This morning our Welcome Home staff made our annual Christmas breakfast for our unique family- pancakes, fruit cup, whipped cream, scrambled eggs- it certainly wowed the refugees as they walked in to the kitchen!
We haven't shared a "family only" meal all fall, and I remembered why it's so important as I watched our friends who meet each other in the hallways, bathroom, cooking together, sharing the computers and watching TV, but rarely sit down as a whole household to eat together in this way.
There were a number of things that warmed my mother's heart.
- Having the whole family gathered around the table and willing to risk eating our Canadian breakfast.
- The conversations that sprung up throughout the morning, some between refugee new arrivals who hadn't even met each other yet.
- Scott shared some of our Canadian traditions, starting with the historic figure of St Nick (Baba Noel in Arabic), and ending with the gift of Jesus and why He came. Was Scott wise enough to ask if some of our friends would translate for each other, or were their blank looks his biggest clue?? It couldn't have worked out better if we had planned it: three level 5 English speakers translated for Level 1 learners in Tigrinia (Eritrean), Spanish and Arabic. I felt like we got it right...this time, and the smiles of the entire staff team while a mishmash of translation was criss-crossing the table confirmed it!
- A miracle had happened and today it was staring me in the face. There had been some tensions between the oldest woman and the youngest one, to the extent that the older one refused to acknowledge or speak to the young one. It was very hard, especially for the young one. However, she was raised to forgive, and had made a choice to do so. Today I watched the animated conversation back and forth between these two women as the younger translated for the older. I realized that the barriers had been broken, and though neither of these women are Christ-followers yet, His work was evident in their hearts. What a great answer to prayer!
- Our John Paterson not only cooks pancakes and keeps our books, he volunteers as Santa. It was so fun to see everyone leap to their feet and start applauding as they clamoured for a picture with Santa!
- We got to give away gifts that our friends from Creekside collected through their Angel Tree. Everyone acted like little kids as they tore open their gifts and explored the creative kindness they'd been shown.
It's a hard season for many who have suffered much, and our houseful of refugees are missing the routine of school as they cope with long dark nights, loneliness and a bit of over-crowding, too. It's wonderful to have moments like these to brighten the holidays and give all of us hope.