I am dropping a quick note out in the last couple days of this year just to say hi and acknowledge that I haven't been able to get a newsletter out for a while!!! We have had a ton going on and of course there were the holidays! We are in the process of updating our website to reflect all of our new adventures but here is a mini- update. 12 families are now living in Missoula- Congolese, Iraqi, Eritrean and Ethiopian families- with a busy January in the works! Classes are in full swing here at SLM headquarters and as I write this, I am listening to Greta teach 9 eager and engaged students about the different types of lines on the road as they prepare to take their written driving tests! This might be my favorite class ;)
We are also working hard to engage with legislators as we roll into the legislative session of 2017. We are making a lot of phone calls and trying to get some basic info out to folks as they start to move to the Capitol. It is a bust time of year fro all. We are so thankful for our partners and those also working hard to support refugees this session, including the ACLU, MHRN and MAC. We are so so excited about MAC Day and again, want to extend the invite for people to join us on the bus! There will be busses traveling from Missoula, Kalispell, Great Falls, Bozeman, and Billings if all goes well. I know this email goes out to people across the state and I am inviting you all to participate! This will be a faith based day but the invitation is open to anyone with the shared values of Justice for the poor and venerable. Information for all locations will be available soon on the MAC website. If you are in Missoula and want to go, please check out the attached flier and to sign up, send your name, email, a phone number and affiliation to First United Methodist, FUMCMissoula@gmail.com by Jan. 15. $15/person, $20/couple. You can always email me for more info or with any questions.
I want you to know there is going to be a lot of fun things coming up in the new year! We are in the process of planing our next lecture in out Soft Landing Missoula Presents series. This lecture will look at the conflict and culture of East Africa- specifically Eritrea and Ethiopia. This will hopefully be sometime in February. We also have a workshop being planned for the early spring as an extension of our previous "Ally Training" that we offered last year to learn about and practice engaging in conversation with our friends, family and neighbors about refugees and resettlement. We believe fully that conversation- and A LOT of listening- is so important to creating a welcoming environment for refugees in our community- even more so now! Look for these engaging events to help us all broaden our ability to participate.
Lastly, I want to put a plug in for the amazing job Missoula County Public Schools has been doing! We have been able to send volunteers their way that have been working one on one with all of the English Language Learners (refugees and other immigrant students) and they train and organize this group of folks in the classroom. I have heard back from so so many volunteers how wonderful this program is. MCPS is in need of more tutors and will be running another training session soon. Check out this post on our website to get more information on how to sign up! Also consider contacting them if you have interest in volunteering to help manage the volunteers as they would like a little help with scheduling etc...
OK- I love you all! We will have a new (and improved!) newsletter format in the new year so this will probably be my last really rambly, long word dump on you guys ;) Don't worry, I will still be corresponding with you regularly, it will hopefully just be a little more organized and easy to read thanks to a wonderful team of volunteer communications folks who are getting me all in line! Thank you so much for all of your support- especially through our End of the Year giving mailing and emails (don't worry! You will get one more tomorrow to remind you that it is the last day of the year to make a tax deductible donation!). We have been just overwhelmed with support and I will leave you with this last lovely story about Jane Moses and her winter journey from Billings! Glad she made it yesterday ;) We are so thankful!