GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -
When Cristina Tudor first met Elliott and Peggy McGrew, she was working as a waitress at a pub in Ireland.
"I met a lot of nice people, but they were different in a way. I felt very close in my heart to them the first time I met them," says Tudor.
"We started going in every night to eat, and we just kind of fell in love with her," says Elliott McGrew.
Those initial meetings eventually led to an eight-year friendship between the McGrews and the Tudors.
"We stayed in contact with them. We'd send post cards, Christmas cards and St. Paddy's day cards. I even sent them calendars from Hancock Bank every year," says McGrew.
At some point, Cristina and her husband Marious, expressed a desire to come to the United States. After years of trying to get here, two weeks ago their dream was finally realized.
"I told them when they picked us up from the airport, I can't believe it....I can't believe it...it's America...finally," says Tudor.
"I almost cried at the airport when they came in. We made a big sign that said welcome to America," says McGrew.
Even the High Cotton Grill in Gulfport rolled out the welcome mat for the Tudors. They had their first tast of crawfish and learned how to eat it southern style.
"It was absolutely fabulous! I like the shrimp, and I like the gumbo especially," says Tudor.
The McGrews took them Pensacola where the Tudors saw white sand beaches for the first time.
"It's fun to experience America through somebody else's eyes," says Peggy McGrew.
In the near future, the Tudors hope to make America their home, open a business and provide better opportunities for their two kids.
"It would be the greatest thing in the world for me to have them come, especially the kids. We love the kids about as much as they do," says Elliott McGrew.
Cristina's husband, Marious Tudor, says it's re-assuring to know they have a South Mississippi family who truly cares for them and will do all they can to help them realize their American dream.
"We need a family over here. We're a perfect match."