I should have been managing the tea line after dinner, but because of a near riot they closed the tea tent, leaving me without a set task (see in my last blog). So I decided to wander and explore in the dark.
The whole of Moria Prison (see map) is laid out as a big rectangle on the side of a steep valley with terraced places for buildings, but to walk means to climb. Fires were lit in front of almost every tent. The smell of burning wood wafting through the camp reminded me of the beach at night. It was eerie and more than a bit scary walking around alone at night, but somehow I felt safe.
I walked around the showers in the lower, far corner of the prison. As I rounded the building I walked right past a row of about eight or nine men kneeling on carpets in silent prayer. Most of the camp comes from Muslim nations, but this was the first act of worship I’d witnessed there. Avoiding eye contact, I just kept walking up the hill.
About halfway up I heard a sound I recognized, but did not expect here: the sound of loud, desperate, pleading prayer from several people all at once. Something within me resonated with it, and I sought out its source. But, as I got close, it suddenly stopped. Earlier that day, while I was managing the dinner line, I met a group of Nigerians. I noticed something different about them and suspected that they were Christians. Here they all were, about twenty people standing hand-in-hand in a tight and silently swaying circle. Again I kept walking, but I was encouraged to know that God’s people were gathering even in this darkness.
At the top of the slope, on the other side of the barbed wire fence, there were several food trucks running a booming business due to the poor-quality dinner that had been served earlier that evening. They were brightly lit with flashing signs advertising everything from Pringles© to pizza. People were pressed up against the chain link fence, placing their orders. This was the last thing I expected to see here.
I followed the fence to the right where there were people gathered in clusters, all with faces glued to their cellphones. I later discovered that this was the best place for cellphone reception in the whole camp. Even still, it felt a bit spooky, like I was in some sort of zombie movie where 100 or more people were sitting or standing haphazardly with hazy-blue unblinking faces.
Heading back down the slope I was completing the big rectangle that bordered the bulk of the prison. It was about 10:30pm, but, by all the activity, you wouldn’t know it. Kids were playing, couples were walking, and people were standing around talking and laughing. About half the camp lives on these three levels. That’s about 1,500 people in 27 large rooms, but at least they don’t have to wait in the meal lines like the other half. I spent about eight hours on one of these levels my first day in Moria. You can read more about them in My First Hour in Moria.
Just past the family camps, I reached the starting point for my wanderings. Soon after I finished, an Afghani man struck up a conversation. We wound up spending the rest of my shift together as he told me his story of how he got to Moria, but I’ll save that story for another day.
I hope you’ve found this interesting. These people are stuck in limbo – between what they know is hell and what they hope will be heaven. Since I left Lesvos on April 15, Moria has been in the news a lot. A couple of days after leaving, the Pope visited and since then there’s been at least two riots. Please keep this powder keg in your prayers. Pray for God’s perfect peace to reign and for the freedom and safety of these hungry souls seeking asylum. Lastly, please pray and ask God how you can help with this situation. I know I’m looking for an opportunity to go back. Maybe you’d like to join me?
CC image courtesy of Hartwig HKD