“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35
Someone recently asked me whether it is more nerve-wracking being the stranger or welcoming the stranger. After 26 years of moving around the country with the Coast Guard, I’d have to say being the stranger. It’s daunting to leave your home, your friends, your family and the comfort of familiarity. New jobs, new schools, new church, new roads, new stores—everything is different and strange. Even the smallest of tasks can seem overwhelming.
There were many days my crying place was my kitchen with a cup of comforting coffee. Others have confided about crying in the closet so their children wouldn’t hear! We have the choice to withdraw or to dive right into our new community and life. It takes courage to step out of our comfort zone.
It is my hope that Welcome Friends might give you a taste of the goodness of Baldwin County, entice you to move here or to take that step out of your new home to meet others. As the owner of Welcome Friends, I enjoy meeting newcomers, delivering their Newcomer Packet from local businesses and giving them a chance to meet others at monthly events. I love watching them come out of their shells, connect with others and take the steps to build new lives. It warms my heart and makes me smile to see Facebook posts of those I’ve welcomed celebrating with new friends they’ve met at Welcome Friends luncheons.
My second hope is that those who are not new to the area would step out of their comfort zone and welcome all the newcomers moving into our county. Smile warmly, introduce yourself and invite them into your life. Look around after church while grabbing that doughnut and sit with those who are alone. An invitation for a simple cup of coffee, lunch or book club to that stranger means more than you could know.