What I Learned About Immigrants (Part 01)

As many of you may know, we have recently returned from a recent family trip to Brazil. We were there to visit our extended family, and had an amazing time! We were blessed, loved, and taken care of in so many wonderful ways. I wasn’t looking for content for this blog, I wasn’t looking to reflect on anything that happened while we were there. But, once we all got over our jet-lag and readjusted to life here in good ol’ New Zealand, it seems that I cannot help myself! So, here are a series of posts doing exactly that – reflecting on the time that we spent in a country with a very different culture and way of being in the world than the one I have spent most of my life living in – in fact, I have only ever been to two foreign nations that I have spent more than 24 hours in, Australia, and Brazil!

Without further ado, here is the first post in a series on, ‘What I Learned in Brazil’

One of my work colleagues asked me if, while we were there in Brazil, it was great being surrounded by Portuguese, because it is such a beautiful language. Honestly, the language is beautiful, and it was great to be there and try to remember all of the words that I knew, but after a while (with about 5 days to go on the trip), it got really frustrating. I remember this happened the very first time that we went as well. Being able to only understand a little bit, not really being able to go out and go to the shop, to just be free to go out by myself, get a cab, talk to people, to go down to the shop to get milk or bread, and be able to pay for it. I will say that I managed to do that this time! I managed to go to a cafe, order coffee and food for the family, and then pay for it all by myself! I felt so grown up (even if it was on our very last day there!)

That feeling of frustration that I felt was really eye opening for me. Not being able to do anything by myself, speaking my native language only at home, I realised for the first time how much of a foreigner I was in Brazil. In the past that had never really come up in my thinking before, the place had always seemed like a second home, and in many ways it still is, but the trip was different for me things time.

I think one thing that was brought home to me during our time in Brazil was just how much God cares for the ‘alien’ the one who is a foreigner and a stranger among his people.

“You must not oppress a resident alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be a resident alien because you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt.”
Exodus 23:9

“For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God, showing no partiality and taking no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving him food and clothing.”
Deuteronomy 10:17-18

“The LORD protects resident aliens
and helps the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.”
Psalms 146:9

““‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in;”
Matthew 25:35

Let those verses percolate in your mind, and we will continue the discussion in the next post. This whole thing was brought home to me even more as I talked to several people around town. The takeaway from this post thought is that God loves the alien and the stranger among us.

Question: When have you felt like an outsider? Does it help you to know that God has a special care for those on the outer?

Featured image credit:
Anurag Arora

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