In this country, most babies arrive in their families in the hospital. My two younger children arrived at ages 3 and 5 to our family on the 4:35pm Southwest flight from Houston. I can still see them running towards us at The airport. All that they had with them were the clothes on their backs, a pair of pajamas, toothbrushes, one stuffed animal each and a Children’s Bible.
For about a year, my husband and I have been talking with others in the Church about how we, as a Church community, might help refugees. In January, we formalized these discussions with the formation of a Refugee Ministry Group. Through prayer and reflection, we have discerned a call to help support a refugee family as they resettle in the Baltimore area. The refugee family will be a part of the Good Neighbors Program of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. LSS is one of nine official refugee resettlement agencies in the United States. The families that they assist in coming United States are all thoroughly vetted from the State Department.
As we talk about the possibility of partnering with the family, I am reminded of the adoption process. There are many things to consider and so many unknowns. As adoptive parents, the paperwork and screening that we had to go through was extensive. We had to have the Fire Marshall check our smoke detectors. We had to have the Board of Health check the temperature of our refrigerator. We had interviews and background checks. There was a great deal of anticipation.
Anticipation is an emotion that a lot of us are feeling right now as we wait and prepare for the arrival of a refugee family. Where will the family be from? What will be the size of the family? Will there be children? Will the family speak English? And the questions go on and on.
As with waiting for the arrival of my children, things worked out. The Whitney’s gave us an extra bed. The faculty and staff at Friends School gave us a beautiful doll house and a deep freeze. Grandparents arrived in Baltimore with endless hugs and patience. The kids fell in love with our dog instantaneously.
On May 24, CoGS is holding a potluck supper and a representative of Lutheran Social Services is coming to speak about the Good Neighbor program. We hope that you will attend. Please bring your questions and concerns, your hope and your faith. We can all contribute to this big task whether it is helping a child with math homework, driving someone to the doctor, sitting and practicing English or teaching a family how to shovel snow.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Church of the Good Shepherd supported several refugee families from Southeast Asia. Please come and be a part of this old/new tradition as we welcome newcomers to Baltimore.