When Welcoming the Stranger Changes Your Own World

Ann Voskamp | 10/22/2018 | Staff
jenny1246jenny1246 (Posted by) Level 3
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The stories of other people are always hidden from us at first, waiting in the shadows.

They are tentative, skittish things, these hidden tales, frightened of what might become of them if they step out into the light.

Mohammad - Things - Things

When I first met Mohammad, there were things I never could have guessed about him, things I never could have imagined.

The man rides his motorcycle through the Syrian countryside, his wife and four sons somehow balanced on the bike with him. He has received a tip that his village will soon be bombed. Their combined weight wobbles the motorcycle from side to side, and he shouts at them to hold still, hold still.

Man - Friend - Porch - Coffee - Bombs

The man sits quietly on a friend’s porch, drinking very dark coffee, watching bombs rain down on his village miles away. “That was your house,” he says, then, ten minutes later, “I think that one hit my house.” He takes another sip of coffee. His children play in the yard.

The man walks through the pitch-black Syrian wilderness, his family in a line behind him. He can feel the tension in his wife, the fear in his older boys. Someone ahead shouts, “Get down!” and they all collapse into the dust, holding their breath, trying to keep the baby quiet. There is the taste of dirt. There are rocks digging into his body. There is the sound of his boys, afraid, so far from home.

Abba - Abba

“Abba,” they whimper. “Abba.”

There are nearly 6,000 miles between Mohammad’s hometown and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. There are dozens of other countries he could have been relocated to. Hundreds of other cities.


Before I even knew him, he called me friend.

Yet somehow he came here, less than a mile from my house, to the area where my ancestors have lived for the last 250 years.

Odds - Crossings

What are the odds of these crossings?

I thank...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Ann Voskamp
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