God's Plans and Trauma Class - by Lori Bryan

Three and a half weeks ago I left the US to come to Northern Iraq and be a part of Greater Change opening a community center to help the IDP’s who had to run for their lives from ISIS. I planned my class very carefully to make sure I had all the right materials to teach them about stress, trauma and how it affects your body and life. I arrive ready to make the class happen and everything we try falls through. In our thinking, of course this is such an important class to teach to the students to help them understand themselves. Well our thinking was different than their thinking and God’s thinking. Instead I was helping with English class, cooking lunch, working with students sent out of class and even child friendly space (CFS). It gave me time to experience the Yazidi students we have coming to the school, learn from them, and get to know the volunteer staff better. Yes that is right, all the staff working at the center come to give of their time completely free. Each day. That amazes me each day they come. 

When God decides to change your plan, it’s best to just sit back and go along with the changes as they happen and see how He shows up each day. I got to see God in the smiles and laughter of the youngest kids in CFS, in the labor of love from Bayan’s mother bringing us lunch almost everyday, in the progression of students from rowdy, misbehaving kids to students who come in saying hello, sit properly in their classes and work to grasp the English that is spoken to them, and even in the plants that have begun to grow tall. Then today I get the opportunity to teach my first class on trauma. It was taught with 2 translations (Arabic and Kurdish). I spoke English, English then was translated to Arabic by a teacher, then the Arabic was translated into Kurdish for the students. Crazy fun!  Although it seemed as though it was a lot of information for a young crowd, by the end some were asking very good questions about how to help someone experiencing symptoms from their traumatic events.  Even the translators learned. I am happy and I look forward to open discussion tomorrow in the second class. My hope is that they will be the ones to learn this information and help others in their family and community to know they are having normal reactions to the abnormal events that happened in their life. I don’t understand why God chose for the class to happen 4 days before I leave, but I trust that God’s plan is so much better than anything I’d dream up.