Good evening! I hope everyone is well.
Sam and I are on our own now in our apartment, and we could not be happier… Just kidding! We do miss Jim and Tyler, but it is interesting to be independent in a big city like Athens. I hope the boys are doing well at Mens Camp. We do not really have contact with them while they are there, though I’m sure God is doing amazing things. That being said, there are not a lot of new things to report on, it seems! Everything is still going smoothly on our side of the Atlantic (isn’t that so cheesy sounding?).
I really enjoy all the people we have met on our trip; though I probably will not remember them all. It is neat to see God working in others’ lives around the world. Yesterday we attended an International Fellowship Church and met an older couple from Ireland. They were only visiting that Sunday as they were on holiday, but it was still cool to meet them. We met a girl named Ethel from France who works in Athens as a translator. She was one of the singers on the worship team. It was evident by her actions both on- and off-stage how very much she loved Jesus. The speakers at church yesterday were a missionary couple. The husband is Syrian and the wife is Greek. They run a Syrian refugee mission in Athens and were very excited to share all that God is doing on their side of town! It was humorous because the name of their ministry is Bridges, and that is what Jim talked about during the Helping Hands retreat. After church, Jim and Tyler said their goodbyes. That is mostly what we did yesterday.
Today, Sam and I got to sleep in, which was nice. We walked down the street and got groceries for the week. We have to keep to a budget by ourselves now, which only worries us a little bit… Also, we did some other housekeeping-type chores and hung around the house for a while. Mondays are sort of a team-building day for Helping Hands workers. The refugee center is not open, and there is a team meeting from 3-6. At 6, everyone has dinner together at one of the members’ houses. Tonight, the dinner was at Kenn and Lisa Dirrim’s house, where Sam and I previously stayed. It was a pretty fun time of fellowship, though there were a lot of people crowded into the little apartment. We had chicken fajitas- very yummy! I forgot to mention that before we went to the dinner, Sam and I went down to the beach. It is only 3 blocks from our apartment, which is very fortunate for us. There have been times during our trip when I’ve felt spoiled, which is probably not how you’re supposed to feel on a missions trip, to be honest. Either way, though, we had a nice time at the beach. Mostly we sunbathed, because the water was cold. The beach was very crowded today, which surprised me since it is not a weekend. It was still nice though. Overall, our first day without the boys was not bad at all! It is weird not having them around, however.
I also wanted to talk about something that happened on Friday. Friday, as you may have read, is tea-time for Helping Hands. During the tea time, there are children’s activities, as well as other activities for adults. Sam and I were in charge of the Bible story and craft on Friday! I was excited to plan the activities, though they presented a few new challenges. For instance, everything we said would be translated to Farsi, so some concepts in our Bible story had to be simplified. We read Luke 5:1-11, where Jesus calls his first disciples. Mainly we focused on Jesus’ provision in our lives if we love and obey Him. Jesus gave the disciples more fish than they ever could have caught on their own. In the same way, He will always provide for us. Our craft was making fish out of paper plates and squares of tissue paper. The kids really got into the craft. Also, Tyler came in with a guitar during our teaching time and the three of us led songs for the kids. This was actually my favorite part of our trip so far! Together, we sang Jesus Loves Me, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, and He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands. We Americans would sing what we knew in English, then try to sing along in Farsi with the kids. Our translator, Liisa, led the Farsi singing, thankfully. She was very helpful to us during the entire kids session. Even though we did not exactly understand each other, I felt a connection with those children. You could feel the joy in the room. Every single person was smiling and singing. The children each had a percussion instrument and were playing along. I feel like even if we could not reach out to these refugee children in any other way, we could at least bring them joy in that moment, for those ten minutes of their day. I think that is what sharing the love of Christ is all about, in a nutshell. Loving another person in whatever way you can, big or small.
Well, friends, that’s all I have to share for today! It’s hard to believe we only have a week left here. My feelings are very bittersweet; I can’t wait to get home to my wonderful boyfriend (Christopher!) and family, but I also have a driving need to continue ministering to the people here. My heart is torn. I hope you receive joy in some way from reading this, wherever you are, reader.