As a part of the First Reformed Church in Schenectady Youth group Christian and I both traveled to Palermo, Sicily, Italy with 7 other high school students from various churches around the area. While in Palermo we worked with refugees through the Waldensian Diaconal Center that was run in part by two RCA missionaries, Tim and JJ Tenclay. Over the course of the week we talked to and worked with refugees mainly from Northern Africa and the Middle East. We talked with them about their experiences and learned a lot about the whole refugee crisis in Europe and what the European Union is doing to help. In addition to this work we helped teach English to the staff at the center.
Many Italians learn a little English in primary school but they don’t progress very far through the language because English is very complicated. However, many of the refugees from Africa speak English as a first language and they never learned any other language. Thus there is a major language barrier between the staff and the refugees. We were able to help them because none of us knew any Italian so communication had to be done in English, by miming out phrases, or not at all. Overall I believe we helped them with their English quite a bit.
This mission trip was very different from the other trips Christian and I have been on mostly because there was no real construction type of mission work. On every mission trip over the past 5 years we had done some sort of building where we could see the progress that we made over the course of the week. However, the refugee issue is so large that in the span of one week all we could hope to do was educate ourselves on the issue and learn how we in the United States can help. Overall the whole experience was very eye opening to us and I know that I would like to do this type of mission work again.
Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, April 3rd: David Jones and Christian Szakats would like to share their recent mission work in a refugee center in Palermo, Italy. They are hosting a fundraiser breakfast in fellowship hall immediately after church on April 3rd to raise money for the Mission and Service Committee who generously sponsored their trip. David and Christian will give a presentation about their experience and new understanding of the refugee process in Italy. Come enjoy some great breakfast food and fellowship.