Last weekend, I made the drive with my brother and nieces (detoured because of the I-40 rockslide) to Knoxville to visit my family's "sponsors". Lloyd and Patricia Smith brought my family to the United States from Cambodia back in 1979. I've always loved them and been thankful for their role in our lives, but now that I am an adult I have a new appreciation for them.
Mr. Smith was a dairy farmer in Maryville, Tennessee. In addition to cows, he and Mrs. Smith were also raising 4 children. In the middle of their lives-- trying to operate a farm and raise a family-- they took a social and financial risk on a refugee family whom they had never met, which they had no idea how to communicate and who were oblivious to the customs and traditions of this new country that would become our home.
Recently, I have been trying to wrap my mind around what sort of leap of faith it required to be willing to welcome total strangers into your comfort zone. Not just welcome them for a weekend or long vacation, but for the rest of your life. And it was not just one or two people, but an entire family that included a teenager, two younger children and a cranky infant (and that's not including my little brother who was on the way). The Smiths were not wealthy people, but what they had an abundance of was love and faith.
This family, with lots of love and patience, taught us about corn, how to speak English, to feed cows, how to drive and took us to church. They sold out to us; providing us with every opportunity to be successful in our new land. Not once have they ever asked for anything in return. I have seen lots of grace in my life, few so great as the grace that was shown to my family some 30 years ago.