Being involved in a ministry of compassion and 'doing' means being prepared to participate in ways that perhaps are rather unexpected and unglorious. This trip to Athens, Greece was rather unglorious and basic. But for both Marina and I, this meant opportunities upon opportunities to participate in birthday parties, going to Greek hospitals with refugees, doing dishes after 570 cups of tea, babysitting for screaming Arabic and Farsi speaking little ones and peeling and preparing 30 kilos of carrot salad for 150 Persians!
So to begin, one of the greatest moments for me was when refugee M told me that she thought that the team at Helping Hands was closer than family. For a community oriented refugee this was high praise in deed! She further honored us by postponing her daughter's first birthday until Marina and I had arrived in Greece. What an amazing testimony to knowing that we have her best interests in heart. May God bless this family!
The evening was full of international laughter as people from Canada, Russia, America, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Phillippnes all ate and fellowshiped together. It was a highlight for sure!
Later that week I was priviledged to go with M to the hospital to try and get her signed up for a doctor. Even after my years in Russia, I realized that it is almost impossible to know what the system is in a new country. I have forgotten how hard it is to get things like this done without language! We were not totally successful, but the fact that we made a small step in the right direction was enough for her. And I felt totally overwhelmed by the need to help people in small ways, like going to the doctor with them.
Amazing what really is an outpouring of His love.
Another day our Russian team (all two of us) was priviledged to participate in the oldest of Iranian traditions, Nowruz. This is compounded of two Perisan words "now" which means new, and "ruz" which means both day and time. Literally meaning the new day, or New Year. The Perisan Nowruz begins on the first day of spring, usually the 21st of March.
It was a wonderful celebration for Persians far from home, complete with traditional songs, skits, food and fellowship. And then of course there was the added wonderful of Russian carrot salad! My fingers still hold the 'scars' from that a week later!
My heart was amazed though when I watched so many from another land rejoicing over a piece of home. What an incredible opportunity to provide something for those who have lost everything, the ability to celebrate a highly valued home tradition.
Interesting what is really an outpouring of His love.