A letter from Nadia Ayoub, serving in Greece
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“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
Dear Friends and family,
All praise and thanks to the Lord. Be exalted, O God, above all heavens; let your glory be above all the earth.
And thank you so much for continuing your active support with your prayers, encouragement through e-mail and letters, and financial support.
After spending close to three months last summer in Greece working with refugees in my role with the Greek Evangelical Church of Katerini’s Perichoresis project, I needed to return to the US to apply for a Greek visa. I traveled to the States in mid-October, and thanks be to God, I received a one-year Greek visa. This will allow me to continue in my ministry for a longer time. When I returned to Greece in early December, I planned to resume my work in the hospital as a translator for sick refugees four days a week, and to devote one day to taking Greek language lessons. In addition, I planned to join the refugees in a craft class and an Introduction to Christianity class. On Saturdays, I would attend the open market to talk with refugees about their lives. I thought to myself, “This is the first time I have had a clear plan for how I will spend my time and how the Lord will use me in Greece.”
With the dawn of the new year, the Lord drew my attention to the above Bible verses from Isaiah. I wondered how God’s thoughts and ways would be different from ours in the coming year.
When I returned to Greece, I did not start work because of the holidays and because the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) — which supports Perichoresis — was waiting to receive its new six-month renewable contract. After Christmas, I met with the UNHCR director to ask when I could resume translating for refugees at the hospital, but the director said the UNHCR would not be sponsoring translation, as it is the hospital’s responsibility. I was a bit discouraged, but I prayed and trusted God to do his will.
When I heard Greek language lessons would be starting, I explained to the leaders of Perichoresis that I wanted to learn Greek with refugees, and they agreed that I should do so. While I was at the education building attending Greek class, I met with Alexandra, the director of RefuAid, a Perichoresis pilot program that helps integrate families who choose to stay in Greece into the Greek community. When the Arabic translator who worked with RefuAid decided to go work for the UNHCR program, he pointed to me and said, “Alexandra can use Nadia’s help, since she can only take care of a few Arabic-speaking families.” When she asked me if I would come work with her, I agreed. Now, I attend Greek lessons and help the teacher if she needs assistance by translating for students and helping them communicate with the teacher. If Alexandra needs me to translate for her office, she calls me out of the Greek class to help her.
I am thankful that I see more refugees and have more chances to interact with them. In my role with the integration program, I translate for refugees in a number of settings: I visit refugee families in their homes during social workers’ monthly visits; I join them when they meet with school directors and teachers; and I accompany them on doctor and hospital visits when they need me to. It is a testament to our strong relationships that families invite the Perichoresis workers for birthdays and other occasions.
I also sit with refugees in Sunday church services. Most of the time, the church provides a translation of the service from Greek to English, and after church I share the message in Arabic with the refugees who do not know enough Greek or English to understand the message.
I look forward to teaching English to children in the Perichoresis preschool program. The preschool started in November, and 15-20 children from refugee families were attending. The program continued until Christmas. However, after the holidays pediatricians advised families with young children not to send them to nursery or preschool programs until the flu season is over. We pray the preschool program will resume soon.
I find purpose in my work with the Perichoresis project and the RefuAid program. Indeed, God’s thoughts and ways are different from mine — they are much better.
I pray you will continue being interested in and become active supporters of what God is doing with the refugees in Katerini, Greece, through our global partner, the Greek Evangelical Church. Thank you so very much. May the Lord bless you.
Serving the Lord with you,
Evangelical Church of Katerini
Att: Nadia Ayoub
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Tags: Greek Evangelical Church of Katerini, language, Perichoresis, preschool, RefuAid, refugees, UNHCR; translation, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
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