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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Givens

Falling in Love Again (and again and again and again)

Hello, my dear friends!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. Life is crazy when you work with people who don’t know what their situation is going to be from day to day. Who knew, right?

Anyway, I figured I’d just take this time to share some things that are going on in our lives right now that didn’t fit in the last newsletter we sent.


First, we’ve had a number of amazing people from various countries living at the Maria Skobstova House (MSH) over the last couple months. One is an Iranian mother with a young daughter and a teenage son. I can’t share too much about her life, but she was withdrawn and quiet when she first came to MSH. She’s been here around a month now, and it’s been amazing to see her come out of her shell. Her children also have been wonderful to have in the house. Her son mostly keeps to himself in his room playing video games. We joke that we only see him when he’s hungry. In other words, he’s a typical teenage boy. Her daughter is every bit as energetic as our two boys, at once a tomboy and a girly girl. She definitely makes her mom tired, and we’ve tried to be attentive by helping her mom get some rest by taking the kids to the playground or other activities from time to time.

I should also mention that the mom cooks us lunch most days, and I’m constantly amazed how delicious her food is! I’ve spoken to her husband on FaceTime a few times. He’s a very friendly man and constantly thanks us for taking care of his family while they make this perilous journey. The truth is, his wife has been taking care of us. Their hope is to claim asylum in the UK and bring him over from Iran after that. Still, he will be apart from his family for at least a year in all likelihood, and in reality probably longer.

Then there are the Eritrean women. We have three adult women and three very young women at the house. While the people from the Eritrean community tend to be quieter and keep to themselves, we have had wonderful times getting to know them as well. The younger women often stay up until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and sleep until noon, so we don’t spend as much time with them. What always amazes us is the strength of their faith. They pray often, and for long periods of time. They often say that they trust God to provide safety and carry them on their way. There is much that we can learn about faith in God from them.

Finally, I’m now enrolled in French class with Alliance Française, starting on November 21. It’s an intense program where I’ll be having online classes three hours per day, three days per week. The difficulty here has been that much of the work at MSH is done in English. Nearly all the guests have at least some knowledge of English and all the volunteers have as well so far. So our opportunities to practice French are often limited to shopping or doing other things around town. We do have several friends who are French nationals. I’ve asked them to spend some time practicing French with me once I’ve finished my class. They’re more than happy to oblige.


There so many more things I could say, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Please consider praying about coming as a volunteer. We would be more than happy to have some more Americans come spend time serving and learning in Calais. You cannot leave this place unchanged. If this is something that you are interested in, please reach out to givenscalais@gmail.com.


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