Hey all! Cheyenne here.
As you may not know, I often write articles based on people I’ve met in missions as a way of helping my self process. I’ve decided to start sharing them with you all, or rather I felt God prompting me to be more vulnerable with my writing. If my experiences can inspire other people, let it be!
Hello Dear Soul,
I understand you live in a busy world, demanding of your time and thought. I live there too, and it’s difficult to navigate somedays. Ceaseless reasons to work and worry. Our world is awful messy, isn’t it? But I have story from within that mess, one with love and hope spilling out from between the lines. Won’t you pause your projects and lists to rest and hear my simple story?
Please, I invite you to sit down, breathe and read with me. Let me tell you about the day I met a hive of Queen Bees.
Oh, what an experience that will not soon leave the imprints of my mind! Buzzing, they were in all of their glory. Women from many Nations, gathered together, for the purpose empowerment and learning. It was called Melissa, which is Greek for “bee”.
Melissa is a network for migrant women in Greece.
Their Hive located in a humble building off of Victoria Square in Central Athens.
The day I discovered this Hive was a freezing day, I was bundled in typical fashion for someone native to the northern United States.
Imagine me, black down coat, thick blue jeans, hat hair and bulky woolen socks sticking out of my well-loved (old and ugly) Merrill hiking boots. Not knowing when I dressed that morning that I would soon be meeting Queens. Walking boldly as my google maps led me to an address given to me by a stranger on social media. Catching a few glares from locals as I lead my team in false confidence down their streets.
Now, I had traveled to Greece that week with a small group at the height of the Syrian Refugee crisis. With nothing but our hands and feet to offer to those organizations bringing relief and comfort to the newly displaced. It hadn’t been many days and I already had frozen bones and a heavy heart. We spent our mornings assisting ships bringing in Syrians from the sea. We spent our evenings trying to feed empty bellies, warm cold bodies and even warm hearts with music, prayers of hope and dancing.
But this particular day seemed alive with hopefulness.
It was as if I was stepping into a piece of the bigger picture. This was not just meeting another government relief effort. I was walking into a home of love. One that would live on long after my group would board our return flights for home.
It was medicine to the soul as we arrived at the given address. Greeted with warm hugs and smiles by half a dozen women. A warmly decorated sitting area, colors captivating the eyes and beautiful handmade art gracing the walls. Stories just overflowing in that space. Coffee and cakes were brought out and offered to us with delight on both the giving and receiving ends. It was almost unnerving the sense of home you felt after sinking down into the soft sectional sofa. After my last several days it was as if my body was asking permission to relax and to rest in this space. A stunning woman, who seemed to me to float rather than walk, Nadina shared her story and the origins of Melissa Network. How they were a safe place for refugee women and their children. Offering the same sense I home I had just experienced as well as practical hygiene needs and multiple educational classes.
However, the emphasis was clearly being put on the heart of the women and children they served. Their story and transition taking precedence, their soul honored. I was soaking it all in. An oasis for the feminine heart. After the introductions and rest our group joined in with these women preparing gift bags for the refugee children. The gift bags were a consortium of fun and practical. Socks and Undergarments with cartoon characters printed on, toothbrushes and coloring books, stuffed toys and rain ponchos! As we packed we spoke blessing over each child that would receive these totes. Someone turned on some beautiful African gospel music in the adjoining room and cranked the volume. This naturally led into a dance party as we worked. And as we danced we learned the story of one of the women there. She told us to call her “Click” because we could not understand her name in her native tongue. She was born in Zimbabwe and her language had many clicking sounds we had never had to use before. She told us of surviving Mozambiki’s guerrilla war and how she had been one of the Child Soldiers. I was floored by the woman in front of me.
A child soldier in a bloody war? Embracing me with love and joy as if her life had been nothing but happiness?
Something deep welled up in me then, as surely as I felt underdressed I now felt small. In awe of the workings of history and the stories of victory in the struggle.
This was life. Life was messy, but we were all souls made to overcome. And together was a lovely place to do it.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Click started to dance, an incredible dance and invited me to do the same. One of the other women told me she was a part of the Mandelas Girls South African Dance Troupe. I felt shy, Scandinavians aren’t known for their dancing abilities.
But she pulled me in and I felt safe. I danced and laughed hard enough to make my stomach ache. But there, in that warm Hive I learned deep truths that day. I made memories that will stick with me a lifetime. And I will never forget those Women, changing the world through a network of kinship. This world is a mess but hope is not dead, it’s in the unassuming corners of our cities serving coffee and cakes to strangers.