My name is Elizabeth. I, along with my husband and my three children, arrived in the United States in September 2006, leaving behind so many things in the Dominican Republic: excellent jobs, a house, big dreams. But the most valuable thing we left was family and friends. With only two suitcases each, we came here with our hearts full of hope, as we were getting ready to start a new life.
As soon as we arrived, everything changed dramatically. Coming to this country as professionals, with bachelor’s degrees, we found that here our degrees didn’t matter. We faced new challenges every day; we didn’t know the language; we didn’t know the system; we didn’t know anything. Even going to school was hard for my kids. They couldn’t understand what they needed to do or what to say.
As I started to work, I couldn’t understand the instructions given to me; it was hard, but my family and I knew very well that someone really important would never let us fall and would always be taking care of us all the time. That person is GOD.
Slowly we started a new life, learning everything step-by-step; difficult, but what could we have done? A few month later, someone told me about the English as a Second Language Program located in Herndon. I showed up that same night and guess what? It was at Holy Cross Lutheran Church. Since then, my life has changed in so many ways. I got wonderful advice from Pastor Douglas Jones, support from teachers like Robin Drummond, who is my guardian angel, Ellen Atwell, Tula Toney, Jeanne Maysonett, and Suzanne Baggett. And of course I made new friends, who now are like family to me.
Being part of the ESOL classes has been a blessing to me and my family, we have received help from your outreach programs; for example, receiving gifts for my children from the Tree of Joy project was a wonderful blessing. If you only had the chance to see their faces every year on Christmas Day opening all their presents, there were no words to explain their happiness.
In addition, I once lost my job and we were receiving food assistance. I don’t know from whom, but I was sure that the food came from people with big and compassionate hearts who care about other’s needs. Now, my family is all grown up, and we are trying to help the same way we were helped, which is by trying to give back a little bit of what we received when we were in need and desperate.
My oldest daughter is soon to be 24; she was a teacher’s assistant at Holy Cross for three years and then became a full teacher for three more years in the ESOL program. My second daughter is now 21 and became a Certified Medical Assistant and is currently working at the nursery at Holy Cross as well. Both my son, who is now 18, and my husband, have also attended the ESOL program. At our church, my son is an Altar Server, my husband is an Extraordinary Minister of the Holy Eucharist and I am volunteering as the General Coordinator of the Hispanic Community at Saint Joseph Church of Herndon, where it is a blessing to help Hispanic people get involved in the community, so God is leading us along the right path.
I am so thankful for feeling at home at Holy Cross Lutheran Church. You have positively changed my life.
Thank you and God bless.