by Molly Stawarz

A little over one year ago, members of Church of the Cross gathered at the airport and welcomed a new family from Somalia to the United States. On July 7, the Refugee Life Ministries Team was able to celebrate one year with F and her family. As you can read through updates here and as you may have heard in church, it’s been an eventful year for F’s family as well as us. To celebrate, we met at Holy Land Deli and Northeast Minneapolis and were greeted by the staff who reserved a place for the 26 of us, including all of F’s children as well as her Mother, A.

Likely the highlight for us was when the food was delivered to our table. We shared rounds of pitas and humus, gyros, fish, chicken, eggplant, lamb, and plenty more – and no one went home hungry. Before the meals we were blessed in prayer a few times over: Once by Deacon Rick, and then by A! This attracted the attention of the staff at Holy Land who were happy to help translate her blessing to us and later commented that they hoped we were still praying at the end of the meal so they could be blessed again. The staff at Holy Land were exceptionally kind and helpful for us, including throwing in some extra dessert for us.

As of now, the Refugee Life Team has technically completed their one-year commitment to Arrive Ministries and assisting F’s transition to America. However when we met earlier this summer no one was ready for the time to be over! Many people in the group have spent the past year getting to know the whole family and have quickly become friends with her family. We’ve shared stories of success and setbacks from the past year, including F’s continued work at becoming a nursing assistant as well as a car accident that temporarily left her unable to work. So while we may have finished our commitment to Arrive, we do not expect for our time with F to end. As a team, we have decided that we would like to hold off on looking to another family for the time being, as people are very much involved in F’s life (that and many of the people on the team are moving over to Restoration!).

A few places where we can continue to pray and help out: English continues to be a challenge, which is not at all surprising considering learning a new language is tough for any of us! F’s children will be continuing in school this year. She would also like to find a new place to live, preferably in a place where the rent is a little less. If you have any leads on housing ideas or have other ideas on how you we can continue to bless F’s family, please let a member of the team know.

Leviticus 19 reminds us “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” We have been honored to not only serve F and her family, but become friends with a family seeking refuge in our country.