What a remarkable and grand day it was! Not only was it a day to celebrate a newcomer to Canada's first year after leaving her family and home in Afghanistan, but it was a time where many new friends were able to meet in person for the first time.
The transition from weekly in-person refugee community dinners to online Zoom meetings in March welcomed new faces and allowed a new community of friends to gather. Throughout quarantine, newcomers to Canada met with folks from Tenth on Friday evenings on Zoom; last week, we were able to meet many of these new friends in person at a socially distanced park get-together. It is a different dynamic when people are able to physically gather and talk 6 feet away from each other rather than 6 inches from their computer screens, and it was beautiful to observe how everybody could be involved in the conversation and come together through activities and food. Nobody was left out.
Even though this was the first time that this group had gotten together physically, the feeling was present that they had known each other for a long long time. Conversation ranged from food to education to life back home to life in Canada to sharing helpful hints about navigating around Vancouver physically, relationally, and culturally.
This may have been the first time that these newcomer friends gathered together, but it certainly will not be the last as welcoming weather and phase 3 of the restart plan help pave the way for the development of more meaningful relationships.
Mim Wickett (Tenth's tireless refugee coordinator) and I were talking again about what incredible opportunity these types of relationships are for those that are part of life groups. If you are part of a life group, and you would like to experience some fresh perspectives and new relationships, I encourage you to let us know. We would love to see life groups welcoming our newcomer friends to the beach to play volleyball, share some food, or just take a walk in the park.
May you have some grand (and safe) days out this summer!
On behalf of the Refugee Leadership Team,
Pastor of International Missions
NOTE: picture is of Mim sitting with a newcomer friend.