Friday, January 1, 2016

Keepin' it weird in Austin - Halloween to Christmas

Texas state capital from the graffiti wall
We arrived in Austin just before Eileen's birthday. Spent our first week enjoying a surprise visit from daughters Liz and Emily and trying to learn our way around the city which is very confusing with crazy traffic 24/7. We did our best to keep Austin weird by adding to our famous graffiti wall.
A man's home is his castle
Hangout for young people
Liz touches up a painting

A Friendly Dragon

We've spent most of our time trying to find the African members in Shoal Creek Ward. It is quite the challenge. Many in the same family have different last names. Many live outside the ward boundaries. Many have nonworking phone numbers. Others have moved to who knows where. Some do not speak English which makes getting work difficult. Others have visa issues so they can't work legally. Others have very little education and don't read or write well. So we have our work cut out for us.
Daniel and Ricky are two of our new friends from Liberia. They're cousins.
Christmas day was very quiet for us. Spent the morning relaxing, worked out at the gym, talked with family members for a few hours by the time we reached everyone. Had a great Christmas dinner with our Bishop's family. Barbecued briskit (this is Texas after all where barbecue is always in style).

Christmas night found us at Casa Marianella, a refugee shelter that invited us to their Christmas celebration. We had no idea what to expect but it was a great experience. We first met 3 men from Somalia. Then a guy from Ivory Coast. Another from Peru and his friend from Ethiopia. There was lots of food from various countries. We didn't know what much of it was but it was tasty! Soon they cranked up the African music and people started dancing in a big circle. It looked very tribal even though there were people from non-African countries and staff members and volunteers as well. It was lots of fun. And for mom the best part was when a woman from Somalia gave Eileen her tiny little boy to hold while she danced. The little guy went right to sleep and was snug as a bug in his little blanket.

Delicious food from many countries
We stood out from the crowd with our black name tags, my white shirt and tie and Eileen nicely dressed. People were curious to talk about us. A woman from Congo said she had been to our church before and wanted to come again. The man from Ethiopia was very proud that his country has a long history of Christianity. He asked me for a Book of Mormon so I went to the car and got him one. But perhaps the best thing was that we got to visit for several minutes with the Executive Director of Casa and even longer with their grant writer and development person. They both gave us lots of good information and no doubt we will be looking to them as a resource in the future. It was a great night and we felt very productive.
BFF's from 3 different countries!

1 comment:

  1. We are happy for you miss you both Dan Tilly died they other day