July 13th 2017

Spread Love

Comments: 12 Topics: ,

“Are you coming back tomorrow?” Even after time has passed it brings me to tears thinking about saying goodbye to the men, women, and children I met in Greece. Recently I dreamed of serving in refugee camps surrounding Athens, Greece. In partnership with my church, Crosspoint, a supportive network of friends and family, and a worldwide organization known as “OM”, this dream became a reality.

Kindness and generosity poured from their being. For a short period of time my purpose was to make them feel as if their life is not confined to the barriers of camp, and that it is okay to dream of another life. My own perception of life was altered by the people I met, and I remain forever grateful. I can only hope I contributed to a small part of their happiness.

I met Behassad, age 15, the first day in Lavrio. His family is from Kabul, Afghanistan. He quickly opened his heart to us by sharing about his family and their previous life there. The bombings in Afghanistan only a few days prior had destroyed his family’s home. He showed us the dismal video of his parents, brothers, sisters and 20 others on a speedboat traveling from Turkey to Greece as if it were a part of everyone’s life. We asked if he was scared, “yes, of course.” His father, Samat, made tea for us in their new 12′ x 12′ home. They have so little to give – yet they were willing to give everything they have to us. I saw God in so many, but especially in Behassad. He has seen more turmoil in his 15 years than I might see in my lifetime but he has more gratitude than any person I have encountered.

In Malakasa, an hour north of Athens, I met a man who asked me why I was there all the way from America. After answering him twice – he pressed further, helping me to realize my own intentions: “to spread love.” He grinned from ear to ear repeating the word love. The yearning to feel loved was palpable. This same man unearthed a talent of mine, beginning a long line of portraits I painted for them. I am privileged to have been able to give him, and many of the kids, a tangible image of themselves created during this time of their life. This is a luxury I took for granted, but was a treasure to this man – a steadfast reminder to use our God-given talents to spread love.

In Sounio we played ‘futbol’ with the older boys. In the glaring sun, experiencing the hunger Ramadan carries, their energy grew from the excitement of playing with adults. Talent, or lack thereof, did not matter as we all gave the game everything we had. These boys did not know much English, and we knew nothing in Arabic – but you would be hard pressed to find stronger connections made. When the time came to say goodbye one of them gave me a hug. He didn’t say, ‘goodbye’ or ‘see you later’ – he simply said, “my friend.”

These overwhelming feelings were new to me: wanting the best for someone I had just met, to give them every opportunity that was given to me, and the desperate need to know that when I left them that they would be okay. I will never forget the heartbreak I felt leaving my new friends. They asked, “are you coming back tomorrow?”

My response was, “I will see you again soon, my friend.”

Faithfully,
Perrin Tyner

Lavrio Camp

Little boy from Afghanistan in Lavrio

Malakasa Camp

Drawing faces in Malakasa

Playing futbol in Sounio

Sanuda in Ritsona

I had the opportunity to paint on the walls of connect where OM volunteers pass through, hopefully inspiring many to come.


Group serving from Crosspoint Community church



12 comments

  1. Susan S says:

    I can fully see why your heart was captured. I simply have no words for this crisis of our time and I pray for it to be resolved in your lifetime and mine.

    “Everything one records contains a grain of hope, no matter how deeply it may come from despair.” Elias

    Blessings,
    Susan S

  2. Trudi Rowe says:

    Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you”. Thank you for sharing your beautiful service and love for others in your email. You have truly warmed my heart today.

  3. gaines says:

    Dear Perrin , McAlpine clearly designs sublimely beautiful abodes and I have no doubt you contribute your share but I suspect you harbor inside a sublimely beautiful heart as well. Many talk about the refugee crisis or look at soul rending photographs and I, myself, fall into that catagory. But you took it upon yourself to actually go and visit a camp to bring a touch of decency, indeed, love to those caught there to no act of their own. If that smile of yours, I believe it is, indicative of your capacity to care then I am sure they benefited from your presence for some time to come.

    Gaines

  4. Kathi Gilleland says:

    What a beautiful testimony. If we all worked to share love, this world be a much better place. Thank you for your commitment to helping others.

  5. Marci And Stan Johnson says:

    This is a beautiful story – thank you for your kind heart and helping others.

  6. Ann Williams says:

    What a beautiful commentary on such a meaningful experience. God bless you and your precious, loving heart.

  7. Kay Horrell says:

    Perrin….what a heart touch read!!!!!!

  8. Karen Carlson says:

    Wonderful. Hopeful, Loving. Thank you.

  9. Ruthie Cook says:

    Perrin.. this was a lovely post! Your selfless contribution to a people in need was a refreshing read.These people have seen an oppression that no one should have to face. God gifts and you have graciously extended what you have been given to these children as Im sure did your team! It truly was a mission of love thank you for making a difference!

  10. Allyson Kirkpatrick-Clark says:

    Lovely story. Thank you for being an “American ambassador”!!

  11. LLarson says:

    Hello!
    I am so happy to read this journal entry! My son was a corpsman in Afghanistan for a year. His experience was not of love and compassion, but of injury, destruction and death. It is beyond wonderful that you put a sweet face on the victims in Afghanistan. I need to keep remembering that there are more people there that are targets than just our troops. As a person of faith, I struggle with this constantly and so appreciate your entry and the fact that it was able to open my eyes again to the other side of our fight to freedom.

  12. Liz Thompson says:

    An incredibly touching experience. Thank you for your mission and purpose and most importantly sharing your journey. And thank for believing in strangers, now friends and for spreading love.

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