Welcome to America

What could one woman do for a refugee family of six?

I'd finished making the lasagna, wrapping the gifts, and lighting the candles on the table. My apartment was decorated with strands of glittering white lights and boughs of greenery, while gold and silver ornaments hung on the Christmas tree in the corner. I'd planned this evening for weeks. I wanted it to be perfect. This was the first Christmas my new friends from Kosovo—a refugee family of six—would celebrate in the United States.

The Journey Begins

It was raining the day the Kadriu family arrived in Chicago four months earlier, a cold summer rain that made the city look as though it were a collage of oatmeal and mud-colored concrete. Would the Kadrius want to turn around and hop on the first flight back to Europe? I worried.

The weather wasn't the only thing I fretted about as I drove to the airport to greet my "family." Only a month or so before, I'd decided to sponsor these refugees, and I'd endured many nights tossing restlessly, wondering if I could manage this undertaking. After all, I was a single person trying to help a family of six. I'd recently become self-employed, so I barely had enough pocket change to buy a Starbuck's latte. What did I have to offer?

Yet when I'd seen news reports about these despondent ethnic Albanians trudging through knee-high muck, their homes scorched by Serbs or demolished by stray NATO bombs, I'd felt the urge to help. But the impracticality of it overwhelmed me. What was I supposed to do—fly to Kosovo to clean the mud off their clothes and offer them a hunk of bread? I knew following God could be risky—who knows where it would take me?

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