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?
I don’t like waiting. But I’ve learned the value of waiting. One of the most humbling lessons has come through my time getting to know the students and families served by Refugee Resources.
As I began to prepare for the advent season this week, I started reading a lot of articles, stories, poems, and Bible verses on Waiting and Hope. Suddenly I realized that Waiting and Hope are the cornerstones of the life of a refugee. Many wait years in refugee camps for an opportunity to be resettled in a new country. After arriving in their new “home,” the process of assimilation takes time and patience, characteristics necessary to waiting. Most of them have lost everything: their identity and place in a community, their connections to home and extended family, their sources of income and sense of purpose or self-worth. Yet they continue to have hope. They hope for things I often take for granted: shelter, food, and safety. And they hope for the thing every parent hopes for: a better life for their children. That is where Refugee Resources steps in.
This fall, I went with Alysa to enroll a new student in the Monday evening Reading Circle. Ronald had been on the “waiting” list for over a year, “hoping” for the opportunity to spend an hour a week with me, talking, praying, reading and learning. He is a quiet and humble child who loves his family, friends, soccer and the Fantastic Four. When I arrive at 4:45, he is almost always already there, eagerly “waiting” for Reading Circle to begin. Each week he “hopes” to move on to the next reading level. As tiny as he is, Ronald, as the oldest child in his family, will “hopefully” be able to help his parents navigate the English language as I see with so many of the kids in our program.
Saying, “the children are our future” is a trite and hackneyed phrase that often engenders eye rolling, especially among my fellow educators. But as with all platitudes, there is a kernel of truth in it. My hope is that children like Ronald, Ruth, Hung, Houng, Rain, Tika, Kalia, Nur, Bibi and all of the other delightful children I have met through Reading Circle will have a future in which their and their parents’ hopes are fulfilled.
As I wait in line, wait for Christmas, and hope for the second coming of Christ, I will try to remember all of those who are waiting for a home, waiting for a meal, and hoping for a better future. And I will always be grateful for the window into their world that has been opened for me through Refugee Resources.