We had been meeting for over a year, planning for months, preparing for weeks. The lease for the apartment was signed, the apartment furnished with donations, pantry and fridge stocked, medical appointments made, paperwork for Social Security and Department of Social Services at the ready. The refugee family New Start Ministry was resettling was scheduled to arrive the next day.
And then they didn't.
They were delayed leaving, pending further security checks, so we waited anxiously for them to be on their way. We prayed for them, for whatever is holding up their departure to resolve quickly, for God's peace to blanket them - and us.
We cancelled appointments, put other things on hold, and checked our email frequently for news. We couldn't imagine what they must be going through.
Refugee resettlement can be messy.
We soon got news that it could be months and there were other families waiting. We had a decision to make.
Another opportunity arose quite quickly and we voted unanimously to welcome an Afghan family of four - mom, dad, and two young boys. Making a few changes and additions to the apartment, figuring out schooling for the boys, and sorting out a few other details, we felt prepared when the big day finally arrived.
Shortly after midnight, it was confirmed that their flight had left Turkey and was on its way.
Despite traffic, a few designated welcomers arrived just as the flight touched down. Knowing it could be an hour or two until the family made it through their processing, we found food and coffee and relaxed for a while.
Finally it was time to meet the family. There were smiles and excited (and a bit nervous) chatter between the family and our amazing team member who also served as translator as we wheeled their suitcases to the waiting van. Conversation continued as we made the two and a half hour drive back to Waterbury, CT.
One of the best moments of all of this was when one of the newer members of New Start Ministry who came on our airport adventure said, "It's real. This is real!" with pure joy in the realization that this family had made it, that they are here, safe, in our care, and we are moving forward together on this messy but blessed journey.