Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's poppin'?

Lots and lots!

For example . . .

POPCORN! Today my Burundian family of ten got their first taste of popcorn. I wish you could have seen their faces when they heard all the popping inside their microwave! The taste-testing was tentative, but I'd call the popcorn a definite winner.
FRIENDS AND RELATIONS! Tim and I flew to Missouri last Wednesday. I gave a keynote address and he spoke to journalism classes at Southwest Baptist University, our alma mater. I was blessed to spend a little time with the professor who inspired me to write -- Dr. Tom Padgett -- and his sweet wife, Shirley. In celebration of my father's birthday, we enjoyed a family gathering at my sister's beautiful house. She filled us up on chips, dips, cheese balls, brownies and other goodies.
Dad got a lapful of presents! My sister gave him a wall sign that celebrates the essence of his life: FAITH. Tim and I brought big packets of Gujarati chevra. Check out your nearest Indian store if you want to try this delectable treat.I especially loved spending time with my sister. We shared so much while growing up together in Bangladesh and Kenya. I admire the work she does as a psychologist, and I'm so proud of the wonderful, talented children she has raised. We were sad to say goodbye and to think about missing our family during the holidays ahead. It will be very hard to spend those special days apart from our older son, Geoffrey. He's in college, so he gets a break at Christmas. Maybe he'll come for a visit. I hope so!Back home in Atlanta, it was time for . . .

SEWING CLASS! Last week, we had one student. This week, we had five. Next week, they all want to bring friends. This woman is a refugee from Somalia. She's a Muslim. She has grown children in Somalia, Kenya, and the U.S.These women are from Bhutan. They are Hindus. Their refugee camp was in Nepal.I wasn't able to convince them to take off their coats and hats. It gets cold in the Himalayan mountains where they lived. I guess indoor heating is a new concept!
GOVERNMENT RED TAPE! This poor mother from Burundi was sick when I visited -- and trying to babysit her three children plus several others. She handed me an envelope containing a lengthy form that will help her family receive aid in the form of Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Refugee Cash Allowance (RCA), and Medicaid. We spent many hours hunting for documents and filling out forms. Her husband works all night at a chicken factory, then he attends English classes all morning until noon. They are both exhausted and barely making ends meet. But their sweet little daughter softens their hearts and makes all their labors worthwhile.THE REFUGEE BLUES . . . This is what I call the time period that starts about two weeks after a refugee's arrival in the United States. The elation of a new home and new friends is replaced by worries, fears, and doubts.

Questions abound -- How can I pay the rent? When will I get a job? Will my children be all right in school? Will I ever learn how to use public transportation? When will I be able to speak good English? And sadness -- I miss my friends in Africa. I'm all alone in this country. I don't know what is happening to me. My new family from Darfur is experiencing the refugee blues. But they have a lot of hope and a strong will to succeed. I have no doubt they'll be fine when life here looks a little better.

What else is poppin' these days?

PEOPLE! I love this family of ten. Today I arrived after school -- which meant everyone was home. Everyone . . . plus a whole lot more. That's me on the right, trying to direct traffic! The mother in this family is also babysitting extra children for parents who work in the chicken factory. Please pray for her. Can you imagine trying to do your homework in these conditions? That's exactly what several were doing.
Not only did I teach them how to make popcorn in the microwave, but i discovered problems galore. Their refrigerator had quit again. The maintenance man arrived and explained that they had stuffed too many things in the freezer and blocked the airflow. We reorganized the freezer and fridge and discussed how to care for food more effectively.

They brought out several items they had received in a church food basket. They didn't know what these were. How would you explain taco seasoning mix, salsa, peanut butter, instant oatmeal, and energy drinks?
It was dark when Kelly and I left this home today. We are tired but so full of joy and love. I'll end with photos of two of the young people in this family I have come to love so dearly. This beautiful young lady holds so much promise and hope in her heart. In the refugee camp in Tanzania, she taught the children Bible stories. She has emerged from genocide into a new life. Please pray for her!
And pray for her brother, too. He is so eager to embrace everything he sees and learns. Today he was in pain from a wound in his back that went untreated for many years in the refugee camp. Tomorrow, he'll go to a doctor who may begin to give him some relief.
Thank you for praying for all of us. Your support and generosity mean more than you can ever imagine. May God bless you!

1 comment:

Debbie Miller said...

Cathy, I've thought about you often since you left Jefferson City. You were such an encouragement after we adopted Dan. He is now 15 years old and in the ninth grade. He has grown up to be a very big boy. He struggles with Aspergers, Tourette Syndrome and lots of anxiety but he is a handsome young man with a beautiful tender heart. I'm excited for you and the work you are doing there in Atlanta. I'm anxious to share your site with my son Daniel and his wife Anna. Daniel spent 3 months in Sudan in 2005 and Anna spent 2 months in Ethiopia. They have a heart for Africa and hope to go as missionaries some day. I was wondering if there is a project that our Concord Kids on Wednesday night might be able to do for you. We just finished raising $150 for Boxes for Burma and donating 60 pairs of mittens that we will stuff with Candy and tracks and give to the Samaritan Center. We will need some projects to begin after Christmas. I was thinking about collecting thread, yarn, fabric, etc and/or hygeine products. what do you think. I would love to hear from you. I'm now the Children's Ministry Director at Concord. You can email me at dmiller@concordjc.org.
love and prayers, Debbie Miller