For as long as I live, I will probably never forget the sound of the chunky, white, rocks shifting beneath my shoes as I walked into the refugee camp that I worked in in Greece. I will never forget the taste of the steaming hot Lipton tea burning the taste buds off of my tongue in 90 degree weather or the smell of the first RHU (refugee housing unit) that I walked in. I’ll for sure never ever forget the greetings I received from the tiny children that rushed me and my friends at the entrance of camp every day: “MY FRIEND, MY FRIEND, come, come, come!”I do not ever want to forget moments like that.
The God-given, God-placed moments that tear you apart and oddly, put the broken pieces of you back together.
It was my first day in camp and I met the two people who would be the vessels in which God taught me the most. My first friend was in her 40’s and I will probably write about her soon. But my second friend was 8. She was the most beautiful, sassy, determined, and independent little girl I have ever met. This little one reminded me a lot of me. 🙂
I would skim through camp my whole shift looking for her. Most days, I found her…those were the best days. I would sit on a bench with her, under this tree that oddly enough provided a heavenly source of shade. She would talk to me in Arabic, and I would talk to her in English (I learned quite a bit of Arabic from her). We would giggle and tell each other how beautiful the other was and usually she would make me a rubber band bracelet or play with my hair. One day, she sectioned my hair off and put these tiny plastic rubber bands around these slivers of hair..right next to my scalp. Painful, yes. Worth it, absolutely. Another day she sat in my lap and colored a picture with paper on my chest and took the longest amount of time possible doing it because she thought that it was funny. She was free-spirited and hopeful and goofy and she reminded me who I was again, just by being who she was.
Coming into Greece, my heart was really hardened by life. If you follow my blog, you know that this year has been extremely hard, but this little girl was a treasure in the midst of the desert. Jesus used her in the most intimate way to allow me to feel safe to be vulnerable and soft again, to be goofy and belly laugh again, and most importantly, to sit in the midst of my life and my dreams and be so hopeful…regardless of the loss or heartache. She helped bring “me” back again. She was a refugee. She had lost everything and her little 8 year old life had been devastated by war. I related to her in more ways than one. Obviously my life is so blessed….but I learned that we all have loss and in one way or another we are all refugees looking for a place to land.
My time in Greece untangled my heart and allowed the fresh breath of God to touch me again. I came back undone in the sweetest way. God is a little sneaky…using an 8 year old refugee from Syria to bring me to the end of myself. But that’s okay, I’ll take it. It’s the sweetest way, full of the most laughs and tears and clumpy fingernail polish.
I’m forever changed, forever given to Jesus, and friends forever with Miriam.
Thanks, Miriam-for changing my life. Thanks, Jesus for being forever faithful.
**This is a small summary, tiny update, snippet of my trip. This blog post, by no means, encapsulates the entirety of what God did on the trip, nor what I learned in total…but for those of you who want to know more, contact me, I’d love to meet up with you. 🙂 **