I’ve been trying for a couple of days to find the words for our visit to the refugee center.
I wish I could have taken each one of my friends (the ones who are are so afraid or angry right now) with us. This isn’t the first time I’ve visited a refugee center. I’ve met lots of refugees. But this is the first time I’ve visited them when they are being made to feel so unwelcome in our country. For that reason, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The girls couldn’t wait to meet people. Though shy, they each had questions that they wanted to ask. Though these pictures are only a small snapshot of our experience that day, and though it is only representative of a tiny handful of refugees served by the CSIRP, I want you to see these people.
My girls made new friends. They met men from Iran who told them of the beautiful mountains of their home. A friend from Iraq had tears in his eyes because children from America wanted to meet him to find out what he was like, instead of listening to what was said on the news. He told them of the two rivers of his country, and about fishing. Friends from Congo told them about cassava and green bananas, carvings in wood, and the good people that filled their country in spite of the extreme violence. They met a whole family born in refugee camps and new friends from Sudan. They learned where Eritrea is. They learned that snow is new to a lot of people. :)
The girls filled that conference room with boxes, boxes of things donated by YOU, our friends. Words can’t express our gratitude. All of your love filled the room and overflowed. I am without expression. (There are some of you I will tell some special stories to.) Tonight, many children will unwrap presents that will be given to them at their first American Christmas party, because of you. Words escape me…you are wonderful people!
These people love America. They love it. They love America more than I do. I have never known what makes people say that they want to come here and change us. They are so thrilled that there is a country like America.
One of my new friends said this: “America is a place to heal and to forget the terrible things in the world. I hope Americans thank God every day for this wonderful country. It is a place of peace. The people have such kind hearts. I can sleep here because I know I am safe. I couldn’t sleep in my country. God blessed me by sending me here, and I love America very much. I think that people are afraid of us only because they are blessed to live in a place where they don’t have to be scared. And it is such a blessing that there is a place where people aren’t afraid. I am so happy for them that they have always lived in this place! I am so happy that, by the grace of God, I live here, now.”
So for all of you who fear our new neighbors so very much, please know this: you are wrong. I’m sorry to put it so bluntly, but you are wrong. And those who are opening your hearts to new friends: you are RIGHT! You are so very right.
For the love of everything, please. Don’t get your information solely from people who want to make you afraid. Don’t get your information solely from people who will benefit financially or socially by telling you to believe something that in your heart cannot sit right. Be brave. Open your door and step outside. Be open to considering more than one idea.
Love thy neighbor. Faith over fear. Light over darkness. Love over everything.