For a change

Sunday evening and time to write a blog. Today, the entire week actually, the weather was wonderful here. When I compare temperatures here and in the Netherlands… What a difference! This afternoon temperature was 22 degrees. Of course I took a walk, difficult to resist with such beautiful weather. This morning it rained a little bit. A pity for the runners who participated in the annual marathon. A distance of 42 kilometers. But you don’t have to run all the way to Marathonas, you can also run 5 kilometers in the park. And probably you can also walk, instead of running. That is the reason it was busy in the center early in the morning. Usually it is very quiet in the metro at this hour, but this time the carriages were full of people. Syntagma square, where the race begins, was more crowdy than usual too. For our friends it doesn’t make a huge difference. They are still sleeping or wake up when we approach with our teapots and sandwiches. And always happy to see us, though a little sleepy. M., a refugee, was with me this morning. He is highly motivated, he wants to do something to be a good person. These are his own words. I had a conversation with him while we had a cup of coffee at McDonald’s after our round. He has tried, but doesn’t believe that any religion adds anything to the good life he wants to live. He has read the Quran and the Bible, went to a church for a while, but it didn’t work out for him. He is no longer a Muslim and Christians are better people than Muslims. But otherwise he has no use for any of it. I told him what I think and that I do not believe we are intrinsically good, but that we become good by believing in God and in Jesus as our Savior. After that we each went our way – literally and figuratively. Next week he has his first interview at the asylum service and I am curious to see how that goes.

Due to the marathon the center was closed, so you never know when and if a bus will come along. Therefore I went to a Russian congregation for a change. A small group that gathers in one of the churches within walking distance from my house. I know the minister and his wife because we collaborated on a food project. A small group of faithful who look a little bit like the photographs you can see in the Friedenstimme magazine. A lovely magazine about evangelization work in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Impressive stories. Fortunately there was a translator, for my Russian is hopeless.

Next week I expect it to become really busy at the Salvation Army center. We have a new translator from Arabic, so we can register new people. During the past few weeks that was rather difficult, as we had only one volunteer, a Swedish girl, who speaks a little bit Arabic. Madeline, that’s her name, was suddenly promoted to translator. We helped people as well as we could, but it was quite a problem. Communication is everything. Without language there is only incomprehension. Recently the bulk of our “clients” are Arabic speakers. I don’t know why, actually. But one has to be careful always not to favor one group above the other. Then people get angry. We’ ll see.

Oh well, I forgot to tell you that Victor, my homeless protegee, showed up again. He was arrested because he has no papers. After a few weeks in some sort of camp, they put him back on the streets. Now he is coming to Connect again. I cannot do much more for him than giving him something to eat and some clothes and a sleeping bag. He is in a lot of pain because of his illness and has difficulty walking. Every week I buy him a box of Ipuprofen. How long this can go on I don’t know. Would you please pray for him?

I wish everybody a good week!