Κυριακή, 10 Ιανουαρίου 2016

Overnight shift. 5/11. A comment in my journal.

Calmness, quiet, people are sleeping.
Ultimate idleness made me feel exhausted.
In the morning we served sandwiches and porridge.
One Syrian mathematician couldn't sleep and came to me for a chat. He told me he was a volunteer in refugee camps for Iraqis, just like us. He told me he was like me. He thanked me four or five times and as I thanked him for his nice words he told me that our smiles give him  hope! 
I teared, I thanked Jesus for the fruit that I can see and went on being idle for the rest of the night...


Τετάρτη, 25 Νοεμβρίου 2015

Drawing

Today, after a walk in the camp, I found two little fellas from Syria sitting in a corner doing nothing. I gave them some papers and markers. After their bus was called out, they came back to me and gave me their drawings..

One of the drawings was showing what just happened a couple of hours before that little guy took the markers in his hands...





Τρίτη, 24 Νοεμβρίου 2015

Ηρεμία & Καταιγίδες

Το πρωί έγραψα..

Μετά από 2 μέρες όπου ουτε μια βάρκα δεν έφτασε στο νησί, δεν είδαμε ούτε ένα πρόσφυγα, χθες το βράδυ αρχίσανε ξανά..
Κανείς δεν γνωρίζει πως θα εξελιχθεί η φάση, ανεξαρτήτως χειμώνα, κρύου, αέρηδων, βροχών κτλ

Είναι ήσυχα. Αλλά νιώθω πως είναι απλά η ηρεμία πριν την επόμενη καταιγίδα. Μια ευκαιρία απο το Θεό να ενωθούμε οι εθελοντές με προσευχή, λατρεία και να αναθεωρήσουμε, να ξεκουραστούμε και να ετοιμαστούμε. 
Βέβαια, δεν είμαι σίγουρος αν αυτή η καταιγίδα θα είναι πρόσφυγες σε βάρκες ή κάτι άλλο που ακόμα δεν γνωρίζουμε ή δεν περιμένουμε...

Το απόγευμα έμαθα πως οι βάρκες ερχόντουσαν σήμερα σε μεγάλους αριθμούς και το μικρό μας transit centre έχει γεμίσει. Πως απ'έξω περιμένουν ουρές προσφύγων να μπουν μέσα... Άλλοι λένε 2500 άνθρωποι, άλλοι 1500, άλλοι 1000.

Θα δείξει αύριο το πρωί που θα παω για πρωινή βάρδια....


Πέμπτη, 12 Νοεμβρίου 2015

Reality hits hard

Choices. We make choices. And we encounter the results.

Engaging with the refugees in our small transit camp is a choice. You whether serve them silently or you choose to engage. 

Sometimes you forget. Sometimes you need to get a reminder. Yesterday night was a quite quiet (see what I did there? :P) night. Not thousands of people, not even hundreds. Not extreme conditions. Just the usual. Everything was under control. Refugees coming from the boats, waiting to step into their buses that will take them to their next point of this journey. There were a lot of volunteers around so the tasks were completed easily and fast. Not so many things to ''do''. I was just walking around when my shift leader came to me and told me ''If you don't have anything to do, just go and talk with people, mingle...''. Sometimes you need to get a reminder. I knew that this was why I was here for, I just had forgotten for a while. I lost focus. I went from ''people'' to ''completing tasks for people''.

I immediately passed the ''point of no return'' as we like to call it, the point that people are not allowed to come back. I was with them. In their territory. I joined some people talking and I just asked them questions. The usual stuff. Where are you from. How long have you been travelling? Where are you heading? The not-so-usual answers are almost every time heartbreaking.... 

Its a choice. 

Later on I was giving a tour to some Norwegian volunteers from stage 1 (the seashore where they get the refugees out of their boats). At some point I told them that our main goal, besides feeding people, keeping them dry, cleaning the camp and putting them into buses, is that we try to talk with them. Engage with them. Listen to them. Make them feel like humans again. Play with the children, laugh.... For a moment I stumbled. I knew I had forgot earlier. It took another man to remind me. But it was true. That's the choice we make every day. However tired or sleepy you might be, you don't only have hands and feet (of Jesus as we like to say) but you also have ears. You have a mouth and you have eyes.

You choose to see, you choose to listen and you choose to talk. Sometimes you might cry. Sometimes you might laugh. It's always result of a simple choice.

Reality has hit all of us really hard here. We try to balance between the brokeness of this world that gives us frustration, anxiety and pain, and the joy and life of the Gospel. 

Now, that's what amazes me! Nothing is fake. Nothing. Jesus is real, the Gospel is real news and what we live is reality. Reality of living in a broken world but not belonging in this world. This is how you can be sorrowful and happy at the same time. Broken and joyful. Feeling pain and relief. 


Look at us! 
Silver or gold we do not have. 
But what we do have, we give you




Τετάρτη, 4 Νοεμβρίου 2015

First day in the transit camp

Today was a long day. Maybe because it was just my first day in the transit camp that we are working on that made it long. Waking up at 6 something, standing on my feet for a 10 hour shift serving the refugees, coming back to the hotel craving for a hot shower and some time on the bed, just for the bones to rest and the mind and heart to take in all the information from this shift. My first shift. My first encounter with these people...

Tasks included organising them in lines to get in the buses for the next camp, controlling the scared crowd and comforting them as they leave this transit centre and head to these camps. Later on cleaning up the fields, building a fence and a tent, serving tea, giving socks, taking out the rubbish, giving out bus tickets, translating English into Greek for other volunteers. Giving help everywhere that help is needed actually.

And in the midst of these, talking with people. Respecting their journey. Asking about it. Treating them like people with value and not only numbers and bodies that need a blanket. This is where it gets tricky. Engaging in such conditions might change your heart. Might change they way you think. 

People talked about being doctors and engineers back in Syria, their hopes for the new countries they are heading to, their fears.... There was a huge relief in their faces after telling them that they are safe now. That they can rest here. One guy was almost crying out of relief when he heard that he is safe after 2 years on the road and trying to escape to Europe.. He was sharing his story when he told me he was afraid of dying or people killing him. I stopped him, told him he was safe now and he just couldn't talk anymore..

What brought me to a cracking point though, was a story of a guy who lost his family along the way. Somewhere in the borders of Turkey I think, the authorities there forced him to take another way than his family and now he was in a transit centre in Lesvos asking where he was heading next, hoping that he can find them....
Another guy holding a crying baby asked for a translator and told us his story. He was searching for his wife and son that got kicked out  of the rubber boat and into the sea by the smugglers while sailing to Greece. He was left in the boat holding a tiny little human being. He was trying to find out if there is any communication between the camps in order to find his wife... 

I have never seen the pain in somebody's face so clearly. The relief to just know that they are safe. Their happiness once they arrive, their worries when it gets colder and colder in the evening, and their relief to move on with a bus to another camp.

I came back to my hotel room, took a shower, lied down. Started working on other stuff. I couldn't go on. I closed everything down and scrolled other volunteer's stories about what they experienced in the island...

I teared up. I started sobbing. Now only the reminder of what I saw today brings me to tears again. Blessed tears knowing that I served Jesus himself in the face of every individual. Tears of pain thinking about what this brothers and sisters are going through. Tears of joy as I read so many stories about Christians sharing Jesus and his love without words...

Pain, yes. Fears, yes. Tiredness, yes. I could easily stay there. I just can't. Nobody can. All the volunteers are going the extra mile serving these people. Nobody's complaining. Everywhere you look, you can see smiles, love and kindness. I can't help but feel honoured, humbled, and blessed to be here.

And just for the end, the site coordinator for today told us how he was talking to God today about everything and God opened his eyes to see the peace that was around the camp. Even after receiving thousands of refugees per day, there is an indescribable peace reigning that simply can't be our doing and the results of our efforts. It's extraordinary. It's God's peace, it's God's presence surrounding us and surrounding everybody on site. We are SO thankful about that. 

Please, please, please, if you are having us in your prayers, continue doing so. If not, please start praying about us and the situation here. And if you are reading this, consider coming down on the island, even for a short amount of time. 

For His Kingdom, and His glory,

Pavlos 

Κυριακή, 1 Νοεμβρίου 2015

...άλλος για Χίο τράβηξε κι άλλος για........

... Μυτιλήνη! Εκεί πάω.

Στο καράβι που 'μαι τώρα, κουνάει. Πολύ. Λέει σήμερα έχει 8 μποφωρ. Το καραβι μας θα κανει και παρακαμψη πορειας για να μην περασει απο περιοχη απαγορευτικου. Είμαστε τρία άτομα σε μια καμπίνα που μέχρι κ τουαλέτα έχει μέσα. Και κρεβάτια. Εννοειται, καμπινα ειναι. Και κουνάει. Δόξα στο Θεό κανείς δεν παραπονιέται. 


Δεν ξέρουμε που πάμε. Δεν γνωρίζουμε τι κατάσταση θα συναντήσουμε. Ειδησεις και ίντερνετ είναι πολύ λίγα για να σου μεταφέρουν την αλήθεια.. Το μόνο που γνωρίζουμε είναι πως άνθρωποι ξεβραζονται νεκροι σε μια χώρα που δεν θέλανε καν να ερθουν. Τους έφερε ή ανάγκη και ο πόλεμος. Μέσα από θάλασσες φουρτουνιασμένες. Που "κουνανε". Δεν έχουν ούτε καμπινες ούτε πλοία. Έχουν μόνο ένα φουσκωτό κ ένα σωσιβιο. Και μια ελπίδα για κάτι που δεν βλέπουν. Για ένα καλύτερο αύριο. "Στο άγνωστο με βάρκα την ελπίδα" διάβαζα μικρός. 


... Γι αυτό δεν παραπονιομαστε....


#refugeeswelcome


Τετάρτη, 2 Σεπτεμβρίου 2015

I'm back

.. εδω και δυο βδομάδες!.

Ο χρόνος μου με την ΟΜ στην Αγγλία τελείωσε, επέτρεψα στην Αθήνα και ετοιμάζομαι για το επόμενο (άγνωστο προς το παρόν) βήμα...

Σας ευχαριστώ όλους για τις προσευχές, το ενδιαφέρον, την επικοινωνία! Ο Κύριος να σας γεμίζει συνεχώς με τη χαρά Του!

υ.γ. To blog ''παγώνει'' μέχρι νεωτέρας, ίσως χρησιμοποιηθεί για random σκέψεις :)