I crossed the courtyard and exchanged greetings with a lady. “Where are you going?” she asked. “I’m going to help F with reading.” “Come & help me too,” she begged. That encounter seven years ago started continuing interactions with refugees.
Initial activities included sessions of English conversation and reading. One day I joined the ladies making gundruk pickle; that centred our lesson for the day. I became involved with many families who wanted help and friendship. Drinking chai, and eating roti and other ‘cross-cultural’ food has been an integral part of such lessons and relationship building.
I then became a citizenship test tutor. One young man said, “My mother will never pass this test!” Every week I prayed, asking Jesus to help those four ladies. All four passed the test! They acknowledged Jesus as helper.
Young people wanted me to correct the English in their assignments. One man studied nursing. We asked Jesus to help. He graduated this year and now has a job. What an achievement!
Other ‘events’ have included attending family and community celebrations, cutting hair, pruning roses, helping with official forms, playing with children, telling stories of Jesus and praying for the sick. My husband helps with things like house moving, fixing taps and driving lessons. What fun to sit with a family making momos; and eating them too, of course!
Grandma was sick. I held her hand. “Grandma, Jesus loves you. Jesus is with you!” She responded two days running with vigorous head nodding. At midnight her granddaughter called to say Grandma had died. I had a picture of Grandma smiling down at me and sensed that she was with Jesus. The family say, “Grandma is with Jesus”, but still feel obligated to follow the Hindu rituals. “Jesus, please show them full freedom in you.”
They call me their teacher, big sister, mother, grandmother, part of their family. I say I’m a learner, a follower of Jesus, and I love them. My position with them is a huge privilege, but also a huge responsibility. They are my neighbours and friends.