Got this email from Jennifer Dunbar who is our P.E.A.C.E. coordinator for World Relief (that means she's our point person for helping Karen refugees from Burma resettle, among other things). This pumps me up and makes my heart sore. I love being a part of a church that gets what it means to demonstrate the Kingdom and lives it! I hope you take the time to read it.
Hi, Henry, John & Dana:
I hope you're having a good day. I wanted to send you an update to let you know what is happening with Five Oaks and the Karen.
This summer is a HUGE summer for Karen arrivals. There are currently two sponsor teams from Five Oaks in action. Both are doing a terrific job! The Servatius small group has been helping a family of four and Maggie Hartnell is leading a team of people helping a family of six with help from Lolene Borsheim, Barbi Cox, Anita Pagel, and Denny Porter. Both teams helped with a welcome kit, furniture, and transportation to appointments. What I find so encouraging, though, is that both teams are also reaching out to develop friendships through picnics together, including the families in small group activities, and help with English practice.
Harv Walton stepped up to befriend a refugee family. He meets with them weekly to give them practice with English. He told me it has been a very rewarding experience, and they're all having a lot of fun.
Three small groups have prepared and given Welcome Kits to families who have arrived in the last two weeks. Both the Markham small group and Richert small group collected the kits and delivered them personally to the families. Members from their groups also collected some furniture and helped with the delivery and set-up. Mark Wilde organized his group in collecting parts of a Welcome Kit that went to a family of seven arriving last week. We rented a big truck last Saturday and moved furniture for the family of three and family of seven. All of the Karen families are extremely appreciative.
Additional furniture is going to a family of seven who arrived last night (Thanks, Henry, for the queen bed). We've also committed to helping a family of seven arriving through World Relief on Aug. 9. Jose has been doing a terrific job of organizing the furniture.
The children's ministry is going to collect backpacks with school supplies for the new arrivals. The Karen youth have expressed a desire to develop a relationship with Five Oaks youth. My Tim talked to Tim Bubar about possibly starting that connection. Please pray that the Five Oaks youth would reach out. They can make such a difference so easily.
The needs are still BIG. Multiple Karen families are arriving each week. For example, World Relief alone has four families scheduled to arrive on August 9. They continue to need our help with furniture, welcome kits of basic items for their apartments, and especially friendship...
The one need the Karen consistently repeat is for relationship. They desire more connection with Five Oaks as a whole and with people in Five Oaks specifically. There is a huge need for more people like Harv who will commit to meeting weekly with a person or family to chat, help them figure out all of the strange new things in America, and let them know that someone cares. It doesn't require money or even driving all over St. Paul to appointments. It just desires a little time and a willingness to reach out to someone from another (very fun) culture. Do any of you have suggestions for ways we can encourage more people at Five Oaks to do this?
I'd appreciate your prayers for the Karen and for all of the people who are helping them.