I had a most interesting interaction with the Syrian family we are paired with through the Good Neighbor program.  One evening, I received an email from the mother of the family: “Good evening, how are you? We would like someone to help us to go to Jerusalem if possible.”

Gosh.  My mind was ticking off a mile a minute: “Why would they want to leave the USA? Is it because of issues with employment? Are they disillusioned with their sojourn here? Is the winter too cold and confining for them?  I would need to make contact with Arrive which in turn would need to engage with the United Nation’s International Office of Migration and the US State Department. Did they even yet receive their permanent residence (green) cards? Would they even be allowed to enter there?  Dear me!


This was a huge mistake in translation! I thought you wanted to take a plane to Jerusalem.  I’ll see if someone can take you to Holy Land…


After those thoughts, I responded with: “Would you like to visit or live in Jerusalem?”

She answered: “We want to buy some things.”

Again my mind went through another rapid list of thoughts: “ Have they finished all those lovely nut mixtures and coffee that they brought with them from Syria?  Did they need specific Muslim items? But surely they could get those here in Minnesota!”

So I replied with a joint message to both the husband and wife: “I’ll have to check with Matt (our Good Neighbor Coordinator at Arrive Ministries) to see if that’s possible. You may have to go through one of the UN migration agencies.  Have you received a permanent resident card of the United States of America? It would be easier to have someone buy you these things.”

Her husband then texted to explain: “Good night. My wife sent you that we want to go to the holy lands to buy some food if someone from the team can help us.  But there seems to be an error in translation.”


I guess I have been married to a story telling, filmmaker long enough now, that my mind can go into flights of fantasy.


Phew!  So with relief I replied: “This was a huge mistake in translation! I thought you wanted to take a plane to Jerusalem.  I’ll see if someone can take you to Holy Land (the Minneapolis deli). If not, I’ll try on Saturday.”

Can you believe that?  I guess I have been married to a story telling, filmmaker long enough now, that my mind can go into flights of fantasy.  I am pretty sure if I had thought about it even more than I did, I would have questioned the accuracy of the message.  Or perhaps it could also be that as a foreigner here in Minnesota, the harsh cold of the winter also sees me longing for my familiar land.

 

Cheryl is a volunteer Good Neighbor Team Leader