Angels surround us unaware. I know. I met one last night at our local airport. I belong to a group called Circle of Friends. This small group organized to assist a refugee family to resettle in our city from a Tanzanian Camp eight years ago. Since then this family of nine have found work, purchased a small house, learned English and become citizens. The only missing piece of their shared dream was the eldest child. Once chosen to come to the States the parents discovered that their eldest daughter no longer was considered part of their family since she had married and had her own children. This was a foreign concept in their culture. Bewildered they questioned this fact and eventually accepted the given answer: “No problem, she and her family can come as a separate family after you get settled.”
The first substantial request the family made to the Circle was to help them bring their daughter to America. After much UN research and English explanations to the parents that the rules were that the family could sponsor their daughter’s family once they became citizens. At first the parents were suspicious of our answer since it didn’t match their own understanding from the UN representative. I finally thought to copy the page from the UN site. The older children took me aside, “We understand but our parents do not. We will help them to understand in Kirundi. A deep bewildered sigh followed along with a 5-year plus journey. Not only did the parents need to understand but also to translate the facts and steps to their daughter and son-in-law still in waiting. Nothing happens quickly in a camp.
At last with the work completed, the dream date had arrived. The Circle joined the family at the terminal to welcome the new family to the U.S. Little sleep happened the night before and nervous smiles and laughter arose from our group as we waited, flowers and small gifts in hand. All eyes focused on the stairs where the family would descend.
An older woman floated into our midst with questions like: Is this an African family? Are they waiting for family or friends? Do they speak English? She told us she sat near the family on the flight, realized they didn’t speak English and added how overwhelming moving to new country would be. “They are coming down soon,” she assured us. Without pause she discreetly pulled a roll of money from her purse, stated that this family would have many needs resettling and hoped it would help them. She released the money into my hand and turned to walk away. Dumbfounded I accepted her gift for the family, turned quickly and blurted out, “Wait! Please tell me your name.” She declined with a graceful wave of her hand. I persisted, “Just a first name, please?” “Pam.” “Thank you, Pam, for your generosity. This will help in many ways.” And she disappeared into the night with gossamer wings if only in my heart.
To me she embodied Jesus who came to teach through his being that we are here to BE God Incarnate, a fleshing out of the Holy to strangers in our midst. Whether you are Christian or another faith, the story is a powerful example of humanity at its best. Would that there were more Pams in airports, streets, nursing homes, governing bodies that gave trustingly from their hearts. I am grateful for angels who touch our lives briefly as a living testimony of grace in action, welcoming sojourners once again into a strange land.