As you may recall, at the beginning of 2014 a shirt was created to pair with the book. The purpose of the shirt is to help spread the word about the book, but also to help support student led mission trips. When the shirt was first created, it was decided that the profits from the shirt sales would go toward Larisa’s trip. When she returned from the trip she wanted to provide a summary of her experience:
I wanted to give you a little update on my amazing trip to Jordan. Lufthansa had a strike so our tickets on the way there got cancelled and we had to rebook, which turned out to be a HUGE blessing as we had a whole extra day in Amman and had a bit of time to rest before starting to work. The first day we were there we had orientation and visited a school on the outskirts of town. Then we painted two different rooms in a community center, walked around the city, led a short children’s program and had a potluck type welcome dinner with some of the missionaries there. On Sunday we got to go downtown and visit some of the souks in the morning and have traditional Jordanian food. Then we went back to the center, painted some more and planned for an English fun night that we were to have soon. In the evening we attended an Arabic church, which was really different but still interesting to be a part of.
On Monday (my 18th birthday!) we drove up to Mufraq, a city about 20 km away from Syria. Our three days in Mufraq were definitely the highlight of the trip. We would visit Syrian refugee families, bring them food and supplies and sit and talk to them anywhere from an hour to three. We would hear their stories of life in Syria and fleeing across the border into Jordan. One girl that we visited had been shot in the leg at the age of 4 by the government army and had to have it amputated and now used a prosthetic leg. What amazed me most about this adorable seven year old girl was how joyful and happy she was. As her dad told the horrific story about her being shot, she sat there with me and we colored and she would look at me every so often with this beautiful smile on her face, so content. Not angry, bitter or mad – this was not at all what I would have expected. Yet another family had 7 kids with one more on the way; they could only afford for three of the kids to go to school and the dad had a broken hip due to a tank shooting a wall and the wall falling on him and crushing him. These people had lost everything – their home, friends, possessions, jobs, their whole LIVES yet they were so inviting and hospitable and would serve us Turkish coffee and tea and ask us about our lives and what it was like in Germany. I also got the chance to distribute supplies to refugees that had registered for help at the center there. We would come in a pickup and go to people’s houses, determine how much they needed and then start bringing supplies in. These supplies included mattresses, blankets, pillows, mats, gas stoves and gas cookers. Our team would have to do this as fast as possible, as others would surround the supply truck, often trying to steal from it. I went with a Syrian refugee ladies group to a Jordanian school for handicapped children one day, we made crafts and spent time with these autistic and Down Syndrome kids. They were precious. I will never forget the stories, faces and hopes of the refugees we visited and spent time with.
We drove back to Amman did some more work there, painting a coffeehouse and another room, then leading an English Fun Night twice; a time of games and fellowship and meeting the locals. We attended church once more and on Friday went on a picnic with the local church and spent time with them, talking and discussing stories. On Saturday we got to do some sightseeing, we visited Mt. Nebo, where Moses died, to the site where Jesus was baptized and finally the Dead Sea. I loved my time in Jordan and the people there really impacted and encouraged me. I hope I did the same for them. I cannot even thank you enough for enabling me to go on this trip. I have travelled a lot in my life and been to different countries but this was a completely different and eye-opening experience. This trip even helped me realize a bit more what I want to do with my life – I am now considering going into Pediatrics more seriously and then working with refugees in war torn countries.
Thanks again, Larisa