Our friends from Congo moved to Texas a few months back and we miss them so. I have not shared much here about our friendship or their situation because I struggle to put words to it all. And although I am a chronic over share-er their story feels sacred to me. I know for sure their friendship marked our family in many ways. Since they moved away Evy bursts out into tears at least once a week and whimpers, “I want to see Nyasoni.” I am so grateful my children got to know and love them and I am so grateful for what they taught me; things you cannot learn in books or by hearing but can only learn by investing and listening and loving.
The arrived in the US last December and we were paired with them through World Relief because of our common language; Swahili. We were to help them adjust to life here, translate at medical appointments, and make Chicago feel more like home. We did our best but I fear they got the short end of the deal. They taught us so much and as we learned about the incredible hardships they suffered and survived my daily grumblings were brought into the correct perspective. If you or I would have had to endure any of the pain and struggles she survived we would not be able to smile the way she does. I often told her how brave she was and how if a Mzungu had to go through it all we would die…instantly. She always giggled in her quiet and reserved way and I smiled.
During the past year we saw God work miracles and use modern medicine to work miracles of healing in her body. It was a privilege to be there for it. In truth, there were also many times being their friends was “inconvenient”; many doctor appointments, many hours of waiting in different specialists offices entertaining my kids, many phones calls back and forth, many drives downtown, many times we felt annoyed with their lack of “getting” something, many times we had to drop our plans and help in some way but it was such a small sacrifice. And in that I was challenged to think beyond myself. That is so radical and needed for me. She will always carry many of the medical issues and we are still praying for miracles of family and health but seeing her have access and get the care that she had been waiting for for years in refugee camps changed the way I see our role in the big and small things of justice. Sometimes it can be easier to be about the big and avoid doing the small. I want to empty myself to be used to bring His kingdom in physical, emotional, and spiritual healing sort of ways. Especially if that is a small thing like getting over myself and taking the time to hold someone’s hand through a scary and difficult process. I don’t know how to do this other than to pray and just begin but I know feel closer to Jesus when I stumble upon really loving. He held my hand though many dark places in my life, lots of times through many of you and I want to make myself available to do the same for others. Being less selfish: a lesson it seems God always wants me to learn because it is exceptionally easy for me to focus on myself and my situation and be apathetic about all else.
Sometimes loving people hurts. It broke God’s heart to love us to the point of sacrificing Jesus and while I have never even begun to love as He loves when you love in His name you feel a glimpse of that joy and pain.
Before they moved Nyasoni was helping at our home a few days a week to earn extra money and to give me a break in the last months of my pregnancy. Seeing her so often was awesome. Evy would wait by the door when I told her she got off the bus and run to attack her with hugs when she arrived. They would speak a precious mix of broken English and Swahili and Evy would boss her around at the park requesting pushes on the swing for the one billionth time. She shared with me that they were planning to move and we were both sad. I understood of course; the cost of living is so much lower and they had friends from a refugee camp they could live with there. Not to mention the winters in Chicago are no joke. They planned to leave about a month before my due date and she was noticeably sad to miss seeing our baby boy. We both teared up and prayed together that the baby would come before she left. Because God is awesome and He delights in giving gifts to His children Abishai arrived 3 weeks early and the day before they left on a 7am long bus ride to Texas they were able to visit us in the hospital to meet him. Before Jason drove them home and we said our goodbyes for now they handed us a few crumpled dollar bills as a zawadi (gift) for the baby and I think of all the baby gifts we received it was my favorite. Their friendship helped us through a year of readjusting to life and America and we hope we helped them see that God has big plans for them here. We miss them and I pray our presence in their lives blessed them as they blessed us. So thankful our paths crossed & praying they cross again,