Hello from the beautiful mountainous sea shore at Porto Astro, Greece!
Today is our last full day at the camp before we head back to Athens tomorrow so there is a lot of experience processing happening here. And in true Greek style, we’re leaving at a yet to be determined time and in a fashion that may or may not involve hiking, a barge, a boat, a van, a bus and/or the train!
Our time here has been one of constantly changing new adventures. When we first arrived here, we set up camp, enjoyed some peaceful contemplation with the Lord before participating in planning and information meetings that frequently derailed into story telling about all the amazing things that God has done here. That quickly changed to the more mundane, scorching hot and tiresome work of setting up and taking down dozen of tents to check their structural integrity, then again to the widespread excitement of the camper’s arrival and finally to the daily busy work of looking after the constant needs of nearly 200 people. There has been great food, a raging chef, rain, wind, and sun, pain and sweat, loud cicadas, funny plug-ins, spiritual enlightenment, singing, laughter, tears and many more stories and prayers while working and sharing with the teams here. And all of this interspersed with the almost daily swims in the salty ocean followed by freshwater shore side showers to remove the salt and serve double duty as hygiene time!
My formal camp assignments have included toilet and dish duty (I’m sure you’ll be thankful I won’t be expounding on either of these!) and child care in the nursery. The latter assignment has brought me many opportunities to cuddle with dozens of cute children while attempting to communicate with their parents: them speaking Farsi and me replying in English! Nursery times have been somewhat flexible (really everything in Greece requires flexibility!) as program time seems to end when the ladies run out of questions or the babies run out of patience with their caregiver’s creativity!
Several of the children I’ve had the opportunity to look belong to a beautiful mother who, unfortunately, doesn’t speak very much English. I met her when I was assigned to be her camp tour guide on her first day. Through my interpreter Solomon (not his real name), I’ve learned that some of the children are hers and some are her nieces, but she’s the only adult here responsible for a group of 7 children between about 6 months and 12 years old! I’ve had the privilege of supporting her and cheering her on as she reached the top of the climbing wall, participated in archery, mastered ocean kayaking, engaged in group discussions and gracefully looked after all her kids in the sometimes trying and always public camp situations. It’s easy to see that she’s an amazing and courageous woman even though I don’t know the story of how she arrived here in Greece. With the huge language barrier, I’m limited to smiling, looking after her children and praying for her, but I’ll never forget meeting her. I wish I could share some of the photos I’ve taken, but for her personal safety, we have been given some serious and understandable limitations on what we can post publically.
Meeting this woman has been one small, but impactful story in the amazing short term outreach experience I’ve had with a large group of remarkable people here in Greece. Whether my time was spent cleaning toilets or dishes (different rubber gloves!), rocking babies or floating in salt water, my personal challenge has been to have a servant spirit through it all because I may never know how God will use my life to impact someone else’s.
And so far (thank-you for all your prayer support), we have not been involved in a foreign country’s medical system and we have not been a part of an international incident…. but there are still a few more days Laurie! Sarah