Playing back highs and lows – Tuesday

We were allowed to sleep in today in hopes of quenching the last bit of jet lag with a late, leisurely Greek breakfast. As I write this, I feel the overcast sun warming the bricks beneath my feet and can smell the ginger tea steaming on my right.

Sounds and Playback clambered onto the bus around 10:45 for an hour-long performance at St. Lawrence college. In this combined performance, Sounds and Playback brought students together through song and story. The kids watched in awe as Sounds moved through lush harmonies to danceable spirituals and fully engaged as Playback brought their stories to life on the stage. Reenacted playground sagas included everything from silly shenanigans (“One time my friend put a potato in my orange juice!”) to conquering fear (“At first I was afraid to try but I did it”).

Stories matter. In this concert especially, Playback Theatre reminded these students that everyone deserves the chance to tell their story.

In stark contrast to the school children’s silliness, the Playback Theatre spent the evening with the adult English language class from the Lavrio refugee camp. The oldest theater in Greece stands atop an ancient and immense system of mining tunnels not 15 minutes from the camp. Playback and the refugees hiked to this theater to practice English by playing back refugees’ stories. In the refugee’s best English, Playback listened to glimpses of these people’s realities: what life in the camp is like, how they came to Greece, where they plan to go from here, and especially how they felt about leaving family, home, and everything familiar.

A Syrian woman holding her baby watches Taylor Playback Theatre.

Syrian women share their stories with Playback Theatre students.

Though challenging, these stories brought Playback closer not only to each other but the storytellers as well. They had given voice and body to unformed feelings; playing back what mattered most in these crucial narratives of displaced peoples’ lives.

While the Playback Theatre delved deeper into the lives of the adults, Sounds members back at the camp devised increasingly creative ways to keep their children entertained. Braver members corralled kids by playing games in the courtyard and others tried to organize some semblance of a choir rehearsal.

A Taylor student gives a refugee child a piggyback ride.

A Taylor Sounds member plays with one of many refugee children eager for a piggyback ride.

Despite best efforts, the night devolved into utter and beautiful chaos by the time we needed to head back to CosmoVision. For our efforts, “Dona Nobis Pacem” is beginning to come together. We have organized a small children’s choir with boys and girls from ages 8 to 17, and they will perform with Taylor Sounds members on Friday at our concert in Athens.

This trip is not to advance our own ministry but the Lord’s kingdom. Please pray that these relationships will foster a deeper connection to the work that AMG and CosmoVision partners are doing in refugee camps all over Greece. We face opposition not only for why we are here but also for who we are. Both the children and the adults we meet are loving and welcoming, and we are only trying to be the same in return: across all borders, all barriers, all divisions, we are united in the image of God.

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