Learning About Discomfort and Connection Through Refugee Relief Kit Assembly

Thoughts and meditations on our latest Refugee Relief Kit Assembly event from our friend and Circle Compassion Team member Gigi Giusto!

Conquering discomfort to act and overcome

Worry, anxiety, and fear can be paralyzing things. They slow me down, they prevent me from doing my best work and sometimes they stop me from progress altogether. Strangely though, they can also propel me into doing my best work. The desire to conquer discomfort and to “do good” pushes me forward—to act, to overcome.

The weeks prior to the day of June 9th, the day we planned our Refugee Relief Kit Assembly at 2007 Frankford Ave, I was stuffed to the gills with worry and anxiety, “Will the event be successful? Will anyone show up? Is it good enough? Are we doing enough? Why are the streets around the building closed off? Why are these construction guys blocking the street and preventing people from entering the building and why oh why are they telling us the electricity is going to be turned off in the middle of the event we planned for over four months now? Don’t they know how important this is to us, how important this work is for the people who really need us!? What’s wrong with them and why are they ruining our lives!?”

I’m being dramatic for the sake of story, you say? Yes, but in the moment it was super inconvenient. Hrumph with a gigantic serving of side eye. They were actually really nice and accommodating and didn’t ruin our lives, just made it a little more challenging than we’d anticipated or wanted. We gave them hot dogs and friendship and they didn’t turn the electricity off like they promised. But these worrisome, anxiety-provoking questions were ramped up to maximum levels—because why not just go down that useless rabbit hole of anxiety?

Here’s why not

We were so successful that day regardless of these challenges, regardless of unproductive thinking on my part, because we had work to do and obstacles to overcome for really important results. Over 50 adults and a handful of very helpful kids and teens showed up to give of their time, love, and care in kit-making and volunteering in making the event happen. We made 24 complete kits with extra items to stuff into unfinished kits back at the storage warehouse, we had a BBQ and met a few new, really nice people who attended the event. Success, I say.

As we were wrapping up the event, I thanked our guests from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alain Epp Weaver (Director for Strategic Planning with the Planning, Learning and Disaster Response Dept. for MCC) and James Wheeler (Material Resources Center Manager of MCC). Alain was waiting with us all to load up the van with packed kits to take back to MCC.

I suddenly spoke up and said, “Man, being displaced and bearing the anxiety and fear for your family and friends is a really heavy weight to carry. I just wanted to thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to do something and for sharing that slide show on your visit to Jordan and Syria. It really gives us first-hand insight into what these families face every day. They’re so kind and generous despite having so little to work with”

Alain replied, “Yes, war is a devastating thing and strangely brings out the best in people, too. Things like this event make a real impact.”

Wow. So true, so simply and beautifully put.

We are compelled to come forward, to reach out, to act and to serve as God calls us to do. That’s Christ at work in all of us in amazing ways, bringing out the best in us to help one another, to help families far, far away who so desperately need resources.

Details of the day

So here are the successful nitty-gritty details of the day, folks:

  • The Refugee Relief Kit Assembly on June 9th at Frankford Ave was attended by over 50 people, and we were able to assemble over 24 kits filled with items such as (4) large, new bath towels, laundry soap, bath soap, nail kits, tooth brushes, combs, shampoo, feminine products and first aid bandages.
  • Our event began with a slide show and panel talk hosted by Alain Epp Weaver and James Wheeler of MCC. We heard their first-hand accounts of what is happening in both Jordan and Syria, about daily life for people trying to provide for their families where there is nothing and how very hospitable, welcoming and warm they were despite being uprooted from homes that no longer existed. We learned where a majority of these kits end up right now and how our work on that day helps.
  • Everyone at the event enjoyed hot dogs (veggie and the good ole processed meat kind) and we shared the dogs with passersby and nearby construction crews who appreciated the kindness.

We showed up, we did the work and we made some friends, too. Let’s keep the compassionate work and our stories going despite everything that challenges us.

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