The following is a reflection from CBF field personnel Karen Morrow, who serves among immigrants and refugees in Ft. Worth, Texas. Learn more about and support her ministry at www.cbf.net/morrow.
One of the greatest joys I have in working with refugee families is being a part of the celebration as they welcome a new life into their new home. Traditionally their extended families would help and mark the occasion in culturally significant ways.
Yet, during this time, refugees find themselves here without family and having to establish new traditions. It is also a wonderful time to not only bless families with necessary items for the new baby, but also to share God’s love and concern for their needs. Previously, we have held baby showers with donated gently-used baby items and clothing and invited new American friends and other refugee mothers to the celebration.
Due to COVID-19, the celebrations have been replaced with a masked doorstep delivery of baby gifts and a few moments of socially-distanced conversations. One of these such celebrations was held for “A,” a dear Iraqi friend, who was expecting a daughter. As we stood outside her home, we reminisced about how I had been present at the birth of her other daughters and how, due to COVID, this one would be much different.
That day, we did not know that her daughter Eliana would be born prematurely with a severe birth defect and a terminal diagnosis. Precious Eliana spent the first month of her life in NICU and then was sent home on hospice. My focus quickly shifted from celebration to encouragement while helping them navigate systems of healthcare, hospice and the logistics of an inevitable burial. In order to help preserve precious memories of Eliana, I was able to find a photographer to come and take pictures of the family. Prayer has been key in this season, with them and for them.
One evening as we sat discussing what would happen when Eliana passed, the father, “B,” with tears in his eyes, thanked me for always being there for them. He said that then they had looked online to find out about a burial, it was overwhelming and so expensive. The research and options I had found for them now gave them peace.
B extended his arms to me and said, “Our home is your home; if you ever need a place to stay, you are welcome here.”
My work has been to welcome refugees as they make a home here and now I was being welcomed with open arms into their home.
Please pray for Eliana’s family as they continue to grieve.