Salam, bonjour, marhabaan, yiasas, hello! From the Greece team. It’s Friday morning in Lesvos and we are preparing for our last three shifts in Moria. As the end of our time in camp approaches, I think it is safe to say that we are all experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. Although I cannot speak for the other 18 members of our little family, I will do my best to give you a taste of the feelings many of us have been experiencing.
I want to start by sharing the story of a young man from Afghanistan, someone that we have had the privilege of getting to know over the last two weeks. Along with two of his brothers, he made the treacherous journey from his home to Greece in an attempt to leave behind violence and persecution. After paying a Turkish smuggler $1,600, the three men packed their bags and made their way onto a small black dingy. Even though the crossing from Turkey to Lesvos is as dangerous as it is terrifying, they knew they couldn’t turn back. There was simply nowhere to go back to. When their boat began to take on water and started sinking, everyone tossed their belongings into the sea to try and stay afloat. Can you imagine the all consuming fear every individual on that tiny craft must have felt in the face of possible death? I cannot even begin to fathom what that must have been like. Thankfully, a coast guard ship came to the rescue of our friend and his fellow travelers. When he finally reached the Greek shore, he remembers finding his two brothers and embracing them. After looking death in the eye and coming out on the other side, they were overjoyed to be reunited with one another. That was six months ago. Yesterday, our friend finally had the interview that would determine his next steps. The Greek government will now decide whether he will receive asylum in Greece or be sent back to Turkey. He dreams of going to places like England, Switzerland, and the United States. However, what he wants more than anything is to simply have the chance to find a safe, happy home. He now waits to hear if he will move forward to a fresh start or backward towards the suffering he sacrificed so much to escape.
Moria is full of stories like our dear friend’s. Many we have heard, countless more we have not. This, coupled with the heartbreaking fact that we simply cannot help everyone, makes it incredibly difficult to keep a smile on our faces and remain joyful. We have been grieving the hurt and suffering that is so present in this place. The sorrow often feels like too much to carry. In these moments, when the physical and emotional exhaustion seems impossible to overcome, we are reminded of the hope that we have in Christ. This world is not our final resting place, it is merely a short pitstop on the way to something much greater, a reunion more joyful than we could possibly imagine. It is this hope we have that sets us apart, Christ’s light within us that we are called to share with every precious individual we encounter at Moria.
Below is a short poem that I wrote after our first week in Moria. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time to weep and break down. This poem is a reflection of one of those times for me, experiencing a sorrow that was overwhelming and mourning the pain of those I was trying to serve.
There’s a war behind this smile,
A fight I never win.
The dark takes hold
My bones grow cold
Get me out of this skin.
My soul is weary
From days so dreary
When will this battle end?
Yes, there is a time to mourn. But let us not forget that there is also a time to laugh, dance, and embrace. In the midst of our grief, God has put a little bit of heaven in our hearts to carry us forward. Please pray that in our final hours at Moria we are able to remember this truth and live out the love of Christ in tangible ways. We truly appreciate you walking alongside us in this journey. See you soon!
Lots of love,