Well last week I got to take my friend Tina to her citizenship ceremony here in Salt Lake. I didn't really know what to expect as I've never been to one. On the way there she was so excited and yet she said she was so emotional. She started to cry and I finally realized what a great day this would be for anyone. We take our country and freedoms too much for granted.
A little back story on Tina. She is from the west African country of Cameroon. She was beaten and put in jail for speaking against their government. She finally escaped and got to Germany. She had internal injuries that she had some surgery for in Germany. She lived in a refugee house when my father and mother in law met her. They taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ and she got baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My in laws left Germany and Tina was left there. They got a letter from her telling them that she was deported back to Cameroon. Political refugees can only stay in European countries for so long and then they are sent back. Tina said that she feared for her life so she ran from the plane as soon as it landed and ran into Nigeria, a neighboring country, and was hiding out there. When I heard her letter I just cried. I couldn't believe that is this day and age people still lived this way.
Well luckily there was a woman in Utah who came to know Tina in Germany and she had helped other people to flee their countries. She arranged for Tina to get a passport and a plane ticket to American. Tina told me how scary it was when she came into New York and she was still afraid that someone was going to come and get her and take her back. She finally arrived in Utah. She stayed with some relatives of my in laws and it was arranged for her to have some more surgery. They got doctors and hospitals to donate their services for free. Because Tina had been beaten she had a huge tumor in her uterus. Because she loves children so much she was concerned and told them to save as much as possible so she could have children. Well that was not to be. Tina found out that in Germany they had taken out one of her ovaries. And everything was so damaged it had to removed. Tina had a super hard time coming to the realization that she wouldn't have biological kids as in Africa to not have children was almost thought of as a curse. I told her that in America a man will love you for who you are and not if you can have children.
Around that time is when Tina came to live with us. My daughter was about 3 and my first son was 1. Tina became my son's second mom. He would put his hand up to her and say Tine Tine for her to pick him up. She lived with us for 6-8 months and then went to live in Vernal for a while then back to Salt Lake. She got her own apartment living with a local family. And now has her very own apartment.
She then got her CNA degree and worked in many elder care facilities until she hurt her back. Then she started college and got her Associates Degree this last May. I was at her graduation of course. IT was a hard road but she wanted to get her education.
Tina feels like she's my sister and not just my friend. She's had a hard life but she's pretty tough and I hope that life just gets better and better for her.