World Refugee Day commemorates the obstacles refugees face each year, while also celebrating their courage and strength. Since 2001, the United Nations and more than 100 countries have observed World Refugee Day annually on June 20th.
Here are a few facts to help you better understand the current refugee crisis:
· There are currently 65.3 million forcibly displaced people around the world.
· More than 21 million of these people are refugees and 10 million are stateless.
· On average, 42,500 people per day flee their homes to seek protection .
· In the last year alone, there have been 13.9 million people newly displaced.
· More than 11 million Syrians are currently displaced. This amounts to 45% of the Syrian population.
· 86% of the world's refugees are hosted by developing countries.
· Refugees only account for a tiny percentage of overall immigration.
· Of the 20 million refugees worldwide, 51% are under the age of 18. This is the highest number of child refugees since World War II.
On June 20, and on every other day of the year, please join our team as we pray for and serve our refugee neighbors and friends. #loveyourneighbor
***Special challenge! Let's step it up this week!!!
Take A Step for World Refugee Day -
Join the #StepWithRefugees Global Challenge
Around the world, communities, schools, businesses, faith groups and people from all walks of life are taking big and small steps in solidarity with refugees. This World Refugee Day, we challenge everyone to join together and take a step with refugees.
You can take a step too. Join today and take part in the #StepWithRefugees Global Challenge. Get moving!
Join the #StepWithRefugees challenge and walk, run, dance, swim 1 km/mile or take any step with refugees. Don't know a refugee? That's okay... take a step anyway and do those km/miles with refugees in mind. Think of the work we are doing with refugees. Walk and Pray for refugees and for our community center - La Mesa Turquesa. Look up refugee issues on the web and get a country or specific issue in mind and walk with that. Just do it!!! Take a step.
Post a photo or video of yourself after you’ve completed the challenge and nominate three friends to take a step further! Let's light up Facebook and Instagram! Be sure to tag your post... #StepWithRefugees #drumsforchrist #lamesaturquesa #loveyourneighbor
We have a pretty exciting schedule this summer, and YOU are a part of it!
· June 14...Sarah graduates from ESO (secondary school). I can’t even. When did she grow up?
· June 23… Laurie flies to Central America to be a part of the TMS training team. Once a year, TMS holds a two-week international intensive to train new cross-cultural workers. This year, we will be training workers from several Latin American countries and the USA to go out and serve in countries all over the globe. Laurie will be teaching modules on culture, cross-cultural communications, and worldview.
· July 6… Billy and Sarah fly to the UK with the Coro San Sebastian de Antequera, a performance choir from our community that Billy has been singing with this year. They will be performing in Wales. In return, a choir from Wales will be visiting our area in Spain in the Fall in a cultural exchange. Billy will also be attending coursework at Redcliffe College in the UK during July.
· Mid-July… Sarah will fly to the USA and meet up with Laurie (flying in from Central America). We’ll be meeting up with Laurie’s mom in Colorado and helping her drive down to Texas for a visit.
· July 23… TEXAS!!! Billy will fly in to Austin and we’ll finally all be on Texas soil! We’ll be staying in the Bryan / College Station / Brazos valley area till the end of August and we would LOVE TO SEE YOU!!! Both of the boys are now living in B/CS and we aren’t going ANYWHERE! We’re going to hang out in the same town with our kids and granddaughter Lily as much as possible, and get to see friends in B/CS a lot!!!
***Special thanks to our Home Team folks who have opened up their homes and agreed to host us while we are in Texas. And to The Johnsons who are loaning us a vehicle while we’re Stateside.
July 24-August 31…
· We are available for visiting, meals, hanging out, Game Night, speaking at church or bible study or Sunday school, cookouts, lake time, the zoo, the museum, plenty of Mexican food, etc. ALL THE THINGS! We want to do all the things! Send us dates… let’s make plans!
· I want to go to Target and Hobby Lobby and Michaels and every office supply store known to man. I want to go sit in libraries and book stores because I miss that!
· I want tacos and enchiladas and anything Cajun or Mexican or Texan. BEEF! We want beef! And spicy… anything spicy! And Blue Bell. Oh Heavens, thank you for Blue Bell! And Shipley’s!!! And real hamburgers. And barbeque!!! (We might need to visit a gym or two, or ten!!!Anybody got connections at the gym?)
· I really want to get family photos done while we’re in Texas, so if anyone knows photographers in the area, let me know, please!!!
· Horse people… Sarah will be away from her horse and riding for two months, which might kill her, so if you can connect a very experienced, competitive rider with a mount (or at least a ride or two) during August, we would be forever grateful!!!
Looking forward to seeing friends and family and soaking in all of the Texas-ness that we can while we're back this summer! Hope to see you and spend some time catching up. Let's make a plan!
I am humbled every single day lately. Seriously - every day. I am convinced that I get to meet the best people in the world on a daily basis. And not one of them is wealthy or fancy or dressed to the nines. Every one of them is currently unemployed. Every one of them currently lives day-to-day, hoping to find community and friendship and “home”. I think what makes them the absolute best people I’ve ever known is that they are so amazingly hospitable and humble. They exude peace and friendship and love in a way that I am completely unaccustomed to. And honestly, I hope I never stop being amazed by them! I hope I never take it for granted. I hope that I never get to the day when I stop noticing that this amazing love that I am shown is just that—amazing!
Let me share just a little of what I’m talking about:
We were invited to dinner at T* and E*'s apartment last week. They are refugees from a former Soviet block country, here on religious asylum due to persecution. They come to our community center, La Mesa Turquesa, every day. They wanted to make us some traditional food. I was so honored and blessed that they invited us to share a meal with them. THEY ARE THE BEST EXAMPLES OF WHAT HOSPITALITY LOOKS LIKE! They have a small apartment - only 4 chairs at the table, but that didn't keep them from inviting us. They pulled up 2 armchairs from the living room and served the 6 of us. They never ate! Never. They just served us! All the dishes were mismatched sizes. They accidentally bought beer for the kids - it looked like juice in a can to them. Hahaha! Been there! Learning another culture is hard. Sometimes even grocery shopping is a major obstacle. They are still learning the language and it is a non-stop challenge. They have two littles. There were 4 toddlers in the apartment, plus Sarah, plus 5 adult guests, plus T* and E*.
My point to all of this is that they didn't let circumstances get in the way of hospitality and
relationships. They invited us over knowing full well that language and chairs and dishes and space and babies were "not perfect", but they did it anyway. They didn't wait until the living room was perfect. They didn't wait till their language skills were better. They didn't decide that kids would make it too messy or loud or crazy or crowded. THEY DID IT ANYWAY!
This is what hospitality is. This is what builds relationships and community and makes me feel a special connection.
Want more? There are lots more stories! Here’s a taste...
· *K comes in to the center every day. When I first met her, she was terrified and knew zero Spanish. Terrified! No smile and literally trembling. She has been coming for two weeks now. Every day, she comes in and gives me the biggest hug! Huge!!! That is her gift to me every day - that hug that has so much emotion behind it. She then asks about my family using her simple, three-word Spanish sentence that she has learned. Every time. “How is Billy? How is your daughter? How are you?” Then she tells me something about her night last night, or her morning today. Then it’s down to business. “You. Study me. Spanish. Study me. Need more Spanish. Yes? Come.” And she grabs the flashcards and we sit together. We do a million flashcards of pictures and vocabulary. Now she knows about 30 of them by heart, but she continues to flip through the entire deck and try to add more. I encourage her to just choose 5 or 6 new ones so we can focus on them, but she insists that we do them all. K* can’t read or write. The written words on every card mean nothing to her. She just looks at pictures and learns the vocabulary. She listens and repeats. She is voracious! In two weeks, she has learned to communicate with us. Her sentences are simple. Sometimes we have to wade through her new Spanish plus French plus her tribal language and pantomime to figure out what she is really trying to say. Today, we sat together with another friend who speaks Amazigh, Arabic, a little French, and she’s learning Spanish. Our three-way conversation was a crazy mix of languages and cultures. It’s funny—we do a lot of laughing. A lot! K* is learning so fast and I couldn’t be more proud of her. This teacher-heart is just so full!!! When she leaves, she hugs me and she kisses me and tells me when she will be back. And she will! She always says, “Say Billy, Hola”, and she pats her heart. I just love K*!
· *S and *F invited us to their home for afternoon coffee time. It’s a custom in Spain to have merienda at 5:30 - a time of coffee and pastry or light snack. In the home country of S* and F*, it’s also their custom to have afternoon tea or coffee and a bite. When we turned the corner on their block, S* was waiting outside the building for us, to greet us at the door! Their apartment is tiny—almost like a hotel room with a kitchenette. But S* showed us “around the house” with such pride. All five of us sat around a small round “end table” and shared a traditional bread from their home culture that F* had made. It was amazing! We ate off of a mismatch of plates and bowls in different sizes. F* served coffee in various glasses (they don’t have coffee cups). F* suddenly realized that they did not have napkins, so she went to the bedroom and grabbed a towel and began to tear it in to pieces and make napkins, an act that both pained me and honored me all at the same time. If I had so little, would I be willing to tear up one of my towels to make napkins for my guests? When it was time to go home, they pulled out a large bucket of black olives that they had personally harvested and brined and poured them in to a plastic container and sent them home with us as a gift. This morning, F* came over to my house to bring me homemade m’semmen (a type of flat bread from her country). Next week, she’s going to teach me how to make it! She says her mother is the real teacher, but F* taught me how to make couscous, lamb and vegetables last week and she’s a pretty incredible teacher in her own right.
Thanks for supporting and encouraging the La Mesa Turquesa center! THIS is why it's so great! It's building relationships and opening doors and sharing life with our newest neighbors, learning about cultures and embracing a new community and family.
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!