To all of our avid blog followers, hello! If you’re not sitting down, I would suggest that you do so, preferably on the edge of your seat. The past week here in Moria has been both long and quick. There is a constant battle of trying to process emotions and thoughts that seem too heavy and complex, and with so little down time between shifts we are left mentally exhausted. This coupled with the physical exhaustion that comes with the work makes for a pretty tired Greece team.
However, the Lord blesses his people and two days ago we had an entire day off work. There are few things more beautiful than a morning left to itself without the harsh blare of an alarm clock (expect when that alarm clock gets you up in time to see the sun rise over Turkey across the Aegean). A peaceful morning suited our team well. Even though we had a day off, we still had a lot planned for us.
Our Greater Europe Mission (GEM) hosts, Susie and Ernie, picked us up from our hotel around 11:30 and drove us to a refugee camp about 45 minutes away. This place was the complete opposite of what we had come to expect from Moria. It was small with only about 6 or 7 buildings, and in stark contrast to Moria, there was no one there. This place is a stage 2 camp whereas Moria is stage 3. Refugees are only placed here for a handful of hours before they are moved to Moria. After our stop here we took some time to enjoy the rocky shore of island. We spent a good amount of time here taking pictures, skipping rocks, and enjoying an afternoon of relaxed fun. A few people waded into the sea up to there waist, even though it meant coming out with sopping wet pants. The next stop on our island adventure was a trip to an old castle. Giving a group of college students 30 minutes of free reign and exploration of a castle? Yes please. It was crazy to think that a place that was once a strong fortress is now feeding our tourism. A place of prominence and might now standing in ruins. As I stood atop the tallest tower gazing out across the Aegean, I couldn’t shake one simple and yet richly profound thought; I wish capes were still in style.
Visiting all of these places on our day off was fun and full of laughter, as our team so often is. After leaving, we made our way to our last stop before eating and then making our way back. The lifejacket graveyard. Mounds and heaps of used lifejackets piled high made for a chilling sight. Each one of these jackets was once strapped to the body of a man, woman, or child crossing the sea on a boat. Each one of these jackets represents a person, a life, a soul, a human made in the likeness of God. Each one of these jackets carries a story of desperation, fear, risk, dreams, and hope. Questions fill your mind and heart. How many of these people have been granted asylum? How many of them have been deported? How many of them were with their familiy? How many of them were alone? How many of them are alive? How many of them are dead? How many of them have I met in Moria? Did I help the person who wore this jacket? Did I say no to the person wearing this jacket? Did this jacket belong to the man in Moria who put his coat on me as I sat outside in the cold? Has this person made me tea? Where are they now? Are they scared? How long ago did they wear this jacket? How recently? The air around this place was heavy, and it seemed to bring greater understanding of who we interact with on a daily basis. It humanized them and opened our hearts to their reality.
All in all, the day was restful and thoughtful. It was great to finally be able to spend time with Susie and Ernie and actually get to know them and have them get to know us. As we head into this next week of work, we have a few prayer requests. Please pray that the Lord would allow us to open ourselves up to the grief and pain of the refugees. Pray that we would meet these people on equal footing, recognizing their humanity. Pray that Jesus would shine through our actions. Pray that we would have strength and persistence in wrestling with our own thoughts and emotions. Pray for God’s Kingdom to come.
Thank you all for following our journey thus far! We love and appreciate you all. On behalf of the Greece team, this is Robert Emerson Brandkamp signing off.