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