From a volunteer in a refugee camp in the Jordan Iraq frontier. Could help you in your prayer….

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(shared by Anne Pace)


Greetings and peace to you all!

Please forgive the bits and pieces  of this email, but I managed to get sometime at the internet, and its been a long day.

Life here is like anywhere else, we get up, work, eat, and sleep. The major difference is that no one here has a home, as such just a space. And believe me we are all grateful for this. I knelt by my bed last night, like I did when I was a child, and my prayer was simply’ Thank you for my bed, luckily with a mattress, clean blanket, and and a pillow”. Most are still sleeping on the floor. Most families have a space of about 8 sq feet, with some simple partitions to grant some privacy. 

We are living in an old school hall, where all the rooms are being used by families. The kitchen is large as it is the school kitchen, and the toilets are the students toilets. Bathing is by bucket, when we can get water, from outside.

When I’m not teaching if you can call it teaching, I walk around the camp, and help out where I can. The children follow me everywhere, and never let me out of their sight. This was explained to me by a sister, who said, that they have lost all the permanent things in their life, they don’t want to lose the little things they have. Even if it is a short fat, little brother.

The most important thing is to try and help, everyone life some sort of normality. A lot of old people have given up, and simply want to die. The young parents are just trying to survive. Fathers are desperate to still be the head and provider of their families. Anger is a big problem,and  needs to be dealt with very gently and with extreme patience. People are at breaking point.

We have to watch the children, and especially the younger girls, who are snatched and sold as child brides, this is very difficult, because we live in a sea of people.

There are make shift notice boards, with photos and desperate messages, looking for loved ones, and news about people who are alive, dead or missing. I find the boards depressing and like a coward try and stay clear of them.

I spend  a lot of time in the kitchen, with the grandmothers and mothers, not because I’m lazy, but to try and bring some cheer to them. I have slowly come to some small understanding  of what the ” Holy Family, and leading the hidden life of Nazareth may mean. The simplest things we do in our daily routine slowly brings us into direct contact with the hiddeness of His Love. The sanctifying grace of being part of a family, in all its ups and downs.

When I meditate on the holy Family of Nazareth, the daily routine. Mother Mary, going about her chores, cleaning, cooking, mending and making clothes. Listening just in case baby Jesus wakes up crying, or bathing and kissing His grazed knees, when he feel over, or was in a fight, doing the things boys do. Watching Joseph the protector,from the door of the workshop, making a new table, chair, or plough . Taking him some wine and water, and bread she has just baked. Feeding the poor who come knocking on the door, as we are taught to do in all religions.

I look around me and share with these good women, that yes we are all in desperate situation,  but they are following in the footsteps of the Holy Family. They are Joseph and Mary, and their children are Jesus. They had to run away with nothing and seek protection in a new life. Not in Egypt, but not far from where the Holy family sought refuge. They suffer the worry and anguish that Mother Mother must have felt. Worried about the family that she has with her, and those she has no news of.

These ordinary daily actions, cooking, washing the clothes in buckets, looking after each others children, trying to keep peace in the house, dealing with an angry husband. Finding the time to snatch a quick 5 mins in the chapel with our lord, before she hears the familiar cry, ma, ma, ma, where are you. I need the toilet, I’ve had an accident, sorry I wet the bed again.

I think of my own childhood, and family life, and never realized , that it was a Holy and life giving experience.

Brother Charles came to that understanding of the life giving Holiness of the family. I have his picture with abu jesus on his lap, where the young boy is sitting at peace and safe inn Bro. Charles lap.

I sent our sister Anne an email and mentioned that a quote I must have read somewhere years ago, keeps repeating itself whereever I go. ” It is in serving each other, we become free “. Let us all find that freedom in our own daily lives, especially when we do the ordinary simple daily chores.

I am as always your little brother. Good night and let us Pray for our common family, especially the children and young people, His littlest.

Gary- Abdi

Compline prayer: ” You belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God “.

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