The weather forecast looked sketchy the entire week before. Communication is always tricky with this family, as only the mom has a cell phone, and she works full-time. She’s also still learning English.
We hosted a picnic to celebrate the self-sufficiency of our most recent refugee family. Our official commitment to helping this family has ended, but going forward we remain friends. We decided to mark the transition with a picnic in a park with a fabulous playground and an accessible lake. If only the weather would cooperate, and we could communicate our plans.
It was a success! Despite afternoon showers, the sky cleared. We found covered picnic tables near the playground. And we drove grandmother and the three girls to their first visit at this park. The girls were overwhelmed by the possibilities of the new playground, and wanted to play on the swings more than they wanted to eat. Everyone was fascinated by the water, and after confirming that there were no crocodiles in the lake, they waded in as far as we allowed them in their clothes. Even Grandmother walked down to get a better look at the fishermen.
We had more than enough food at our potluck, a good variety, and it was delicious. Grandmother and the oldest daughter were observing Ramadan, so they did not eat with us. They abstained until sunset, and then happily indulged in the picnic food, even bringing home the leftovers.
Transitions like this can be tricky. As we root for this family to integrate into their new community, we want our friendships to continue. But we also pray that the lessons we’ve taught them about life in America stick, and that they successfully navigate their new life here.