Then Peter began to speak; "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts people from every nation who fear him and do what is right. This is the message God sent to Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. --------------------- All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." (NIV) (Acts 10: 34-43)



Little Vera's story reminds us the importance of swimming skills. It also encourages the refugee children to participate in a lifetime sport. There is a sad commentary to this story. Just a couple of weeks ago, another tragedy occurred.  A 13 year old boy drowned in a pond near Tai Village. He did not know how to swim. That reminds us the need is still there. Having said that--Camp Vera is not a sacrifice of our time--it is a privilege. I do not know who had more fun--the children or the adults.


World Refugee Day--June 22, 2019. This special day was celebrated with a multi-cultural event at Valley Community Center, 4444 Fuller Road, West Des Moines, Iowa. It was a dark, damp, dismal day when we arrived--then suddenly it stopped raining and the sun peeked through the beautiful white fluffy clouds. What a perfect day to celebrate the occasion with our new-found friends from around the world. Now--you are invited, too (below).


Excerpt from a sonnet by Emma Lazarus mounted on a plaque inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses (refugees) longing to breathe free." (parenthesis mine)

This is just a sampling of the happenings at the World Refugee Day Cultural Celebration at Valley Community Center today. There was food and fun, topped off by the Cup of All Nations Soccer Tournament. It was a great day for refugees and immigrants of Iowa and a great day for the "locals" who were welcomed to the fun. Wait--that's not the only game in town. Let's go for a swim at Camp Vera (see below).


Camp Vera was the brain child of our friend, Lisa Bloomhagen, and originated in 2007 as a mission outreach of Olivet Baptist Church. The camp was named after a young Liberian girl named Vera who drowned in a tragic accident at Grays Lake (2006) because she did not know how to swim. We recognized a missing link for new refugee children, the need for swimming skills. For the first few years, it was swimming lessons followed by a sandwich in the park. After a few years it grew into an all day one week mission outreach. Each day started with a 45 minute swimming lesson at Birdland Pool. Then these young people are served a nutritious kid friendly lunch and the afternoon is chuck full of fun, games, crafts and Bible study. Creekside Church continues to sponsor this wonderful event under the supervision of Marge McKeever, with lots of assistance from many people.


My View for the Month: The people I have introduced you to today came from different parts of the world. Many of the children were born here, but most of the adults came from very difficult circumstances in their homeland. As far as I know, they all came the right way--through legal and ethical channels that point them toward the paths of citizenship in the United States of America. I have met many refugee-immigrant families throughout the years. I am happy to have them as friends and neighbors. You-me-them-we us---WE (are) AMERICANS!