Hanna Jonsson

I wish I could say I had a heart for the Refugee community ever since moving to Dallas a few years ago. Sadly, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Though outwardly I would verbally affirm the importance of being involved and helping in the refugee community, inwardly my heart was callous and cold. I talked the talk, but never walked the walk. I made assumptions without first seeking to understand. Subsequently, I wasn’t ready to walk through to the doors the Lord had opened.

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Alysa Marx
Julianne Elson Story

I moved to Dallas five years ago and I felt a calling to serve in my community, but I allowed the excuse of being busy to get in the way of committing. I had a friend who was passionate about volunteering with refugees but that seemed uncomfortable and a little scary so I continued to ignore the tug I felt in my heart. Until January of this year when I happened to run into Alysa, the founder of Refugee Resources, and I knew there was no more putting it off. No more excuses. It was a quick process, from the online background check and application to the training a couple of weeks later and the following Thursday I met my student, Asmah.

 

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Alysa Marx
Hannah Hardin Story

I am currently sitting in a café on the corner of Broadway and 105th in NYC. Sipping some coffee. Taking in the views, the people, and the heat. And all the while, comfortably knowing that when I’m finished here, I’ll be going back to a quiet room with AC and candles that smell like a garden.

I am sitting here fully aware of the privilege that it is to sit at a corner café on Summer vacation. As the hustle and bustle drowns out any voices of reality in my head, another voice makes its way to the surface. Angel. “Shukuru”. She is 10, vibrant, quietly hilarious, loves to dance and is eagerly finding her footing in America.

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Alysa Marx
Phil Roth Story

It’s very easy for me, and other people who live in North Dallas and the DFW suburbs, to ignore the real, pressing people needs in our community. The Dallas Morning News recently reported that one of every three children in Dallas grows up in poverty, which is astounding.

There certainly are people with great needs all over the globe. I have for many years volunteered for a  Christian organization that ministers to children in poverty in countries around the world, a worthwhile ministry that I will continue to support.

 

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Alysa Marx
Shelby Van Hyfte Story

My friend’s older brother and his high school friends looked to us and asked, “Hey, would you like to join us this weekend? We need someone to work craft tables and games to entertain some kids.”

I honestly went wherever my mom drove me. From school, to swim practice, to Girl Scout meetings, I had my life set in a circle that I continued going around and around again. But this year was different: I was twelve years old. My parents trusted me to stay home alone assuming I would not jump on the mattresses while eating all our sugary foods. Teachers had prepared me for the upcoming elementary to middle school leap. And my Girl Scout troop had just completed our Bronze Award.

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Alysa Marx
Chelsea Jacobs Story

I will never forget the first time we walked into Refugee Resources for our training day.  My three daughters and I were joining the newly-launched Preschool Circle and were so excited for this new adventure.  As we got settled into our seats for orientation, my oldest daughter leaned over and said, “Mom, that couple is from Rwanda, I just know it.” I exchanged a knowing look with her, and we tried to conceal our instant love for the volunteers sitting at the table next to us. 

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Alysa Marx
Jared Shaffer Story

This is Samuel. He is in 4th grade, likes to draw, has taught me more about anime than I could ever imagine, and loves Chipotle. I have been lucky to mentor Samuel for the last 7 months and his quick wit and ability to learn have made our time together a treasure. Tuesday nights with him feel like any other Tuesday night with a friend.

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Alysa Marx
Jeanine Campbell Story

On my first day at Reading Circle, and every day since, arriving in Vickery Meadow has been like a breath of fresh air. I am transported out of America as I’ve known it and welcomed with smiles, hugs, and open doors into a stunning variety of cultures and stories. When I first found Reading Circle a year and a half ago, I was simply searching for any way to start meeting people in the refugee community in Dallas. I was new to the city and didn’t know much about it yet, but I had learned that it had become a new home for many of the most resilient people on Earth. I am grateful to say now that a highlight of every week I’ve spent in Dallas has been each Tuesday night at Reading Circle.

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Alysa Marx
Meredith Lockhart Story

As I drive through the Vickery Meadow apartments every week, I get to experience the most delightful feast of the senses. I see men and women passing by in their traditional garbs of colors and patterns. I smell mouth-watering spices and flavors as mothers and daughters prepare dinner for their families. I hear a constant chatter of men, women, and children speaking languages completely foreign to me. I am greeted with the sweetest hugs of exuberant children ready for a night of learning. It is then that I think how fortunate I am to get to experience this beautiful and dynamic community every Wednesday evening.

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Alysa Marx
Our Community - Ivy Update

Monday morning of this week at 5:30 am, more than 17+ families were displaced due to an outbreak of a fire at the Ivy apartments at Holly Hill Rd. Suddenly the apartments were engulfed in flames. These families who have already gone through so much trauma and loss, have been resettled, transitioned and started life over again - were swept into another trauma. These folks are our friends and neighbors. Our community. We have sat and listened to the stories of the families of their sheer fear of grabbing their babies and running out of their apartments with the clothes on their backs and no shoes and waiting in the 20 degree weather and other families joining them in the cold waiting in safety as the fireman woke them up to protect their homes by knocking on the doors or bursting in if necessary.  We have grieved with the families in their pain, felt their loss of security and how this fire triggers their sense of instability It is devastating. Loss is never easy.

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Alysa Marx
David Johnson Story

Hi! I’m David. I joined Reading Circle in the summer of 2017 just after moving to Dallas. While I had a little knowledge of the Vickery Meadow refugee community, I had a strong desire to serve an international community. Ultimately, the Lord, through a friend, introduced me to Refugee Resources and has since grown in me the desire to serve and love the displaced and marginalized in our local community. It is truly amazing to see the perseverance, generosity, and joy of the refugee committee in Vickery Meadow and knowing some of them is one the of the great joys in my life.

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Alysa Marx
Rachel Schultz Story

I joined Refugee Resources when the refugee crisis began to weigh heavily on my heart. In Leviticus 19:34, God commands His people to “treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and… love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Scripture is full of calls to not only welcome, but actively love the displaced and marginalized – to seek them out as God has sought after us. I knew God cared deeply about the plight of the refugee, but had no idea how much mercy was packed into these invitations to serve – until I met Bibi.

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Alysa Marx
Amanda Giles Story

January is a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, a time for us to reflect on things of the past and set our eyes on what’s to come. To many of us a new year means starting the latest diet, eating healthier, reading a new book, saving more and spending less. For many refugees; however, they’ve spent years waiting for a chance at a new beginning.

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Alysa Marx
Jeanne Damoff Story

If I know I’m going to be traveling to a new place, I like to plan ahead and go prepared. What will the weather be like? Will I fly or drive? How many days will I be gone, and where will I stay?

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Alysa Marx
Melissa Rankin Story

How many of you have had to wait in line this past week? Did you get anxious or impatient? Were you angry or irritated by the people or the process? Did your desire for instant gratification overwhelm your feelings of gratitude and intentions to be loving and giving?

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Alysa Marx
Jack Lamar Story

Spoiler alert: Reading Circle is awesome.

When I first began volunteering two hours of my week to teach refugee students English literacy skills, I was excited about the opportunity to make a positive impact in the kid’s lives. I was going to be the superhero mentor who would see his student climb the literacy ladder every week and go home with a sense of accomplishment knowing that, at least for those two hours, I was making a difference.

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Alysa Marx
Cassie Henley Story

Every Wednesday, my five kids and I eat breakfast, finish a quick homeschool lesson and load up the car with crayons and playdoh and stickers and sensory box supplies and head a few miles down the road to Vickery Meadow.  We say hello to the eager faces already playing at Refugee Resources and prepare the tables with activities and art supplies as we wait for the rest of our preschoolers to arrive. 

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Alysa Marx
Vanessa Burbano Story

Meet Aimerance.  She is a sweet and spunky eight year old little girl.  Aimerance is from Congo and has ---- siblings.  I began working with Aimerance this spring and right away I was surprised by her ability to move up the different reading levels.  She is a fast learner! 

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Alysa Marx
Morgan Vandever Story

I grew up in a Christian bubble. I’ve always pushed that idea away in my brain because I just don’t want to admit it, but it’s true. Now, don’t hear me wrong- I am not complaining. Being in that bubble taught me the name of the Lord and the love He has for me since before I can remember. I was surrounded by people who truly and deeply desired for me to know God personally, and who prayed for me by name. Growing up it seemed to me that everyone I knew went to church, knew about the Lord, and lived a fairly similar life as I did. I took in what I heard at church, truly believed it, but thought “Okay, what do I do with this now? Everyone around me is hearing the same thing.” Hence the bubble: I never felt the need to learn to share what I believed and why I believed it because I was surrounded by others who looked and thought like me.

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Alysa Marx
Carolyn Hill Story

Over the past few months, I’ve been learning a lot about hospitality.  I mostly hear about people having the “gift of hospitality” because they love to host people or are particularly good at welcoming in new people to their circle of friends. While both of these descriptors of hospitality are fruitful and will ultimately glorify God, the Bible talks explicitly about hospitality in light of the foreigner or stranger in our life. Deuteronomy 10:18-19 talks about God’s heart for the foreigner and His command to the Israelites. It says, “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

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Alysa Marx