At Home: Glendale's Good Neighbor Team


Since mid-February a group of Glendalers has been doing our best to befriend a Syrian refugee family. We met them through World Relief’s Good Neighbor Team program, which connects churches with newly arrived refugees. This family: a wife, husband and their three kids, arrived in Nashville in January. We’ve been trying to ease their resettlement and help them feel welcome.

As with any major transition, needs exist. So we’ve taken the family clothes shopping, gotten them some furniture, a TV, a cell phone, and tools for the husband's work. We’ve helped enroll them in English classes, arranged a soccer league for the kids, and learned how to make kibbeh (bulgar, freshly ground meat and spices). Our team has had an ongoing stream of communication to arrange transportation, assess needs and schedule next visits. Through all of this, we’ve been immersed in their hospitality.

The wife — we'll call her Haya — has been feeding us ever since we met. Recently she insisted on having us for lunch and spent two days preparing dolma, a traditional Syrian dish of rice-stuffed vegetables. My toddler, James, devoured the delicious dish, leaving a ring of rice on the floor around him. I scooped up the mess and pointed to the small bin by Haya’s kitchen sink.

“Is this trash?” I asked.

“Yes, trash,” Haya said and gestured to the whole apartment, “Catherine, home.”

She could have said it in Arabic for my husband to translate, but there was no need. We both understood. Haya wanted us to feel at home.

During another visit, as I dove into phone plan options, Haya left the couch to return with a plate of homemade baklava. I put down the phone, took a piece, and raved about its flavor, eating another and then one more to make sure she knew I liked it.

As I reached again for the phone, she pulled James onto her lap and started feeding him baklava. He clamored for more. Haya grinned. “James: ‘Good!’” she says.

“Yes!” I said, “He loves Haya’s cooking,”

In that moment, I recalled author and researcher Brené Brown’s reminder that human connection is our greatest need. So I left the phone and my To Do list alone for a bit.

James leaned forward and helped himself to more baklava. And as he put a huge bite into his little mouth, I realized: Haya has gotten her wish. We feel at home.  

Our hope, as Glendale’s Good Neighbor Team, is that bit-by-bit we are helping Haya and her family feel at home, too.

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Room In The Inn (NiH) February 21, 2020
Sunday School February 23, 2020
Worship Service February 23, 2020

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