The Joy of Belonging

When refugees come to America, they are country-less. Many do not have passports or citizenship to any nation. Others have fled persecution and danger from their homeland. They do not belong anywhere, and that is a very difficult place to be. Refugees can apply for permanent resident status (a green card) after living here 12 months, but they cannot apply to become citizens for five years. It is not an automatic process.

by Lauren Timberlake, Bhutanese ESL Coordinator

Some of the Bhutanese families in Kansas City have reached that 5-year mark now. I have heard a few proud stories of passing the exam and beaming smiles telling me they are glad to be officially American. Our friend Ram Rai was interviewed by KSHB41 at his naturalization ceremony a few months ago. You can

watch the video here


Ram Rai just after his naturalization ceremony in March.

The citizenship exam is not easy. Applicants must answer many detailed questions about themselves, read and write basic sentences in English, and be prepared to answer any of 100 possible questions about U.S. history and civics. Imagine how hard that would be if you had very little or no education or had never used English before moving here.

The Bhutanese community offers classes to practice these skills every Saturday and Sunday evening. People go both days and study at home during the week. Since January, Mission Adelante English classes have offered citizenship prep as well. Because we have so many volunteer conversation partners, we are uniquely situated to help students practice the reading, writing, and personal information sections of the exam. We incorporate these skills into all levels of classes, so students will be as prepared as possible to pass this incredibly important exam.

Last night, a former English student shared her recent citizenship experience with the Level 1 class. It gave them hope to achieve what often feels like an impossible task.

The joy of belonging--of having a homeland--is contagious. It’s hard to keep a straight face when you watch someone talk about their accomplishment. Citizenship gives refugees great dignity. Please pray for refugees who are working hard to pass their exam, and for the relationships created as students and conversation partners work together towards that goal.

Laxmi celebrated her recent citizenship with us at English class.

Other News

  • A few staff members have been working on secret cultural performance (sshhh!) for the Bhutanese trimester party. They are led by two talented teachers: our intern Ram Gurung and volunteer Dani Hammond. Come celebrate with us and see the surprise at the party on August 9th!

Prayer Needs

  • Please pray for the adults, kids, and teens that Mission Adelante staff and volunteers have been investing in this summer. Pray that God will bear much fruit from time spent together.

Current Needs

  • We were blessed with 5 new tablets to use in our Leaders in Training program!  We have put together an Amazon wishlist of items to outfit our new tablets for use, and included a few more technology needs on it.  Check out the wish list here:  LIT Technology Wish List -  If you have questions contact Kristen Maxwell at or Megan McDermott at
  • Looking for a fun way to make a big impact in the fall? Want to pour into the future leaders of our community? Our relational and fun after-school tutoring and character development program, Leaders in Training, is currently looking for volunteers.   Contact Megan at if you are interested!
  • We are exploring the idea of starting a First Lego League team with our Bhutanese Leaders in Training program.  If you have any experience with the First Lego League program, or starting a team, please contact Kristen Maxwell at

Important Dates

  • Bhutanese Summer Party--Saturday, August 9 at 4:00 at Wyandotte County Lake Park, 91st and Leavenworth Road, Kansas City, KS 66109.  After entering the park you'll come to a fork in the road; go left and continue to Shelter #6.  Please bring a dish to share and stay for the awards and cultural presentation!
  • Latino Summer Party--Sunday, August 10 at 5:00 at Wyandotte County Lake Park, 91st and Leavenworth Road, Kansas City, KS 66109.  After entering the park you'll come to a fork in the road; go left and continue to Shelters #8 &10.  Please note, these are different shelters than the large shelter where the party has been held in previous years.  Dress casually and bring a dish to share, lawn chairs and/or a picnic blanket.