Our Advent calendar this year focuses on Syrian refugees. Each day there is a verse and then something to reflect on about the refugee experience. Things like, "Refugees often have entire families sharing one small room. Put 500 LL (about .33) into your Advent box for each room in your home." And, "Refugee children often can't go to school. Give 250 LL for each year of school you have attended." Other days give things to pray about, "Pray that those who fight, causing people to flee their home would find nonviolent ways to solve their disagreements."
In October the kids at church spent some time each week trying to understand what it is like to be a refugee. They had to put everything they would want to take, if they had to move, in one backpack. Another week they were challenged to eat only a UN food ration for a meal, to see what it is like.
Everyone who has anything here in Beirut is giving donations for those that don't have, as Lebanon has close to a million Syrian refugees. There are kids shining shoes and moms begging for food. The conversation is all around us.
In the eyes of a four year old sometimes it is hard to distinguish between our lives, as expats, and the lives of refugees if the focus is only on having to leave home, living in a new place, and being far away from family. We are working to understand the huge difference between the blessing of the adventurous life we live and the horrible conditions of being a refugee.
Yes, there are times we don't have electricity or heat, but that is for just a few hours a day and only when the building's generator doesn't kick in. We still have a home with four walls and a ceiling that keep out the wet and wind. Yes, there are times we wonder where our extended family members are, but we always know they are safe. We have jobs and income and she gets to go to school.
In the end it gives us things to pray about. Praise for all we have and prayers for those that don't.