Below is a Story of Transformation from Pastor Maryanne reflecting on her experiences with some of our Newcomers to Canada and her experience with them the past few weeks.
I had been praying during Advent that God would prepare me and make me aware of His presence during the season leading up to Christmas. As I look back now over the past month I see that in the waiting He was very present but in a way that I had not been expecting, and yet had been preparing me for over many months.
In May I had a conversation with Dana, a ministry partner in Refugee Resettlement at MCC. She asked if FGCC would consider taking on another family for resettlement, even though we were currently helping 3 families at the time. The family was ready to come, the finances were in place but because of unexpected circumstances the group that had originally committed to settle them was unable to do so. Tori, my assistant and I agreed that we were ready to commit to leading the team and would pray and take the invitation to the congregation that Sunday. If there were enough willing to be on a team we would take that as a yes from the Lord that we were to move ahead and commit to helping to settle this family from Burundi, Africa.
” God ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.” Duet 10:17-19
That Sunday, God moved several people to say an excited YES! He had already been preparing people to welcome this family and commit to the team. He even provided 2 families that attend FGCC and are originally from Burundi step forward to be on the team! How amazing is His provision. We called MCC back and shared an excited YES and began to prepare.
This summer our team began to gather furniture, kitchen supplies, bedding, towels and household items in a garage. We met together to plan and to pray for the family we had not met yet. We waited for travel dates indicating when the family of 8, who were currently in a Refugee Camp in Zimbabwe would arrive. We expected 4-6 weeks notice to find a home to rent and prepare for them. We continued to wait.
On Dec 7 I had a phone call from Dana while at home. ” Maryanne, I just got a call from the airport and there are people waiting there from Zimbabwe!” What!!??
That phone call began what has been a crazy 5 weeks of meeting a wonderfully warm, inspiring, motivated family of 8 on the coldest day of the year! All our hopes of being prepared for their arrival were gone. All their expectations of having someone meet them at the airport after their long journey to Canada were gone. But the waiting was over. Waiting that had gone on for many years for this family who had hopes of a new way of life in a country that would welcome them and let them begin again. That day we met each other and began a sweet friendship of welcome and mutual blessing.
(Pictured Above, The Family’s First trip to Walmart)
Expectations. Waiting. Preparations.
As I look back now, I see how God’s hand of preparation was there all along. He has provided in so many ways already as our team and many others have helped settle this family. I am thankful for an amazing team that has served selflessly over this last month. The to do lists have been endless, the timing has been inconvenient at times, but what a great reminder of what is important and truly a gift at Christmas. The family is in their own home, they have begun school and english classes, gotten SIN cards, learned to take the bus, celebrated Christmas and New Years with new friends and in new ways, learned to use a washing machine, dishwasher and are adjusting to snow and cold with open hearts and much hope! The Lord has blessed our team with so many great moments of interaction, of prayer together, of laughter, of answers to prayers, and overwhelming gratefulness and hope! I think it’s safe to say we are all thankful we said yes when God invited us to welcome this family.
(Pictured Above – First Christmas Tree in new home!)
Continue to pray for this family of 8 as they go through the next months with many adjustments. There will be disappointments, unmet expectations at times, culture shock that comes in different ways and some loneliness for friends and family far away. Put your selves in their shoes for a moment and pray with compassion for them and others who are newcomers to our city this winter. What courage and strength they show in the midst of much change! Thank you FGCC for being a church with vision to care for the orphan, the widow and the foreigners who are in need. Thank you for saying YES!