Almost three months ago we had the privilege of welcoming our Syrian friends to Canada. So much has happened in that time! What a joy it has been to get to know this lovely family and to share life with them while they transition into their new home here with us in Canada.
After a short stay with pastor Michel and Mary-Ellen, the family moved into the home of Mark and Sue while we waited for the lease on their townhouse to begin. This was a month of medical appointments, setting up finances and getting the kids started at school. It was a busy and sometimes challenging time as we learned to communicate with one another and worked to coordinate the many rides needed to and from appointments and school. Yet through it all we couldn’t be more impressed by the family’s sweetness, flexibility and willingness to work with us as we help to settle them.
We are becoming friends! The men have been invited as ‘friends’ on the father’s Facebook page and been given a glimpse into this man’s sense of humour and perspective in the midst of transition. He and Keith have been learning the bus system together as he heads to American Sign Language classes and Keith now gets a happy face emoji via text signalling that the trip was a success! Practical jokes have been played, communication blunders laughed about and warm thanks have been expressed.
Much of the day-to-day communication happens through the mother of the family. Her patience, wit and strength as she navigates so many details and new ways of doing things have been remarkable. In addition to caring for her family she is taking English classes three days a week. Again, as we have learned to communicate with one another, there has been a lot of laughter. Clearly one of this family’s strengths is their sense of humour.
It goes without saying that the kids have stolen our hearts. Who doesn’t love being greeted by an enthusiastic toddler running joyfully to the door? The eldest daughter has been picking up English quickly and charming us with her confident spunk. The eldest son is hopefully soon to be settled at EC Drury school for the deaf and has been working diligently to prepare. The infant daughter is healthy and adjusting well to being passed around from stranger to stranger while we help the family with various tasks. Watching them discover everything from Lake Ontario to the rooms in their new home has been a source of great fun and joy for us!
There have also been some deeply moving moments. Cathy describes being greeted by the family with news of the atrocities in Aleppo displayed on their cell phone. Words weren’t needed to communicate the profound mix of sorrow and joy the family was experiencing. She describes grieving with them one moment and then laughing with them over something the next. It is hard for us to wrap our heads around what they have experienced.
At the beginning of January the family moved into their more permanent house. It was amazing to see all of the donated furniture and items come together to make up a home. Thank you to all of you who have donated everything from time to money to things. This family’s home is a beautiful picture of our community working together. It should also be noted that our translators have been amazing! We are so thankful for them! There is still much to do as we help the family settle, but we are praising God for all that he has helped us do so far. Please continue to pray for the family as they work on learning the language, settling in at school and looking for work.
Julia Bowering - Associate Pastor, Kings Community Church