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Welcoming strangers into my home

For 16 weeks now, we have had a young refugee couple from Syria living with us. They have been married a little over a year and for the majority of that time have been separated from each other, since he made the journey to Austria alone and got everything in order so that she could come legally.

 Let me backtrack a bit and tell you how it all started. As the refugee crisis really started to explode here, facebook was buzzing with articles, videos, pictures, etc. of the situation. I read a lot. I saw a lot. I was moved. I was troubled. But what could I do? I had a three year old and one year old at home.

 ... I could teach some German. But when? 
... I could donate clothes and other items that were needed. But that didn't seem like enough.
... I could give money. But I wanted something more tangible. 

I would put my youngest to bed and during those days, she needed lots of TLC in order to get to sleep. I kept thinking about the refugees and how they didn't have a home. I kept hearing the verse from Matthew 25:40, '...as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.’ I thought of our new house. Our BIG new house {no, it's not huge, but we have more space than the 4 of us need}. I couldn't stop thinking, we need to help someone! We need to take someone (or two) into our home. We prayed about it and now here we are. 

There are definitely big culture differences between us, but we're enjoying learning about each other and how we each do life. We definitely have lots of laughs together trying to communicate with one another and it's not easy having awkward silences, because there's simply not much to talk about with our big language barrier. But we do have times of laughter, where something finally is understood. We can play games together {my wonderful husband is great with explaining games}. We teach them German and end up having a really good time together. We also shake our heads and wonder about the way they do things.

So here are some things we have learned during our time together thus far:

- sacrifice -
Our sacrifice of giving up our home doesn't even come close to the sacrifice they have made to be here in a safe country. They have given up everything to start a new life. They have to learn a new language, culture and find new jobs. They may never see their family members or certain family members ever again. So very sad! They live in the fear of not knowing who might die during the next attacks in Syria. A few weeks ago, they lost two cousins and it was a very close call for her sister and brother-in-law.

- profit -
We may have given up of all our private us time by having someone else in our home, but we have gained new friends. Friends that don't believe what we believe and therefore we have the terrific opportunity to live Christ out right before their very eyes. Sadly we do not always exemplify Christ as we should, but that's human and also needs to be seen. They are so thankful for our home, family and help.

- love -
They LOVE, Love, love children, especially ours! And our kids love them in return.
Our kids get kissed, snuggled, chased, and candy given to them.
They get youtube videos shown to them.
(still working on not too many videos being shown! like I said very different culture. But my oldest has learned to come to me and ask if she can, before they watch them. Well, she does this most of the time, but not always)
They are always welcome in their eyes. The other day I asked what he wanted to do for his birthday and he simply said kiss my youngest cheeks! :)

- diligence -
They are hard workers! She cooks every other day for us. We came up with a cooking routine so that everyone gets the food they are used to getting. Our meals are quite different from each others. Not bad, just different. They clean up the kitchen just about every night. We put kids to bed and come down to an almost spotless kitchen. They wash, dry AND put dishes away! {most days I just let things air dry and put it away the next day} I've definitely enjoyed this new normal for us! :)

- different countries can have very different diets -
 She is a vegetarian, so in my mind that means she eats lots of vegetables. This is only semi true! They don't eat veggie sides like we do. I've often made a meal with your typical three parts to it - meat, noodle/potato/rice and veggies - they don't eat veggies like that. We are the only ones at the table that eat them. They do eat a salad, but not boiled/steamed veggies. Very interesting!

- humor -
It is possible to have a good laugh despite a language barrier! We do not understand everything we want to say, but we do laugh a lot together. We often laugh that the men don't understand their wives, even with talking the same language and we the women know what the other one is trying to say.

- communication -
At first, it took some getting used to with trying to explain things - either using body language, google translate {which is DEFINITELY not reliable} and using simple words. At first for them, they would laugh at each other and how silly they would look, but now it's our normal and we just all laugh together trying to make things understood.

- cooking -
I always, always cook with a recipe. I'm definitely not someone who can make up a meal as I go. She very rarely uses a recipe. One day she watched a youtube video to make something a bit different, but generally she just knows what to put in. She uses a LOT more oil and salt than we do.  I keep having to refill the salt shaker that we use for cooking and the HUGE oil that takes us forever to go through has been replaced a few times!

- daily routines -
They are night owls and they rest/nap late in the afternoon. Some days my girls get up from their naps and they are going down for their rest. Now things have semi gotten more like our routine, since their German class is at 9 am and they have to get up for it. They don't eat three meals every day or not around the same times that we do. Sometimes their breakfast is our lunch and they have a rather hefty midnight snack!

- don't sweat the small stuff -
Everyone does things differently. You don't have to come from a different country for this to be the case. At first, I was a bit uptight when things weren't done in my new house the way I wanted them to be done...small things...esp in my new kitchen.  I'm learning to address some things, but let other things go.

But all in all, despite all the differences, we are all human, created in Gods image. With all the political debates, fears, and partially justified worries about crime and terror, we must not forget to see people individually. Politicians need to take care of the big picture, and we can pray that they are doing so wisely, but we are to treat everybody as our neighbor, and we are told to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Comments

  1. So great, Leslie! Super proud of your precious family! <3

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  2. So proud of you, my daughter! It was a joy to meet your guests and to learn to love them too, Signed by your mother who doesn't know how to sign her name on a blog comment! :-)

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  3. Aww Lesler... Such a blessing! Well, the 'woman of the house' knowing how BUSY she-is..with her new home, plans, children and well ordered life. One would really be challenged to 'give up control' and radically rely on GODs way! OY, Isn't that ultimately what GOD wants, but in exchange for HIS generous mercy and spirit. I am so proud of you and will pray - with the utmost love, respect and admiration for you (ALL) . . MAY GRACE ABOUND. xxxx

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  4. So proud of you for stepping out in faith, so encouraged by your example. I pray for both of your families whenever I think of you.

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  5. I loved reading this! So glad to hear you continue to process all the new changes, and SO glad that you're all settling into routines!! Love you guys - Rachel

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