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.
You see, we came to Refugee Resources in a roundabout way, you could say. Even though we reside in Dallas, our hearts have also lived for a decade in the beautiful country of Rwanda. Since traveling there for the first time in 2010, not only have we returned over a dozen times to work of a small non-profit for children there, but we have also expanded our own family through adoption from Rwanda. Having loved the country and its people so deeply for so long, we say often that our hearts reside in two places—in Dallas and in the Land of a Thousand Hills, in the middle of East Africa.
So you can imagine how we feel when we happen to meet a Rwandan here in Dallas. We turn into crazy people, who greet them in Kinyarwanda, gripping them tightly and trying not to scare them away with our joy—before long, though, we are sharing our stories and hearts with one another like we’ve known each other for years. This is because there is a deep connection in being known, both for our family, and for them—who live thousands of miles away from their first home. This is exactly what happened that day, as we quickly made friends with Yvonne and Michael, the parents of a beautiful family from Rwanda, who were finding their way in a whole new world here in Dallas. And, it is the same powerful thing that has happened each and every Wednesday, as we greet these beautiful friends of ours from places all over this big, beautiful world.
The refugee story can be falsely painted in so many ways. The fact is, these families are vibrant, wise, and brave. They have so much to offer in friendship and we are better together. We have seen firsthand the pain and loss endured across the world. We know a mere fraction of the resilience of families like these in Vickery Meadow, and we often long to be among those from other countries, who have stories to tell of faith, endurance, and tenacity, stories that we as Americans don’t always have a concept of. And the great thing is, we can get a glimpse of heaven right here on earth when we join hands and hearts with every nation, tribe, and tongue, and that can look as simple as playing games with preschoolers.
Every Wednesday, we get to do just that. And there is nowhere else we’d rather be.
In the short school year that we have been mentors with Preschool Circle, we have been given such joy in the friendships we have gained. From those first days of timid, hidden smiles, to now joyous greetings, deep laughter, gigantic hugs, and sweet trust, we are the blessed ones for sure. As my daughter, Kendyll says, “From the minute he ran through the front door, Zar became one of my favorite people, hands down. His smile melts me every time and helping him learn new shapes and colors is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. He’s blessed my life in ways he doesn’t even realize, and I couldn’t be more thankful for my little buddy.” Carlie has been blessed to watch Jeim learn to read this year, as well as call her “his best friend.” Abby Kate has watched Amirah come out of her shell, as she twirls her dress, calls “Abby Kate, look at my hair!” and snuggles deep into her lap.
We talk about our little friends all week long. We dream of their futures and what they might be someday. We admire their parents. We pray for the gospel to be the center of their families. And, we thank God that we are a small part of their lives. We love more intensely because of our experience at Preschool Circle, and we are forever changed because of their friendship.
What a rich and beautiful world this is, and our family is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to know and love so many of God’s people from every corner of every continent right here in our city—because we know it is exactly the world He wants us to know.