Drive Ten Minutes to Southeast Asia
Newsletter: May 2013
Brightly colored pairs of shoes placed outside the front door. Pungent food smells. A baby bundled onto the back of mom by a long piece of cloth. Mats lying on the floor where people sleep, though they have beds. A language very strange to her ears. Chris Calverley of First Baptist Church of Lewisville, travels several times a month to Asia - yet, only 5 miles from her home in Lewisville, TX.
Chris has served as a Chin Refugee Ministry mentor for about two years. She began as a school buddy for a young 6th grade girl who had responded to this new country by withdrawing into a shell, and was failing in school. Chris jumped right in, meeting with the student as much as she could. She began with the ABC's and basic numbers, and required the young girl to learn vocabulary words every week, encouraging her constantly. Bit by bit, as Chris earned the trust of the family, they began to ask for help in other areas, like reading necessary paperwork. Now, she mentors the entire family, helping them with Medicaid, food stamps, school and doctor issues - at least, when they will let her.
Chris has experienced some “failures” along the way, too. The Chin family do not ask for help as often as they need to, because they do not want to bother her. She also cannot get the parents to attend their kids’ choir concerts. Chris stands in for the parents to encourage the kids, and wishes that she could get the parents to understand.
What “benefits” has Chris received? She now notices simple things in her culture through the eyes of wonder, things that she had taken for granted. For example, when she took two of the sisters letterboxing
with her, they saw a motel for the very first time. When they saw the Super-8, they stood at the door in awe and told Chris how beautiful it was.
Her middle-schooler is growing increasingly confident and outgoing and speaking English very well. The faces of the Chin family light up when they see Chris and they consider her to be a part of their village, a gift they give only to those Westerners they trust. Chris has been part of a Chin birthday celebration, a Chin BBQ, her Chin family’s village’s Christmas, and even attended a Chin wedding. If her Chin family knows she is coming, they will try not to cook any foods that might offend her sense of smell; trying in every way to show how much they value her.
If you ask Chris why she is a family mentor, she hesitates to say, because it sounds like a cliché - she does it because she feels like it is what God wants her to do.
Chris is making a difference in the lives of Southeast Asians – and she does it in Lewisville, TX!