Each evening before my ESL classes, I walk around the small lobby area to greet students. My desire is to help them feel welcome because I know life here is not easy for them and especially because I know what many of them have come from.
One of the students I met while greeting people was a young Yazidi woman. I met her while she was in a class to improve reading skills until she could start higher level ESL classes. The first time I greeted her with- Choinee Havaleemah- phoentic spelling- which means hi how are you my friend, she smiled in fact she was beaming. I learned how to greet my Yazidi friends because I want them to feel welcome and SAFE.
She is a wonderful young woman. She has a beautiful smile even though she has witnessed and lived through the horrors of what ISIS did to Yazidis during the genocide. She is small and very gentle, so I want to make sure she feels safe and secure in class. I am proud of her for overcoming the terrible ordeal she went through.
This evening I proofread the essays for the final presentation as our class comes to an end. She wrote about her experience when ISIS came and she had to flee and then her experience coming here. As I proofread her rough draft, my heart was pierced. I thought about how Jesus would feel talking with her. I thought about how Jesus said, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Then I thought about the reason Jesus gave to come to him. He said, “for I am gentle of heart.”
I talked with her privately about her rough draft and reassured her the essay was good. She told me when she wrote it sad and scary thoughts came up. So I shared with her that if those thoughts came up when she gives her presentation next Monday, to look at me and remember she is safe.
This evening was another powerful reminder for me that my desire is to show the love of Jesus, the gentleness of Jesus, the compassion of Jesus, to my refugee friends. Even as I write this, I feel sorrow over what my Yazidi friends went through at the hands of evil men. I love my Yazidi friends so much. I just wish I could do more.