There were hundreds lined up outside the gate when we arrived at 5 pm.
Last night we took our first shift at Moria, the largest camp on the island, where people can be processed and then take the 12 hour ferry ride to Athens. The camp is in what I suspect is an old prison, for it certainly looks like one- with high metal gates and barbed wire everywhere.
Our job was to welcome families with children and elderly into a gated section of the camp, to provide them with food and medical attention, and then settle them into bunks where *roughly* 20 adults will stay with their children.
I worked on the 3rd floor, which was more for the general population of families. Up the hill are bunks 1 and 2, which hold more vulnerable people- single women and children, pregnant women, and the sick.
We were told that all together, the three floors can fit 800 with extremely crowded conditions.
Last night, we had roughly 700 on floors 2 and 3 alone.
I'll never have sufficient words to describe what I saw. Each room held dozens- piled together on the floor, 5 children to a bed. One family of 17 refused to be separated and elected to sit up all night so that the family could stay together. One Syrian man I spoke to said that he had not slept in 5 days. He gave up his bed so that another family could enter.
After a few hours, we had to begin turning people away. At first, only women with very young children could enter. Then, none. The crowd outside was frantic at times- pushing and shoving, all yelling in Arabic or Farsi. At one point, one of my teammates had to shout at the crowd to keep them from crushing a mother and infant.
All night, all I could think about what Mary and Joseph outside of that crowded inn in Bethlehem. I always thought it was, like, a cute little B&B type with the no vacancy sign flipped. No more. Every family that I turned away last night looked like the holy family, and every child, Jesus.
I'm not going to lie, it was pretty awful. The families that we could not house tried their luck at other bunks in the compound, but many ended up sleeping outside on the ground.
However, in the middle of all of this mess ('cause isn't that just how Jesus comes?) we saw a miracle.
Our whole compound (3 floors!) was delivered 750 meals to be shared among the people. We had about enough food for every other person. People were going to go away hungry, and several had not eaten in days.
Realizing that this was about to get very ugly, a few of my teammates and I started to pray for a 5 loaves and 2 fish situation- thanking God for the way that he had already provided everything that we needed for the night.
On our block, we started with 7 crates of meals. At the end of dinner time, we had 3 whole crates of food leftover. People were bringing back extra meals.
GOD'S MATH DOES NOT MAKE SENSE! In the midst of overcrowding and overwhelming need he provided over and above what we needed! Families went out into the camp, carrying meals for their loved ones.
Please pray with me that God just continue to pour favor onto the camps at Sykaminia and Moria. Pray that people go away full- not just of food, but of the overwhelming love of Christ. Pray that they go away rested- not just physically, but full of peace and hope and the knowledge that they are loved fiercely by Jesus Christ and his people.