I feel like I’m hardly working, but I’m exhausted each night after a full day at Exodus. I’ve served as an intern at Exodus Refugee Immigration for three days; my heart is full with new friends who hail from amazingly different cultures and harshly different lives.
When I picked up a small Chin family for their health screening, the wife welcomed me warmly into her home. She immediately offered me coffee (much better than American coffee, including Starbucks) and had me sit down. Her husband thanked me for the very nice accommodations; I looked around at the apartment: a small, one-level living space that held one kitchen, one living room, and one bedroom. It was sparsely furnished; I wouldn’t have called it nice, yet he described it as, “very nice.” I was humbled by their gratitude for a space in the U.S. and their eager hospitality. Their son was just over a year old; he smiled and played with me with innocent exuberance while his parents prepared to leave for the office. Yet his father told me later that they had fled the country in the floor-boards of a small car. These amazing people have experienced terrible persecution but exude more kindness than most Americans. We waited for three hours at Social Security; I loved every minute of it since I spent it with these marvelous people.
I similarly enjoyed my next day, when I took an Iraqi family to their medical screening. I waited, again, for three hours while each family member was examined, interviewed, and immunized. During that time, I had the joy of conversing with the family members. Two of the children spoke excellent English; one of them spent considerable time trying to teach me simple Arabic words. Her brothers looked on with humor while I tried to wrap my tongue around the foreign sounds. Like the Chin wife, the Iraqi family offered me coke, tea, and coffee as soon as I walked in the door. They exude such kindness and hospitality.
Again, I feel like I’m hardly working; I’ve spend most of my time conversing with people I’ll miss when I leave Exodus. I’m planning to ask my supervisor if I’m allowed to invite these families to my home for dinner. 🙂 The question might be a silly one, but I want to maintain communication with these refugees.