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Witnessing to Refugees - From 'Tom Irregardless and Me'

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"Most of the field service presentations she learned growing up will not work in their new territory, Brittany told me. They are considered rude. You can’t just launch into what you’ve come to talk about. First you must inquire about their family, and tell about yours. You have to tell about your children, for family is very important. When she tells them she doesn’t have children, they are concerned. Of course, part of hospitality is to find out why. They smile. ‘You married late in life;’ that is the reason. When they find that it is not, they realize you are on your second marriage. When that conclusion, too, proves false, they are very saddened: you lost your children in some tragic accident. Then they grow very still when you tell them you did not. They have finally discerned the true reason, but it is almost too delicate to bring up, though they do anyway - something is wrong with your equipment. Brittany’s student has drawn her a chart to help her understand how many children she should have at her age."

From chapter 18 of Tom Irregardless and Me. 30% Free Preview

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    • By JOHN BUTLER
      OK, I know some people will not like this and they will call it gossip but my wife and I are worried about it so it needs to aired out.
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      H does not know where this 'brother' is from but he is now part of the Honiton Congregation which H and her children attend, here in Devon. 
      It seems strange to me that this man has just arrived at Honiton Congregation and just been reinstated. My wife says he has a London accent. 
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      I have his full name, so is there any way i can run a check on him ? 
      Should i contact an Elder at Honiton Congregation and tell them of the concern my wife and I have ? 
      If this 'brother' had been involved in a child abuse accusation would they have told H about it so that she could be on her guard ? 
      Some on here may think I'm just trying to cause trouble, but my wife came home this evening and is looking very worried. 
      It seems that H had invited both 'brothers' to the meal afterward and my wife felt unhappy about the whole situation. 
      TTH will probably bring out the rule book again and say 'it never happens', but child abuse does happen and needs to be looked for all the time. 
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      I was going to add this to another topic but remembered we are told to start new topics, so I've done that.
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      Safa arrived in Canada from Syria by way of Jordan nine months ago. She came with her husband, two sons, and a baby on the way. I am part of a sponsorship group that pooled financial and emotional resources to bring her family to Toronto and support them for a year.
      In Syria, Safa was married in her teens, quickly had her two boys, and lived with her parents-in-law. Now she lives in downtown Toronto with her husband, Ziad, and their two boys, now four and two. She piles her kids into a stroller that needs an engineering degree to understand, and traipses around a city with temperatures she doesn’t even have a word for—all in a language she barely knows. On a weekly basis, she is bombarded with texts and visits from a group of Canadian do-gooders who breeze in and out of her life bearing gifts, paperwork, and kindly suggestions.
      Safa and I were spending the morning making ma’amoul cookies, a traditional date-filled butter variety. My suggestion of using a measuring cup was met with disdain that I didn’t need help translating. Her system of using an empty labnah (yogurt) container worked just fine. We sat on the floor—a bit awkward for this middle-aged Canadian—rolling out cookies while chatting and gossiping with Google Translate as our invisible third. Her toddler ran around causing trouble, while the baby slept in a swing. The experience of baking together was so natural and familiar to Safa; it was the most relaxed I had seen her in months. That is, until the knock on the door.
      The two women who sat on the couch didn’t seem to care about Safa’s lack of English, or that she was wearing a hijab and is an observant Muslim. They prattled on about Jesus, never pausing to see if she understood. But with pamphlets and video in Arabic, it was clear this wasn’t their first stop on their conversion crusade—likely a coordinated effort targeting the Syrian newcomers. They then began telling me about the connections between Christianity and Islam, as if all I needed was a little enlightenment and I too would join forces.
      I can only imagine what Safa was thinking as I chastised the women for going after a vulnerable population that has an ample sense of hospitality. I kept smiling, as did they, but you wouldn’t need one word of English to understand that we were having a disagreement. When I told them they couldn’t come back, they dropped the facade of generic pleasantness. The blonde practically snarled at me saying that since Safa invited them, they could return as often as they like.
      Safa stood there with teacups in hand looking bewildered. Google Translate and I tried to explain about Jehovah’s Witnesses, but a round of charades couldn’t quite get the message across that those nice white women wanted her to abandon her religion—one of the last remaining constants from her life in Syria. I told her that they were selling Christian Bibles.
      She nodded at me, smiling, but I recognized the perplexed shrug she gave me. It is the look of resignation when confronted with another ridiculous Canadian habit, such as tobogganing in sub-zero snowstorms, strapping screaming children into car seats, or using measuring cups while baking. She has been in Toronto for nine months and a couple of pretty, white women in her apartment telling her what to do no longer surprises her. Sometimes, I am amazed that she lets any of us past her doorstep.
      We went back to our dough, and Safa schooled me for my clumsy rolling technique.
      Emma Waverman (@emmawaverman) writes for Reader’s Digest, Today’s Parent, Canadian Living.
      https://thewalrus.ca/when-syrian-refugees-open-the-door-to-jehovahs-witnesses/
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      LOWELL — The Congolese refugees huddled rapt around a stove in the early morning darkness. They had never used one before, and they watched in their new home Friday as a resettlement worker flipped the burners off and on.
      They had never used a refrigerator, either. Or seen water pass through a faucet. Or been told how to lock a door. Or adjust a thermostat. Or even how to squeeze shampoo from a tube.
      Twenty years in a refugee camp in Uganda will insulate a family from everyday conveniences that Americans take for granted. But here they were, bewildered and grateful — a mother, father, and five children who received a waiver from President Trump’s ban on new arrivals.
      “We heard no more refugees could come to America. So, for us to come to America, we are very happy,” the 43-year-old matriarch, Vanisi Uzamukunda, said through an interpreter as she held a sleepy 7-year-old.
      After Trump’s executive order last week barred new refugees for 120 days, the family worried whether this day would ever happen. But they were allowed entry because government officials determined that a delay in their scheduled journey would have caused significant hardship, resettlement officials said.
      Hardship has been a constant. Their lives were shattered two decades ago when the parents fled unending violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But here was a fresh start only a 28-hour, continent-hopping odyssey away from their home in Uganda.
      The family landed late Thursday night in Manchester, N.H., and then were ferried by resettlement workers to a two-floor apartment in Lowell. But even that simple drive showed the chasm between their former life and the one unfolding before them.
      They did not know how to open the car doors, or how to fasten a seat belt. And when they finally stepped out of the cars into 20-degree temperatures, they saw snow for the first time.
      “Now that we are in Lowell, this is our destination. We are finished,” said the oldest child, 20-year-old Nyirakabanza Muhawenimana, who took the lead in questioning workers from the International Institute of New England, the resettlement agency.
      She asked whether the family could wash clothes in the tub. No, take them to a laundromat, replied case manager Sabyne Denaud, who emigrated from Haiti.
      And so it went: Here is where the trash goes, make sure you lock the doors at night, do not let the children out alone, and call 911 on the apartment phone if there is an emergency.
      “This is the first time they have lived in a house,” said Suad Mansour, a Lowell High School teacher who was one of four people to greet the family at the airport.

      Suad Mansour explained shampoo to Nyirakabanza, 20, and her family at their new home in Lowell.
      Mansour, who immigrated to the United States from Jordan, led the family on an initial tour of the apartment about 1 a.m. Friday. After they slept for a few hours, Denaud arrived later in the morning and refreshed their memories.
      “You don’t have to worry about the new president,” Denaud said. “You don’t have to worry about anything. You are safe here.”
      The family will receive a one-time $925 stipend per person from the federal government to help pay for rent and other basic necessities, but they are expected to become self-sufficient within six months.
      “You have to keep your house nice and clean,” Denaud said. “You never know who’s going to come to the apartment.”
      The International Institute, which last fiscal year resettled 623 refugees who had fled war and persecution in several countries, will help the family find work, enroll in school, register for Social Security, and learn English.
      The challenges are daunting — the family does not speak English, for one. But regular follow-up will ease the transition to a strange country, said Tea Psorn, a program manager from the institute who came to the United States as a Bosnian refugee in the 1990s.
      “These people only want safety,” Psorn said.
      Their vetting process took nearly three years, the family said. A total of 684 Congolese refugees arrived in Massachusetts from 2011 to 2015, according to the state Department of Public Health.
      In Lowell on Friday, after hours of explanation and advice from Mansour and Denaud, 16-year-old Maria Uwimana floated a final question: Where can we find a church?
      The family members are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Maria’s query was answered a short time later when a small group of well-wishers suddenly entered the living room and welcomed the new arrivals with hugs and conversation in Swahili.
      They, too, are Jehovah’s Witnesses and had been at a gas station only a block away when the day’s interpreter, former Congolese refugee Kafila Bulimwengu, called to tell them about the newcomers.
      Approximately a dozen Congolese have already joined Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in nearby Chelmsford, said Markus Lewis, who is part of a church group that has learned Swahili to communicate with African worshipers.
      Lewis shook hands with Sendegeya Bayavuge, the family’s 52-year-old father, who gradually began to relax as the day wore on. At the airport, sitting with his children after the grueling trip, he appeared exhausted and apprehensive.
      But in the apartment, as each new wonder was demonstrated, the creases in Sendegeya’s face began to soften.
      “There will be safety here. There will be a difference,” said Sendegeya, who had been a farmer in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
      Some worries remain, however: One daughter still lives in a Ugandan camp.
      “Life was very bad in the camp; there were many problems,” including food shortages, Sendegeya said. “We pray to God to help those who are still in the camps to come here.”
      Still, Friday was a glorious day for this close-knit family, which seemed humbled into silence by its introduction to the United States.
      Nyirakabanza, the oldest child, was the outgoing exception: asking questions and trying each new knob and handle for herself.
      She even practiced putting a trash bag in place.
      “It’s a new life,” she said, breaking into a broad, beaming smile. “I feel happy to be in America.”

      https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/02/03/after-trump-one-last-refugee-families-settles/FJaGAuKj51fOsAmWFjy9ZL/story.html
    • By Bible Speaks
      "Every man must be swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath.”
      (James 1:19)
      Generally, children love their parents, and parents love their children. This is especially true among God’s people. 
      Some families agree to spend less time watching television or using the computer. 
      Others decide to eat at least one meal together each day. 
      Family worship is a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to get to know one another better as they study the Bible together. 
      The Bible says: “A person’s thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out.” (Proverbs 20:5, Today’s English Version) 
      When anyone is replying to a matter before he hears it, that is foolishness on his part and a humiliation.” (Proverbs 18:13)
      If you stay calm and listen, you may be able to understand the reason for your child’s “wild talk.” (Job 6:1-3) 
      You can help your child only if you understand the whole situation. As loving parents, listen to your children and try to understand them so that you can say something that really helps them. 4 No greater joy do I have than this: that I should hear that my children go on walking in the truth." (3 John 4)
      We will make mistakes. So be quick to say “I’m sorry.” Forgive freely. “Be harmoniously joined together in love.” (Colossians 2:2) 
      Love has power. It helps us to be patient and kind. Love helps us to stay calm and to forgive. “It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) 
      If you keep showing love, communication in your family will get better and better. This will make you happy and will honor Jehovah.
      http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/402013365?q=james+1%3A19&p=par#h=28
      IMG_4837.MP4

    • By The Librarian
      Marriage and the family are under attack. The Bible provides the key to happy family life. Source
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Dorking residents inspired to life-changing response to migration crisis

      Kristin and Peter Nevins came to Dorking from the US and piled their four children into two bedrooms so they could begin hosting refugees © Anna Gordon
      “If they ask, say you’re my nephew,” Constance Nash advised the young Syrian man staying with her, in case he encountered an unfriendly neighbour.
      Ms Nash has a lot of foreign guests this year at her home in Dorking, a leafy town in the Surrey hills about an hour’s train ride south of London.
      First came the Eritrean woman who was 28 weeks pregnant and then the wounded Syrian soldier and his Congolese friend, who had been sleeping rough.
      Then there were the Syrian and Sudanese teenagers. “They said they came on the train,” Ms Nash said. “Not in the train, on the train.”
      There was George from Ghana and Jean from the Congo and the Zimbabwean and Sudanese, and Ahmad, a soft-spoken pharmacist from Aleppo who stayed for five months.
      Ms Nash refers to them not as refugees but “guests”. She and a motley group of nearby residents have been hosting them during the past year to make their modest response to the global migration crisis and fill the sizeable gaps left by the British government.

      Constance Nash: 'It’s not charity. At all. It’s human solidarity.' © Anna Gordon
      “It’s not charity. At all. It’s human solidarity,” said Ms Nash, who — like her guests — is a foreigner who never expected to land in Dorking. A frenetic Parisian, she moved to the town 17 years ago after marrying an Englishman and then ended up staying after the marriage ended.
      She hates the idea of spinning her experience into a feel-good story, insisting: “We don’t do cute in Dorking.”
      “Actually, we do,” corrected her friend Carmel O’Shea, who was seated in Ms Nash’s kitchen-cum-salon on a recent afternoon. Also passing through were Syrian and Congolese refugees, a gaggle of schoolchildren and neighbours, a tattooed Anglican curate and his wife, a pair of cats and an unusually active turtle.
      Britain has pledged to accept 20,000 Syrian refugees. The government selects families from UN camps and meticulously screens them before offering asylum, housing, English lessons and a living allowance.
      But that ignores many others — from Syria and elsewhere — who arrive in the UK on their own. Some come with fake passports, or hidden in the back of trucks using the Channel tunnel.
      In theory, these people can claim asylum and, if necessary, receive government lodging. But in practice, many become trapped in a suspicious, slow-moving bureaucracy. In the interim, they may end up sleeping on church floors, in hospital emergency rooms or even on London’s night buses, as Jean sometimes did.

      The Nevins talk to Constance Nash in her kitchen. All three are part of the Dorking Group of local hosts © Anna Gordon
      “If it’s not deliberate then it’s the least competent government ever,” said Peter Nevins, a curate at the local Anglican church.
      He and his wife, Kristin — both from the US Midwest — moved to Dorking in August and piled their four children into two bedrooms so they could begin hosting. First came a Nigerian man, who stayed for a few days, and then a Syrian jeweller and baker, who had become friends in Calais’ infamous “jungle” migrant camp, and stayed for a few weeks.
      “The rooms should be filled, as far as I’m concerned,” Kristin shrugged.
      The Dorking Group, as the 10 local hosts informally call themselves, take referrals from an Epsom-based charity known as Refugees At Home, which has its own web page and Facebook group. The guests are first screened by the Red Cross and Refugee Council. Refugees At Home visits the hosts to check them, too.
      “Everyone just acts as if it’s going to be a friend’s friend [staying],”said Ms Nash, who first contacted Refugees At Home in August last year after reading about Icelanders pledging to house 11,000 refugees. “I got all agitated and said: ‘Let’s do it in England.’”
      Still, she recalled fretting after being briefed on her first arrival. “What if we don’t like her? She has nightmares. What if she sleepwalks?” Her son, Raph, 15, also confessed he was “a bit worried” about sharing the house with a stranger.
      But those fears melted. “When it clicks, it feels like the most normal thing you’ve ever done,” Ms Nash said. So much so that Raph’s school friend went home one day and asked his mother, Ms O’Shea, why they were not hosting any refugees.
      “I was hugely apprehensive. I wouldn’t even do French exchange with my kids,” Ms O’Shea said.

      Ahmad, a Syrian pharmacist, spent 10 months in the Calais 'jungle' before making it to the UK © Anna Gordon
      But she ended up opening her home to Mohammad, a 22-year-old Iranian builder — and sobbing when he left five months later. “I think we thought we were offering someone a room. It’s much more than that,” she said.
      Besides the humanity of it, hosting has wider benefits, the Dorking Group argues. Chief among them is that it speeds refugees’ integration, immersing them in the culture and language and making it easier for them to build their own lives if they win asylum.
      “It’s things like: why are the English always talking about the weather?” said David Preedy, a retired project manager. “It’s the kind of thing you don’t get going through the faceless, official scheme.”
      For Ahmad, the Syrian pharmacist, Ms Nash’s home was a refuge after a harrowing journey. He fled Aleppo in 2013 as the war intensified, paying a smuggler €1,050 to take him from Turkey to Greece. His nose was broken by bandits in Macedonia, where he was jailed. He also spent 10 months in the Calais “jungle” before making it to Britain.

      David Preedy, a retired project manager, has just had his first refugee to stay
      “When I stay in Dorking, I feel I am among my family,” he said in halting English.
      His asylum request was finally approved last week. But he appeared more focused on the news back home, repeatedly returning to a smartphone with images of bloodied corpses and rubble.
      Dorking has not been universally welcoming. When Ms Nash posted leaflets promoting her work around town they were torn down.
      Even the best-intentioned hosts admit they can become worn out. The Iranian family of Jehovah’s Witnesses that Mr Preedy and his wife took in ended up staying for nearly nine months.
      In addition to expenses for bus and train fares and food, Mr Preedy became drawn into the bureaucratic tangle of jobcentres, immigration law and the challenges of opening a bank account. “We saw them through the whole asylum process, which is mind-blowingly depressing,” he said. Still, he came away uplifted. “It’s given me a completely different perspective on people,” he said.
      Ms Nash also sounded transformed. “You really do connect and then it rips you apart when they leave,” she said. “But you know? It’s good sorrow, good sadness.”
      Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.
      https://www.ft.com/content/5f1b2d90-c5d8-11e6-8f29-9445cac8966f
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