It’s the night before our next family arrives. The house is quiet, and our “to do” list is far from done. There is the inevitable mix of excitement and nervousness as we prepare to open our home again to people who are from literally half a world away.
This time, it is a Syrian family — a mom and five kids who no doubt had to flee the war that has ravaged their nation for the past decade. I’m curious to get to know them and find out what all they’ve been through. Like millions of others, they fled and found refuge in Turkey. But Turkey’s welcome has grown cold, and they are increasingly pushing refugees out — back to war torn Syria, on to another country, somewhere, anywhere….
On top of all the other things this family had to deal with, yesterday we woke up to the news about the devastating earthquake that brought so much destruction to southern Turkey and Syria. We have no idea if their family or loved ones were affected, but the airline says their flight out of Instanbul is on schedule. So, we press forward and prepare to welcome in this Arabic speaking Moslem family that has no doubt seen more in their lifetime than most of us will ever see. It is our deep and fervent prayer that in their time here at Abba’s House they will know they are safe; that they will rest well; that they can experience the simple joys of a family and community that cares for them; that they will encounter a God that loves them passionately and unconditionally.
Their flight leaves Instanbul at 5:30 a.m. our time tomorrow. It’s a 13.5 hour flight, plus a couple more hours going through all the paperwork at the airport. Finally, around 9 or 10 tomorrow night we will all make it back to Abba’s House and their first night in the USA. One of our previous Abba’s House families (also from Turkey!) plan to be here with some “comfort food” from home, and someone who can speak their language. They will have all the expected emotions of fear, excitement, exhaustion, and uncertainty. What a privilege it is to be the hands and feet of Jesus at such a pivotal moment in somebody’s life. And, over the course of the next couple of months, many many others will have that privilege as well. Volunteers who will come in each day to work with the mom or the kids, to talk and to laugh and to cry, and to welcome Jesus by welcoming in one of those that He cares for so deeply.