Think with me about a painful season in your life. An experience that left you reeling, a disappointment or dream that died. Days or weeks that stretched on with challenges and sorrow.
In the midst of the heartache or burdens that weighed heavy, can you see the gifts?
The section this week of our book, Butterfly by Yusra Mardini, takes us along on the journey of Yusra and her sister as they try to leave Syria and get to Germany. From a plane to Istanbul, bus rides, and then the harrowing boat ride to Greece, Yusra shares so many details about the waiting, the questions, and the challenges.
I can’t imagine the fear, the physical toll the journey took on her and those with whom she traveled. Food was often scarce and sleeping involved the hard ground and maybe a sleeping bag. They questioned who they could trust and what decision was the best. This group was not the first to try and get to Europe, so they knew the stories of hardship and even death for those who had gone before.
In the midst of it all, though, I was struck over and over again by the gifts in this section. There were moments of kindness from many different people all along the way. When the group was waiting for the right time to board a small boat, strangers become friends and provided protection and companionship for Yusra and her sister.
After their group made it to Greece, barely surviving the ride after the boat suffered engine failure, a young girl sees Yusra’s bare feet and Mustafa’s wet clothes and gives them a sweatshirt and tennis shoes, along with glasses of water. Their conversation is limited, yet I couldn’t help but smile at such a generous gift of kindness.
When restaurant owners turned them away, probably overwhelmed by the need day after day, the group finds food and kindness from a woman who not only helps fill their stomachs but tells them about a place to stay the night. She also allows them to charge their cell phones (a need I hadn’t even thought about, but so important!).
The new-found friends wait for each other, give advice or share information they have acquired. In the midst of the hunger and fear and danger, there is kindness and care and compassion.
In many ways, the experience of Yusra and her sister is unique because of the funds they were able to bring with them. I know not all who leave their homes in search of safety and a future have the options that Yusra and her group did.
What were some of the gifts you saw in this section? What else struck you?
We will continue reading about Yusra’s journey next week!
July 20- Chapters 13-17
July 27- Chapters 18-22, Conclusion