May 29, 2018
Plymouth’s middle schoolers focus on immigration culminated at our May 19-20 spring retreat. After choosing immigration as our service and learning focus, we connected with REWA, an organization that assists refugees. This connection led to our knowledge of two Muslim families from Afghanistan living in Federal Way who needed help with furniture, pots, pans, dishes and clothing. Our goal was to collect and contribute money for these items, meet the families and prepare a meal together.
We reached out to our beloved former pastor, Rev. Brigitta Remole, current interim pastor at Wayside UCC in Federal Way, to ask if we could hold our retreat there. She graciously and warmly welcomed us.
Our first important learning was the date we chose for our retreat was four days into Ramadan, which meant that the families may not want to spend that time with us. We clearly need to learn more about Islam! In the end, neither family was able to join us to break their Ramadan fast. We visited with our UCC kin, shared our powerful, new learning about the Bible, oppression, Christianity and Islam.
After the retreat, we reflected on what we liked and what we learned. The “likes” included: eating and cooking halal food in Wayside’s wonderful kitchen, creating a feast for others that brought us together in a table of love, working together as a team, caring for each other, playing freeze tag and sleeping bag worm, exploring a different culture and religion and singing in the 360-degree, window-filled chapel surrounded by woods and flowers. We explored Christianity and Islam’s shared roots and differences and made connections between the Bible and the Qur’an. One MYF’er observed, “Despite what many people think to be true, the Qur’an says women are special, equal to men and are to be revered.” Another added, “Most people don’t see the similarities between Islam and Christianity because of fear.” A MYF’er who brought clothes, toys and an amazing art kit said, “Even though I didn’t get to see the little girl receive the gifts I brought for her, I know she’ll love it and I am happy for that.” We all recognized how many people are outside the box of privileged people and that we who are privileged must find ways to share our bounty that we did not earn. Developing a sense of humility around NOT being white saviors while being of service is essential. It takes time to develop trusting relationships with people we don’t know. To that end, we plan to continue to assist refugee families in Federal Way. As we do this, we hope to find ways to also stay connected to our friends at Wayside UCC.
Please join us this Sunday to celebrate the confirmation of Michaela Robins and Stella Christopherson. Leo Neer is out of town and will be confirmed next Sunday at the 9 am service.
.–Anne Kiemle and Beverly Harding-Buehler, MYF co-leadersSubscribe