Here’s a gorgeous story from Louisa Merchant.
“It’s unusual enough for a ministry to be befriended by parents and their grown children, but when a grandchild of the family starts helping too, well that’s a story to be told.
Penny and Mike Pope got involved in Refugee Ministries two decades ago when Barbara Thompson learned about child survivors of war and became involved with families from Bosnia. Barbara put out the call to All Saints’ families to help, and boy, did they. In 1997 Penny and Mike invited Aida Karamesic, a high school senior who came here as a refugee from Bosnia, to live with them.
Aida needed help learning English, and the Pope family supported her educational goals in every way. At family gatherings, Aida practiced her English with all three generations of the Popes, including the grandparents, Wilma and Frederick, who was an Episcopal priest and Spencer, who was also a high school senior like Aida.
It was just a short time later that Frederick Pope bought his prize automobile, a white 1998 Mercury Sable, nicknamed “Puffy Cloud”. He bought it for its speed and beauty, and his younger grandson, Spencer said, “He never let me drive it, but Grandma did, and man, she drove it FAST!
A few years later in 2001, another refugee family arrived, this time from Syria, and they were befriended by the Daugherty family as well as by other members of All Saints’. They also had a teenager in the family whose name was Heval Kelli. The Daughertys hosted a welcome party for the Kellis and the Muhumuza family in their home.
After that party, Martha Daugherty drove Heval to Georgia State and changed the course of his life.
Where are Aida and Heval now?
Aida is is a graduate of Ga Tech with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, and owns her own business, Income Tax Atlanta. Aida’s business helps her fellow Bosnian Americans to achieve financial success through helping them with their taxes.
Heval is now an Emory Cardiology Fellow, and spends a lot of time giving back to his community. Don’t miss his talk on THIS SUNDAY Jan 22nd at 10:20 in Ellis Hall about his experience being welcomed by All Saints’ and how this helped him to become a doctor.
Heval volunteers on the weekends at a free clinic in Clarkston for people without Medicaid.
As a part of Heval’s community support, he asked All Saints’ Refugee Ministries to help a newly arrived Syrian family with transportation to medical appointments for their 14 year old son who has cerebral palsy.
We agreed and provided transportation for several months. Around the time when it became clear that the family would benefit from a vehicle, who should show up with one, but Spencer Pope, son of Penny and grandson of Wilma and Frederick?
And what is that vehicle? It’s Puffy Cloud! Still going strong after 20 years of loving labor and grandma’s heavy footedness on the accelerator!
Well, the dad of the Youssef family, Taha, just couldn’t express his gratitude enough for the opportunity to take his children to medical appointments, visit their schools, and take his wife and himself to English classes which they attend every day (not to mention how important it is to have a car for grocery store trips and everything else).
There’s so much to have a good, happy cry over in this story. You can really just take your pick. The way two (and many more) All Saints’ families have been giving love to our new American friends for two decades and have taught their children and their grandchildren to do the same. The fact that two (and more) teens who came here as refugees are now living the American dream thanks to our help. Or the fact that those same teens spend copious amounts of time giving back to their own communities in ways that will undoubtedly continue to help for generations to come.”
(THANK YOU Louisa Merchant for offering this heartwarming, soul-filling story and THANK YOU all the Saints through the years who have SO THOROUGHLY AND WILLINGLY AND DEEPLY welcomed refugees.)
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13.1