Monday, February 22, 2016

Notes from our Saturday in the Snow trip to the Refugee camp

The Limburg refugee camp asked if we could build some additional sandboxes. 
Ever tried to find sandboxes in February?  One place said come back in three weeks; all we have are some old ones left out in the snow all winter.  When Trisha asked if she could buy them, the store DONATED them!
Our job was to buy the wood preservative and paint brushes, the tarp to separate the sand from the rocks, and buy sand.  That was all easy to accomplish on the way home Friday night.  Then we woke up to SNOW on Saturday.  The snow just kept getting worse as we drove up and over the Taunus mountains that separate us from Limburg.  

Randy was the foreman working with our Iranian friends, one of whom is a carpenter by trade.  He LOVED getting to work again!  

Some of the cute kids the sandboxes are for.
For the rest of this BlogPost , I'm quoting from some of my friends who wrote of this day on facebook.  
Melissa Dalton-Bradford was remembering her firstborn, Parker and Trisha Bird Leimer was celebrating her birthday.  The rest of us were along for the ride and the fun.

"Braved a blizzard and went to Limburg refugee center today, Saturday, February 20th. Taught German to my Iranian, Afghani and Iraqi refugee friends. Underneath my lesson about "Die Familie", I remembered braving a similar blizzard in Utah 27 years ago to arrive at a hospital to give birth to our first child, a son we named Parker. Just a week after Parker's birth I was back at it, teaching German to my classes at university. There's a pattern here..."
"I especially like the intensity in Randall's face as he gets whipped in five moves in chess by this boy"

" I think that, when my life is over and I get to review it from the "other side", teaching a 10 year old Iraqi girl to introduce herself politely in German (which will one day be her great-great... grandchildren's language) will surface among the most significant and sweet of any things I've done."

"From the ground in Germany: 3.5 straight hours of cheerleading/teaching German to these lovely, respectful, appreciative, decent students in the refugee camp in my town just outside Frankfurt. I held nothing back, and taught Deutsch like I used to teach aerobics: All-in and high impact. That moment when all 70+ your Afghani, Iranian and Iraqi students are chanting in unison, "Ich bin sehr froh!"  I am very happy    At least they weren't bored, and I left sweaty through to the skin. I also learned some Farsi as a bonus."
"In pantomime and fractured little German phrases, Behrouz and Farazeneh asked about "der älteste Sohn", (the oldest son) who disappeared halfway through the stack of family photos I used to teach about "Die Familie." I then pulled out the small keepsake pouch I'd kept separate, and in pantomime and single words –– "18 Jahre alt," "Wasser", "schwimmen", "Freund" –– told the story. They asked me to repeat. I repeated. They were silent. Then Ahmad, one of my favorites I've worked with from the very start in the first center, whispered, "Es tut mir Leid." (I am sorry.)
I handed out hotel soaps and shampoos and little chocolates and felt grateful."

"Thank you Melissa and Randall Bradford , Rebecca and Randy Stay, and  Carlene and Gordon Walker, Vahid, Elias and Mohammad Torkan for building sandboxes in the rain, cutting endless paper dolls and giving German lessons. It was an absolutely perfect way to spend my birthday! I have some really GREAT friends!"

To infuse a special family landmark with meaning, we went with our brothers and sisters to serve our brothers and sisters.

 "Most of my students at my (now-to-be-several-times-weekly) German class in the camp (once high school gym) in my town outside Frankfurt. They've all been living together under this one roof since autumn, IKEA gray metal bunk beds lined up like in barracks, no private space whatsoever, and 200 local volunteers working in shifts to welcome the distressed. Those years I taught Deutsch to scores of young missionaries and so many university students, I could have never in my wildest imagination foreseen this moment. Such meaning and communion for me. LOVE these "
"This is a great photo. Can't help but notice they all are campaigning for peace."

" absolutely. They have left house, family, tradition, language, jobs, their entire history --everything---for a chance at peace."

Sister Katy Ryser: "Portrait of me (including striped shirt and glasses on my head) drawn by cute Iraqi girl at refugee rec center."

"This was the best birthday EVER! Thank you, Axel Leimer and Natasha Rose for getting up early on a Saturday morning and driving through a nasty snowstorm to hang out with the residents of the refugee camp in Limburg."

Elder Walker teaching German
I'm sitting by the door actually guarding the battery pack for the drill/screwdriver which was plugged in and charging.
The kids found me and we made snowflakes for everyone.  I wonder how much snow they get in Syria or Iran?

"This day was all about creating connections. Creating strings of hearts or hand-in-hand paper dolls to be carefully painted in bright colors by children from Afghanistan, Syria and Iran. English speaking missionaries serving in Germany and their brothers and sisters connected by their struggle to learn the strange language of this land they each find themselves in. Men of various ages and ethnicities piecing wood together in the rain and creating playgrounds for children living in tents. A connecting of minds over a chess board where words couldn't have. A smile. Exchanged names. A love for learning. A need to love and be loved. We are all connected and today those connections were confirmed and friendships created. "

What a great day working at the Limburg Refugee Camp. Gordon taught German and I worked with the kids. If you can't read the sign the little girl is holding up it's her name and in big letters L-O-V-E. Says it all, doesn't it?
Can you tell she is enjoying her birthday? !!
Carlene Martin Walker "It was great to be with you and to watch how you treated these sweet children with such love and respect. What an unselfish way to chose to celebrate your birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY "

Rebecca Stay : "This is our wall at home above the computer.  Note the souvenirs from Limburg: a string of painted butterflies (schmetterling) and 3 portraits.  I think the middle one with glasses is me."


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