February 10, 2017

book: a hope more powerful than the sea

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I stayed up late last night finishing a book I started last week--"A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea" by Melissa Fleming. It was a book that I wish I had read a long time ago (even though it just came out last month) and I book I wish never had to be written. It is the story of one Syrian refugee.

Before we adopted Kyler and Kacin, Eric and I volunteered through the IRC (International Rescue Committee). We were assigned a family from Burma (Myanmar). We went to their house each week and ate with them, taught them about the cleaning supplies they were given (comet is not a spice for your food, etc.), took them grocery shopping, helped them with their english, gave them rides to visit their child who was in the hospital, helped the children with homework, etc.

It was Eric's idea to volunteer, and I am so glad we did. I learned a lot about communicating with someone who does not speak english and about their beautiful culture and family.

But I was also completely naive about why they were refugees and their life before they came to America, and, really, their future, too.

So that is why I wish I had read a book like this earlier in my life. Because while Doaa's story is an extremely powerful one, it is not the only story out there. There are too many lives and families destroyed by war and then trapped in a hard, hard place as a refugee.

And here I am worrying about the details of the pool in our backyard, while they are worrying about survival and hope for a future.

I am so grateful that Sister Burton, the General Relief Society President, spoke of the crisis last year and urged us to do what we could. At the time, I wasn't in a good place mentally and emotionally to put myself out there and do much, instead I had a very strong impression of who I needed to focus on right then in my life. But I have become slightly more aware and have donated when I could. And I am also so grateful for many women I have met recently who have put in countless hours working and doing what they can to help the refugees since her talk.

But in light of recent political/government decisions about the refugees, which I don't claim to know much about what's exactly going on with that right now, I do feel very unsettled by a a freeze on allowing refugees in for any period of time. We should be doing more, not less. We should be welcoming them with open arms.

And then I read this book. You can not read Doaa's story and then go right back to your life of swimming pools and big meals and a beautiful home and healthcare and education and a future for your children without doing anything more. Her story stays with you. It humanizes the word "refugee." So I decided I have to do something now. I'm not sure where this resolve will lead me yet. But I am determined to do something, to do what I can right now. I know there are many organizations out there. And so I will think and pray and talk with Eric this weekend about what we should do.