Friday, November 21, 2008

a room full of refugees

today geoff and i had the honor of leading a cultural orientation session on family and children for newly arrived refugees.  we've taught this particular unit for more than a year.  it is our duty to familiarize these new arrivals to the different roles of  parents - both with work and household duties.  we also have to describe appropriate discipline for children and childcare (which is a serious challenge for refugee families - in virtually all cases both parents have to work to get by).  we communicate through a translator and most of the group have been here a few weeks or less.

in the last week, a bitter cold snap has caught us off guard and left us with arms crossed and teeth chattering.  as soon as we finished what we had to say in today's session, the first comment from this group of refugees was "we are cold."  i took a few minutes to go over proper dress for a kentucky winter (when i worked at ky refugee ministries i did this demo all the time).  i informed them of the importance of layers (my sweet australian husband was wearing four shirts at the time so he served as the perfect model), a  hat at all times, and a scarf snuggly wrapped around the neck.  one woman said she almost cried as she sent her child out into the frozen morning.  they were clearly afraid, very uncomfortable, and didn't yet own enough of this winter gear to be adequately dressed.  my heart was rent under my warm silk sweater.  i thought of my worries about our leaky bathroom and my hefty to do list and i was immediately ashamed.

one more thing to do, but what a joy - thanks to the generosity of a friend and supporter in georgia, we have the resources to go shopping this weekend and buy all the new arrivals hats, scarves and gloves, for both adults and children.  with a plan in mind and my personal convictions subsiding, i dwelled on our good god and the ways in which god so unexpectedly and consistently provides.  it is these kind of revelations, sweet glimpses of the hand of god moving in the world, that make the missionary life rich beyond measure.

oh...and a bit of humor as always, from isaac.  during our explanations and instructions on parenting, isaac pokes his head up out from under the table where he was playing and said "tell them not to drive too fast.  and they need to get a flu shot." 

in addition to everything else, we are so grateful that isaac joins us in this good work and gets the opportunity and the privilege to shaped by an encounter with those who've lost everything and must make a new life from scratch.  he understands, and at even at his age, he cares.


WITWATW said...

Bless you all three for this wonderful work. WE LOVE YOU!!!

lara said...

those folks are so blessed to have your family guide them into a new culture. and what a sweet heart isaac has. What I love about ya'll is that you don't just see it as "missionary work," but as life, and you integrate the people into your everyday life. This was so evident last weekend. I enjoyed catching up a little. I look forward to having even more time when you come to philly:)

geoff and sherry said...

Hi Lara
our time with you was such a treasure. your being with us made a significant difference in our personal and collective celebration. we are counting on coming to philly in the spring. love from us.