Around 20 years ago I took some Nexus music students to Croatia to help in a small town of Pozega. It was just a few years after the war there and although these were tough days there, it was so good for us to go and just learn, listen and make small differences as and when we could. I learnt so much in those trips about listening and compassion. Those were the early years of Bless being born! Well just a few weeks ago, one of those students came out to visit us, this time with his wife and three awesome daughters and with so many goodies for the boys on the presqu’ile! We have been so encouraged by their energy, to fill a trailer with trainers, clothes and warm coats that the boys need, and drive them from the UK, leaving Friday night after work and school finished for the holidays and so arriving very late here at Bethanie . It was also great fun to catch up after all these years with Dan and his inspiring family.
We’ve had some tough conversations again of late with the boys on the presqu’ile. As I’ve said before, these winter months are so incredibly challenging for the boys. I chatted with a guy from Iraq just a few days ago and he has children he hasn’t seen now for 4+ years. He heart was very heavy as he showed me photos. He’s got a brother in Manchester that he is trying to reach. Another guy from Afghanistan is also sleeping rough on the presqu’ile, and was so cold, he said he’d give me money if I could just find him something warm to help him sleep at night. We were able to give him a sleeping bag that was bought from our amazon wish list. His response was so wonderful to see, so incredibly happy to be a little bit warmer hopefully tonight. It’s wonderful to give the gifts that you are bringing and donating. It all makes a difference and it all brings moments of joy, and some relief in these tough months. But one of my greatest moments of joy this week, was seeing a young lad walk away with a little red bag on this back. That bag contained some language course notes, paper and pens and a dictionary. Emily prepared it for him and we are so excited to start some small efforts in education. He is so happy too as he has been waiting 6 years for papers to be legal here, so a long time. And he longs to continue learning and growing. These are all little steps, but little steps keep us moving forward, and if we’re moving forward, we’re going somewhere new.
Hope is such an incredibly powerful emotion. We all need hope to keep moving forward, and for 2020 we pray that these boys/men, will find hope in surprising places, and have the courage to keep going pursuing their futures.