11_johnstonreunited

Perhaps the most rewarding experience is seeing a family reunited after a long absence. Even more rewarding is being a part of that reunification. During this quarter of service I had the opportunity to take part in such an event.

Working with Refugee Services, I get to meet many different people. One of our refugee families that came to Lincoln, NE this quarter was a Sudanese family of seven. A daughter, having lived in the United States for four years, was waiting for her mother and 6 brothers and sisters to come join her in Lincoln.

Upon confirmation that her family would arrive in Lincoln within three weeks, our office, volunteers and the anchor relative began preparations for their arrival. First, we looked for housing adequate for a family of seven. Then we needed furniture and household items. With the help of churches, volunteers, and city organizations, the items were collected, moved in and arranged in the house. With initial arrival preparations made, all that was left was to wait.

On the day of arrival, excitement and anticipation was high. About half an hour before the family’s scheduled arrival time, we all met at the airport. We waited in the lobby near the area where the family would disembark the plane. The anchor relative stood near the terminal exit with a large bouquet of flowers in her hands.

Soon passengers started trickling down the walkway. We knew the family had arrived as the anchor relative’s head perked up and she started running down the corridor to meet them. She began screaming with excitement as she saw the familiar face of her mother approaching. With tears streaming down her face she gave her mother and then brothers and sisters a big hug. After the initial greetings had passed, there were observations of how time had changed this family, both physically and emotionally. As they walked down to the baggage claim, and then to a vehicle to go to their new home, a feeling of contentment and gratitude pervaded as this reunited family thought of the new opportunity they would have to build a life together in Lincoln.

Even as an outside observer watching this family be brought back together, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this reunification and to know that I had made a difference in the life of each member of this family.