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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'Won't you be my neighbor?'

More than 250 refugees and their sponsors met Nov. 15 at Trinity Lutheran Church, Camp Hill, Pa., to celebrate 25 years of resettlement in central Pennsylvania. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, New York City, guided the uprooted people to new lives through Tressler Lutheran Services, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

The gathering included both the first and the most recently resettled refugees. The first Ugandan Asians resettled in 1972 were joined by people from many parts of the world--Vietnam, Kurdistan, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Liberia and Bosnia. They came to remember their experiences and to celebrate their unity in the "good neighbor" welcome they received.

A meeting of the two latest arrivals was poignantly noted when the young Bosnian women greeted one another, reunited for the first time since they left their native land.

A young Cambodian woman shared her childhood memories of coming to America as an 8-year-old and said her resettlement experience has taken on deeper meaning since a trip to Cambodia last year.

Ralston Deffenbaugh, LIRS executive director, thanked everyone who has embraced the resettlement mission and made it so effective in central Pennsylvania. He paid homage to 15 congregations for their efforts and reminded those in attendance that resettlement work depends upon both a strong volunteer structure and donor support.


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