Kazi Kubwa, Kazi ya Mungu: Big Work, God’s Work
By Abule and Merin
Translated from Swahili to English
“I came from Africa to America the summer of 2016,” Abule, a 57 year old from the Democratic Republic of Congo explains. Abule shares with me his experience moving to the United States with his wife and three children. “Before arriving, I felt lost. We got in the plane to Minnesota on our own. IOM [the International Organization of Migration] left us alone. They only accompanied us to Chicago. I asked them, ‘What will we do? We will be lost if you leave us.’ They answered, ‘No, you won’t be lost.’” I ask Abule whether he believed the staff of IOM. “Hapana! [No!] I didn’t believe it. It felt like we were being sent to die – me, my wife and children, with no one.”
When I arrived in Minnesota and had someone right off the runway waiting for us, I was shocked. The first person we met was our case manager, Jessica. She was right in the gate off the airplane. She knew my wife’s name and we were surprised. We were both happy and still afraid. We walked with Jessica down to get our bags and saw many people there to greet us.” He stops and points at the wall in the dining room where a framed photo of his family and the Refugee Life Ministries team who welcomed his family at the airport hangs. He smiles and then continues his story. “I looked at Jessica and she was so happy. Everyone was so happy. They helped us with the luggage and smiled a lot.” Have you ever been welcomed like that before, I want to know? Abule scoffs at me and says, “Wapi? [Where?]”
These people from the church… they were the first friends we had in America.
“How did it feel?” I ask him then. Before he can answer, his wife Merina interjects, “We were so happy.” Abule chimes in, “I was so happy. I was SO happy. When I got in the car, although I didn’t know anyone, I knew everyone was doing good work. These people from the church, they came to visit many times, they were the first friends we had in America. They still come and visit us. It’s big work to welcome people you don’t know, you don’t understand. It’s big work to welcome these people. It’s big work, God’s work, a blessing.”