Pastor's Column

January 13, 2022 


My dear church family,

I spent a delightful hour having breakfast with a fellow pastor and her 7-month old son. It was great to see her in person, even as we sat outside at a café in Oakland, bundled up in our down jackets.

What impressed me most about this outing was my observation of the woman who runs the café. As I waited in line, I observed her making snacks and lunches for two elementary aged children who later walked up the street to their school. As she prepared their food, she called them by name, helped them remember to pay, and gently reminded one to “save some for lunchtime.” My friend later told me that the proprietor knows the names of all the regulars, and described her as the “heart of the neighborhood.”

When we finished our breakfast, I chatted with the café owner. She left Cambodia 25 years ago. Her three children were born here. When she arrived, she knew no English, but took a two-month Adult Ed class to learn. To my ear, her English is quite good. She noted that one of her customers always corrects her English. I asked how she felt about that. She acknowledged that she appreciated it because she always wants to improve. What a great attitude! She then added that whenever anyone has been nice to her, they have become “family” because her birth family is so far away.

I received an email from Rose Kennedy this week. Over the years, Rose has helped many refugee families who have settled in Alameda. While her love is tutoring them in English, she has become welcomed into many of these families, most recently helping host a birthday party for the son of a family who arrived in September.

FPCA has been assisting a family that arrived in November through the “Never Alone in Alameda” committee. Rose has been arranging transportation for this family. She wrote:

I just had the delightful experience of taking [the mom] to the Food Bank. She is sweet, bubbly, and was happily chattering in English the whole trip. Their first language is Pashto, one of the Afghani languages, but she says she also speaks, reads and writes Farsi (Iran's language). She wants to learn to drive, so I explained that she needed to pass the written test to get her learner's permit. She is happy to be in Alameda and commented several times about how clean the city is. Her next appointment at the Food Bank is on Friday, January 21st at 3:30. If anyone wants to take her, please let me know.

I admire the mom’s eagerness to learn English and her determination to adapt to the ways of her new country. I suspect that the kindness that Rose, and others from our church, including Barbara Curtis, Sonja Fisher, and more, are showing to these most recent refugees is helping them cope with the sadness of being so far from their Afghan extended family. This is an important way that we are showing God’s love to our community. And, like the proprietor of the café in Oakland, our communities are being loved in return by the refugees.   “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” I Corinthians 13:7

With love,
Pastor Cindy