June 26th, 2017
After such a good night’s sleep, I was able to wake up around 7:30 AM and have about two and a half hours before we needed to leave the apartment. I finished up some more days for the blog (finally starting to catch up) and read a decent amount of Leviticus. I also had an apple and a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Overall it was a really convicting and productive morning.
Around 10:00 AM we left to head to the church of Omonia. We decided to take the metro there, which my foot and I much appreciated. When we arrived Eleni gathered us into the main room to talk to us about our assignments for the day. A couple people would be working with the children, one person would be helping out in the kitchen, and the rest of us would be doing conversational English. I was excited to help teach the people who came, but also nervous because I did not have much experience with that kind of thing.
No one showed up for a while, so I spent some time praying to God about the frustrations I had experienced so far on the trip and praying that He would use me and bring someone to me that I could help. When I finished praying I began studying some of 1 John until Nada (a volunteer from Hungary) brought a woman named Laila over for me to work with.
Laila was from Morocco and already had pretty advanced English. She pulled out her “Let’s Start Talking” book for us to continue going through. The way the resource worked was there would be easy to read passages from the Bible, followed by context questions, then a short grammar lesson, and then finally a question that helps get a conversation about God started.
We went through three or four lessons and took the time to get to know each other in between. Laila was from Casablanca, which was about one hour from where my childhood best friend lived. She had no family here with her, but she did have a nephew back in Morocco who may be trying to come to the States.
The conversations we had about Christ were very uplifting. It was hard for people to really open up to our group since we were only working in the church itself for less than a week, but through the “Let’s Start Talking” questions, we were still able to have some deeper conversations. Laila definitely knew the importance of baptism and seemed to understand the Trinity. I hope to get to know her more in the upcoming days.
When another man came up to our table and started talking to her, she introduced me as “her new teacher, Jenna.” It made me really understand why I was here and I knew I was gaining tools that I could then take home to Delaware to use in the American Host Program at UD.
Around 2:00 PM we began preparing to leave. On our way home, we made two detours. The first one was to get frappes. They were pretty good, but honestly, I just wanted a hazelnut iced coffee with cream and no sugar. Our second detour was at a little fruit stand where I was able to buy some fresh bananas. It was nice being able to have my own fresh fruit and it was pretty inexpensive.
At the apartment, we had about two hours to do whatever we wanted. I decided to FaceTime Dear. We ended up talking about the trip and just catching up for almost an hour which was really nice, considering I was used to talking to her every day. Also, she missed me so much she barely nagged me about anything! When I hung up I went and watched everyone play Exploding Kittens for a little bit and then Austin and I hung out in my room while I blogged and he did stuff on his iPad.
Our evening activity was to go to Omonia Square and pass out cards talking about the resources at the church to the refugees in the area. We divided into groups of three or four so I headed out with Austin and Devon. At first, it was kind of hard to figure out whom we should be approaching, but then we realized it doesn’t matter who is a refugee and who isn’t because we are called to share the gospel with all people and love everyone. To make the whole process feel more natural we bought bottles of water to hand out to the people. We also had directions to the church pulled up on Google Maps as well as pictures of the church and a nearby mural.
The first man we talked to was a Romanian man named Yaan. We probably passed by him four or five times total and each time he just looked so happy. He allowed us to pray for him, which is ultimately all we can be doing, and even then, it’s not us, it’s God. The next woman was sitting across the street and in addition to us reaching out to her, one of the other groups actually invited her out to dinner. Apparently, she was also from Romania but knew a bit of Spanish. She is also the daughter of Yaan supposedly. I really just ask for prayers for God to be moving in their lives. The woman actually prayed for US when we asked if we could pray with her.
The next man we met was also named Yaan, but he was from Greece. He kept on asking for us to look for him when he came to the church tomorrow. It was so encouraging to see people so open to coming to a church, even if the was free food and English lessons involved.
After we moved away from Yaan, we did not see anyone else to approach for a couple blocks and I began to get slightly discouraged, so I prayed. As I finished praying to God to put someone else in our path, we walked around a corner and saw a man sitting on the ground. We talked to him, directed him towards the church, and were going to ask to pray with him, but a security guard was standing next to him and looked as though he was about to tell the guy he needed to move. Since we couldn’t pray with him, we went across the street and prayed for him there.
After we talked to him, we met up with the rest of the group so that Rusty could give us our dinner money. Emily, Jordan, and Bill joined us to go to a local Chinese place that Nathan had recommended. On our way there we met a man with one leg from Romania and another woman sitting outside of a grocery store. We prayed with the woman and as we stood up some guy walking down the other side of the street started yelling very choice words at us telling us we shouldn’t be doing that kind of thing in public, but save it for behind closed doors. We should have just walked away, but Devon and Austin began to engage with the man. We got away safely, but it was still kind of scary. We are called to be different. We should be known by our love, people should know that we are Christians based on our actions, and that man definitely knew. There really is no persecution of Christians in the United States, so it was definitely an unexpected encounter, but made it even more how much we needed to spread the love of Christ in this city.
The Chinese place was a little shop that only did take-out and after eating it I could confidently say it was delicious, we’ll see how I feel in the morning though. When we got back we waited for the other group and then had our devotional time. It was just really encouraging to see how God was using us as instruments to spread the love of His kingdom. This time allowed us to encourage one another with our own stories of how the Lord was working.
Afterward, I spent some time to myself, just reflecting on the day and writing down my experiences, as they were still fresh. This was an amazing day and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for tomorrow.