Friends — oh, what a year!
It’s been one for the books for Houstonians — Hurricane Harvey revealing epic devastation 51.88 inches of rain all-at-once brings while also calling out our Very best. Astros claiming World Series championship and Houstonians exploding with pride and joy. Snow falling all night long and sticking to the ground and all of us reconnecting with our inner gleeful child.
The year has been one for the books for FAM Houston, too. You’re receiving this note because you’ve been journeying with us — following the story of unlikely transformational friendships growing between refugees from Democratic Republic of the Congo and transplants in Houston. Among born and raised H-town neighbors and new migrant H-town neighbors.
In the wake of Harvey, I watched how mutual relationships FAM Houston has built led to nimble disaster response. FAM connected churches, organizations, and diverse communities across the city. FAM built bridges so help could reach under-resourced people. FAM amplified voices and shared stories so people beyond Texas knew how to best respond. I’m convinced more than ever that relationships change our neighborhoods and our cities and the world.
I’m thrilled about watching Ben and Samuel’s relationship unfold. Ben and Samuel joined us in believing that friendship that feels like family changes the world. They’re both in our FAMILY program — one year of friendship-building among refugees and local Americans. Ben and Samuel’s families spend 6 hours together each month doing fun things like museum and zoo visits, baseball games, and going to the movies. Our goals are: (1) Samuel’s family — a refugee family from Congo — integrates into life in Houston, (2) Ben’s family — born-and-raised Texans — learns another culture, (3) everybody shares their story, (4) everybody belongs, and (5) everybody has a boatload of fun. Ben and Samuel celebrated during our Friendsmas party together on December 9. As you can see, we’re all really excited…
“I’m super excited for FAMILY because it brings all of the people from different countries together. I hope I learn people’s backgrounds and more about where they’re from and their languages.” — Samuel Mugisha
“We're most excited about building deep relationships with another family whose experience is nothing like ours, and the mutual benefits that inevitably come about in such relationships.” — Ben Smith
Friends — thank you so much for partnering with us in this relationship work. Because of you, we’re strengthening and empowering families to share culture and hone skills of self-advocacy. Because of you, we’re investing time and energy into relationally resourcing refugees so they may flourish in discovering the support systems, skills, and confidence needed to lead their families and multicultural communities in Houston to wholeness. Because of you, we’re teaching Houston to truly welcome folks seeking refuge and share hospitality toward all who long for home.
We’re in this for the long run because of you. I look to 2018 eagerly and joyfully because of you — and because of God.