Aleppo, the city of my father's birth.
Aleppo, the city I traveled to twenty-two years ago.
Aleppo, the city I said "Yes" to Jesus in.
It was the morning of Friday, August 5, 1994. My mother, Hilda, twin sister, Elena, and I had been visiting Aleppo, Syria, my father’s motherland, for close to two weeks and we had another two left before we made our trip back home to America. As a four-year-old girl and full of life, I sat on the floral-print couch in my grandparents’ home staring out the window and saturating myself with the rich history, fragrant smells, and vibrant colors of the ancient city.
In a cozy and quaint living room as I enjoyed a delicious Armenian breakfast prepared by my grandmother, Georgette. I can still taste the freshness of the feast displayed before me consisting of cheese boregs, a crispy, delicate pastry filled with melted cheese, rose jam, juicy watermelon, and chai tea infused with cinnamon and cloves. That morning, I was not only full off of delicious food, but soul food.
My mother, Hilda started filming my most important life moment on her VHS camcorder. She asks me, "What did you say this morning?" and I ecstatically proclaim, "Jesus, my heart! Jesus come my heart!" I joyously repeat, “Jesus in my heart!” My mother responds back verbatim, “Natalia said Jesus come my heart. This morning, she’s born again.” Yes, this was my personal understanding, even at my innocent, young age that I had faith and surrendered my heart and full trust to Jesus Christ.
That warm summer morning will forever be stamped upon my heart, mind, and soul. The day that I came to personally say "Yes" to my forever Best Friend, my Savior, the Eternal Lover of my soul who infused me with identity and purpose, my reason for living and breathing.
Twenty-two years later, with Jesus in my heart and at home in Los Angeles, my heart can't help but break hearing about all the devastation, chaos, and ruin occurring in Aleppo, Syria. The memories I have of Aleppo, a beautiful city filled with loving people, delicious cuisine, and warm homes full of joy and family, are some of the greatest memories of my life - a city where I made the most important decision of my life in.
To Aleppo with love:
Your city is breaking and our hearts are breaking, too. Shattered dreams and scattered hope, broken homes and empty streets. Jesus has come to hold you, to save you, and to be the lifter of your head. Though the sun has set on you and the dark seems to never end, the sun will rise again and the Lord will cause your light to break forth like the dawn. Though the days seem to get shorter and the nights seem to get longer, please dare to believe that the Hope of all the world has not forgotten you. Though the world around you breaks and the evil seems to get stronger, please know that with Jesus in your heart, you will forever be safe and untouchable. Though man may be able to harm physically, they will never be able to touch your soul. With childlike faith, take Jesus in your heart, and you will forever be safe in His arms as He will be your eternal refuge. Trust and keep the beautiful hope that though the world may fail you, He never will. Jesus Christ will forever carry your heart.
Love & Blessings,