When Colonial Church of Edina and Upper Room volunteers took the call from MCC Refugee Services last summer inviting them to welcome a 7 member family who had fled Afghanistan as refugees, they could hardly have imagined the bond they would form in the coming months. They shared some reflections with us as the family’s one year anniversary in Minnesota approaches, and we wanted to share a bit of their journey with you.
“July 6th marks the 1st year anniversary of Abed family’s presence in Minnesota. At this time last year, MCC’s Outreach Specialist contacted me to ask whether we were prepared to support a 7 member family fleeing Afghanistan. Her question came at an inconvenient time, as July 4th was approaching, with summer vacations and all. Yet, I knew that somehow we would walk alongside this family. Many from our team rallied to ready their apartment, gather furniture, and purchase welcome kit items and clothing. I recall our band of smiling faces as we welcomed this family when they arrived at the airport. For them, it was a long flight from Kabul to Minneapolis. More than that, it was a journey of faith, as they left family, friends, and possessions behind. In the months that followed, we would learn that the Abeds lost a 9 year old daughter due to a lengthy illness shortly before coming to the US, and that several of Farhad’s cousins had died in the wars.” (From co-sponsor team leader, Bob Keller.)
The Abed family includes Farhad, his wife Amaya, and their 5 children. They have a 2 year old daughter, 5 year old twins, an 8 year old daughter, and nine year old son. Over the past year, Farhad has found employment and they were able to move from their first apartment to a rented house. The move has given them more space, and volunteers expressed their pride at the family’s independence in finding housing that was a better fit and accomplishing the move. Volunteers also continue to provide moral support to the family as they walk through the process of diagnosing a genetic condition that that has led to complex health concerns for the family’s youngest daughter. Given that those health concerns that require so much of Amaya’s attention, they were also able to help the family purchase a back yard play set for the older children to be able to play safely in their own yard.
The initial busyness of welcoming the family last summer has given way to a natural rhythm of friendship. Women from the church co-sponsor team continue to visit with Amaya on a regular basis and have formed a friendship, supporting Amaya and her children as they continue to find their way in Minnesota. The church group hopes to plan a reunion picnic with the family this summer as they celebrate their first year in Minnesota.
Co-sponsor team leader Bob shared with his team: “Reflecting on this first year, the progress this family has made is immense, and the good things that God did for this family through you will never be lost. Also, much to everyone’s delight, there has been a bonding, as the Abeds always look forward to our presence.”
MCC Refugee Services is looking for new or repeat co-sponsors, particularly in St. Paul and the East Metro. If your congregation is interested in walking out your commitment to welcoming the stranger by co-sponsoring a refugee family, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to schedule an educational presentation.