Last Wednesday NBC Montana was there when a family that had been separated for 8 years reunited in Missoula.
U.S. citizen and Missoula resident Lilly Matti moved to Missoula from Iraq nearly 5 years ago. She served in the U.S. Army as a translator and then earned her degree at the University of Montana.
For the last 3 years Matti has been fighting to get her family here from Iraq, and last week the federal government finally agreed to allow her parents, two brothers and a sister to join her in Missoula.
Matti sat down with us last Wednesday before her family arrived and explained to us that her family is the first Iraqi Christian family ever to move to Montana.
She told NBC Montana it’s a huge relief to get her family to Missoula because it was extremely difficult to stay in touch with her family when they lived in Iraq.
“They have to move from place to place because they were targeted by insurgents and terrorists,” she said. “When they were still in Iraq I couldn't say anything, they would just call me and say ‘We're fine,’ and that’s pretty much all I could ask -- I couldn't ask where they were or how they were living and how things were.”
Wednesday night, Matti’s friends and members from her church, the Church of the Annunciation in Missoula, joined her at Missoula International Airport to welcome her family to the United States.
NBC Montana was there to capture the moment when Matti was reunited with her family she hasn’t seen in nearly a decade.
When we asked Matti what she wanted to do with her family first, she told us she wants to show her family the Montana wildlife.
“I'll take my dad fishing with me and I'll take my mom shopping,” she said. “There are a lot of things I want to do with them.”
Matti wants to thank the Missoula community, the Church of the Annunciation, Zoo Town church and Senator Max Baucus and his staff for all of their efforts.
She says, without them, reuniting with her family wouldn't have been possible.