The following is another of the stories I collected while working in refugee camps in Greece. These are true stories of real people, people who are now my friends. I share their stories in an effort to shed light on the situation...
I notice that with each day, Tiago* is looking more and more down-trodden. Each day I give him a hug and try to have cheery conversation during his infrequent breaks from the work. But each day it is more and more difficult to see happiness in him.
“How are you today, Friend?”, I ask.
“Fine. Well, actually not. Do you really want to know?”, he says, looking at me with eyes that are about to burst with sadness today.
“Yes, really. I really want to know. Tell me. How are you?”
“I am bad. Very bad. My health is not good. This work is very hard. Psychologically, I’m a mess.” He takes a couple of deep breaths to try to keep himself composed.
“I’ve been here for 3 months. It’s too long. Too much. Everything I see and hear and know – it’s all too much.” He can no longer look at me to speak. To look at me would surely start his tears, so he looks away, he looks down, he looks past me. But he can’t look into my eyes.
When he finally regains his breathing and his voice, he says, “But I can’t stop. I can’t stop as long as they are here (gesturing to the refugees behind me). Someone has to care for them. Someone has to cook.”
And with that, he stands up and goes back to the kitchen. Back to prepare another 1000 meals for the next round of feeding.
(*Tiago's name has been changed for security reasons)
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!