two young sisters. After a while they invited me upstairs to meet their parents. I was hesitant about intruding, but was ushered in and given tea and warmly welcomed. And only a few days later, I was ‘adopted’ into their family! I was told that I now have a Syrian baba and mama, and that because my heart was open, it was now joined to this family’s.
The pain they have experienced has brought tears to my eyes many times as they’ve slowly shared more details. But somehow they still have the capacity for gentleness, compassion and generosity. I am so grateful for them. They think it’s hilarious to correct my messy Arabic. I invited them to attend English classes at the Greek center I partner with – and they came! Now they will come three times a week to get tutoring and nutritious food. The girls have told me I’m their official guide, so I go, pick them up and we all walk together.
There is so much I could share, so many incredible moments and so many heart wrenching moments. But most of all I am grateful for how quickly Jesus has shown me who I should move towards. I have found fast friends already, and I am eager to wake up each morning to see them again.