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Not All Who Wander

This week I want to wind back to share something of our Valentine’s Day in February. We celebrated within both our Syrian and Yezidi communities. I want to share something of the tenderness and expressions of love that we witnessed within our Syrian community.


There seems to be a stigma concerning refugees, especially those that have fled or been displaced from areas that were home to terrorist regimes such as the Assad regime in Syria, or from war torn areas taken over by ISIS. One’s westernized emotions and senses are flooded by endless depictions of displaced people, dirty, wearing torn clothes, pushing, shoving, begging for food, starving, homeless, burning up in heart, freezing in cold. People desperate for asylum who will take almost impossible risks to find a square meter of safety and security. Unwanted people. Rejected people. People unloved. People categorized.


People whom I would argue are made in the same image of God as are we and there but for the grace of God, go we.  People who have lost much and in that place of love are stretched to love much despite their circumstances and ensure that their love is tangible and known to their children. That love is the only security net their children have. 

The Syrian community of asylum seekers in Kurdistan fits into this description. But there is a but. Displacement, death and loss did not make their spirits hard. Yes, there are things about this community that after all these years and after endless requests, that totally infuriate us, cultural things we can not change, for example garbage being thrown four floors out of the balcony, landing wherever and remaining there!! But their hearts have remained soft, gentle and loving. Their circumstances are dire but have not thickened their hearts. They are open, welcoming, loving and trusting. If the parents look back and mourn it is done privately. Their focus is upon their children. About encouraging them and providing moral support in everything that they do, so as to ensure a good future for them. They want their children to know that they are there alongside them every step of the way.


“Parenthood, it’s about guiding the next generation and forgiving the last.”

Peter Krause. Parenthood.


Valentine’s Day was a gentle expression of love and affirmation from our parents to their children. It was a reinforcement of love in a region that preaches tolerance but practices otherwise. It was a statement of belief in the surety of the future in a region where the next day is not known. It was a verbal affirmation of blessing for the children whose lives and destinies are l hanging in the balance of UN decision makers. It was acceptance from parents who already see their refugee children as the leading lawyers, doctors and pharmacists of the region. Parents who prefer to see their preschoolers study rather than play. Parents who flood into our Kindergarten at every opportunity to support their young children’s first steps in the world of education. Parents who knew exactly the words of love their children needed to hear on Valentine’s Day.


“May God bless you with joy and smiles all your life.”

Mother of Shilan and Dylan.


“You are my king and My kingdom and always will be.”

Areen, Mother of Aram


“I want to kiss you bit by bit, you are altogether sweet to me.”

Eevan, Mother of Siwan


“My heart overflows with love for you. My heart for you has gone outside of my heart.”

Shivan the Mother of Shaven


“You are my son, my moon and my stars.”

Assaf, Mother of Rande


“I have waited for you all my life. I love you so much.”

Lava, Mother of Shams


“When you smile at me, all the world smiles at me. I need nothing more than your smile.”

Berivan. Mother of Rewar


“You are the happiness of my life and the smile in my soul.”

Mira, Mother of Saadya


“I asked the Lord for something beautiful. He gave you to me.”

Lava, Mother of Kocher


“God sent me the best that there is. You are the most beautiful gift that he could send me.”

Hajr, Father of Janiyar


“Don’t ever ever forget my love for you. Whatever happens, don't ever forget.”

Elan, Mother of Bushra


“On Valentine’s Day my mother told me how much she loves me and that I will live a better life than hers.”



“On Valentine’s day my father told me that I am amazing. He told me that I will be something new. I will be different from them. I have a chance. They only had poverty and crisis. He told me to believe in their love for me, and to believe in myself.”



“Valentine’s day was wonderful. My mother came and praised all my efforts. She told me that she loves me so much and that I can be more than her.”




From somewhere in the region, I conclude with the wonderful words of Tolkien which sums up this very special community:

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not wither
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken
The crownless again shall be king.”

As Easter is approaching our thoughts turn to the Christian community in Av Zruk. We would greatly value your financial gifts to enable us together to provide them with food supplies for this festival. The minority Christian community is currently vocalizing its concerns over lack of representation in the parliament, calling it a “great injustice” and a “dangerous violation of the rights of the minorities.” Let's stand together with this ancient community at this time, to show them that they are not forgotten.


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