Before flying to the Middle East last week, I anticipated that my heart would be moved, but I didn’t expect it to be broken.

This past Monday, Joe and I went up to northern Jordan, just a few miles from the Syrian border in order to meet with Syrian refugees. We traveled with the Schill family with the hopes to create a short video that will share the experience of the American family’s journey into the homes of the refugee families.

I was hoping that waiting a few days to write this post would allow me time to process through the stories the Syrian families told us. But I have no idea how to sort through my thoughts and emotions right now.  I’ll do my best to share a few thoughts.

As I think back to bits and pieces of the stories shared, deep sadness overwhelms me. In the first home we stopped at, the father recounted what his family has been through as the Syrian war rages on. One story he shared that brought tears to his eyes and completely breaks my heart consisted of a very near death experience:

Militiamen came to his door and were beating him and kicking him with their steel-toed boots. Their intention was to kill. His wife and young daughter were in the doorway only hoping for his life to be spared. Finally, the daughter ran out and threw herself in front of the men, and the father begged the militia to let them go. Miraculously, one of the men was moved or prompted by the young girl to leave them alone, so their lives were spared. After they left, the young daughter wiped the blood off of her father’s face. Jenna, the daughter, is still traumatized by their experiences in Syria, and the road to recovery and healing will be long.

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It breaks my heart because I could tell how much the father loves and cares for his family, but he is completely powerless in his situation. Even though they managed to escape to Jordan, they now live as a refugee. Living conditions are extremely poor. Jobs are nearly impossible to come by. And dignity is hard to hold on to.  In the next home, one mother explained that what keeps her from giving up on life are her children. She cannot give up because she has the responsibility to provide a future for her children. That is true for many of the Syrians now.

As we continue to process the stories, we don’t want them to just become memories. We want them to move us to do something. There are several ways we all can help, including providing aid and relief and financially supporting the people and organizations directly involved. On this trip, I am also being reminded of the importance of prayer. We are all capable of praying, therefore, let us all pray for the Syrians. There is power in that.

-Anna

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