Thank you to all of you who have already offered a desire to help with our newest family. They are a family of 7 Congolese. Great people.
When we heard Sunday evening that they would be coming, Jeni went out and bought new winter coats and hats and gloves for all of them.She insisted, and it was so needed. The kids started making welcome cards. As soon as the family got off the greyhound bus in Gary on Tuesday at 11:45am, they were shivering. They kept the coats on the whole day!!
Mercy Hill Church in Munster graciously provided their first meal. Thank you Lori and Corey and Luke!
We had the honor of hosting them at our home the first evening. The children are just happy to play and rest. Mom and Dad were so tired they fell asleep on their chairs as we were getting their rooms ready. This morning, Mom made breakfast for everyone. She insists on cleaning the kitchen now. I am gratefully accepting!
Their story has many parts I wouldn’t want to divulge on their behalf, but you are welcome to ask them if you get a chance to meet them. You’ll need a Lingala or French interpreter. They know VERY little English (almost nil).
Their country is beset by a strange type of civil war — many factions, some of which just come into another neighborhood or town and start shooting people with machine guns or hacking people to death with machetes. Can we even imagine this world? Thankfully not.
They managed to flee this type of situation, made their way (somehow) to Central America, and then up in a way similar to the “caravan” you are seeing.
Here is a documentary describing a similar journey. Well worth looking at.
They lost all of their documents on the journey. This will be challenging for their legal case.
Their status is "asylum seekers." This means they have no government assistance available to them, and it will be at least several months before they can legally work. They spent 5 days in family detention (i.e. prison) at the border, but they are not “illegal”. They claimed asylum at our border. It will take months or years for our courts to decide if they can stay permanently. If they cannot, they will be deported back to their war-torn country. I am happy to explain this more to anyone who wants more details.
The children’s names make me cry. They are fitting for their experience in life so far:
Gabrielle (“Messenger of God”)
Merveille (“Wonder” or “Miracle”)
Does this speak to you like it does to me? I believe in a God who has a larger vision for all of us than we can see.
"And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for
‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
‘For we are indeed his offspring.’” — Acts 10:26-28
The God of all creation is a God who moves people with a purpose. I “wonder” what these “messengers of God” might be trying to teach us about “welcome.” Maybe about the “grace” and “peace” we may experience in doing so?
The family will be staying in South Hammond, minutes (actually seconds if you catch the stoplights right) from Munster and from the Borman Expressway. A gracious family with extra space in their home have offered to host them indefinitely. My hope is that within 3 months they can be on their feet somewhere more independently. We will see.
They have many needs. I will post about these tonight or tomorrow.