Rob & Donna

If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.

A newcomer and I were directing traffic at the first Ride for Refuge on a blustery October day in 2011. I had asked a big, strong farm boy from Namibia how he’d come to Canada (a question I have learned not to ask), and this is how he jokingly responded. This young man was in our home many times before he moved on, and became like a son to us. He is only one of many.

My wife and I have been enriched beyond measure by the relationships we have established since moving back to Canada five years ago. At last count, our circle of over eighty international friends represents people from thirty-one countries. Many of them we came to know either directly or indirectly through the MHO Furniture Bank, where they were either clients or volunteers—or both. They have met each other in our home when we’ve hosted international gatherings, and those relationships have flourished as people have seen cultural barriers disappear over a table laden with dishes from all over the world and have discovered the peculiar joy that friends from other places can bring to our lives.

We continue to learn a great deal from these precious people as they tell us their stories and teach us about their cultures. Our tastes have changed—literally—so that if you were to look in our pantry, you’d have no idea where we’re from. Our experiences have ranged from eating pacha (boiled lamb’s head) and fou-fou to attending immigration hearings; from teaching English to editing grad school applications. We have enjoyed introducing newcomers to turkey and cranberries, teaching them about our city, and telling them the Christmas story.

VolunteerAshley Reiter