Thursday, June 5, 2008

Visiting the Village Together

Cathy and her ministry partner, Terry Earl, usually teach together in "the village" where African refugees live. Today, Tim was Cathy's sidekick! We started by having lunch at the DeKalb Farmers Market. What a place. They won't allow photos inside, or you wouldn't believe your eyes. Not only is the food fascinating, so are the shoppers. People from all over the world gather in this one spot to purchase their favorite items. If you come for a visit, we'll take you to this experience of a lifetime.After lunch, we drove to one of the many apartment complexes where relief agencies have resettled refugees from war-torn countries all over the world.
This woman (below) who fled from Burundi, lived in a refugee camp in Tanzania for many years before getting the opportunity to move to Atlanta. She lives with her husband -- and four children under the age of five! Cathy brought some diapers that had been donated. She also gave this mom a "Magic Eraser" sponge to help clean walls . When you've lived in a mud brick house your whole life, painted walls are a new experience. Give a child a crayon and what happens next? This struggling mother is learning that she'll need to teach her kids not to mark on the walls.
Our Burundian friend was eager to show Cathy that she's been attending school three days a week. A relative watches her children while she goes to class. Our friend had filled page after page in her notebook with writing. There were no spaces between the words, and she wasn't able to read all of it -- but she was so proud of herself. And rightly so! English is a hard language, and she is very motivated to learn.
Tim had fun getting to know the oldest boy in this family. He's usually very shy and runs away, but he loved Tim. Today, he was eager to show off a new trick.

Cathy's friend wanted to talk about church. She's a Christian, and she wants to start attending a church where Swahili is spoken. That's easy! There's a wonderful church just down the road where not only Swahili is spoken but also the languages of Burmese, Karen, Burundian, Liberian and other people groups. The whole family can walk to this church. Tim drew a map, and Cathy wrote down the time and other information. Hope we see this sweet family on Sunday!
Cathy loves to hold babies -- and this precious little girl is irresistable. Tim got to hold her, too.

The twin girls were thirsty. Cathy was shocked to see their mother put a tablespoon of sugar into each cup of milk. Uh-oh! Looks like a nutrition lesson is in store for mom.
There's always something cooking in these homes. Today one pot held rice. Fish was boiling in the other pot. With no air conditioning, small rooms, and closed doors, there's a strong aroma that's hard for American noses to get used to!

Our second visit was to the home of a Somali family. They escaped from Somalia into Kenya where they lived in a refugee camp. Cathy has a strong bond with this Muslim woman, and today we were sad to find her feeling very sick. A dentist had extracted one of her back teeth this morning. She was still in a lot of pain.
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Dad was still home and proud to show off some of his children -- including the new baby. We gave this family some diapers, too.
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A neighbor had come to help watch the children while mom recovered from surgery and dad went off to work in the chicken factory. This woman has no husband. When asked about it, she broke into a huge smile, held up her arms and cried out, "I have freedom!"
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This beautiful young Somali girl drives the big van that takes workers to the chicken factory. They drive an hour and half to Gainesville. Sometimes they work 17-hour days, five days a week. But they're happy to have jobs. Please pray for our friends in the village.
When we got home, Andrei had some nice surprises for us. He had unloaded the clean dishes and put away all the dirty dishes in our dishwasher. He had also washed our clothes, dried them, and folded them. What a blessing! We're going to miss Andrei when he moves to his own apartment. So will the people of Huntington Ridge who enjoy him so much.

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