my SeArcH for WeLcoMe

September 20, 2010

My search for welcome – isn’t that a BIG topic to try to get your mind around?

For me it is, but with the help of people in the LIRS office, I have come to find where my true heart lies for immigration and refugees.

Over the next months, I invite you to follow me through reflection of books that I am going to read, personal thoughts and feelings, and whatever else God lies on my heart to tell the world about.

This weekend I will be starting my first book, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang.

I actually just flipped through it yesterday after it was given to be to read, and I found the most lovely poem in the front cover.

Before babies are born they live in the sky where

they fly among the clouds. The sky is a happy place

and calling babies down to earth is not as easy

thing to do.  From the sky, babies can see the course

of human lives.

This is what the Hmong children of my generation

are told by our mothers and fathers, by our

grandmothers and grandfathers.

They teach us that we have chosen our lives. That

the people who we would become we had inside of

us from the beginning, and the people whose

worlds we share, whose memories we hold strong

inside of us, we have always known.

From the sky, I would come again.

Talk about leaving a beautiful image in your mind.  I really have no idea what I am getting my mind ready for, the changes that will happen to the thoughts and feelings that I have, but know that it will all be an open book.

As I wrote in my last post, I live at Reservoir Hill House of Peace (RHHP) here in Baltimore, Maryland.  A place where MVSers (Mennonite Volunteer Service), residents, and asylum seekers are able to live in the same house.  In the short month that I have been in Baltimore and RHHP, my heart nearly breaks when I hear the stories of how these people have been tortured for the beliefs they have help.   Which leads me into where my heart lies with LIRS.
Asylum seekers. Their stories. Their lives. Detention centers. Their trip to America.

As you will quickly learn about me, I love to learn about people. Differences. Similarities. Anything. And everything. I hope you follow with me as I learn about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful parts of lives of asylum seekers in America.

WALK by FAITH in HOPE with LOVE that GOD gave YOU.

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Good Morning Baltimore!

September 1, 2010

Hey Blog Readers! Besides the wonderful introduction from Beth in the last post, I wanted to tell you a little more about myself.

As today is a bittersweet, mix-emotion day for myself and people in the LIRS office that knew Beth and her always creative outfits, distinct laugh, and welcoming smile, we all must say ‘goodbye’ to her today.  Beth will always be remembered in the office, even when people are drinking out of their coffee cups with her and Jamie photos.

As Beth said, my name is Melissa and I am a volunteer.  I started here at LIRS August 24 (a day after my 24th birthday) and will be here for at least the next year.  You guessed it right, I am 24! Nice work.  I graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), which is about an hour north of Colts country right there in good old Indianapolis.  I was played on the Women’s soccer team all four years of college, a member of the American Marketing Association and VP of Marketing, a member of the SIFE (Student In Free Enterprise) and leader for the Ethics pillar, a friend, a daughter, an aunt, and sometimes loveable roommate.

After graduating from IWU in 2005, I did as most graduates did and moved home. After about 6 months of working for my parents at their bicycle shop, which you should check out at www.familybicyclecenter.com, I was offered a part-time job at the building that I did my internship at during my senior year. I worked part-time for Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, IN as Coordinator for Marketing and Media Assistant & Coordinator for Creative Design and Promotions.  Wow! What a long title I had, no wonder it took me a while to remember it.  I’m sure you are wondering what I actually did, so let me tell you. I worked doing graphic design work to promote the concerts, events, graduations, and trade shows that came in and out of the building.  I loved the live event industry, but quickly learned that it isn’t always about what you love doing, but if God has truly lead you with all your gifts and talents to the work that you are doing for Him.

I was getting frustrated not getting an answer from them whether or not their were going to hire me on full-time or just keep me part-time.  I was a mess from about half way through May to the end of June.  Not only was I frustrated, but I missed my college friends and did not want to be living with my parents at the age of 23. After God worked on my heart continuously through the sermons at Maple City Chapel, www.maplecitychapel.com, my home church with Paster Mel, I knew God was calling me into service.  I had a long listening time with my parents and discovered that it was the place for me. Not only did I want to get out of my parents house, but I am able to do one of the things that I love the most, help people. Which leads us to present day!

Wow!, that went by faster than it did in real life so many less tears that were flowing from my eyes during all those long sleepless nights.

After orientation down in San Antonio Texas from August 13-15, I fly home for the weekend, and the morning of Tuesday, August 17 at 5:30a.m. was the last time I saw my home in Goshen.  Not only did the tears of saying goodbye to my handsome brother Brad, his beautiful wife Brandi, their adorable heart-stealing daughter Selah, my wonderful-strong-beautiful sister Katrina, her understand-handsome husband Joe, and their 2 lovable dogs, Scout and Enzo tear me up inside, I left everything I knew to move to where I felt God leading me for MVS.

After 10 hours in a packed down car with my wonderful parents, Mark and Georgia that brought me out, we arrived in this beautiful east coast city of Baltimore, MD.  I have been here for 2 weeks now and it has been wonderful.  As tears are falling from my eyes as I write this heart-felt hello to the blogging world, I am filled with mix-emotions, a confused life of where God is leading me, but a willing spirit to follow Him, and excited mind of the possibilities God has given me here at LIRS to make a difference in this world that we were given.

I invite and would love for you to keep following me as I share my journey through the tears, stories, heart-breaking, stressful days that lie ahead of me.  I am excited for the people I will met. The stories that I will hear. The hearts that will be open. The lives that will be changed. And the moments that I will be in awe of where God has brought miracles into the lives of people coming to America. 

I pray that God give me the strength to share the stories, the love to share to all these people, and the heart strong enough to hold it all. 

And with tears and a smile on my face I say to you, blogging world, employees of LIRS, Baltimore residences, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, social workers, church members, ESL volunteers, congress people, senators and any one else out there, thank you. Thank you for reading my story, for continuing to follow (even if I am not Beth) and for loving the people of the world.

WALK by FAITH in HOPE with LOVE that GOD gave YOU.