This blog was originally posted in August 2014. John has added a quick update on Palash and his family at the end of this post.
We met Palash, Dawa and their family through Lutheran Social Services in November of 2014. They came to the US after having lived in a Nepali refugee camp for over 20 years. Their son Gopal was born there and Dawa had only seen life outside the camp for 1 year. They spoke no English and had no idea what I meant when I told them (demonstrated to them) that the winters in Sioux Falls would be very cold!!!
The family is of Bhutanese descent but had been relocated, for several reasons, as refugees to neighboring Nepal. With little physical resources but big hearts the family arrived to Sioux Falls in November and started their new life here as Americans.
As a family we had no idea what spending time with our new friends from Bhutan/Nepal would mean. We had never done this before but we were excited to welcome our new friends to our country. Many questions remained but we quickly jumped in and started to get to know them.
My earliest memory of being aware of refugees even existing simply involves sitting in a living room with a family I couldn’t talk to (because we didn’t speak the same language), and being served my first cup of Turkish coffee in a beautiful, tiny demitasse cup. I was about 16, and I had no idea what this family had experienced or how they had landed in a town near me. I still don’t, not specifically. But they changed my life with their hospitality, at a time when my world was very small.
Over time, God has provided more and more touch points for me with refugee families. Opportunities to help set up apartments, welcome families, and walk with them for a time. Opportunities to hear their stories and their dreams. Every time, I receive from them so much more than I give—a more complex world, a softer heart, a bigger God.
Advent: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and The Light of the World
With Advent candle lit, I sink comfortably into the corner of my sofa. A sip of coffee warms the room, soothing my nose with pumpkin spice. Wrapped in security, the blanket snuggles my chin, as I read the morning’s devotion. I am comfortable, safe and warm, and so are my children.
My imagination conjures up a different setting, facing war and devastation. In Jordan, where I was just a month ago, I remember gazing across the skyline from the rooftop of a three-story church building. I could see the mountains of Syria on the horizon, a place of torment for millions and still home for many living in fear.
HOPE: The First Week of Advent
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people.’” Luke 2:10
Over 2,000 years after Christ’s birth, Amman, Jordan rests at the edge of unsettled tension. She borders Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. East of the Jordan River, the Old Testament sites cities established as places of refuge. Providing asylum for millennia, Jordan is a sanctuary for many people fleeing today. In 2016, more than 50,000 Iraqi, 1.4 million Syrian, and 2 million Palestinian refugees call Jordan home.