She has never said why exactly she had to leave; she only admits that leaving her home country was necessary for her not her husband. Raised in an orphanage with no family made leaving the connections she had to her husband’s family very difficult. Yet, here they are. Honestly, when we first met them at an English class we teach, they seemed cold and remote. Need changes a lot of things though, and they were in need. Only days were left before the refugee agency would be cutting them off. They desperately needed jobs. No English, no car, no computer (and almost all applications must be done online), no phone and no connections equals no work. We spent hours with them trying to help to no avail. We struggled significantly to fill out a Walmart application online. How in the world were they to do it? Not to mention the language test at the end. She passed it, but because her English is not fluent she took too long and it timed out.
As we went through this process they were in our home on several occasions. Hospitality is key in many cultures. We offered snacks and something to drink and at meal times shared what we were having. They began to open up. They were not cold and remote. They were worried. They still are. We joined them for a celebration- a wedding anniversary- five years. We sat down to visit and enjoy the meal they were serving out of their truly meager resources. Showing us some papers they had received, on this festive evening we had to tell them that the papers were informing them that their electricity would be turned off the next day, that they were being evicted from their apartment, and that they were facing overdrafts at the bank. If that had been me receiving those types of notices all at once, I would have been beside myself. They, however, wanted us to know that our being there was important to them. Regardless of the bad news, we were their family. Families celebrate anniversaries. They wanted their family to celebrate with them in spite of what the next day might bring. So we had cake and ice cream. They blew out five candles. They enjoyed music. And they learned a new American tradition-feeding each other a bite of cake.
I do not know where they will be on their next anniversary. I know that on this one, they were grateful for prayers said on their behalf. They were grateful for small gifts and tokens of love. They were grateful for a Bible in their language. They were grateful for a new life in a new country with a new family. As he said, “God is big.”
This blog originally appeared on the ABP News blog.