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Jesus, Tea and Goodbyes

Although we will still be in Greece for a few more days, today was our last day at Helping Hands. Today was a tea house for the refugees. There was no structure or program to the day; the refugees could just come inside for a while, drink tea, play games and visit with one another.  Bekah and I worked in the kitchen making and serving tea for everyone. Even though it was hot outside (and inside!), we were consistently giving out tea and tea cookies. I’m sure I gave some kids like 30 tea cookies a peice!

Liz had the opportunity to work with the kids and teens today. One girl who is 18 and knows English fairly well, started talking with Liz and another girl about who Jesus is and that he is the Son of God. They were able to tell this girl about who Jesus is to them and how they believe in one God. She shared some of what she believed as well. The fact she was asking questions was such a sign that she is curious and that God is working in her life!

Most of the refugees are staying at camps around Athens. Some have more than others–some have money while others are just figuring out how to get by. Today so many of them kept asking if they could takes the cups from the center to the camps because they didn’t have anything. It was hard to have to tell them no. It was such a simple thing, but it showed how much some of these people don’t have.

Since today was our last day at Helping Hands, there were many people that we won’t see again. During debrief they prayed for us and we said our goodbyes. While I didn’t like saying goodbye, I am so grateful for the staff here. They have continually showed me love. Everyday they demonstrate how to follow Jesus and serve his people.

The last couple days of our trip we will spend seeing  a few more sites, debriefing, going to church and packing. We will head to the airport on Monday morning to start our trek back to the States. Thanks for journeying with us these last few weeks!

 

 

 


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Last Week at Helping Hands

After we got back from a wonderful few days of retreat with the Helping Hands team, we spent the last two days at Helping Hands for their meal day and women’s showers day. The last couple of days have also been extremely warm outside, so working at Helping Hands has been also pretty warm. It’s crazy to think that we have only been at the Helping Hands center four times now and we are leaving this coming Monday; however, each of us have gotten the hang of what we are supposed to do and how we can help out as we each have done a large variety of the jobs: playing with the babies and kids, serving and making food, and lots of setting up and cleaning.

Yesterday, Liz and I helped out with the kids while Tiffany helped out in the kitchen, and today, Liz played with the kids, Tiffany was helping with kids and bouncing around helping out, and I mostly helped in the kitchen. Nick is still currently gone to Men’s Camp with a few of the guys from Helping Hands to serve refugee men. It is kind of crazy how simple and how rewarding it is to be present and available to serve. None of the tasks we have done have been challenging, but they can be more helpful then you realize. For me, my “biggest” task today was to help lift the giant, hot pans of food back and forth as I capable of doing it with no problem. You never realized how helpful you can be until you simply ask, “How can I help?” I am going to miss this place, the grateful smiles from the refugees, the wonderful laughs from the kids, the adorable little tiny babies, and especially the team we got to spend the last few weeks getting to know. As much as miss home, I also don’t want to leave yet. I feel like there is so much more I can do out here, and I don’t want to say goodbye to the new friends we have made. Our last day of serving will be this Friday for tea house, but I only wish we had more time. Please pray for everyone that will walk through Helping Hands: that they will see the love and passion that the people who serve there are pouring out to them as they are each following Christ. God Bless!

-Bekah Palmer

 


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Kids. Swim. Sleep. Repeat.

This past weekend was relaxing, busy, tiring, and hectic mixed into 5 days. The main things I remember doing were watching the Helping Hands staff’s children, swimming A LOT, and feeling so tired that whenever we had free time, I would sleep. This wasn’t the normal routine of the weekend, though. We also experienced Corinth! We got to hike up the Acrocorinth. We didn’t get to hike up all the way to the top, because we arrived at 2:30, and they closed at 3:00. So, we only got through the three gates that were surrounding the structures. We also went to see the Corinth Cannal. Come to find out that everyone on our team (besides Ken and I) would bungee-jump off of the bridge. Everyone else is all for it, but I’d rather look at the scenery – not be a part of it.

It was a lot of fun watching kids, seeing the sights, and relaxing for a little while.

P.S. I did not miss the hill in front of our apartment AT ALL!

P.P.S. It was Tiffany’s birthday on the 29th, and the whole staff of Helping Hands and the JG Greece team surprised her with a cake and sang “Happy Birthday” to her at dinner!

Elizabeth Herbel


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Paul…is that you?

Greetings from Kinetta Beach-

Team Greece is having a fantastic time here on retreat with Helping Hands. It has been full of good conversation, worship, food, kids, beach, reflection, and lots of swimming. It is hard to believe how great this place is. I am certain I can speak for everyone when I say that the Lord is restoring, rejuvenating, and replenishing not only myself and Team Greece, but also Helping Hands and the wonderful ministry they are all doing. You can see God brightening up smiles. You can see God speaking life into Helping Hands’s team. I can see the rest in the Lord taking place right before my eyes. I have only witnessed Helping Hands love on the refugees for the last couple weeks, but it is easy to see how busy they all are and how restful this retreat has been for them all so far. Team Greece was tasked to babysit or watch the missionaries kids while they worshiped the Lord, listened to a fantastic couple speak, and even go on a date. I am not sure you can call it babysitting when the kids are all great. Also, when you are poolside, enjoying the sun and swimming, you can hardly call that babysitting or difficult. Team Greece is very blessed.

Today, Team Greece got to experience Corinth! We had a wonderful day. Our leader was very knowledgeable, super humble, and able to connect dots that I had not ever seen before. We started at the Acrocorinth. It was the fort that was atop Ancient Corinth. A place where you fled to if you knew Roman soldiers were coming to ransack the town. It was also a shelter for any attack that would have come.

There were three gates. Three gates to ensure that the intruder would not get through. If they got through the first gate, and the second, ideally, and hopefully, the intruder would not be able to get through the third gate. While standing there, it was easy to see how difficult it would be to get past the gates if they were guarded. There were steep terrain and mountainside on each side, making it impossible to penetrate. Unfortunately, we showed up a little bit late, so we were not able to walk all the way to the top. But, I did run ahead and get some good pictures from on high. Unfortunately, the internet here at Kinetta Beach will not allow me to upoload them. I will have to post pictures when I can connect.

I will tell you that the pictures are very good. It was so good to be in a place where Paul was at and spent a significant amount of time in. I believe he was there for a year and a half. He also writes to Corinth, taking up a significant amount of pages in the New Testament. There was something special about this place that Paul knew about, and needed to be there for a length of time to communicate God’s Word. Our leader, says to think of Corinth in this way. “Corinth had the financial backing of modern New York City, and the Political power of Washington D.C.” This was a unique place. Location, politics, issues with God’s people were all topics in Corinth. As said by our leader, “Paul strategically placed himself there for the spreading of the gospel.” He knew how Corinth operated. He knew the location well. He knew the importance of his task given from the Lord in this place. What a special day it was for Team Greece. And there is more.

We then moved down to Ancient Corinth and our leader, Kenn, began to teach us things that were so good to see in real life, and not in a book. We were there! We were at the synagogue where Paul walked. We were at the port where Paul would have gotten off his boat and traveled inland. We were there where he was accused of “persuading people to worship God contrary to the law” (Acts 18:13). We were there in the same place that he walked. We were there in the same place that Paul talked, taught, and worshiped. I am struggling to find the words to express what was happening within my heart and soul today. It was so jam packed full of information that I went on a little system overload, but needless to say, it was transforming. There were so many details that I had missed before. There were so many little things that put into perspective what was happening and the significance it has in what it was like being Paul. That is what our leader, Kenn, wants to challenge each of Team Greece: do we know Paul? Do we know the fullness of what his life was like? Do we know how Paul thought? Do we know Paul’s upbringing to understand the worldview that he speaks through? Are we searching enough for the truth? Kenn was outstanding at revealing some hidden mysteries that have eluded me before. I will be forever grateful, as I believe, Team Greece will be too.

Tomorrow, I will break off from Team Greece and head to a Men’s refugee camp where I will be for the next five days. I will eat, sleep, talk with, have fun with, compete with, pray with, and worship with refugees every hour of the next five days. I pray the Lord will use me to give hope. I pray the refugees will speak hope into my life. I pray the Lord would move in such a way that opens up new things, shows me new suffering, shows me new struggles, shows me new passion, shows me new mercy, shows me new grace, shows Himself new to these refugees. I know a lot of them are still Muslim, but this is also a seeker group that will be there. About 40-50 seeking refugees. Seeking for something that Allah is not giving them. Seeking for something that can’t be given through ritualistic practices. I pray the Lord would show the refugees what they need to see and hear and that they would then respond. We shall see. It is going to be awesome, that is for sure! I cannot wait! I do not think there will be internet there, so it may be a while before I can give you an update, but I will as soon as I am able.

Oh, it is our leader, Tiffany Van Dame’s birthday today! If you know her, send her some love!

Unitl next time.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Nick LeMonds

P.S. The pictures have still not loaded since the beginning of this blog. I will post them when I can.


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The harvest is plentiful.

Every Wednesday is shower day for the women at Helping Hands. This is a time where they let women and children come in to take showers, do laundry, spend time together and eat lunch. This is a less structured day, but still a lot of fun (and tiring too!).  Since today was only for women, Nick wasn’t with us, but he helped at a men’s shower day at another ministry center a few blocks from us.

Similar to yesterday, we could work in the kitchen, spend time with kids, or sit with the adults. While Bekah served in the kitchen, Liz and I spent most of the time with the kids. Since they do not have a structured program on Wednesday, we are in the main area with all the adults as well. It is nice to be able to interact with everyone as well as watch the women interact with one another. This is one of the only times these refugees are able to simply spend time together and have their heads uncovered for a period of time.  I enjoyed being able to play and laugh with the kids while playing with playdough or trying to teach them Uno when neither of us can understand the other persons language.

As much as I enjoyed the day, one of my favorite parts was during our debrief time. All of the staff gathered to share how they saw God at work and then we ended our time in prayer. There are two stories I wanted to share: 1. There was one refugee who came to know the Lord a year ago. During the devotional time, she got up and shared her story with the women and said how she found Jesus and Jesus is the Truth. She was also to tell the women that she used to be Muslim but how God changed her life. She was very brave!  2. There was another woman who had three precious little boys. There is a chance that this is the last time that they will come to Helping Hands because they may be going back to Afghanistan. One of the staff members asked if she could be forward with her. The staff member proceeded to tell her about Jesus and why they do what they do at Helping Hands. The lady kept saying that she sees the difference. She sees how we are actually living out our faith and not just following something blindly. She asked questions and talked more with the staff member and another one of the ladies. They prayed for her and laid hands on her.  While she is still unsure, she is questioning and willing to listen. Pray for her with us that she may come to know the Lord and the depth of this love.    The boldness of the staff and their deep desire for the refugees is amazing.

There is more that I could share about the stories we are hearing, but know that people are hungry. The refugees are physically hungry and it truly is a blessing to help them in such a practical way, but it is evident that they are also spiritually hungry. So many of them want to know more about God. They want to understand how is it different from what they have been taught all their lives as Muslims. Some are starting to sense God’s presence and feel his peace which is so different than a lot of what they are dealing with.  The harvest truly is plentiful and we have a faithful God!

 

 

 


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Clothes, Food, and Lots of Babies

Today, we were finally all able to go to Helping Hands as a team to help out for one of the normal meal days. We got there earlier to join in the prayer time with their team and to help with meal prep. We were expecting about 16o refugees, so after we prayed, we got right into chopping tomatoes and cucumbers for the Greek salads. Once we got most of the food prepared, everyone was gathered together to go over what the schedule was for today and to volunteer for the different jobs before we pray and open the doors. Nick volunteered to work in the kitchen; Tiffany volunteered to help with the kids in their program that included songs, crafts, a lesson, and play times; Liz didn’t volunteer for a specific job as there was already a lot of volunteers for most of the jobs; and I volunteered to help out in the baby room to play with the toddlers and babies so the moms could stay for the Gospel presentation(maybe selfishly but I love babies and toddlers so I didn’t want to miss that opportunity). After we prayed for the day, we got some clothes racks out and opened up the doors! I guess it got pretty crazy down at the entrance as there was a few people who got in fights.

As soon as people walked in though, everyone was smiling and saying “Salaam”(hello) to us as they walked by. You could tell that most of them had been there before and appreciated what Helping Hands was doing there. We waited for all of the refugees to come in, find a spot to sit, and grab some clothes for all of their family there before we started serving lunch. It was kind of fun just watching some of the kids pick out clothes and trying them on, especially when the clothes were definitely not their size. Serving lunch reminded me of waiting tables like I normally do as my summer job, but it was different this time. This serving was not for my personal, monetary gain; instead, we were serving for both these people’s physical health and give them an opportunity to reach Christ. It’s amazing to think how God will use your past experiences for something new and unexpectedly in the future. Once lunch was finished, we all went to the areas we volunteered to help in along with all the kids and babies. In the baby room, unlike the kids room, there was no specified program; instead, we basically just watched and played with the babies. I loved seeing their smiley faces as I played with the toddlers and babies as the time just went by so quickly. As much as I enjoyed playing with toddlers, I was exhausted after they had all left.

Once all of the refugees left, we cleaned up the place and had a time to debrief. Some of the thoughts from those who shared during our debriefing time were so simple and yet so incredible as well. Those who were involved with opening the doors also explained why a fight had broke out downstairs. The whole day made everything we had been talking about before we came more real, and it opened my eyes to  what is really like right now for the refugees. It makes me want to keep serving though and to keep helping wherever I can. So I am excited to see what tomorrow brings as us girls will go back for the women’s shower day! Please pray for the families we have met and will meet tomorrow as well for all of those who have been serving at Helping Hands! God bless!

– Bekah Palmer

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