"Very hard to leave everything behind:" Brothers from Syria, living in Milwaukee, share their experience

MILWAUKEE -- Two brothers who escaped war in Syria are staying in Milwaukee -- at least for now. They were taken in by a church here nearly two years ago. While the brothers' application for asylum is still pending, they say they have plenty to be thankful for.

"It`s very hard to leave everything behind you and start in new place from zero," Michal Chavo said.

Michal Chavo

John and Michal Chavo's American story begins in 2012, when the Syrian army bombed their home city of Aleppo.

"It was a family decision to leave Aleppo -- so we left in three days," John Chavo said.

The brothers went to Beirut, while their parents went to Jordan.

"One of our partner churches is in Amman, Jordan and the Chavo brothers' parents are still connected to that church right now," Matt Erickson, Eastbrook Church pastor said.

The brothers turned to the church when Lebanese officials told them they wouldn't be allowed to stay there.

John Chavo

"The only thing I knew was -- an hour away from Chicago," John Chavo said.

"The way we were pronouncing it, pronouncing Milwaukee was mal-wah-kee, not Milwaukee -- but that`s how we learned at first," Michal Chavo said.

The brothers smiled as they recalled their introduction to the American and Wisconsin way of life.

"It was like Saturday morning men`s breakfast at church and I looked to all these people and the type of food -- it was like syrup, sausages, eggs, hash browns and I was 'Michal, look at these people eat meat in the morning!'" John Chavo said.

Chavo brothers and parents

"We know Sunday afternoon is a big thing. We can`t make any plans except for going to Packers game or Packers party," Michal Chavo said.

The brothers say they do follow the news around the world -- and from back home.

"My heart breaks every day when I see the pictures -- especially for what`s going on in my city," Michal Chavo said.

Pray for Syria

"I can understand why everything, like in the last two weeks happening, people here want to be careful," John Chavo said.

"I`m not a politician. I don`t know what the answers are, but I do know if we take the time to get to know people, it changes how we view things," Michal Chavo said.

The brothers are currently here on a temporary visa.

If they're granted asylum, John Chavo says he'd like to become an engineer one day, and work for the Syrian embassy.

Michal Chavo says he's like to start a Christian music production studio.

Michal and John Chavo