It has been said that Thanksgiving should not just be an annual holiday, but rather, an eternal lifestyle. Those of us who follow Christ should be filled with thanks, overflowing with gratitude, eternally focused on the "good and perfect gifts" we have received from God. But we need reminders ... and the annual holiday is a good reminder.
Here at Make Welcome, we are the very grateful recipients of many, many, many, many, many good ... indeed wonderful ... and abundant gifts. So, during the month of November, we want to recount the gifts we've received and publicly say thank you! If you'd like to join in with us and share some of your thanks in the comments, please do!
For starters, we want to give thanks for our students!!!
We have the great privilege of working each week with a group of refugee women from Burma. Each of them has a story of hardship and suffering, of pain, loss, loneliness, trauma, and grief. Yet, they are some of the most courageous, resilient, giving, tenacious women we have ever met. They are eager to learn, hard-working, encouraging, and fun. They laugh a lot in class. We are very grateful that we get to work week in and week out with these precious women, very grateful that they want to be a part of the Make Welcome family. Yes, we are so very grateful for our students!
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On Fridays, the halls of the church where we hold our sewing classes ring with the voices of LOTS of children. With the addition of some new volunteers, this year we have both a baby room and a preK class. Our Childcare Director, Jennifer, spent time this summer developing a simple curriculum and when our students returned in early September, the preK program was launched. We are so thankful for Jennifer, for her hard work, her indefatigable spirit, her constant smiles, and her thoughts that follow …
Fridays are class days for our student seamstresses but also class day for their children. This year we've added a preK class for the 3 - 5 year olds.
Being American-born, we can easily take for granted how our children naturally come understand things like directional words ("over" and "under", "in" and "out") just from growing up in an English speaking home. But these things cannot be assumed for our littlest refugee friends. English is a second language in their homes, but will be a requirement when they enter traditional kindergarten in a year or so. We want them to be as ready as they can be for this big step in their young lives.
With a loose structure we are teaching letters, numbers, colors, shapes, and focusing on twenty or so directional words. The children are variously English fluent but they are all bright so I am confident they are absorbing much. At the very least I try to remember, "Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind see" (-Mark Twain) so they grasp much just from our welcoming smiles I am certain.
Of course, learning must be fun and engaging...and messy, it seems! At the end of the brief two hours with the children I look around at all the crafts we made, the various learning manipulatives on the floor, and the plethora of stickers (We couldn't have class without stickers!) and it looks like chaos but I know it really is a tangible expression of God's love... in an array of primary colors.
While all this learning is going on upstairs, our volunteers in the baby room are holding and rocking little ones to sleep, changing diapers, and engaging our littlest ones with simple, fun, and safe toys.
Want to be a part of caring for the precious children of our refugee artisans? You can ...
-Visit the Get Involved page on our website and consider volunteering.
-Shop our Make Welcome Amazon Childcare Wishlist and help by purchasing supplies for our childcare program!
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