Pastor for Outreach and Communication
Pr. Justin Kosec
April 21 was a great day to move people I never met. OSL teenager Margaux Freese, her foot in a protective boot, joined me ready to lift furniture. Todd Paulson brought a van drained of seats.
All day your donations had poured in; our congregation hastily conjured an apartment’s furnishings for the refugee family en route to Sioux Falls.
We packed Todd’s van, then puzzled in more furniture from Jaysen and Sara Stevenson.
At the empty apartment we arranged dressers in bedrooms. Put lamps on tables, apples on the table, linens in the closet. It was mismatched furniture, lovingly given. It felt like an inviting place to live.
But the family we hoped to welcome—could they make it home?
On July 3, I learned the answer to that question. My wife and daughter and I joined Kristyne Duffy from LSS to meet the refugees, Amanuel and Yodit, at their apartment.
I’ll admit I was nervous. It’s easy to move a couch and imagine who might sit there. It’s another thing entirely to meet strangers you’ve talked about for months. Would it be weird? I was grateful Kristyne facilitated our conversation so it didn’t feel like a bad first date.
For me, something changed when Yodit made coffee. She warmed the jebena, a clay pot, on a hot plate in the living room. We shared popcorn; we chatted about parks and American traditions and the Fourth of July. I told Amanuel that my family had moved to Sioux Falls only a couple months before they had. My wife is looking for a job—same as Yodit. We’re newer to Sioux Falls but have established family here—same as them. We’re trying to balance work and children and childcare—same as them. “We are all new,” Amanuel laughed.
We talked hobbies as Yodit brewed our second cup. All of us love television, and we love reading, too. If you’re an avid reader, imagine moving to a country where people wouldn’t recognize your alphabet. Forget finding a book to read. Amanuel’s been watching the World Cup. He played soccer for his national team back home. Yodit told us she loves to drink coffee and talk with her friends.
In their culture, enjoying coffee is more than idle gossip. It’s ceremony, a loving ritual. It’s the kind of hospitality that creates community. Yodit’s still working on her English, but she left me speechless with her coffee. She tilted the jebena over tiny cups; small spoons tinkled on our saucers. The coffee was sweetened and spicy with cardamom and cinnamon.
As we found baby and saucer mutually exclusive, Yodit swept in and took our daughter like any auntie would. Their youngest son shared his toys with her and danced to make her laugh.
Thinking about favorite foods, I asked Amanuel and Yodit what they had left behind, what they missed. Amanuel instantly said he missed his brothers who still lived in the refugee camp, which perches on the edge of the sea with war pressing against its other side. It could take decades before their family could join them here. If ever.
After that, Amanuel said he hoped our relationship would never end, since we had helped them get started in this new life.
I felt humbled to hear that. Is that what we had accomplished just with furniture?
When you heard this family’s story, you gave so much so quickly. But the stuff we brought to that apartment is almost invisible now. Their colorful fabrics cover every surface; their embroidery adorns the lampshades. Their shows speak through the television. It’s a home now, no longer a patchwork of other peoples’ things. Your things had not helped them get started in this new life. Your love, your care, had done this—because you gave enough to create a place where a family could be themselves.
Now Amanuel and Yodit do not need any more things. Now they need young families with children their kids’ age. They need to know the rhythm of life here. You helped make this place a home; now God calls us to be their community so our relationship may never end.
Love begins when we patiently endure awkwardness, when we go beyond the polite hello. Before long we notice the sure signs of the work of God: the high places made low, the lowly lifted up.
Before we left, Yodit served us stews with injera she baked fresh that morning. We crowded onto the couch to share the meal she cooked for her guests in her new kitchen.
July 14, 2018
Odin Michael Schoenfelder, the son of Tyler Schoenfelder and Marin Kull.
July 15, 2018
Claire Sue Stearns, the daughter of Brad and Megan Stearns.
In Honor of Louise Lund
Donald and Coryill Weeg
In Celebration of the Ascension of Our Lord and in Memory of the Chancel Mural Artist, Robert Aldern, 1929–2011
June 17, 2018
Flowers for Father’s Day are given in loving memory of Lowell Jahr, whose 100th birthday would have been June 9. Lowell is the father, grandfather, and great-grandfather of Paul, Madeleine, Alison, Elise, and Dante Jahr.
July 15, 2018
Flowers are given by Jack Dyvig in memory of his wife, Cheryl Dyvig, who passed away a year ago on June 29.
July 22, 2018
Telecasts are sponsored by Orley and Viva Rath in honor of their 65th wedding anniversary, on June 14.
Your Offering Makes a Difference
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Ministry Support through June 30, 2018