I mentioned in a previous post that refugees were being resettled in the Fox Valley, through World Relief. Well, on February 15th, our church's first family flew into the Appleton airport.
I was able to spend some one on one time with my new friends Wai Hinn, Nang Schwe, and their adorable little one, Christina. They are some of the most incredibly polite, humble fantastic people you'll ever meet!
I took them, for their first American sit down dining experience, to Red Robin.
As Christina began to construct an artistic masterpiece with the crayons that were provided, I talked with Wai Hinn a bit about how their transition is going so far. I asked him what he would want to do for a job, after thinking a bit he said that it the job didn't matter as much to him, so long as it provided a means to take care of his family.He said that he wanted to live simply. To spend time with his family and raise his daughter. That's his American dream...
I asked him about Burma, and how things were different here. And if you thought his last response was incredible, what he said here absolutely wrecked me. He said, "I feel safe here, for the very first time."
We, in America, aren't wired to think about our safety on a daily basis. Yes, there are dangers in America, just as there are anywhere in the world, but to live in constant worry that your family, friends or you could be arrested, simply because the government pleases, is a foreign ideal to us.
I, myself, like to think that I don't take things like my liberties, and freedom of expression for granted. The shaking nature of his response, however, told me different. I do take things for granted.
But, this post isn't about me. It's about a new friendship that I'm blessed to be a part of. It's about new understandings, and appreciations for old ideals. Living simply, raising a family, forming relationships with our new neighbors.
Yesterday, I went over to their new apartment for a visit. This little girl just about stole my heart! Wai Hinn made us a yogurt drink, and I happened to have my laptop on me. Nang Schwe asked if I could play a disc on it, and I told her yes, so she brought out a DVD. It was Christina's second birthday party. We watched the affair, which had happened just three weeks before they came to this country to seek out their American dream.
Afterward the parents and the World Relief worker, Sarah, went into the kitchen area to discuss paperwork and upcoming appointments, leaving Christina, my friend Kenzie, and I all to amuse ourselves for a bit. This girl is a charmer! She brought over her toys to show us, a stuffed bunny and panda. I showed her some of the games on my laptop (turns out I still suck at chess, virtual or not).
Then, I started playing a silly game of peek-a-boo with Christina. It's amazing how easily amused little children can be, or big children for that matter. I also put my hat on her a few times, she didn't want it though, even though I think she rocks it way better than I do!
As Kenzie and I left their apartment, I was felt a bit overwhelmed. No matter how many times I experience stories of people, whether displaced refugees, or those who had the misfortune of living on the coast as Katrina barreled into our shores, I can never get over how beautiful the rebirth process is. In the midst of uncertainty, or tragedy there's always a new beginning. These three incredible people are right in the middle of a brand new chapter of their life. It's probably incredibly scary for them. They're probably incredibly homesick for family and friends.
And here they are, completely rocking my world and perceptions of life!
That's the funny thing about volunteering to serve others. It takes the idea that you are giving something to someone else, and turns it on it's head. Instead of blessing, you're blessed. Instead of teaching, you become the student. It enriches your life in ways that you couldn't possibly imagine...
I can only hope that I can inspire them even a tiny bit as much as they've already inspired me! I love my new friends, and am excited to further form a beautiful friendship.