Three Generations of Friendship and the tale of a good car named Puffy Cloud

Spencer Pope, Mike Pope, Wilma Pope, Aida Karamesic, Fred Pope and Penny Pope has got to be behind the camera!

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.

Spencer Pope and Aida Karamesic

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 Puffy Cloud Chariot disguised as a Mercury Sable! Yes!

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.

Dr. Heval Kelli is disguised as a teenaged refugee in this picture at the Daughertys along with our refugee/now beloved receptionist at All Saints, Marie Louise Muhumuza!  Yay All Saints! Heval will be teaching in Ellis Hall on Sunday!  

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.

Penny, Wilma, Aida – beloved to one another for so many years! 

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.

Two friends. Yes!

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?

Spencer and Puffy Cloud!! Two Champs!!

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).

Taha and Spencer and great big smiles!!

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

Martha +


Look Back. Pay Forward.


Here is Dr. Heval Mohamed Kelli RIGHT NOW.

Heval says he first met some Saints when he was seventeen years old.

Martha D i(n front) will become v. important to Heval (in back).

In this old picture at Ed and Martha Daughterty’s Heval is with his family and the African refugee family in the back right is the Muhumuza family from Rwanda and our very own and dear Marie Louise, who has been for many years All Saints’ gracious and stalwart receptionist!  And of course, there are a bunch of All Saintsers!.  Do you recognize anybody?  Do you see you?  This picture makes me cry for it is a picture of new heaven, new earth.  What would it be like to lose everything and then find love all around you?

Barbara Thompson, looking twelve years old, with Heval. They are still friends.

Barbara Thompson was our first Refugee Guru.  She had traveled to Bosnia and Serbia and written a renowned book called Children of War. She has lived the gospel out of that brutal experience ever since. Barbara and Martha D and other Saints could see that Heval was carrying his family on his back, and she and the Saints’ got determined and when that happens, WATCH OUT!!

Here’s a recent TED Peachtree article about that time.

“Mohamed Kelli and his family depended on others’ kindness and assistance when they immigrated as Kurdish Muslim refugees to Clarkston, Ga., in the 1990s. His father was in poor health, so Mohamed Kelli, who was 17 at the time, became the primary wage-earner even though he didn’t speak English and they had no car.

He says that despite the fact that his family was of a different faith, the members of a local Episcopal church (THAT’S US, Y’ALL!)  were the most crucial part of helping his family find their footing.

‘My mother was wearing a headscarf. You couldn’t ignore the fact that we were Muslim,”  he recalls. ‘And still, the church members were the biggest part. And that is how the world should function. If a Christian family takes refuge in a Muslim country, it should be the first thing for the religious group of that country to help them out, which is what happened. And it’s still so.’

People connected him to a job washing dishes; they introduced him to mentors in the medical field; one even provided transportation so he could get an in-state tuition waiver for college.”  (That person was Martha D, the party hostess !)


This is Martha D playing  with my dog Flash all these years later, in the same rooms where the Refugees and Saints first connected

So isn’t that beautiful? A simple ride, an act of kindness.  And you end up with:

Dishwasher to Doctor
Serving Health, Education and Mentorship to our World

“Dr. Heval Mohamed Kelli came to the US as a teenage Kurdish refugee from Syria and worked as dishwasher to support his family and education for several years. He is currently named the prestigious Katz foundation Fellow in Preventive Cardiology at Emory University. He graduated Cum Laude from Morehouse School of Medicine. He finished his internal medicine residency training with resident of the year award and honorable distinctions in social and inpatient medicine at Emory University.

Care and Communicaton

He has co-founded and operates several non-profit organizations focused on mentorship (U-Beyond), healthcare outreach (You4Prevent) and medical education (Young Physician Initiative and You4Education).

Heval passing care forward.  Wonder what grace will happen with this little guy? Who will he help?

Heval’s remarkable journey and story were featured on national and international news including the Emory University magazine, Creative Loafing, Associated Press, Emory News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, NY times, Washington Post and more. We will send you more info about the TED talk when it becomes available.

Dr. Kelli, may the One who is known by many names bless him and keep him, passes skilled love forward all day long.

And All Saints’ Refugee Ministries is still being blessed by being blessed homemakers for  refugees and is currently working with twenty families. Louisa Merchant is our current fabulous Refugee Guru.

Louisa is kind of a miracle worker.

One hundred Saints have cared for refugees this year. Martha D and Heval and that first group are glad.  Generation to generation. Holy, holy, holy.  Really.

Martha +








A Little Child Leads Us Around This Block

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Louisa Merchant (refugee guru extraordinaire) sent this out to the staff a couple of days ago,  “so I won’t be the only one crying.”   I cut the kid’s name off for her/his name is Jesus.

On a day when there is turmoil in the world’s markets (Brexit), rest yourself in the simple, powerful  glow of a generous heart. Around this block, the Christ-formed heart is our core product.