Karibu, Noela

Mission | September 22, 2016

Seven pairs of shoes sat just inside the front door of Noela Zamukunda’s new home.

She and her six children, ages 2-16, had just completed a journey of 8,000 miles – from Kyaka, Uganda, to Rock Island, Illinois. It was 9:30 p.m. A few important pieces of paperwork were signed. A few important lessons about the stove, locking doors, and how to turn off the lights were finished. Plans for the next day were set. The children played with new toys, looked over new books, and ate a few snacks.

And then it was time to settle in, get tucked in, and sleep. noela_family

“I am very happy,” Noela said in Swahili as she walked a case worker and translator from World Relief, and volunteers and staff from St. Paul to the door.

Noela and her children are seven of approximately 250 people World Relief will help resettle this year in the Quad Cities. St. Paul will accompany Noela and her family as they work toward self-sufficiency. They come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, after a years-long stay in a refugee settlement in Uganda. The DRC has experienced some of the worst human rights abuse and violence in recent years. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous places on earth for women and girls.

Noela, 34, does not speak English, but her two oldest daughters know some. Charlene is 16. Chantal is 14. Deborah is 9. Jerome is 7. Rebecca is 5. Rehema is 2. Their native languages are Swahili and Kinyarwanda. The three oldest have had some schooling in recent years. Four of the kids have health concerns.

They arrived in the Quad Cities with two suitcases and a handful of backpacks. They all wore winter coats, and Noela wore Rehema wrapped on her back. After greetings and collecting luggage, the family climbed into the St. Paul van for the final leg of their journey.

After a 10-minute ride to Rock Island, they climbed the stairs into their duplex in the Broadway neighborhood, not far from the Centennial Bridge. They made themselves at home, surrounded by furniture and household items that St. Paul people donated. Volunteers set up and scrubbed the two-bedroom duplex in September.

And now, St. Paul people will share their lives with them. Over the next several weeks, St. Paul people will help Noela learn how to grocery shop, drive the family to an assortment of appointments (doctors, social security, school registration), teach them how to ride the bus…all while getting to know our new neighbors. In addition to St. Paul staff, Angie Vaaler and Mollie Hart are heading up the volunteer coordination effort.

Why did this family have to leave their home?

In the DRC, military conflict for the past 15 years has prompted people to flee – conflict that started with Rwandan civil violence and genocide in the 1990s. One of the most significant reasons for the fighting is for control of the DRC’s natural resources, which include rich farmland, precious jewels, and metals.

More than 2.4 million people from the DRC alone have been displaced because of killings, kidnappings, mass rape, and torture. It can be assumed, World Relief leaders say, that refugees from the Congo have experienced or witnessed violence.

Over the next five years, the U.S. expects tens of thousands of refugees from the DRC, many of which will resettle in the Quad Cities, just like the Zamukundas.

On this particular night, Noela and her children were the newest residents of the Quad Cities. Those shoes they wore – tiny sparkly sandals, gray canvas shoes with bright blue laces, high tops with flowers, and flip flops with orange and yellow gems – brought them to a life full of promise and hope.

See photos from the night the family arrived at the Quad City International Airport.

2 Comments on “Karibu, Noela”

  • Nancy Hultquist

    September 22, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Photos and story are so touching!!!!

  • Priscilla Hull

    September 22, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Such good news!!

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Daniel 12:1-3

The Time of the End

1“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.2“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.3“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Psalm 16

1Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

2I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

I have no good besides You.”

3As for the saints who are in the earth,

They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

4The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;

I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,

Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

5The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

You support my lot.

6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;

Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8I have set the LORD continually before me;

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will dwell securely.

10For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

11You will make known to me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Hebrews 10:11-25

11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,13waiting from that time onward UNTIL HISENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.14For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,





He then says,



18Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

A New and Living Way

19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Christ or Judgment

Mark 13:1-8

Things to Come

1As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”2And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,4“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”5And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6“Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.7“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.8“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Daniel 7:9-14

9“I kept looking

Until thrones were set up,

And the Ancient of Days took His seat;

His vesture was like white snow

And the hair of His head like pure wool.

His throne was ablaze with flames,

Its wheels were a burning fire.

10“A river of fire was flowing

And coming out from before Him;

Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,

And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;

The court sat,

And the books were opened.

11“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.12“As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.

The Son of Man Presented

13“I kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him.

14“And to Him was given dominion,

Glory and a kingdom,

That all the peoples, nations and men of every language

Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

Which will not pass away;

And His kingdom is one

Which will not be destroyed.

The Vision Interpreted

Psalm 93

1The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;

The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;

Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

2Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.

3The floods have lifted up, O LORD,

The floods have lifted up their voice,

The floods lift up their pounding waves.

4More than the sounds of many waters,

Than the mighty breakers of the sea,

The LORD on high is mighty.

5Your testimonies are fully confirmed;

Holiness befits Your house,

O LORD, forevermore.

Revelation 1:-4-8

John 18:33-37

33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”