The morning after we arrived Kim, our leader, did an orientation. He discussed all the things that have been going on in Greece, a little backstory, and some of what we would be doing. The area of Lesvos we were in receives 75% of the refugees coming across. Literally all the nations of the world are going there; refugees, migrants, displaced people, they are all funneling through Greece. There have been people from Haiti, Tibet, Africa, the Dominican Republic, Mongolia, and Somalia, just to name some of them.
We read Matthew 25: 31-46, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
This Bible passage is what we were actually going to be doing. We were to feed them, give them clothes to wear and invite them in. We were going to help the sick and even help those who were in prison. How were we going to help those who were in prison? Since the crisis started in Turkey, women who are being trafficked for sex have been able to escape their prison and flee to Greece. These women went to Turkey with the impression they were going to be maids and nannies, but were sold into the sex trade. So even in that we were able to help. It was amazing to see how we were going to live out a part of what God has called us to do as Christians.
After our orientation was over we went into the town, Mythimna, for lunch. I was starting to get sick with an awful chest cough that lasted the entire trip. After lunch we walked around a bit to see the town (There are so many cats and dogs there! It was unbelievable how many there were). We saw some of the rubber dinghies people are coming across on; these boats are made to hold only 15 people, but smugglers put at least 45 people on each one. Some dinghies come with as many as 80 people. Once you see one of those ‘Death Boats’, it’s not hard to understand why so many capsize. It is winter in Greece right now, yet people still come across. It must be awful where they are coming from if they are willing to spend 200 euros to come across and risk life and limb in doing so. They are so desperate for freedom from oppression.When we had toured Mythimna we went to what is called the ‘graveyard’. It is the place where they take the discarded boats and lifejackets. There are over 400,000 lifejackets there. Piles and piles of jackets and boats. Many of the jackets are fakes, just pieces of foam and orange cloth. Children often come across with just two kiddie arm floats. There is no way to dress warm enough for the weather, because they get soaked coming across from Turkey. These people are coming across open water for four hours with fake jackets in an overcrowded boat. It was a little overwhelming to see and hear it all.