by Viannella Halsall October 1984 We arrived to this country. Dad, mom, and I...and two suitcases. I sat looking out the window most of the plane ride. November 1997 President Clinton signs into law the NACARA, which provides Nicaraguans and some other immigrants living in the US relief from deportation. It means we can now apply for our US residency aka green card. There are parties in our neighborhood in honor of "la Nacara". We joke about how alien we are by running around with our index fingers up to our heads as if we are Martians.
by Michelle B.
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like a rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:1-4).
Our daughter, Elizabeth, will be a junior at North Kansas City High School next school year. You might say she lives Pentecost every day. All her school friends live in homes where English is a second language. Her best friend, Ghadeer, is Iraqi. She lives in Baghdad and speaks Arabic. Her family came to the US when Ghadeer was 8 years old and stayed until she was 14 years old. Ghadeer and Elizabeth frequently speak to each other multiple times a day, despite an 8-hour time difference. Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Josue, is Honduran. He’s been in this country for less than a year. He says that there aren’t any jobs for his family in Honduras and it’s dangerous to live there. Her friend Chloe was born in Germany to an American father and Russian mother. When Chloe turns 18, she can pick which of those three countries to claim her citizenship. Her friend Dylan was born in Jerusalem, speaks Hebrew at home, embraces his Jewish faith and made shashuka at our house.
I can imagine these teenagers hanging out together, speaking their separate languages, but using Google translate to understand each other. Josue would be organizing the soccer game. Dylan would be organizing the food. Ghadeer would be organizing the music (One Direction is still her favorite!).
The apostles were accused of being “filled with new wine” by the people around them that did not understand. Maybe us grown up Christians of today still don’t understand the significance of Pentecost. Consider John Lennon’s song Imagine:
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace
Three days before John Lennon died, he was asked by Rolling Stone magazine about the lyrics to Imagine. He said, “imagining no religion – not imagining no God, although you’re entitled to do that, too, you know? Imagine no denominations. Imagining that we revere Jesus Christ, Mohammed,…. Equally.”
These kids already do that. Dylan and Ghadeer, a Jew and a Shia Muslim, text frequently. Josue is Catholic, and Elizabeth is a member of Peace. Nothing about these differences divide these kids. The apostles were the same. They were amazed that they could hear – in their own languages – the stories of God’s deeds of power. I understand their amazement. When I discuss the diversity of Elizabeth’s friends, people are amazed. But to the kids, and I think to God, it’s not amazing. It’s living in the world God intended.
Dear God, may we each live our lives so that a future filled with peace may someday be achieved. Amen
Michelle an Occupational Safety and Health professional with the Department of Veterans Affairs. She’s a wife, mother, sister, and friend, a chocolate and coffee lover, reader of books and blogs, listener of podcasts, and a travel enthusiast.