After hearing about her sister’s involvement with refugees in Michigan, Kim felt called to support refugees and immigrants in her own Twin Cities community. The meaningful and relational nature of Arrive Ministries’ Good Neighbor teams drew her to join seven other members of her church in forming a Good Neighbor team of their own.
The eight-person team from Christ Presbyterian Church was paired with the Acevedos, a family of ten from Guatemala. The Acevedo family was forced to flee Guatemala because of discrimination and threats that left them scared for their physical safety. Leaving behind jobs, homes and other family members, the Acevedos applied to come to Minnesota as refugees.
One family member, Linda, donated her house to her church in Guatemala before she departed, as a building in which they could hold their services.
“Our safety and our lives come first, we should not be attached to material things when our lives and safety are at risk,” said Linda.
When Linda arrived in Minnesota, she was in awe, “I thought Minnesota was a beautiful place from the moment we arrived. We met our Case Manager, Danielle and she made us feel loved and safe.”
Linda’s brother Luis says, “I really liked Minnesota, from the moment we arrived at the airport the team made us feel safe. We had never seen snow and so many lakes; we already feel quite adapted and are enjoying the surrounding parks.”
After the Acevedos arrived in Minnesota, the Good Neighbor team hit the ground running. Different team members picked up groceries, provided transportation, and assisted with initial set up of their houses. The team of volunteers did not know each other before they formed, so they carved out extra time for connecting via Zoom calls and WhatsApp chats. Since the Acevedo family is composed of multiple households, the Good Neighbor team debated whether or not they should divide their team into smaller subsections. They all ended up wanting to build relationships with the entire family of 10, which everyone agreed was a wonderful decision.
After the urgent tasks were covered, then they were able to focus more on relationship building and having fun. The younger kids often run to greet team members at the door with hugs, making them feel welcome the second they arrive.
“The Acevedos are all so kind and wonderful, a very positive family. We are trying to give to them and they are really giving back to us, letting us be a part of their family and asking how they can pray for us,” shared Kim.
Linda agreed, “Everything is fun with them. I enjoy going to the park, doing many activities with the kids, sometimes we cook. Everything we do is very special for me.”
While there are times when linguistic and cultural barriers have been challenging, everyone expressed gratitude for the new friendships they now have.
“We like to talk about how we are doing every day, how our appointments went, if we feel good or if we need something that they can help us with. We have picnics together and they have even supported us by giving everyone bicycles too,” said Luis.
Going forward, the Good Neighbor team looks forward to the many more ways they will get to experience life alongside the Acevedo family.
“Many car rides to the grocery store or appointments become times full of laughter and sharing stories. It’s been a really great experience, one we hope to continue for years,” said Kim.