by Tiffany Lambert

When I heard about the picnic in the park for Syrian refugee families that Makers Church was co-hosting, I knew I had to be there. The idea of making these families feel at home and valued in our community really resonated with me and I went into the event, excited to build relationships. We were expecting 200 people, but almost 500 Syrian moms, dads, and kids showed up to the picnic! Volunteers spent time serving food, handing out practical supplies such as toilet paper, laundry detergent, and diapers or playing soccer and doing crafts with the kids.

As a photographer, I wanted to use my gift to bless the families. I have seen the power of a photo, and I knew that many of these families were not able to bring pictures with them when they made the journey. So I packed up my portable printer and my camera and headed to the park. I met two women and some of their children and through translation help from one of the kids I offered to give them photos. As soon as people saw the printer I was surrounded by kids and families wanting their photo done. And for 3 hours, there I was. Up until my printer died I had a steady swarm of people, excitedly asking for their photo.

Afterward, a friend and I went to go sit with the first woman we met and she invited us to come visit her home! We hopped in the car and spent the rest of the afternoon sipping on Arabic coffee and tea. Google Translate became our best friend as it facilitated us to be able to talk about where we come from, our dreams and our families. I was also able to take family portraits of them in their home. After I plugged in my printer and handed over the photos, the oldest daughter ran over and lovingly placed them in their empty photo album. They invited us to come back and visit soon for some home cooked Syrian food, and we excitedly accepted!

There was so much beauty wrapped up in this event- people of different ages, cultures, and faith backgrounds coming together to build community. As I sat in their living room, I could not help but have a huge smile on my face, because these strangers were becoming like family.

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