A dear friend invited a group of us to volunteer in having conversations with area women (refugees) who are learning English as a Second Language (in fact for many it is 3rd, 4th or 5th!). Last night was my night to join them and what a gift it was. The calendar is getting very full but I want to see these women again. The three, who were present last night were completing their Ramadan fasting (since today ends the season) but they, despite fasting, heat and sickness showed up anyway to learn more; to acclimate themselves into the new culture. They have been in the United States for less than a year so this is their first Ramadan in our diverse culture. It is exciting and completely humbling to watch them. One woman was my age. When I met her I thought she was older. Her face was scarred considerably. She was from Chad and I assumed, as with so many, that this was a result of some type of fallout from military uprising. That, for some reason, would have been easier to understand. Instead it was the result of five operations that were done on her to treat an infection that occurred after she was in an accident that took her husbands life. An infection….five operations. These (maybe the worst…not sure) happened in Tunisia. The left side of her face, when she isn’t smiling, shows the extent of her wounds and of the very poor medical care that followed. When I mentioned that we were the same age, she said, “You look much younger…” which of course I did, that is one of my first world benefits. One of the benefits for living in a place where my choices are my own. A place where I don’t (yet) have to flee for safety. A place where medical standards and access treatments is available. So she is here, fasting, learning English, raising her family, cooking and cleaning in a new country…for all intents and purposes, a new world. The other two women were younger, beautiful Sudanese women full of hope and promise. They were from Darfur. It is a wonder that they are here and alive. “No one goes into Darfur and no one leaves…” is what my friend said yet somehow they did. This morning they will complete their fast and they will do their prayers that signify the end of Ramadan. Just being in their presence, the peacefulness of their spirits, I could tell that their faith is what is the constant for them. Like me, and yet not like me because we have walked different roads entirely, they are holding fast to a faith that lets them know that God is with them. In their faithfulness, they are affirming that they believe that God is aware of who they are in this big and unjust world. May God bless them as they celebrate the completion of their spiritual task and may God bless them in their journey.