I am now coming into my fourth full day here in Lesvos, Greece (I arrived the afternoon of Friday the 13th). We did get some time to rest, but on Saturday we hit the ground running and have not really slowed down. We had orientation, planning, and prayer time on Saturday. And I had an exciting opportunity to go with Liz and some of the leaders to the Lesvos YWAM base! The YWAM base is actually a ship here at the port and people working with YWAM live on the ship. It was so neat to hear and see what they have been doing here in their work with the refugees.
On Sunday we had orientation with a group we are partnering with. They are already established and have been working with the refugees here for the last few years. This training was extremely helpful, but also heavy because we received a lot of information about the refugee situation and how Lesvos has become such a big area for refugees. The situation is very political and very complicated with so many different facets. It hit me how hopeless and dark this situation seems. From the outside looking in there looks like the situation has no hope of getting better. But I was reminded….that God does not ask us to go to places where we can just fix the situation. God asks us to go feed and clothe the hungry, and to share Jesus with others whether or not the situation will change. And God is the ultimate hope and can bring about His will through any situation.
I had mentioned in my newsletter that this trip was going to be a very flexible trip. A lot of that is because TeachBeyond Borders is a brand new program that is just launching; they are just beginning to form partnerships and bring on full time staff. A few months ago the Borders program began to form partnerships and plans were formed for what this trip would look like. There were different teams coming into working over the summer; a leadership team coming in a few weeks early to stay over a month or so, a groundwork team right before us to get set up, a group of women from Canada to teach a Women’s English camp, a group to do Kids Camp and childcare for the English camps, and a videography crew.
But then only a few weeks ago, the original partnership fell through. And all the plans for what TeachBeyond Borders would be forming into and what the teams would be doing while they were here seemed to be falling apart. But as we already know, God’s ways are not our ways. And when the Lord wants something He puts it together in His timing. What He creates is so much better than what we can imagine creating on our own. Over the last few weeks Liz and the team that were already here, brainstormed and met with people in the community. During that time, God has begun to lay the groundwork for amazing partnerships and the future of TeachBeyond borders in Lesvos.
So much that has been happening here on the ground, has been about building community and making connections. The English team has been able to hold their evening English classes at a building with a partnering organization. And the Kids teams have had a variety of projects that we are working on. We have been split into 2 teams and each team has things that they are doing that they will switch off for next week.
This week team 1 is working at Camp Moria. Camp Moria is a refugee camp here on the island and different organizations work inside the camp doing a variety of things like handing out water and diapers, setting up tents, or working in the warehouse to sort goods. Our teams are working under another organization that Borders may be working with in the future. And are getting to know the camp and families who are living there.
I am a part of Team 2 and we are currently working on two main things. For part of the day we are working with neighborhood families at the local park. We do a variety of activities, get to know the families, and end with a story. For the other half of the day we partner with an organization called HOME. HOME is an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) that brings refugee families to their property by the water for a few hours to get away from the camp and have a nice meal.
I am very limited on the photos that I am able to take so will be posting more scenery pictures than anything. Lesvos is so beautiful and anytime I am near the water I feel at peace and closer to God. It is a blessing to be able to see the beauty that God is created after the mental, emotional, and spiritual heaviness that I feel about the situation. There is so much hurt and brokenness here. But in the midst of that I am hopeful. Because it is in the brokenness where we often see Jesus the most. And I take comfort in knowing that as much as I hurt to see what people have been going through, Jesus hurts for them so much more. I know I am here, where I am called and Jesus is also here.