Alliance Relief: http://allref.gr/
Esther LB, Morgane, Lydia and Jasmine are going to be joining a team from the Becker family church (in the US) for a week in Greece. We are leaving on Tuesday 19th and come back on Wednesday 27th July.
We will be helping an organisation in Athens is called Bridges, working directly with Syrian refugees who have fled their country and are now pretty much stuck in Greece since the borders are now closed.
Blog UpdatesDuring their time away, we hope to update this page with daily updates of what they have been so please keep praying for them.
Day 9 (Wed 27th)
Update 10:00am - Esther - We're at the airport with a few minutes till we board so here's our final post...
Lydia- I can't sum this trip up as there have been too many experiences and moments to write about; it was interesting and memorable and it has taught me a lot. Here's Morgane it's probably far more interesting!
Morgane - We went to this trip with great expectation but little information of what we were actually going to do. We took every day as it went and God has not failed to overflow us with more and more of Him and His incredible love. We are starting to process everything and surely God will keep on speaking to us and we pray He will stay close to the refugees we left yesterday.
Jasmine - Finding words to sum up the week we have had is almost impossible. We have been on a rollercoaster this week not only emotionally but physically as well. When we have been drained of energy, we were filled with the Holy Spirit (and coffee) and managed to power through and spread the word and power of God. In very few words: God's love has shone this week and I hope it continues to shine in our lives and the lives of the people we have met.
Esther - what everyone else said!! Looking forward to some time to process and look back over what's happened this last week. Have met some amazing people, made some great friends, God has been so generous. Thanks for all your support and prayers!
Day 8 (Tues 26th)
Update 10:40pm - Last day....Happy Birthday to Morgane!!
We leave for the airport tomorrow morning around 9am, will send an update while we wait for our flight! 😊
Day 7 (Mon 25th)
Update 10:40pm - Jasmine has updated her blog HERE
Update 9:40pm from Anna Becker (from California team) - "We started off the day with our usual run to the Greek bakery and caught the train to Alan and whitneys center! Ya girls painted and did manicures on the women refugees and it was very humbling and a beautiful experience! We then went to the beach again to meet our refugee Syrian friends that we had been meeting frequently this week! We swam to an small island and we sang worship on the beach, we ended the day with a Greek meal as we say goodbye to team member Igor as he leaves early tomorrow!"
Update 8:20am - Morgane writes - "A few days ago we went to the beach and met a group of men from Syria. It is the beach near where we are staying so we went many times and spent time with them. On Saturday we invited them out for ice-cream. Three grown men, one in a wheelchair - wounded in Syria by the attacks - a young boy and a little baby boy. At the ice-cream shop the staff told us to watch out for our bags not realising that they were our guests. This group of men invited us to dinner in their flat the next day in a way that we couldn't say no.
There are refugees in Athens that stay in camps and there are that stay in flats that have been attributed to them by the Greek government. The "Shokran family" that we saw on Friday had the same type of flat; only a few rooms for many people and barely no furniture apart from bunk beds. They don't have the right papers to work in Greece yet, or anywhere else in Europe, and if they work illegally the flat could be taken away from them. So they are given coupons to buy food that are only accepted in a few shops.
Here is what they cooked for us out of the coupons. If only you could smell the smell on the photo! No offense to anybody that ever invited me for dinner but that was the best meal ever! Wallid, the chef, and his son are moving to Germany next month to join the older son that made it there and we told him that he should start a restaurant in Germany and he already invited us there!
Like on Friday I went back home feeling privileged to have spent time with such amazing and generous people and with a lot of joy in my heart but also with a lot of pain and a feeling of injustice. Some verses that God gave me many times this week are the words of Jesus: "Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. Blessed are those who thirst and hunger for righteousness for they will be filled." Praise the Lord that His gospel is for them and that His promises are true!
Yesterday we went back to the camp we went to on Friday and talked to the people we had built relationship with. They will be relocated to another camp today.
Nassir from Pakistan welcomed us to his tent as if we were family. In the conversation he told us about his friend that comes almost every day to the camp and sometimes teaches English to the kids around. A little later she arrived at Nassir's "house" and everybody in his household stood up to greet her, even the women that were so silent and reserved when we were there. She is the Scottish woman we met last time; a small and older lady. I asked her if she was an English teacher and she said no, she just speaks English. That is probably what was on my mind all day, that such a small woman with such few resources would make such a big difference in so many precious people's lives. A few months ago I read mother Teresa biography and I was profoundly inspired. She said we can do no great things, only little things with great love. Before starting her house for the poor in India she wrote letters to her superiors to convince them to let her do it. One of the things she wrote them was that if one child would know the love of Christ through her work it would have been all worthwhile; her life as a sacrifice. We see a lot of pain, of loss, of unjust precarity and inhuman treatment in the camp and around us in Athens but what convicted me most was this little woman who makes such a big difference."
Day 6 (Sun 24th)
Update 9:10pm -
Here's a Waller/Legg-Bagg update....
1. Going back to the camp at the port & having some laughs with our Syrian friends.
2. The singing at the Farsi church was epic.
3. We ate a lot of meat for dinner.
4. Swimming in the sea in the dark.
5. Surviving another day crossing the roads.
6. We didn't get lost.
1. Not being able to wear shorts in 37 degree heat.
3. Our sense of humour is often lost on our American friends.
4. Someone tried to steal from my bag (but they failed).
Update 12:45pm - Blog update from Jasmine HERE
Esther enjoyed spending this morning hanging out with these amazing ladies again. They laughed a lot at her efforts to learn Arabic but was totally worth it.
Day 5 (Sat 23rd)
Update 11:15pm - From Lydia - "We went to Elias and Voula's centre this morning and helped practically with their centre, like washing windows and mopping the floor. We ate a great Greek lunch and then split up, one group to the beach to speak to some refugees we met earlier in the week and another to Alan's centre where we played games with some children and helped with the laundry and office work. We then got lost after getting the train and walked around for like an hour thanks to our terrible sense of direction"
Update 9:00am - From Morgane - "Yesterday in Athens after having been fed lunch by refugees in a camp we went to a church service for Syrians refugees and a family invited us over for dinner afterwards. I don't remember all their names but I will call them the "Shokran" family because I've learned it means thank you in Arabic and that's what we repeated all night. After offering us dinner out of the few things they had, they offered us tea, and when we had to leave they gave us an apple each and waved us goodbye till the end the street. There are some amazing people in Athens!"
Day 4 (Fri 22nd)
Update 11:00pm - Apologies for late updates from Thursday/Friday.
From Esther - "Today we've been to a refugee camp at the port. It used to be home to over 2000 refugees, now only a few hundred as they are clearing everyone out and closing it down in a few days. I have spent time with some of the most beautiful, generous, well educated, gracious and lovely people in my life. My response right now is to want to stamp my feet, cry, and shout out that this is not fair."
From Morgane - "Today we went to visit a refugee camp by the port in Athens. People established a camp under this bridge and on Monday they will be relocated somewhere else. They don't know where and they don't know how it is going to be but some have been in this camp for months. They are waiting for the right papers to enable them to either to work in Greece or go to a different country. Many of them have family somewhere else in Europe like Germany or France. The first person I talked to asked me where I was from and I answered "I am from France" very slowly because I thought he would have very basic English but he answered with a perfect English: "I am sorry about the terrorist attacks that happened in your country." He is from Pakistan and had to leave 8 months ago for political problems we didn't understand completely but he is now living there with his brother's wife and her mother and two beautiful and cheerful children. We don't know what happened to the rest of the family. They are living in tents, sleeping on the floor but are given meals three times a day. He told us the Greek people have very little but they give what they have. Him and his family offered us everything they had; tea, coffee, juice, their lunches.
I then talked to a man from Morocco that left for Europe with a friend of his and he was trying to explain to me in broken French and broken English that he wasn't happy in Greece and was hoping and praying for something better to come. He wants to hope for the next place they will be located in but his hopes have been shattered before. I said I would pray for him, pray with me. We also met volunteers in the camp; people from England, Sweden and Scotland. The Scottish woman was on her own and she had been there for four weeks, I think just spending time with the refugees. There are beautiful people in Athens."
Update from Jasmine on her own blog HERE
Day 3 (Thur 21st)
Update 11:00pm - Today we went to the new centre run by Bridges today, it's opening next week so we got our 'Noise' on and did some cleaning and helping get it ready. Went to a different refugee centre this afternoon and helped there too! Went to the Acropolis. Walked a lot!! Was good to hear from the guys this morning who run Bridges, they are amazing people. 😊 Very tired...
Update 7.00am - Read some of Jasmine's thoughts on their beach visit yesterday here.
Day 2 (Wed 20th)
Update 7.10pm - Read some of Jasmine's ponderings today here.
Update 3:50pm - Few more photos from the team outside of church where they are staying and at the beach.
Update 8:40am - The four girls are off for quick beach visit before team meeting with California team this afternoon. Esther and Morgane are ready to go!
Update 7:00am - Team arrived safely in Athens yesterday! They were met by the guy who runs the church that they are staying in. Had a late night chicken gyros pitta! Looking forward to whatever today holds... The weather is looking very hot. (24 degrees already)
Day 1 (Tues 19th)
Update 16:00pm - Team from Becker's Church in California are on their way to Athens too
Update 12:00pm - Team have arrived at Gatwick Airport and waiting for the flight at 2.40pm.
Update 8:10am - The team are driving up to Gatwick Airport this morning and flying out at lunchtime to Athens. Check out Jasmine's personal blog post - 'I am proud to be the daughter of a refugee' - that she posted last night.
Team thoughts before goingJasmine - "I am looking forward to putting myself into a tough situation, where people who need love the most shall be, this also makes me a little nervous too as I am not really sure what to expect~ despite seeing things on the news. I am looking forward to learning a lot about myself within this situation. This trip is a chance to really expand my relationship with God and I am excited for the outcome! My whole summer is going to be a long learning experience about myself and who I am as a person! And who I am in Gods eye~ and this is very exciting!!!!"
Lydia - "I'm pretty much the same as the others, but i am looking forward to being actively involved in something that has been all over the news and to experience the refugee crisis first hand. im also excited to spend a week making new friendships with people despite the very different life experiences we have; basically im just excited to spend a whole week in athens, doing something i havent done before and to give love to people that need it!"
Morgane - "I am looking forward to meet some of the most courageous but also most abandoned people on the planet. I have been reading and praying about the refugee crisis since it began and I feel so blessed that I will finally be able to see it first hand in Greece. I hope we will be able to bring the hope and love of God to the refugees there but also to the people helping. I am nervous about not being able to communicate with them as Arabic is a language completely different from both English and French."
Esther - "I'm looking forward to meeting and hanging out with people who are living something I've only seen on the news, and understanding a bit of the reality of that. I'm keen for God to break some of the apathy I feel and to use me to love and serve in different ways. It's also going to be sunny I think!! :)"