Friday, September 5, 2008

Do your level best !

"Do your level best to help us, please," the young man urged me today. Eager to practice his English, the handsome Burundian regularly peppered sentences with his favorite idiom: "Do your level best." This morning, I met this newly arrived family of ten very tired Burundian refugees. Though they were suffering jet lag, they welcomed me and three women from World Relief, the agency that is resettling them. This Burundian immigrant served as translator. Their caseworker will help them on many levels -- health, English, jobs, school, and countless other issues.
The volunteer coordinator helps people like me meet families and learn how best to minister to them.
I brought a big "zawadi" (gift) today! A church women's group in Atlanta had filled many baskets with cleaning supplies, food, diapers, and other essentials. The family was thrilled.Dad speaks great Swahili and was eager to talk about his family's long journey from Tanzania to Kenya, Switzerland, Houston, and finally Atlanta.

His two oldest sons learned to speak English in the refugee camp in Tanzania. Most of the children were born there, and the family spent many years there until they were forcibly "repatriated" (sent back to Burundi) by the Tanzanian government. They lived in Burundi only three years before war broke out again and they fled for their lives back to the camp in Tanzania.

The oldest boys informed me, "We will do our level best to get good jobs in America."
Beautiful sister was happy to see the school supplies. Many members of the family will start school next Wednesday. Another sister helped care for the baby who is three years old but very tiny. The little one was scared of all the noise and people, and I'm sure she was tired, too.After looking through the presents, the family asked to visit the "African store." I drove mom, dad and both of the older sons to the "Tropical Foods" grocery where a Gambian immigrant was proud to show off the dried fish, cassava flour, plantains, and other goods he imports from Africa. You can even buy a goat head there, if you're so inclined!On returning my new family to their apartment, I set up a plan to visit often. I'll help mom learn English and deal with other issues that arise.

Afterward, I drove over to visit two more of my families. One is new to America. The other, a family of nine, has been here a while. They've gone through many rough times, and I was happy to see members of both families gathered in the same home to chat, laugh, and relax.

Playing with the baby makes everyone smile. This pretty mother is thankful to have friends nearby so she can visit and learn from them.Dad was getting ready to go to his job at the chicken factory. He works the night shift and seems tired most of the time. But I can usually cajole him into laughter. I like to see that smile.
The matriarch of the family had on her pajamas at 2 in the afternoon. Then again, maybe she didn't know they were pj's. She was enjoying life -- and that's the main thing!
I love these three families. God has blessed me greatly with the opportunity to minister to them through friendship, English lessons, and other supports. I don't always get things right, but after all . . . I do my level best!

Will you pray with me for these families? C'mon . . . say it with me: "I'll do my level best!"

1 comment:

Dina said...

may our Heavenly Father continue to give you and Tim His grace and strength to minister over these special families!