Today, I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday. The rules: Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
This week's prompt: Visit.
It was bitterly cold in Chicago yesterday. According to one newscast, the high was 6 degrees and happened at midnight. After that, the temperatures fell steadily. Schools were closed, as were many offices.
In the midst of this, I kept thinking about a family I've never met: A dad, mom, and two daughters; Ethiopian refugees who arrived in our country in the midst of one of the most brutal winters on record.
My mind kept drifting to this family because yesterday afternoon, several of my high school students and I visited this family's apartment. We did so in order to drop off some of the bare essentials needed to begin life in America: Bedding, toiletries, towels, kitchenware, and even food staples.
When we arrived at this family's apartment, even though the family had not yet arrived, I immediately asked my students to remove their shoes. It was snowy and wet outside and I didn't want them tracking yuck onto the floor. Beyond that, however, I asked my students to do so out of respect for the family who would soon inhabit this space.
I watched as my students did so, reluctantly, a reaction I assume stemmed from the general dirtiness of the apartment.
This family's new home is an apartment located in one of the few complexes in my community that might be deemed “affordable”. As a result, the apartments are older and run-down.
Truth be told, this was one of the better apartments I've seen refugee families resettled in. A few improvements had actually been made to it. New laminate countertops covered old, dirty cupboards. A new insert sat atop a bathtub that most people in my community wouldn't dream of bathing in.
Even so, knowing this apartment would soon be home to a new family weary from a long journey, we set to work.
We stood in the living room of this apartment and prayed for the family. Then a team of students went to work in the kitchen, tidying up and unpacking dishes, silverware, and pots and pans. Another went to work in the bathroom, hanging towels and stocking toilet paper. Still others took care of the bedrooms, ensuring that when this family arrived their apartment would be as ready as it could possibly be.
After all, while we were merely visiting this apartment, this Ethiopian family will call it home – the first they've had since fleeing their country years ago.