I remember standing in line after line at the expo in September wondering what this year would hold. Would I help with the Prison Ministry? Maybe go out on the streets of Vancouver and serve the homeless? By the time I finally got to the TRAC booth, the excitement I initially felt began to disappear. My mind was already wandering to the pile of homework I needed to complete before the next day. When I met with a TRAC volunteer a week later, however, the excitement returned when I was offered the chance to visit the Middle Eastern Friendship Centre once a week.
At the centre, I quickly built relationships with Middle Eastern and Spanish refugees and helped in teaching them English! As the weeks went by, I started to recognize certain people and remember their names, some of whom even remembered mine! I went from being called teacher, to Hannah, and eventually to Habibita (an Arabic word for dear). I soon began to fall in love with these people who have experienced great suffering, yet still graciously remain willing to get to know me and learn from me! Not only am I honored by their patience with me, but I am overwhelmed by their love for me. I can say with complete honesty that MEFC is the best part of my week. It’s a time where we laugh over the fact that English makes absolutely no logical sense and where they poke fun at my absolutely rotten accent in the Arabic. It’s often the little things that bring the most joy, like when one of the student’s kids keeps trying to grab everyone’s earrings. Or when someone accidentally keeps calling their hair a “shoe.” Or how we sing songs together outrageously out of tune. Or even when we just talk about our same passion for ice-cream. But other times, it’s the big things that bring joy, like the moments when we share our experiences in life, showing that we are there for each other, despite our positions in life.
MEFC is so much more than a place where English is taught. MEFC is a platform to show the love of Jesus to people who have seen some of the most horrific things in life. Yet, despite it all, we believe that God is moving. We know that God is sovereign considering it is us, the poor, exhausted, sometimes over-caffeinated students, who have become His hands and feet to reach people who may have never felt His love. God uses us.