Our first 24-hour shift
We have just recently arrived back to our hotel. It is Monday night and though we arrived on the Island more than 36 hours ago, we have yet to sleep in our beds. Sunday morning as we arrived we were told we would be hitting the ground running. We would start our first 24-hour shift later that night at one of the camps.
So, last night at 6 we started our journey to Sikaminia camp. We got a tour, settled in and after dinner, many headed into town for a walk into the little fishing village at the bottom of the hill where we enjoyed some refreshing ice cream (proclaimed to be made of pure buffalo cream). Then, our tired bodies led us to our cots in the tents for our first sleep in Lesvos.
By 6 people starting waking up and we were greeted by Kim making us breakfast, lovely toasted cheese and ham sandwiches. We started our Monday with a study from 2 Corinthians 1 where it talks of God as the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.
Looking back on the past 24 hours, we haven’t looked into the eyes of any refugees yet but we have been gaining a soft heart for them as we walk in their footsteps. As we watched the waves of the Aegean crash at our feet, we imagined how hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have made this life-threatening journey across the sea and how scared they must have been in the hours they were on the sea.
As we walked up the extremely steep hill up from the beach to Sikamenia camp we could only wonder how difficult this part of the journey would have been for the young children, those with injuries, those that were elderly or disabled. Then, to do it when wet, perhaps in the dark, with no knowledge of what was coming. The fear and discomfort they must have felt.
As we spent the night and day in the camp, we tried to imagine what it must have been like to arrive and receive a smile, a warm cup of tea, somewhere to clean up and get new clothes. But also how hard it would be to sleep there on the floor or be separated from your family or simply not know what was coming.
As some of us picked up the trash from the roadside along this main stretch this morning, a mundane task became very personal. As we dug in the ground and waded through the bushes, we found empty water bottles, clothing, life jackets, food cans and then the
identity papers. We found parts of burned and ripped up passports representing people from Afghanistan, Morocco, Iraq and Iran and even a fully intact Syrian passport! We couldn’t help but wonder if they are ok. Did they make it across the water or were these documents discarded because they didn’t make it? Are they in Greece, stuck at the Macedonia border or perhaps they are somewhere in Germany or Sweden? We will never know the stories of the individuals whose papers we found but now we better understand the journey they took.
Please pray God would show them compassion and be their comfort and may he use us tomorrow to show compassion and comfort to all those we meet.
For now, I am off to bed.