Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Kinship Without Borders
On Monday evening reader Judy was the gracious host to a small gathering which included the Al Mansours, the Syrian refugee family sponsored by three Belleville United Church congregations and a variety of community supporters. It was such a happy event and with the help of a couple who emigrated from Syria fifty years ago and Google Translate we were able to communicate. Actually, all five family members are figuring out English, with the 11 and 14 year-olds making the fastest progress.
The 11-year-old is both smart and bold, exuding confidence -- he's the "thumbs up" guy above. He entertained us with card tricks he is learning on the internet and his patter was in both English and Arabic, depending on his audience. Five months ago he knew not a word of English. Now he is an entertainer. His four-year-old brother is cute as a button and laughed uncontrollably as we played hide-and-seek.
The room was full of doting grandparent types and the kids seemed totally at ease with all of us. One couple really has become surrogate grandparents and she told us that the 11-year-old has been asking why Canadians are so kind to them. He isn't so sure that Syrians would be as welcoming, an interesting observation. He did offer that God would want them to be hospitable, and Carol let him know that was part of the motivation for many of our folk.
Our gathering may prove to be the best event of this week, although the arrival of long-time friends will rival it. Despite differences of language, culture, religion, we experienced kinship, the pleasure of human kindness, laughter, good food.