An Evening With New Iowans

Wonderful evening at Westchester with new Iowans. Potluck supper with Chinese, former Yugoslavs, Iraqui, Irani, Hispanic–all new to the Des Moines area.


ESLreunion4 (2)
I’m between Guy and Desire, then Alex (wearing a Muhammad Ali jacket), then Shantal. Don’t remember the next man’s name. The two kids were ready for cake. Guy and one of the men took them to the dessert table. I so enjoyed talking with Desire, age 28–he showed me pictures of his wife and children on his cellphone.
Desire turned out to be the lead singer. And those Congolese harmonies when they sang! When we get to heaven, the music is going to be, well, heavenly!

ESLreunion3 (2) I was asked to talk about how working with refugees changed my life–this started with teaching ESL at church about 1989.

Only allotted a few minutes, I talked about Adis Dogic–the first baby I attended the birth of (they needed my English)–a bright-brown-eyed constant through some of my worst fibromyalgia years, a reason to get out of bed and get dressed several times a week so he could take part in Cub Scouts, flag football, soccer, basketball, band, baseball, and (once) a triathlon.

He taught me about dystopian “literature,” breakfast pizza, and we even earned the most for our “cheeseburger” cake for a Cub Scouts Pack fundraiser.

2009 (2)

Adis did as much for me in those days as I did for him. He got a soccer scholarship to junior college and just graduated in May.

Adis Dogic, Central Community College soccer, 2019

Last month I got a call from the military, wanting to know everything about Adis except what he eats for breakfast. He needs a security clearance for what he’s applied for in the Air National Guard! It was a pleasure to answer their questions.

ESLreunion8 (2)
Adis’s aunt and uncle are in the red and at the right. Vesna Muminovic, Ferida Dogic, Enisa Nisic, Guy & me, Ramiz Dogic. We met most of the Bosnians about 1998.

I also told how getting to know these refugees had changed my worldview. The ones we are closest to came from the impoverished NW part of Bosnia, with very little education and no English. Their homes had been ruined in the war and there were no jobs.

But it was evident very early on that God has distributed his gifts worldwide–intelligence, talents, abilities. Ramiz showed entrepreneurial leanings even before we had enough language between us to convey that. (I tried to encourage what I saw by using the Bosnian dictionary.) It’s been a delight to see him own several businesses the 20 years they’ve been here. (He reported that Adis, who’s been working for him, is a good worker and always on time. I’m not surprised.)

We do indeed serve a Global God, the Creator of all of us!


You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. – Leviticus 19:34





  1. What a nice evening you had. We volunteer weekly with English language learners at the Coralville library. They are a highlight of each week. Last Wednesday we had a potluck instead of class. Good food and conversation drew us closer. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • It will be such a delight in heaven to get to praise God among all the scrumptious harmonies of the Congolese. My voice fits somewhere in the middle, so it was fun to try to sing along with some of it. I was wheels for Adis’s older sister (band, drama–in more ways than one) and younger brother (not so much), but Adis was the compelling constant. He wants to get together with us next weekend. Bless him.

    • There were some naysayers when the Bosnians used to put out their cigarette butts right outside the church entrance! But most of us grew to love them, and wanted to see them succeed.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.