Friday, June 20, 2014


I begrudge most trips I have to take unless Cheryl is with me. I'd rather be at home and in my office. However, my job has me on the road more and more. Just when I am at the height of begrudging, nuggets arise that make it all worthwhile.

This trip is a great example. I am sitting in the Baltimore airport waiting on yet another delayed US Air flight. But it has given me time to reflect on the last 36 hours. I flew into Baltimore at midnight Thursday morning. After 4 hours of sleep I was up and ready for a bus ride to DC with about 150 mostly refugees participating in Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services' World Refugee Day Academy. We were to visit our Congressional delegations to advocate for more welcoming laws and regulations regarding refugees and immigration.

I was teamed up with 21 year old Mo San, a Burmese refugee and Guilford College student who was resettled by LIRS and Lutheran Services Carolinas. Mo and I made a great team. In just a few hours we met with aides to Senators Richard Burr and Lindsay Graham and Representative Ellmers. We got to meet in person with Representatives David Price and Howard Coble. I introduced or reintroduced them to LIRS and to Lutheran Services Carolinas, then Mo shared her touching story. Growing up with her family in a refugee camp for 11 years!, then coming to the Raleigh area in 2009!
All of the legislators and aides were attentive and supportive. We don't often get the chance to share our story with so many people who are stakeholders in our ministry.

Last night iced the cake. At the LIRS Gala, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin revved up the crowd with a great keynote. Charlotte Hornets General Manager Richard Cho was honored with a Walk of Courage Award: came to US as young refugee, degree in engineering, Boeing, back to Pepperdine Law School, now GM at Charlotte. What a journey! My table mates were two very interesting fellow Academy participants who are refugees, Rev. Dr. and Mrs. John Denninger, President of the SE District of the Lutheran Church MS, his predecessor Rev. and Mrs. Jon Diefenthaler (always very supportive of LSC), Judy Benke (another great supporter of LIRS and Lutheran social ministry), and Baltimore Catholic Bishop Denis Madden. As much as I love home, there was probably no better place for me to be!

I hope to be back in Salisbury and in my office by 1:30 pm today. Then I can start begrudging my next trip, which God will use to humble and teach me--again!