I’m going to take a step back and really let it sink in of how contrary these photos are…and how accurate of a representation of our trip this really is.
Such contrasting places so close together, yet only miles apart. How can it be? How can the world get that way? How do people live like that, not necessarily just in the camp but running from war, genocide, poverty, & abuse. How can some people sit by and do nothing, as with all of the world problems, because Jesus knows there’s many. If everyone pitched in a little, it would make a worlds difference. No pun intended. BUT then, I replay my days in Moria in my head and see lots of people contributing, lots of different organizations coming together to help set things straight, people from the camp volunteering to translate, caught in between all the commotion and emotions. Lesson learned, nothing is black and white.
Before the trip I was nervous about a lot of things. One main concern was about “converting” Muslims. I can’t spew out memorized scriptures. I’ve never ‘convinced’ anyone otherwise. But now I realize, it’s not about that. It never was and never is. 1) we were beyond busy (pushing mind, body and spirit to the limit) and 2) we were only there a short amount of time. Truly showing the Nations Jesus most likely takes time and rooted relationships. And lookie here, I still haven’t converted a Muslim, I don’t even know if I want to anymore. I want them to know Jesus, don’t get me wrong, but I’m realizing everyone has unique gifts and calling, even in evangelism. I am not some new person, I still can’t spew off memorized scriptures. BUT, I have never felt closer to God then I do now and and I am changed. I feel His hurt in this broken world but I also feel his all encompassing comforting embrace. I want his kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Thank you Jesus for this opportunity, you shape me every day and I pray I will continuously and relentlessly welcome you in for the rest of my life.
Some days, true compassion for people seemed to be far-fetched for descriptive characteristics for the world. But then another day goes by in Moria…and they get by, they survive, they persevere and there is hope everywhere; in the child’s face when I sneak them a pair of shoes because they have none, when you make eye contact with a person from a complete different culture/background/upbringing/race/religion and you both know that your hurting together and they are thankful for you and that place.
What did I do and what was Moria like?
I was able to spend a lot of time with rambunctious kids and upset adults. Of course, they were not all that way. It just seems like it. At the end of each day I think more smiles than frowns were passed in my direction and I’d call that a success. I held babies whenever and wherever I could, whether to be helpful while moving or to give big sister a break or just to connect with child and mother. Those were precious short moments to love on them and for them to love on you between all the solving problems, asking&answering questions and doing various tasks. The other in-between time was about hearing their stories. I can’t imagine what I would’ve heard if I had time to sit and talk with them about details. They are gruesome, graphic, horrific but also redemptive. These are just glimpses of what they all are going through. For example, it is very common for a family member to be missing and for everyone to give you the finger on throat motion to explain what happened. It is reoccurring that their various family members are split up, a mother and brother in a different country and they’re patiently waiting for passage.
The sweet children, needing love, attention and consistency. We would skip around and they would climb all over me while on the way to different jobs, which definitely lightened up my days and theirs. At one point, I had them chanting “Brush your teeth, every day!” while most likely having zero clue what they were saying. They are so giving. Throughout the week I was gifted half a yummy pomegranate, their dinner, multiple drawings, a necklace made from trash on the ground and lots of sprinting up to me saying “HELLO!”, shaking my hand or a quick embrace and sprinting away.
“Big Problem My Friend” is a joke we had throughout the trip and we hysterically found graffiti of it on the way to town. It’s funny because now that I’m pondering the trip at 5 am(still recovering from jet lag), the POCs didn’t use ‘big problem’ when actually talking about their problems, which ARE big. It was to describe/name-call us as a joke! Makes me love it even more. And ‘my friend’ was rarely used to describe us as the English term friend(as much as I would’ve liked it to be) It was “hey you” or “excuse me” or “I’m talking to you”, “pay attention”, “Listen”, “Look”, “can you help”, “I need you”, “look here”.
At the beginning of the day I had to take a fresh breath of Jesus and put on my game face for these people. But at end of the day, no matter how exhausting, frustrating, sad, fun, chaotic the day was, we got to go back to the hotel with individual rooms and actual beds and warm showers, clean bathrooms, heat/AC, the beach and restaurant prepared food and clean(relative) clothes. So when I got frustrated at someone…most likely it was frustrated at the situation for them and the fact I couldn’t help everyone. Yeah, I want to give you a power strip so you can make warm milk for your baby. Yeah I know that’s all your asking regardless of your situation.. but so are 4200 other people and we ~20 volunteers can only do so much. We are just trying to keep the place a float, keeping people semi-warm, semi-dry, semi-clothed, semi-housed, semi-content and semi-clean. Where entertainment and common luxuries go out the window and full-fledged survival mode kicks in.
How’d the dental clinic go?
Well I am glad I didn’t have too many expectations, because the ones I did have, went out the window quite quickly when it was realized just how chaotic Moria was. There were more people coming in then out with little help, flat ground, space, resources or supplies. As much as I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to make a difference dentally, God presented just one situation almost every day, letting me know that just one person is all I needed to serve to make a difference. Not sure of how much I can say legally speaking (for my career & also Euro Relief), but lets just say I went beyond my comfort zone. Just as much as you can’t truly capture the beauty of a sunrise or the moon, you can’t capture emotions in a photo: the smiles and eagerness to participate when doing fluoride treatments, showing homecare on the models, passing out stickers and toothbrushes to hundreds of children, most who have severe decay and never have had dental care. Thankfully I had plenty of equipment and supplies but next time I would love to go with a whole team of dental people and coordinate how to spread/organize word of the clinic if possible because it is truly a huge need there, if not globally.
My man Mustafa (upper photos) being a HUGE help and goofy girlie (second to bottom photos) first time being numb. Alli on google translate- life saver-both her and the phone.
What does this mean for me now?
The claim that Moria taught me a lot, is an understatement. Moria gives me a voice in this crisis. (Not so “crisis level” anymore apparently). I don’t know exactly what it means, but I do know that something is better than nothing. That this life is too short to not experience. Too short not to take action. That 9 days is better than none. That any money given is better than 0. I do know that displaced people will always have a spot in my heart. That I will volunteer again, advocate for volunteers, educate as best I can, financially support other volunteers and raise support for the cause. As for my environmental dreams, this does not belittle them, if anything it gives me motivation to live them through, to not give up, to appreciate freedom and our unlimited resources.
What does it mean for the average person?
Hmm..what CAN Americans do? That’s a complicated question that I don’t have the political, historical or biblical knowledge to get into but to answer simply. A: Be like Jesus (easier said then done eh?) but in all reality it’s that simple. The easiest, most pertinent way that I can conjure up is 1) support & research (supplies/finances, knowledge and prayers go a looooong way) being kept up on global situations in general (guilty of not being the best at that- aka twitter&Facebook is good for one thing..) 2) volunteer your time, able bodies and loving hearts. I was moved by how many friends, family and dental companies donated their time and support, and that was before I knew what the heck I was doing. Live with open arms, eyes, ears, houses, hearts and wallets. Yes there is hurt here, I think that’s kind of the point: There’s hurt everywhere and Jesus calls us to radically change our thinking and behavior to seek Him.. with that, we find hope, purpose, joy, and love beyond our imagination. Most likely you or someone you know can take a week off work or even a couple months and work there to contribute and spread Jesus’ light & kingdom. I’m telling you, you’ll gain more perks than you’d expect. It shapes you and loves you more than you’d imagine. But to name a few; seeing the world UM HELLO ITS GREECE , being exposed to cultures from all over the world as well as communicating with them/exposure to Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Greek, Kurdish, German, and French language, working in a fast paced environment, teamwork and conflict resolving with colleague volunteers, multitasking to the limit, the understanding of refugee living, fixing things like plumbing, electrical. tent building experience and WAY more, mega HR/customer service and mob control, just to name a few resume-builders.
To the good stuff, what was Greece like?
I kept thinking oh this is wrong or this is bad and this is a good part but honestly, it’s just tremendously different, some differences more useful or practical or Godlike than others but for the most part, just different. If I said it was like the movies, I’d be undermining its beauty and grace. That place and those people are dreamy, traditional, magical, historical, hospitable, relational and happy, not to mention all the (mostly) snuggly cats and dogs who are very much domesticated but are hysterically free to come & go as they please. The hilltop towns are filled with unique Greek houses that are all connected somehow, decorated with cobblestone one-car(if that)-wide streets and finally, the breathtaking patio plants and potted trees that trap a whole landscaped yard in 3 square meters. Their food groups (minus meat) are honey, anything olive, feta cheese, bread/pastries, Greek yogurt (actually came from there) and more honey. And surprisingly not limes, lemons and pomegranates that grow like weeds there, but it seems like everything there does!
That every person in the camp -past, present and future- finds Jesus and knows Him.. I pray that every person seeking peaceful refuge, is granted that dream. That they find a home away from home and feel true belonging and safety. That every child in that camp has the opportunity for an education and an opportunity to make the decision of a career path to provide for their hearts and family in a sustainable way. I pray for just Christ-like leaders and that all violence and war ceases. Thank you my Father, for being be my side in all of this, for showing me the hurt but also your strong, strong hope and love.
Photos, were not allowed in the camp since its ran by the Greek Military, so I promise we did actually do work as well as play.