Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Givers Gain

The motto of the networking club I'm in, BNI, is "givers gain". No matter how much I give to the refugees I get back so much more and tonight was just one small example of that.

Ali is a boisterous Iraqi man who lives in Columbia. I love to imitate him because he is so wonderfully happy and enthusiastic. (Just ask me some time to give you my imitation!) He called me tonight because he and his wife were thinking of me. They both cleaned for Safi Sana this past year and it had been awhile since I had seen them.

I visited their new Habitat for Humanity home. I saw it this summer right before they moved in but they have since done a lot of work on it. It really is the neatest Habitat home I have ever seen. They turned their carport into an enclosed family room and made their yard into an oasis with swings, patio furniture, and a decorative well. They also saved and spent money buying very nice furniture for the inside of the home. I was genuinely impressed! Shurok has an amazing eye for decorating!

I told Ali and his family that our family was moving. He said "I will take that day off and I will come help you. I will come at 8:00am and I will help you move boxes in my van all day." My heart melted. Recently I heard a quote from Mark Driscoll, the pastor from Mars Hill Seattle, say you know who your friends are when you move. So for Ali to say he would spend all day helping us and even take the day off was so kind.

I don't get paid to do what I do but I am a very rich woman in friendship because of it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why Do Safi Sana?

For those of you who don't know, Safi Sana is the cleaning business of City of Refuge. I first started it as a for profit corporation to hire my African refugee friends who desperately needed jobs. Then in November of last year I started the non-profit City of Refuge which cares and provides for needs of the refugees in Mid-Missouri and made Safi Sana a part of the non-profit. The goal then became for Safi Sana to help support the non-profit.

For those of you who have never owned or run a company, it's hard at times. Every couple months I ask myself, "why are we doing this?" Today I'm asking myself, "Am I causing too much stress on my friend Lauren who is my general manager? Is anyone benefiting? Is City of Refuge benefiting? Should we keep doing this? Why are we doing this at this point of time?"

I don't expect Safi Sana to continue forever because managing it is so difficult. I know how difficult it is because I did it myself for more than a year. Not only do you have the normal frustrations of employees calling in sick, not performing well every time, but also with Safi Sana we have some employees who don't speak English fluently, some who don't read English and some who don't have any sense of direction. This causes a lot of headaches and trouble for us who manage Safi Sana.

Then on top of the employee difficulties, we also from time to time have clients who don't pay or who are not kind. (Though thankfully both of these are rare if you look at the whole of all our clients.)

So, why do Safi Sana? If you look at the profitability of Safi Sana you would find that it is not very profitable. We give a majority of our money to our employees and the rest goes to buying cleaning supplies and paying taxes and insurance. Thankfully from time to time we do have enough profit to help City of Refuge, but if profitability were the only reason to keep Safi Sana open today we would close it. However, Lauren and I are working on this and trying to increase the amount of money the company can give the non-profit so that hopefully in the future Safi Sana will be a big blessing to the non-profit.

Here is why I like doing Safi Sana:

1) We love the high of our clients loving the refugees in town. Our cleaning business has more than just refugees working for it, but still about half of our employees are refugees and we get such a kick out of clients who absolutely adore the refugees who work for them. We have numerous examples of this, but one of my favorites from this year came from a lady who asked us to please "not send a refugee". Her thought was that she wouldn't be able to communicate with a refugee, which can be true at times, but is not always true. After looking at the schedule and really not having any other options, we sent Cing Cing. Cing Cing is one of our favorite refugees. She is from Burma and really you would never know she was a refugee unless she said something. The lady immediately fell in love with Cing Cing and even took her home a couple times.

2) We help people - refugees, immigrants and Americans. I could go down our employee list and give you story after story of employees who were desperate for a job and we helped them. Monia is just one example. She quit Safi Sana this week, at least for now. But she is a immigrant from Tunisia, a Muslim woman, who desperately wanted and needed to work. She was unable to find work because of her shy demeanor and her busy class schedule. We fit her into a couple jobs and helped her provide for herself for the last several months. So when days are really stressful or discouraging I think of who is working for us now who wouldn't be able to get a job anywhere else. They don't thank us 99% of the time, but we know we are helping them and their family.

3) I like that refugees are meeting people in town. If they just worked for Linen King, MBS, or Kraft they wouldn't be interacting with hardly anyone in town. This way people in our city are learning why refugees are here in Columbia and how really they are just like us.

So, with God's help and blessing, we will do this another day.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sometimes Jesus Makes Stuff Go A Long Way

As I wrote the title of this blog post it reminded me of the story in the New Testament with the little boy who had the loaves and fish and Jesus fed the crowd lunch that day, performing a miracle by making the lunch feed a multitude of people. I picked up some baby donations yesterday and I'm overwhelmed with joy as to how many people I've been able to bless with them.

Yesterday was one of those great days which I thrive on. I'm sure anyone who runs a non-profit feels the same way I do, it's nice to have days when things just go well.

A lady from The Crossing Church called me over Labor Day weekend and said that she got my name from my sister-in-law and had some baby clothes and other baby stuff that she wanted to donate to City of Refuge. We planned on Friday afternoon as our pick up time. I went over there and loaded my Honda Pilot with baby gear and loaded the entire back of her pick-up truck with a baby swing, changing table, and baby bassinet.

So the donations alone would have been exciting, but I wanted to get to know her a little bit so I asked her where her husband worked. She said at a property management company. I told her about Safi Sana, our cleaning company that helps support the non-profit and told her we clean apartments and homes. She said that she has asked for a regular house cleaner for Christmas so she might want to use as well, but would also pass the information along to her husband. So great.

What we do when we get donations is pass along items that we know the refugees need and then sell the other items so we can help pay for the needs they really do have. In the mound of donations I picked up was a saucer that a friend of mine earlier in the week told me she wanted. Our general manager of Safi Sana bought it for her. My friend Heather texted me as soon as I got home with the donations asking me if I had a car seat she could buy and then bring in to Toys R Us to get 25 percent off a new one. I told her that I had a really nice infant car seat that she might actually want to buy. She came over and loved it as well as the bassinet. I bought those items for her as her shower gifts. I also found 2 other items I'm going to buy and use as shower gifts. So we were able to make more than $100 for City of Refuge that will go to directly helping refugees. We are getting ready to write a dentist a check or $400 for Leocadi, Francois' mom, so the money will go straight there.

Then today I separated the rest of the clothes and baby gear. Silas and his wife are African refugees getting ready to have a baby this week! They picked up an infant car seat, toddler car seat, changing table, boppy pillow, swing and lots of blankets and clothes. I will deliver the rest of the clothes and blankets to Lulu, the Burmese girl who will also probably deliver this week! Lulu is the Burmese girl I mentioned in the last post who had nothing for her baby. I'm delivering enough clothes for the baby's entire first year.

Ah. Thank you so much Jesus and the girls that gave.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Tale of 2 Baby Showers

Today I went to 2 baby showers. The first one was for one of my American friends. It was a perfect baby shower - lots of great food, pretty ladies, balloons, games and lots of gifts for my friend. From the look of everything she got almost everything she needed.

The second baby shower was for one of my Burmese friends. The food was also great and there were lots of people there, but only 4 gifts. I watched my friend open her gifts and I enjoyed teaching her how to swaddle and how to use Desitin, the thermometer and children's ibprofen. After she was finished opening, I asked her if she had a car seat for the baby. She said, through an interpreter, no. She pointed to a toddler car seat that someone just brought her, but she knew that wouldn't work for the baby. I asked her if she had a bed for the baby. She said, no. I asked her if she needed one or if she had a plan as to where the baby would sleep. She said they would like a bed. She then said everything they had for the baby was right here - diapers, wipes, 2 onesies, 1 newborn sleeper, 1 0-3 month sleeper, a thermometer, Desitin, blankets, socks and that's it. It's moments like these that I wish I could introduce her to a bunch of people because I know people would be giving to her if they knew her. But how would my friends be able to meet her? I couldn't just say, "well, good luck with that" and leave. So I said, "can you go shopping with me?" We went and bought her a pack-n-play (her choice of a bed), car seat, and bouncer. I smiled and told her that now the baby could come.

I used the money that we earned from the garage sale this week to pay for these items. So, thanks for contributing to the sale and thanks for helping out.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Current Ways to Give to City of Refuge

I wish I could trade places with the people in this world who have lots of money and don't know what to do with it. If you are one of those people, well, you've come to the right place. Or if you want to give $5 to something to make a difference in somebody's life, well you've come to the right place.

Marianne Bihomora was praying just today that God would help her have enough money to have a cell phone. She couldn't pay her bill this past month so she no longer has a cell phone and it's absolutely so important for her to have a phone. This should be a business expense that Safi Sana picks up, but we can't afford it now. And you will have to hear my heart and trust that this unfortunately is really the case. So, can you pray for her? Or do you want to help her?

Also, starting on Tuesday, Noe Rusaya will have a full time job as public health administrator for the refugees. Adam is employing him at Tiger Pediatrics to do this position until we can find a grant or donors that will help us do this. Why do we need this in Columbia? Well normally pediatricians are coaches that tell parents what they need to do to help their child. So, one of our refugee kids was diagnosed with an iron deficiency a few years ago. The pediatrician told the mom to either take her son outside more during the day or supplement with iron pills which he/she prescribed. The mom doesn't have a car, a license, and her Medicaid is always on again/off again. Because of this her toddler is now probably mentally retarded. Noe's new job will help take kids to their primary care doctor, to the specialist, and will follow up on specific kids to make sure they are taking their medicine, have their medicine, etc. Adam said that as a whole we were doing a "C" job in taking care of the refugee children and we needed to do better. If you have any grant ideas, please let me know. I'm looking but it's not easy to find. What I do plan on doing is offering a grant from City of Refuge to Tiger Pediatrics, but the amount will vary based on the interest of those giving. Adam will be able to recapture about 1/3 of Noe's salary so I'm looking to help offset the cost of the 2/3. Want to give $5 towards this?

And finally, Caritas. We have been supporting Caritas since January and I've had to stop giving her a salary until we get more donations. Caritas is like a second mom to almost all the African children. She is in her car daily driving the refugees around and helping them with their numerous needs. If you are interested in helping her, let us know.

We've made it easier to give to City of Refuge. You can now give on a regular basis or a one-time basis using your credit card. Just email us at Mizzou4you@gmail.com and let us know what you want to support, how often, and we will take care of the rest.

If you are one of those people who doesn't really like to give money, but you have a lot of time then you could help us by having a garage sale. We even have donations that we can help bring over. You price it, sell it, and we will come and pick up whatever doesn't sell.

Thanks for helping us help hundreds of refugees in our city.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ali and Shurok, Our Fun Iraqi Family

Remember that song in the Disney movie, "Prince Ali, Fabulous He..." Well, we have our own Ali in Columbia! Ali is a fun, boisterous man with lots of funny things to say. He always makes me laugh. His wife Shurok has not been able to speak English very well but is starting to come out of her shell as she is able to communicate more and more.

We have now had 2 apartment complexes call and specifically request that Ali and Shurok clean for them. (Wow!) Ali, Shurok and their daughter often clean together as a family in the evenings or on their days off. Ali and Shurok both have full time jobs at the Hampton Inn and work for us when they aren't working there. I really like people who like to work hard, so I'm a big fan of Ali and Shurok.

We at City of Refuge met Ali and Shurok the first week they came to Columbia. They soon learned about our cleaning business Safi Sana, but Ali spoke English well enough we knew he would be able to find a different job and soon did.

Ali has a degree in physics and will hopefully finishing an additional degree at Columbia College. He was just telling us last night about how happy he was that Columbia College knows that the university he went to in Iraq was a good one at that time and that they know which classes he has taken and which ones he still needs. His real hope is to teach physics in Columbia some where and we have the same hope for him.

Last night Ali and Shurok brought over a plate of Iraqi "Cuba". It's a hamburger ball that is wrapped in rice, salted and fried. It was good. Ali told us that it takes 2 hours to make. Wow. I tried to think of a time that it took me 2 hours to make some type of food for someone else and I couldn't think of a time. My kids even liked it, which is amazing since they are picky eaters.

So, if you haven't met Ali and Shurok, wow, you must. They are fun.

Our Intern Violeta is Fabulous

I have to tell you all that I have fallen in love with our intern, Violeta Pojmaevich. She is dating a friend of mine, Jordan Douce, so that is how I first met her. And wow, I can completely see what he sees in Violeta! She is so wonderful.

Violeta is from Ecuador and is going to school in Chicago. This summer she will be helping us raise money through garage sales and other fundraisers. She will also be looking for grants we might be able to apply for. She will also be designing our web site.

She has been so much fun to have around and I can already tell you that I will dearly miss her. If you haven't met her yet, please do! She's great.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

CiCi's with Specious and Her Family

So, one of my favorite things to do is to take refugees to restaurants. They don't get to go very often so it's always very exciting for them. I brought Specious and her 5 kids to CiCi's Pizza tonight. We've taken them there before, but they love pizza and every kid likes the games, so it's a always fun.

I learned tonight more about Specious. Her mom and dad died in the war in Congo. She says she looks like her mom.

She said that she knew all the African refugees who live in Columbia either at the camp in Tanzania or back when she lived in Congo. I was so surprised especially that she knew Noe and his family, since they lived in Congo but then went to the refugee camp in Burundi. How neat it must be for her to know them all and to get to live with them again!

Specious said 8 years ago she got sick and that's when her arm stopped working.

It was a great evening.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Generous Justice

I recommend a book. This is actually a big statement coming from me because I have 3 little kids and besides the Bible, I hardly ever make time to read. Reading books is mainly one of those far off things I plan on doing when my kids are grown and I actually have spare time. But today I'm on vacation so I have been reading a book and I am really enjoying it. It's "Generous Justice" by Tim Keller.

Reading "Generous Justice" has made me glad that we started Safi Sana and City of Refuge. It has echoed thoughts in my heart about how Jesus loves refugees and immigrants and we should too. And it challenges me to continue to be generous in giving to the poor.

Here is my favorite quote so far:

"Jesus gave us a long list of his disciples' activities. They were to give food and drink to the hungry, which meant emergency relief. But the 'strangers' were immigrants and refugees, and they were to get much more than food. They were to be 'invited in'. They were not merely sent to a shelter but were to be welcomed into the disciples' homes and lives and, it is implied, given advocacy, friendship, and the basics for pursuing a new life in society."

Tim Keller also talked about the concept of gleaning in the Bible. That "small business owners" would not farm all of their land but would leave some of it for the poor to harvest. It was a way for the poor to be able to work and make a living. This reminded me of our concept for our cleaning business, Safi Sana. Some of our workers are those that don't speak English well enough to get jobs in our city. Without the money they make from Safi Sana they would go homeless unless another charity or organization stepped in to help. We are giving them a way to work and provide for their families.

Do you know immigrants or refugees? Invite them "in" just like the disciples were supposed to. If you don't know immigrants or refugees but you want to, we would be happy to introduce you to some! Or join us by supporting us and by doing so you will be helping to care for their needs. How can you support us? Donate your garage sale items because we will have a sale this summer and all the proceeds will be going towards needs of Columbia's refugees. Or send us a tax-deductible check to City of Refuge; 102 Dayspring Dr; Columbia, MO 65203. We delight in caring for the refugees and immigrants and all your money will go straight to caring for their needs.

Monday, May 16, 2011

One More Idea - Monia

We have one more idea of how you can give. One of our Safi Sana cleaners, a Tunisian immigrant named Monia, is going through a very hard time. I'd love to tell you the whole story, but for her privacy we will just leave it at that for now. She is completely taking care of herself with what she earns from Safi Sana. And her school schedule has made her not available a lot. So, she has been earning less than $100 every 2 weeks. Monia is a Muslim woman that we want to practically demonstrate the love of Jesus towards. She is in need of a cell phone and we purchased her one for $20/month. Can you help us cover this expense? When she is able to work more we will have her take over this bill, but for now we need to step in and help her.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ways To Give -- Computers & School

We have identified some needs and fun things to give to and were wondering if others would like to help us with these.

First of all a sweet Mexican college student that we all love, Lizeth Castro, put her laptop on her car this weekend. She put her bags, etc, in the car and headed down Broadway. You guessed it, as she was driving her computer flew off the top of her car and the car behind her drove over it. Would you like to help us get Lizeth a new laptop?

Secondly, Etienne received "Student of the Year" and recognition for his Gates Scholarship at a Rock Bridge High School awards ceremony this week. Etienne will be heading off to college this Fall and we would like to see him bring a laptop with him to school. Would you like to help us get a laptop for him?

And finally Marianne Bihomora, one of our favorite Rwandan refugees, is helping to take care of her niece in Rwanda. In fact, Marianne has started the paperwork to get her a visa to live here in the U.S. with her. I found out today that Marianne doesn't have any money in her bank account, yet not only is she working hard to provide for her own family she is also trying to raise $80 to pay for her niece's schooling in Rwanda. Would you like to help us pay for the schooling?

All your gifts are tax-deductible because City of Refuge is a 501c3 non-profit organization. We will provide you with a receipt.

Would you like the joy of giving today? Then drop by or mail us a check to: City of Refuge; 102 Dayspring Dr; Columbia, MO 65203. Every $1 helps.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Visiting Yvonne Tomorrow/Garage Sale

Tomorrow is Yvonne's court date for her charge of public nudity. (She was bathing in Bear Creek.) I wrote a letter on her behalf to the prosecuting attorney's office. (That was a first for me!) Caritas, Mary Kate, and I are headed to the jail in the morning to visit her. I'll let you know how that goes.

We are having a big garage sale for City of Refuge on Saturday. We are hoping to raise $500. So, why have a garage sale? City of Refuge completely relies on private donations. At this point, no church, federal, or state program donates money to help us help refugees. So, we need money to help pay for Caritas Habimana's salary that we give her for her daily work with the refugees. And we need money to help pay for the ongoing needs of the refugees. So, that's why we are having a sale. We are so thankful for all the items that have been donated so far. If you have anything to give, you can still do so on Thursday May 5 or Friday May 6. The items can be brought to 1408 Waterford. Since we are a 501c3, all donations are tax deductible. Come donate or shop for a good cause!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Yvonne Update & Fund Raising

Well, sad news. Yvonne is in jail for having a fire in a part of the city where you shouldn't make a fire. So in our jail tonight sits Yvonne along with people who have committed worse crimes. If Yvonne posted bond she could go "home" but she doesn't have the $500 she needs to post bond. I asked a friend of mine recently who is a Columbia Police Officer if it's better for Yvonne to be in jail since she is not sleeping under a bridge, but he said no. He said the jail is not a place that anyone wants to be because of the dangerous people who reside there. So of course I have questions that I'm wondering about. Should I contact the sheriff and see if Yvonne can be forced to get help from us and get off the street? Will the sheriff work with us? Will Yvonne be willing to be helped? My next step is to go and visit Yvonne with Caritas on Thursday morning. If you want to come too, let me know. Visiting hours are from 8:45am - 9:45am. I want to see if Yvonne wants help or if she wants to stay in jail. She's not always in her right mind, so it's a legit question.

We did have exciting news this week! Kyrsten Skulborstad, a great friend of mine, worked with some journalism students and made us a couple of videos:

City of Refuge: Humble Beginnings. Big Hearts. [Extended]

City of Refuge: Humble Beginnings. Big Hearts. [Shortened]

From Refugee to Scholar: Etienne's Story

Our greatest need right now with City of Refuge is getting known and getting support so we can help the refugees. One of the videos features Caritas Habimana and we pay Caritas a monthly stipend so she can continue working with the refugees. Her monthly stipend is small really for all she does. Help support Caritas by supporting City of Refuge.

We are having a garage sale on Friday and Saturday to raise funds for City of Refuge. If you have items you can donate, email us at Mizzou4you@gmail.com.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Good News About Etienne & Yvonne Update

So, let's start with the good news. The really GREAT news is that Etienne, one of our city's African refugees won the Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation Scholarships this week!! My husband Adam was so happy because he helped Etienne apply for college and scholarships and he particularly enjoyed reading the other recipients who were from ivy league schools. Etienne is the first one in his family to be going to college and will be attending Missouri State in Springfield in the Fall.

Now, for an update on Yvonne. This weekend several fire fighters and police officers surrounded her because they saw her fire and thought that someone was trying to burn down the Bear Creek Bridge, where she has been living. It was just Yvonne's fire to stay warm. When she was suddenly surrounded she screamed and was taken into custody and taken in for a psychiatric evaluation. They have kept her since Saturday, but released her...at the bridge...today. I left her a voice mail on her phone saying, "It's raining, we would be happy to get you a hotel room tonight" but she told her new friend Daniel, a college student, that she didn't want to go. Daniel is disappointed that the mental hospital didn't keep her since he has known her the best the last couple months and says that she needs help. We've learned this past week that since Yvonne is not in her right mind it's been hard helping her. So, what all of us are trying to do is what we think she would like us to do if she were in her right mind. I keep thinking to myself when she is heaven and if she is able to revisit the tape of what is going on I want her to see that we love her, want to help her, and are doing all we can to try and help her.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Looking For Short Term Housing

Do you guys know anyone in Columbia who works at a hotel? Today I visited all of Columbia's cheapest motels and the best deal I could find is $185/week plus tax. I'm hoping to find a place for $150/week. See if you guys can find a hotel for that will give us that rate.

It took us awhile to find Yvonne today. We didn't find her until late afternoon. Thankfully the people who put her up in a hotel last night actually paid for tonight too. So, we are going to go to public housing and put her in a cheaper motel tomorrow until we can find a better long term solution.

One glimmer of good news is that today my sister-in-law Shelley saw her and said she was her normal self! She also saw her yesterday when she wasn't herself, but after a good nights sleep at a hotel she was normal.

We need help with this, so if you can help move us higher on the list at public housing, if you can donate money, if you can pray, we would greatly appreciate it!


Yvonne Update

So I wanted to give everyone a Yvonne update. I told the story about Yvonne in my Business Networking group that I'm in and someone in the group blessed me with a check afterwards. He said that his brother is homeless and wanted to help.

Today my plan is to bring her to public housing and find out where she is on the list. From what Caritas has told me, one bedroom apartments are hard to get in public housing. The last time Caritas checked she was #50 in line.

After we check that then I will bring her to an apartment and will sign a short-term lease.

Prayers for wisdom are appreciated.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Helping Yvonne

So I have some angels who found Yvonne under the bridge and took her to a hotel tonight. She cried so loudly when she saw the hotel room that the hotel manager came to see if there was a problem. The City of Refuge volunteers explained that she was very happy.

The volunteers found out that Yvonne has been living outside since the blizzard.

Tomorrow we will look for an apartment for her unless anyone has any better ideas.

Would you like to give to help Yvonne? If so, let us know. Your gift is tax deductible and will be greatly appreciated.

Yvonne is Now Homeless

I just found out on Sunday that Yvonne is homeless. Yvonne is an African refugee who was originally located to St. Louis. But then Gicanda who lives here in Columbia asked her to move here to help her with the kids.

Yvonne moved here in the late Fall and soon thereafter began working part-time for Safi Sana. We enjoyed her and would have given her more work, but the late Fall was a part of our off season. But still, she enjoyed her job and did a really wonderful job for us. By the end of January she found a full-time job and that is when I lost contact with her. I thought she was still working at her new job and all was well. So, I was sad to hear the news.

Today I'm praying about what to do. I hear she is living under the Bear Creek bridge, near Elleta Blvd and Rangeline. Caritas and Marianne, two of our Rwandan refugees, have begged her to come live with them but Yvonne is mistrusting of them. She said she can't live with any of the Africans, she wants to live by herself. To complicate matters Yvonne suffers from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and doesn't take any medication to help. And really my husband says the medicine is not always helpful anyway. So, her African friends call her "crazy" which I'm sure doesn't help with her trust of them.

One piece of good news is that since I and others have been praying this afternoon Yvonne called Caritas. This is a very big deal and Caritas thinks she needs help and Caritas thinks the best way to help her would be to put her up in an apartment. And I've discovered over the years that usually God tells Caritas what to do first and then tells me. (I love to joke about this with Caritas, but really, it does seem to be true.)

A problem I have though is City of Refuge could probably afford to put Yvonne in an apartment for a month, but that's it. I need other people to help and give money to City of Refuge in order for us to help her get on her feet. So, if you are interested in helping her, please let me know or send a tax-deductible gift to City of Refuge at 102 Dayspring Dr; Columbia, MO 65203.

Friday, March 11, 2011

An Update on Jalos

So, for those of you who know the crazy, exciting story of Glori, the Burundi refugee we helped get life saving surgery in Kenya, I thought you might be interested in getting an update on how the family is doing. Glori's dad, Jalos, still emails me. Just like Noe Rusaya, an African refugee that lives in Columbia, we consider Jalos and his family a part of our family. We heard just this past week that Jalos' family was robbed. Adam and I just couldn't get over the fact that they were already dirt poor, as a refugee, but then to have someone come in and steal what little they have must have been very discouraging. So, City of Refuge sent Jalos a check to help recover what was stolen. Jalos sent me an email that said they were overjoyed because he didn't have enough money to send the kids to school so now all of them are in school. It's fun helping people that our African brothers care so much about. We love them now too.

Burundi Pastor Comes to Columbia

Today I had another pinch me I'm dreaming moment. About a year ago Noe was at our house and he was stressed because his pastor back home needed some money for their church because they didn't have enough money to pay rent and they needed money to pay rent so they would have a place to meet. It was one of those moments when Adam and I could tell that Noe really wished he had enough money to give but didn't. So, Adam and I wrote him a check for $150 and really never thought about it again. That is, until yesterday when we received a text that the pastor from that church was in town. We had no idea we would meet anyone from the church until we got to heaven. But today, in my front living room, sat the pastor of the church. His name is John and he is a traveling pastor. He has many churches in Burundi, Congo and Rwanda. The country church Adam and I helped is now thriving and has now grown out of the place they are renting so they were wondering if their "missionary" could help them. So, we did as a part of City of Refuge. We also gave money to Pastor John's main church in Burundi. Pastor John's main church is the one that Noe used to be a part of, as well as many of our African refugees here in town. It's the church where Jalos and his family are attending. Jalos is the dad of Glori, the little boy that we helped get life saving surgery a couple years ago.

Poor People Like Nice Things Too

One of the things I'm wondering about is how to get across the message to my friends that poor people like nice things too. A very giving lady dropped by a bag of clothes on my porch and in it I didn't find a single piece of clothing that anyone would want to wear. It was all 20 years outdated, very worn, or missing buttons. I'm happy to help people who can't throw things away throw them away, but somewhere along the line we (me included) decided that even our worst piece of clothing should be shared with someone instead of thrown away. I wish there was a way to tell people if there is a very good reason you wouldn't want to wear it...it's very stained, old or damaged then a poor person is not going to want to wear it either.