Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Took the girls, Tika and Ganga to the County Health Department .......the three gals needed two more shots. Poor kiddos!

Went to DMV but the line was out the door, down the sidewalk so we agreed to go back another time to get Tika's AZ ID.

Ganga said it would be best if Tika applied for any jobs, even part time. The job at Goodwill is 25 hours per week. She said he should apply and take it if he gets the chance. I'm taking him with me tomorrow to move some furniture for the Iraqi family so I will discuss it with him then, after I talk to Emory to get the full picture of the info Goodwill gave them.

Also will ask him to do some work for me in exchange for the bike for Tara. In my humble opinion, I would hold off on giving him a computer.

FYI for future refugee ministry.....the main library has scores of ESL and ELL resources....dvd's, cd's, audio tapes, books on tape, even some language specific, i.e. arabic/english ELL. Alas, no Nepali/English ELL, but did find a couple Nepali/Enlgish dictionaries. The same one Paul and Ann gave them in fact!

They were quite impressed with the Burton Barr library. Anything from there can be borrowed to other branch libraries through interlibrary loan to save a trip downtown.

Ganga always states how much she appreciates our team and all the work we've done with the A. family. She case manages all the Nepali families (30 or so!) and is only paid part time though she may be full time soon. That is a huge case load. If anyone knows a mechanic, their family car has a broken power steering system and the estimate they received is $750, which they don't have. Anyone know someone who could help out???Carla

Monday, December 29, 2008

Carla wrote:

Funny moment: last week I had to stop Kamala from putting the eggs in the freezer....she ran out of room in the fridge, so that was the next logical place, I guess.

I think our team has done an incredible job of embracing this family and getting their feet on the ground and walking. The great number of hours that have been spent with them has helped them tremendously, and Lutheran Social Services likely wishes every refugee family could have this kind of support and intense introduction to America as we've given to this family. The ultimate task is NOT to get them employed and off the public welfare system...our ultimate task is to show them the love of Christ, to show them that there is a God who loves them and ultimately has their lives in His hands. Along the way, we get the privilege of helping them become independent of the welfare system. Any secular team can do the latter, but we get the incredible privilege of doing both. And I say "KUDOS!" to all of you for taking the time to make a difference in one family....just wait and see the incredible ripple effect that will have!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Helen wrote:

We ate Christmas dinner early. Elvern picked them up a little before 11:00 and Komula was preparing a huge batch of rice. Elvern thought maybe they had planned to eat rice prior to our dinner in case our Christmas foods were too strange. When they came in the house
Elvern and Tara lit the dozens of candles which she enjoyed imensely. Purna and Uma poured the water glasses and the goblets with sparkling cider. We teased about working for their dinner!

Tika and Komula took seconds of most of the foods. Everyone especially liked the creamy fruit which was yogurt and Cool Whip mixed with a variety of fresh fruits. I showed them the Cool Whip package so I think they will be buying some. The girls chose peppermint ice cream rather than apple pie. All were very observant at the table as to use of utensils etc. We noticed that the girls each drank 3-4 glasses of water which seemed unusual for teenagers. And Carol I was complimented in that Komula licked her plate! We had a lot of fun at the table. We are concerned that Komula needs one on one conversation or she does not get involved. We usually play games on Christmas afternoon but due to the fact that we wanted to see Larry, we brought them home at 3:00.

Elvern took Tika to Wireless Toys to discuss the "malfunction" of his new Cricket phone. After considerable experimentation and ice it was determined that Tika was shouting to the long distance family menbers creating a problem echo. All is well and Tika said I am happy now.

Tika and Komala are taking the bus all by themselves to the B family. They are excited to be doing this alone without assistance. They are to call Elvern if they have a problem.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mike D wrote:

Delivering the Christmas gifts to the Acharya family was great. The caroling was pretty poor and we lacked two of the girls when we got there, but things got better. We were almost out-hosted when Kamala served us Cokes, pinapple, and grapes. Tara was the most ecstatic opening gifts but everyone in the family loved it. Pretty funny when Kamala and Tika opened the wrong stockings! The girls were instantly in their new clothes. I talked a little about the tradition of opening gifts. Ganga offered to translate. Then, later Ganga translated the Christmas story from Luke 2. I accused her at one point of preaching instead of translating. She loved doing it and celebrated her success at the end. We spent a lot of time there so only part of the group went to the other family. Someone else will need to write about that since I was one that had to live for family obligations.

What a great Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Carla wrote:

Hi all,
I visited our family's friends, Bhula and her husband and two sons just briefly tonight. Gave her some learning games for her kids that my little friends have outgrown and told her Savers and Goodwill often have great used teaching tools. Bhula taught kindergarten in Nepal and loves to engage her kids in games and learning. I invited her and her family to church, but she said that First Christian Church's team takes them to church. Then she pulled out a Nepali-English New Testament!! Wow. There is a Nepali Bible Society that publishes Bibles, so perhaps we can find one online? I think what Bhula was saying also is that there is a missionary couple at First Christian that is going to Nepal for two years, or actually going BACK to Nepal to continue serving there in the mission field. Those missionaries are here for now and are the ones who gave her the New Testament. She said she would share it with the Achyara's since they read Nepali pretty well. So another option would be to contact this couple and get their help in getting our family a NT. What an amazing thing to find right down the "hallway"....the scripture in Nepali! Perhaps we could get this couple to meet with our team and give us some insights?

Also, Ganga said that for now the Achyara family did not get picked for the matching grant program so they will not have that extra money or their rent paid in full for three months. Soon their DES general assistance should arrive, with which they will pay their rent but have not much at all left over.

Also followed up with the Iraqi family that is in need of some furnishings. I took over the loveseat and a cabinet from Paul and Beth Dreshel. Emery, he may need some help re-building the cabinet if you would have time....all the parts and hardware are there, but no instructions. The Dreschel's have a couch also, but this family has a very small apartment and there are only three in the family so they are okay with just the love seat. They also have a nice sofa chair. I am sure I can find another family within a few days who is in need of the couch. My mother had a roll-away bed stuck back in a closet so I took that as well, since they live in a one bedroom and one of them has been sleeping on the floor in the living room. Took a sheet set and two comforters, and a pillow. I asked them what they would like or need and they were very reluctant to ask for anything, but finally got out of them that they would like an iron, ironing board, vacuum and a blender. So if anyone has any contacts for those items please let me know. I will keep their case manager apprised of everything that is donated.

This family also has an amazing story. They are from Baghdad originally. She worked for the government for many years doing data entry until she had her son 12 years ago. He ran a restaurant at Baghdad airport, called Ishtar's. Once our military arrived and took over the airport, he returned to his restaurant and kept it open by feeding our guys great food. He made a lot of friends among the US troops. He said it was extremely dangerous to keep his restaurant open, and every day he told his wife goodbye as he left for work, and would think that it could be goodbye forever because the threat of death was all around. She got misty eyed as he was talking about those days of saying goodbye like that. Some days the military would not let him go home as it was too dangerous, so he would spend several days at the airport. His son was not in school very much during these months since it was so dangerous, and later when he rode the bus to school he would hear machine gun fire and bombs going off. He and his family were also in extreme danger for helping the US military. He showed me his airport ID card, and said if the extremists had ever found that in his possession, they would have killed him on the spot. Three of his friends who ran the business with him were killed because of their associations with American military. Soon after he was able to escape with his family to Jordan where he lived with his brother. His brother may be able to immigrate here within the year. In Iraq, he had a nice house with a garden, two cars, computers, tv's, etc., but he said that he is happy to be here "starting from zero" so that his son and wife can be safe and his son can have a better life. In Jordan he was able to work in a multi-national business, so he seems to be very skilled.

Again, this family, like our family, was so gracious and insisted that I stay to eat even though they had already eaten dinner. And when I say insisted, I mean insisted....I think he actually would have been mad had I left, so I stayed but then I insisted they eat with me. So she served up beef kebab, something like a little egg roll, some flat bread, salad and really great tea. I wasn't the least bit hungry but tasted a bit of all but the was pretty good. I figured if I didn't touch the salad they could put it back into their supplies! He said he was given $75 upon arrival, but he didn't know how long it was supposed to last him. I didn't have the heart to tell him how long things take to get going because just like Tika, this man wants a job TODAY!!! I am going to put out a broader email to hopefully get him some "payback" from patriotic Americans who feel like I do, that he helped our troops, and now we should help him!! Maybe some veteran will give him a job!

This family lives on 28th Street and Indian School. There are four other Iraqi families in the complex, one of whom is Christian. He asked me again if we'll help anyone or only the Nepalis. I told them a bit about the conditions that the A. family came out of and they were quite impressed with what the Achyara's have been through. Isn't that amazing, considering what they've lived through??? But they realized and we talked about how far "ahead" of the Nepalis the Iraqi's are, since at least these folks had so much technology, work experience, literacy. The wife even drove, which surprised me, given all we heard on the news about the strict rules there in Saddam's day. Their last name is Hussein, but I get the idea that they are changing it, for obvious reasons! But that might change after Barack Hussein Obama is inaugurated....then it will have a better connotation, maybe. I saw a news piece not long ago that Iraqi school children in Phoenix are the target of bullying more than other ethnic groups, especially in areas with higher numbers of military families. So I would change my name too, if it were Hussein.

So what an adventure this all is.....fascinating how God is bringing the world to our very doorstep. Carla
I missed posting a few days so we will need to double up on some posts:

Carla wrote:

I followed up on contact I made earlier this week at the LSS office....with Mr. Rahmad who just last week moved to the US with his wife and son. I visited their apartment to get an idea of what they need....they live on 28th Street just south of Indian School. There are four other Iraqi families there. Mr. Rahmad is Muslim but one of their friends said he is Christian. I took them so basic necessities and a few games for his son. They have a nice dining table and two nice oak chairs, and a very large comfy chair and ottoman in the living room. I think they need a bed, but I am not sure. A roll away bed would be perfect as they live in a one bedroom so that way their son would be able to put his bed away out of the living room. I took them a folding camp chair so that at least they could all three sit at the table for meals. They were so gracious and so extremely appreciative. I intentionally took along the two boys I babysit, to broaden their world views. The 8 year old was a little scared of them when he realized they were from the war zone, thinking they were the enemy in Iraq, so it was good for him to get a better understanding of the situation and to see the friendly smiles and gracious attitudes towards us. . Kathy, just let me know what you have leads on.....I"d like to know how big the stuff is as their place is very small. The end tables and lamps would be a sure bet. I have time this weekend to make a trip and can fit a lot in my van. Anyone have plans with the Achyara family this weekend? I'd like to do something with them but don't want to interfere with anyone else's plans......Movie review: we saw "Bolt" today......very funny, good family movie!Carla

Mike wrote:

I spend Saturday with the Acharya family. Tika showed me the materials he had from the Sheraton Crescent. I decided to bring everyone to my house so Tika could complete the online application. The rest of the family watched "Polar Express" while Tika completed the application with some help from me and Uma. Uma is their family computer geek. Her English is also quite good. She acts as translator in spots. It was challenging to complete a very long application. We tried to make the work experience fit. Tika was part of a team of four that distributed food and other items to about 700 people. We made some attempt to describe distribution of bamboo, thatch roofs, and food in HR terms with strong skill terms like "supervise, organize, submit reports, etc." There was also a quiz of 54 questions asking about work ethic, honesty, punctuality, and response to specific scenarios.

Next I decided to give them more driving experience. We all piled into my truck and went to CCOJ. Tika's driving improved from last time. We decided to give Kamala a try. It was very funny. Since Purna was 17, she got a turn too. Purna was almost as good as Tika. When we were done, Kamala learned to say, "Today, I drove for the first time." I also prepped her for Sunday when I explained she would say, "Yesterday, I drove for the first time." She was able to tell this to Frankie on Sunday.

After driving, we went to a very busy Arrowhead Mall. Tika and I were walking in front of the rest of the family around the mall. He told me that one day he wants to take me to Nepal to show me around!

We then went back to my house. I invited them to stay for dinner. We played dominoes for a while. It seemed really good for Kamala. Uma, Perna, and Terra caught on very quickly. Tika was on the phone a lot all day. I understand why he might need unlimited minutes. We made them chicken enchiladas and a cottage cheese/jello salad. They ate a lot and had seconds on the salad.

The girls got on the computer together. They were checking email and sending instant messages to friends in Nepal even though it was very early in the morning. I asked how they got computer access in Nepal. They told me you could get 20 minutes for 30 rupees at an Internet Cafe.

By then it was almost 8:00 PM. We took three cars back to CCOJ to go through the lights. Then we crammed ten people into the bed of my pickup with lots of blankets. Tika, my daughter Naomi, and I were in the cab. At the end we all crowded into a photo with Santa. Kamala and the girls really like our young grandchildren! It was after 10 when I got them home. It was a great day!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Carla writes:

Had some extended time with Ganga (case manager) today. She explained that she has requested grant money to cover expenses for the A. family and will know within a week if they are accepted. If they are accepted, their rent will be paid for three months, in full, and they will receive cash monthly for other expenses. Tika and Kamala will EACH receive $200 and each child will receive $40 per month. If they are not accepted to the grant program, they will get DES cash assistance of which nearly all will go to the rent, and they will have very little left over for non-food items. Instead of cash gifts, cash would best be directed to buying non-food items in the future such as soap, paper goods, hygiene items, etc.

We attempted once again to enroll Tara in school but she is short one shot, believe it or not. So I'll work around Elvern's schedule tomorrow (Thurs) and get the girls and one of the parents back down to the county to finish the shots. The school office is closed after Thursday until the morning of Jan. 5 when school resumes.

Kamala got a good report from the dentist, but Tika will need some fillings. Have to wait on pre-approval before those appointments can be made. The girls actually missed their optometrist appointment due to a miscommunication between the doctor's office and Ganga, so that will have to be rescheduled.

I met a family from Iraq, who have been here just 6 days. They escaped Iraq and lived in Jordan for three years. He seemed to have been a very accomplished businessman in Jordan, so I could sense a great deal of shock over leaving all of that and coming to a basically empty apartment, with no job, etc. He said three of his friends were killed before he left Iraq and they had a lot of sadness in their lives at that time. If there were any chairs, a tv or other living room furniture available, this family could use any available. He said they each have a bed, they have two chairs and a table. There are three of them in the family.

Tara learned a very important lesson not, repeat DO NOT, open the door of the vehicle while we are going 35 mph. I guess she just wanted to see if it would open if she pulled the handle any other time besides when the vehicle is stopped. Guess I need to engage the child safety locks when Tara is in the car!!


From Helen:
Elvern is picking the family around 12:30 tomorrow. They will be going to the scheduled interview at the Sheraton. Elvern is intrigued with the HR director. She clearly stated that they do have not openings but still wants to interview them... Could it be that she has a plan? Does she just want the three for occasional banquet servers? After that the are going to the Marriott just a little further North to inquire/apply.

After that Elvern is taking Tika and Kumalo to the Phoenix Workforce Connection at 7th Street and Mountain View. Carla, this would be in our strange little neighborhood! We received some positive information about their services and negative information about their case load. We are going to be like secret shoppers of their services and my friend, the Phx One Stop Director, is anxious to help us through the system.
Pray and stay tuned for the report.
Helen and Elvern

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Carla writes about Monday night:

Last night the Achyara family attended our small group Bible study Christmas party. We had a nice meal together then played a game that was really fun and that they really got in to, especially the girls. Ultimately they didn't win the gift prize, but the winner of the prize graciously gave it to them anyway (a gift card to Starbucks).
Today took Tika, Kamala and Tara to the optometrist....all three need glasses which were ordered and will be available in three weeks. Tomorrow Uma and Purna will be examined.

Tomorrow Tika and Kamala go to the dentist; Tika has cold sensitive teeth. The girls will not go to the dentist until they are covered by AHCCCS which provides comprehensive covereage. If Tika and/or Kamala need any extensive dental work, we will need to know if the Refugee Medical Assistance Program will cover it as AHCCCS does not cover restorative work in adults, only extractions.

Also today Uma and Purna had evaluative testing at Cortez High School. I picked them up there afterwards due to the rain, and met their academic counselors and the school social worker. Cortez HS hosts 48 language groups! The girls will be in classes together; four ELL classes, PE, and math (with non-ELL kids). On Jan. 5th they go to school only to register, then begin in earnest on Jan. 6.

Tara was nearly derailed by being referred to Cholla Middle School, but long story short tomorrow she will be un-enrolled from Cholla and I will go with Ganga, Kamala, Tika and Tara back to Cactus Wren and meet with whomever we need to meet with to ensure she is enrolled in 6th grade there. She was in 6th grade in Nepal and is in NO way ready for middle school so that was a big and unnecessary detour to Cholla. Tika and Kamala learned today that they have the right to question decisions made by "authorities" (in this case likely just the secretary at the front desk at Cactus Wren), and they learned that their opinion carries a lot of weight in the educational process. They did not want Tara to go to Cholla, but did not know they could question the decision either. Tara did not want to go to Cholla either! I haven't mentioned the option of Tara having a that coming into reality or something we need to work on? Tara will need school uniforms, available at Target, Savers, Sears. Blue pants/shorts/skirts and white or blue or dark green shirts. Please let me know directly if anyone is interested in providing these so we can avoid duplicating. They have six backpacks and a year's worth of notebook paper, a calculator, plenty of pens/pencils, glue, folders, dictionaries.....they are set for now.

Tomorrow am picking Ganga up first then the family, then we'll go to Cactus Wren, then to their dental app'ts. Frankie emailed that she can take them later to the optometrist, which is at 6701 N. 19th Ave, just a bit south of Glendale on the east side of 19th Ave. It's a one story building, Frankie.....Tika will recognize it. I am hopeful the appointments will not overlap. Tika is careful to bring the RMAP cards but make sure he has them.

All but Purna had positive TB skin tests, which means they had contact with someone who had TB, which is very common in countries and living conditions like theirs in Nepal. They will all need to take medication for several months. They all had chest x-rays to clear them regarding actually having TB....they just had contact with someone else who had it.

I asked today if they wanted any help cleaning the bathrooms....Tika and Kamala said no. Tika said Kamala is "excellent" at cleaning.....a very nice compliment. Tika said that Sunday they will walk to church; he said they miss walking.

Take care, all.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Frankie writes about Saturday:

We picked up the Family Sat. morning . They had fun helping us with our tree. We made cookies and snicker doodles. They took home a container of them. Emery took them to Frys to shop for groceries, then took them home.

PS: We were irrigating that morning and it was time to turn it off so I took off my shoes and waded out in the water. I got to the valve to turn it off and looked back. Kamala had done the same as I did, but she was saying, "Cold!, Cold!" When I was finished I put my arms around her, and we walked out together. What fun! I forgot to say we had lunch also.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday night Billy and I took the bus to the family's apartment, gathered them and four neighbors up, and took the bus back to our house. We had a blessing in that the fare box on the bus was broken, so we didn't have to pay! The little five year old neighbor, Robin, was so excited to go on the bus was his first time and his eyes were so big! They are all so used to walking it was not a big deal to walk from the bus stop to our house. Then we had taco soup, queso and chips (which they all loved), played Wii (which was very hard but they loved it), roasted marshmallows, tried s'mores (which were just too sweet) and best of all, played UNO. They LOVED Uno. Card games are a big part of their culture and they caught on very fast and have quite a flare for throwing cards on the table. Robin even caught on right away and was quite a good player. I gave them the Uno cards as they left, then later realized the cards weren't mine, but were a little boy's I babysit. oops. Looks like I'll be runninng to Target today. I'll send pictures out when I get a chance. They went nuts over my camera........since you can immediately see the picture you just was hilarous. Sunday night, Uma and Tara went with the junior high group on the Christmas lights tour and caroling. They seemed to enjoy it and actually did try very hard to sing along with the carols. Tika did not feel well Sunday, but by Sunday night looked and felt a lot better. Make a note for the next refugee family to make sure they have hot packs and Tylenol available after those immunizations.....and not much to do the next day in case they feel sick.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Carla writes about Friday:

What a long afternoon....picked up the family at 12:30, 5.5 hours and lots of immunizations later, dropped them off, with instructions for warm compresses for their sore arms from all the shots. All five had TB test started, and then the girls had to have 5 shots in their arms. Tika and Kamala had two shots. They squirmed a bit and yelped but no tears. All had chest x-rays and lots of blood drawn, so add another poke to the count! The pediatrician spoke Hindi, so they conducted the girls' screening in Hindi. The girls understand Hindi to a degree. The girls will have to have more shots in 2 and 6 months for the series, but for now they are good to go. On Monday a health worker will come by their house to check their TB tests and complete the paperwork. He knows that they are going to school to enroll on Monday so he'll work out the time around that.

The clinic is a cross section of the globe. All refugees have to have these screenings. We sat by a family from Thailand, and I taught our girls and their boys how to play tic-tac-toe. Then we had the world's first ever Nepal vs. Thailand International TTT competition, with Nepal the victor in the end! Someone at TBC had given me an Operation Christmas Child shoebox for a 7-10 year old boy, but had given me the box a week late with instructions to find a boy for it. So it absolutely met the need as the little Thai boys were having to wait so long and I was able to give them a gift wrapped box full of surprises. They were so happy!! It also had a gospel booklet in it, so who knows how that might plant a seed.

Our girls passed the time giggling and playing another paper game, and picking on Tara. She gets picked on a bit, mostly from Purna apparently. They had a scratch fight sometime in the last week. Being the youngest of three sisters in my family, I empathize with Tara.

I talked with Tika again about the phone card/cell phone issue. He is really desiring to call his parents in Nepal, which is so understandable. He has $50 so I told him if he wants to buy a phone card he can use my house phone tomorrow to call his parents. I don't have long distance on my house phone and feel that it's good for him to pay for the call. He agreed that he would like to do this. They need to gain a better understanding of contracts and unscrupulous cell phone sales people before they head down that path.

See you all Sunday........

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From Carla:

Stopped by around noon to confirm a few task appointments. Found Uma and Tika just leaving to walk to Cholla library to look for Uma's lost library card. Uma was and is very upset that she lost her card. They had already backtracked by foot most of the way and couldn't find it, so I drove the three girls and a friend to the library and we cancelled her card so that no one else could use it. In order to get another card Tika has to take her with his passport ID and $2.

Late this afternoon we returned to pick Tika up so that Billy could teach him how to use lawn equipment. He mowed and mowed and mowed.....and mowed and mowed and mowed....and we don't have that big of a yard, but he didn't want to stop even after re-mowing the same grass. I had to actually grab the mower and stop him to explain that if we wanted to get the front yard done, he had to stop mowing the back yard! Then he mowed and mowed and mowed the front yard, which is just dormant bermuda grass. At least the back yard was lush winter grass, but this was just mowing the same dead grass over and was so funny. I guess he was practicing which was perfectly fine with me. He used the weed-eater/trimmer a little bit and was very thorough, and then used big pruning shears to trim back the rose bushes. I explained a few times how big hotels (like the Sheraton that Mike had taken him to) have groundskeepers, and that if he knows how to use these tools it might help him get a job. Billy and I tried to keep busy working alongside him without overtly keeping an eye on him, but I wanted to be careful that he was safely learning.

Once back at their apartment, Kamala was at language class and Tika said he didn't want to go since we had just got back and it had already started. He said he was frustrated about getting a cell phone. I was very confused because Mike had already added minutes to the go-phone. Tika said he has $50 cash and wants to buy a cell phone that can call Nepal. Mike had explained to him earlier that the contracts are very expensive and are not a good idea, but apparently Tika needs some more explanation along those lines. Tika was not happy with the go-phone because it can't be used to call Nepal, so I clearly explained that calling NEpal is a luxury that he can't afford now and likely won't be able to afford later. I explained the difference between necessities and luxuries, used examples and reminded him that he will have to pay rent very soon and will have bills to pay. I emphasized that the go-phone is for calling Ganga, for job hunting and applying, and for calling his TBC team members....necessities only. The girls and I reminded him that Helen had taken them to the PO and that it is much cheaper to write letters, or he can email. I also reminded him that he will need money for the bus to get to work and back and that is going to be a lot of money over time. He looked very dejected after this conversation, but it could be he was just tired since he'd been on the go all day and hadn't even had dinner yet. Between Tara's money, Purna's American Express gift card and his cash, they have $90. I know the girls don't want to part with their money, but eventually they will all have to pitch in in order to make ends meet.

Ganga said the girls will start attending school this Monday. I'm pretty sure it won't be a full week of school and the high schoolers will be on a different schedule for final exams so it will be an awkward time to start but at least they'll have somewhere to go!

Kamala attended a training class for child care providers and found it to be more frustrating and confusing than helpful. Her friend Bhula interpreted for her and also wants to work in child care and also found it very frustrating and confusing. They are going to talk with the job support staff at LSS to know what to do next.

Th-th-th-th-thats' all for now!

From Mike Darus:

Elvern asked me to check on Tika's phone. I went over today and put $25.00 on it. I also let Tika use my phone to call his friend in Florida -- eight minutes I never would have used on my own. Tika showed me his certificates. He also showed me his notes from his class in Nepal about the Hospitality Industry. His notes described everything from the different types of hotels, the names for sizes of beds, the organizational structure of the staff of a resort hotel... I was impressed by how hard the teachers tried to get him prepared for employment in the U.S. So we (Tika, Kamala, and Tera) took a field trip.

Our first stop was the Sheraton Crescent. We walked confidently through the conference center and into the lobby. I was hoping we could see a variety of employees in different work situations. However, we mostly saw subcontractors taking care of the landscape or doing construction. The concierge explained that human resources was at the rear of the hotel at the loading dock. I asked to talk to human resources. To my surprise, we were invited in without an appointment. She was busy but encouraging. I explained that Tika was a refugee. She asked if he had hotel experience. I offered the course. She suggested we call back to set an appointment late next week. Very exciting? A larger resort hotel like the Sheraton could have a good variety of entry level positions. It was clear that Tika's opportunities will parallel his language skills. We toured past some of the business traveler hotels.

We discovered that Marriott does all its hiring on line. So I decided to take Tika, Kamala, and Tera to my house to do some web browsing. We printed out some job descriptions for Marriott and the Sheraton. Then I had an idea. I knew how to get Tika safely behind the wheel to practice his driving.

The four of us piled back into my truck to go to the Community Church of Joy. There, Tika was able to drive our electric golf cart. As I guessed, he had never done anything like that. Every aspect was a new skill. I insisted that he use only his right foot for accelerator and brake. Just like any beginner he sometimes forgot to brake. One of the harder skills was learning to drive straight without over correcting each way. It was also important to learn to push the accelerator softly to go slow. Poor Tera was yelling "Stop!" and "Slower!" and "Turn!" No one fell out. We hit nothing. Tika is best at turning left so NASCAR may be in his future. It was a great day. I got them back home by 4:30 for Carla and Billie's lawn care lesson.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

From: Kathleen Petty

Team: I picked up Kamala and Bula (spelling?) at 7:45am to take them to LSS for a child care training class. There were a dozen or more children waiting for a school bus. I wonder if Tara can take a bus?? It was so cute, about 7:48 Tika came down to see if the "girls" got picked up. He looked like a regular American with a coffee mug in hand, sweat pants and slippers. Kamala looked so nice in a black pant suit, very American, I told her.
The girls talked in Nepali but Bula speaks very good English. She taught kinder garden. She saw south mountain and said she missed the mountains of Nepal so much.
The traffic, rush hour, was terrible and I think they were nervous we were going to be late. I assured them we had plenty of time. We got to the office and around 8:40 am the waiting room was packed. There were probably 8-10 people in the class. I waited until they went back with the instructor and then I left.
After LSS I stopped by Trinity and spoke with Mark G about the Christmas gift program for the refugees. He will discuss at the staff meeting today and let me know if it is approved or not. Most likely it would not be called an angel tree, maybe an ornament tree. We would have to carry the tree over to the education center between services so will probably use a small tree that Trinity has. We also discussed the possibility of Trinity co-sponsoring another refugee family after the 1st of the year. He will bring this up in staff today as well.
On my way home I made a turn at Target and purchased the rice cooker. It was $29.99 and will cook anywhere from 4 to 16 cups of rice. I don't think they will have a problem with this one being too small.
I'll let you know more information as soon as Mark G. calls me.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monday December 8, 2008. Dateline north Phoenix residence of the Bootsma's.

I picked up Tika at 1:00 PM. We went to visit some C-stores that I had been told were employment possibilities. None of them worked out and I got the impression that they would not be good places to be employed. It would be OK if you were an owner. The "girls" all have something going for Tuesday and Tika is free, so I am taking him to The Cresent Hotel in the afternoon to make an application just for practice. I read the note about LSS job placement services and the need to keep on their radar screen, so I will tell him that tomorrow.

Tika wanted to purchase a cell phone, so we stopped at Wireless Toyz and checked out various plans. Cricket is the best plan for him as he doesn't have a credit record. However, he had some incomplete information from other people and when he found out the amount of money he had to put up front he was not as interested. He thought it would just be the monthly charge and had not counted on the fact that he would have to purchase a phone.

I know they had some kind of a phone when they first arrived, could minutes be added to that?


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Picked up Tika and girls for trip to Cholla branch library. Kamala wanted to stay at home. Before we left the apartment Tika told me the vacuum was not working again. I got it out, and it started right up. Uma said I am magic! The look on Tika's and Kamala's face was so funny. We used it a while to see if the problem would show itself, but it worked like a charm. I then showed them the upholstery brush and showed them how to use the hose. Much to my surprise, but no surprise to whomever hauled that couch in, it's a sleeper sofa! Wow. That thing is huge. So I surprised them with pullling a big bed out of their couch!! It was like magic again!! They thought it was very funny!

Tika has an ID card issued by LSS (I think) but with "State of Arizona" on it. I thought this would be sufficient ID since "government issued ID" is one of the acceptable forms of ID for a library card. Apparently the library system is on "level orange alert" from Homeland Security because it took a bit for the librarian to be convinced this ID was okay. He said it's easy to fake ID's in order to get library cards. I had no idea library cards were in such high demand. Anyway, they were all issued library cards, and we did a brief tour of the library and figured out how to reserve time on the computers on the second floor. Since I'd never done this, it was a learning experience for all of us. Tika signed on to his yahoo mail account and emailed two of his friends with help from the girls. He apparently had never emailed anyone so I don't have any idea when/how he got his email address. I don't know how the girls knew how to use it as they said they didn't have computers at school in Nepal. Tika, Uma and Purna all had a beginner's understanding of the keyboard and typing, so that's positive! Uma and Purna already knew how to check out books, but I insisted that Tara and Tika also learn (the older girls were ready to go, in that funny teenage way). So they scanned the books out and off we went. (I also made absolutely sure they understood that they will be fined if the books are overdue). We met up with my son, Billy, at Chik-fil-A in Metrocenter and introduced them to Hindu-friendly fast food. Then we walked the mall and talked a bit about cost, sales, etc. Then the highlight was meeting the mall Santa Claus, and trying to explain a 1700 year old story in light of a kind of strange mall Santa Claus.

We then drove to Piestewa Peak and to some funky hill top apartments off of Northern and 12th street. The most amazing 360 degree view ....they really enjoyed it. We could see that Chase "the ball" Field had the roof open, they spotted the Sheraton Hotel at Dunlap and I-17, and saw planes coming and going. We could even see the Phx First Assembly off of Cave Creek. This is the weirdest piece of property in central Phoenix but I like the view.

Throughout the day we had a lot of conversation and vocabulary practice. I also learned that they had waited 8 months for their visas and had ONE DAY notice to pack and leave. Tika said the girls cried all night when they received notice. They had so much to do in one day...he said it was very difficult. They gave away most of their belongings, had to get the girls' school certificates and many, many other tasks. I asked if this was customary to get only a day notice and they said yes. I asked how they chose Phoenix and Uma said they did not choose. Tika said no one gets to choose where they go. Amazing.

A few details: they have not as yet received their cash assistance which will help with nonfood purchases, but I don't know if they have to pay rent out of that. They receive $950-ish/month on their food card. They are excited to buy goat meat. Does anyone know if Lee Lee's accepts food debit cards?

Oh yes, another bit of progress........when I arrived they were NOT watching the Nepali dvds but were watching a dvd on mountain gorillas, in ENGLISH!

Any questions or concerns just give me a call....

Monday, December 01, 2008

Frankie and Emery picked the family up sun. at 3 and took them to our house for dinner and after dinner we took them to Glendale to see the lights ,they seemed to enjoy it ,after the lights we brought them back for dessert ,took them home around 8 pm we picked them up on sun. morning and brought them to church .they even stayed for Sunday school.

Tika and Kamala are upset with the quality of the produce, as Elvern mentioned, and were disappointed with the shelf life. Kamala showed me brown grapes and droopy green ?? I don't even know what it was! Whomever takes them shopping next should talk to them about taking small amounts, or only what they'll eat in a day or two of fresh produce. They can cut back on the size of the prepackaged grapes just by taking some out of the bag. I think their fridge is very humid right now because the apartment is, so the herbs and grapes were spoiling quickly. Tika and Kamala thought it wasn't cold enough but I checked everything and all the contents are cold. They could be introduced to Sprouts, as Carol suggested, to get better produce. There is one on Northern and 19th Ave. I explained that "fresh produce" isn't really all that fresh since it travels a long way to Fry's. Tika seemed to understand.

Has anyone ever used those "green bags" that supposedly keep produce longer? They'd be worth the money if they work.

Please add to the potential tasks that I will take them to the library for library cards now that they have proof of residency. The older girls and their friends routinely walk to the Cholla branch for books and DVDs. Can you imagine an American kid walking from 35th/Dunlap to the Cholla branch on the other side of Metrocenter?

Tika has significant leadership skills, and could be a great asset to reaching the larger Nepali community for Christ. We can pray for the Truth to become real to him and to his family and then to the many friends and neighbors they have!


From: carla truman [] Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 10:00 PMTo:;;; Mark Giebink;;;;; Mike Darus; mikerab@cox.netSubject: MONDAY

Picked up Tika and girls for trip to Cholla branch library. Kamala wanted to stay at home. Before we left the apartment Tika told me the vacuum was not working again. I got it out, and it started right up. Uma said I am magic! The look on Tika's and Kamala's face was so funny. We used it a while to see if the problem would show itself, but it worked like a charm. I then showed them the upholstery brush and showed them how to use the hose. Much to my surprise, but no surprise to whomever hauled that couch in, it's a sleeper sofa! Wow. That thing is huge. So I surprised them with pullling a big bed out of their couch!! It was like magic again!! They thought it was very funny!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Carla and I helped the family do laundry. They apparently, had never used a machine for laundry before. I am not sure how they did laundry before they were deported from Bhutan. Kamala was surprised at how the machine worked and Tika was curious as to how it worked. The laundry room is very dirty and not kept up. The drywall has holes in it. We discussed the possibility of taking them to a regular coin laundry next time. They could see machines that would wash bigger items such as their comforters and see what a nice clean laundry is like. We were not sure if they will continue to use the laundry machines. One other family, who some of us have met, has been there two months and hasn't yet used the laundry. We had some good laughs about Tara's clothing as they had a lot of stains on them, mostly food. Tika said that Tara is a dirty girl.

Tika showed us a three ring binder with a lot of certificates in it. There were certificates for all the family members showing their achievements in schooling. Tika had several certificates from trade schools. He had a plumbing certificate and a house keeping certificate. Carla learned that he had traveled to other countries selling goods from Bhutan. He speaks "Hindi" which he said is the language of India. After I had that information, I took him to meet some people I know who are from India and have convenience markets. They had a good time talking and reminiscing. They gave him some phone numbers to contact for jobs. Later in the day I spoke with the men from India again and they said he will "get a job no problem". I hope he is right. He said that Tika is bright, personable and aggressive which they like. I told Tika to keep his eyes open to see what is good and what is bad as all people are not as friendly and honest as they appear to be. He said yes yes same same as in Bhutan and The camp.

Tika asked about learning to ride the bus. He is very anxious to be able to get around. He would like to visit more of the people I introduced him to and see more of their markets. We need to have someone take them on the bus next week. We purchased a map of the Phoenix area so he could study it.

He showed me his food stamp card. They had walked to Frys on Wednesday, I think. He asked if someone could go with them a time or two as they do not know what is "good to buy and what is not god to buy." They had some apples and tangerines, which he did not like. The apples were too hard to suit him and he thought the tangerines were damaged. I liked both but I guess tastes are different as well.

Thanks to Mike for moving all activities to the calendar on the right side of his blog page. Let's all help him by providing him with the date, time, and responsible party and activity. This also helps the committee member of the day to inform the family about about upcoming activity for the next day.and even write it on their calendar. It is is also an important tool for the committee to use as a reflection/evaluation piece.
November 28 Friday 11:00 a.m. Carla and Elvern machine laundry
November 29 Saturday ??? p.m. Emory and Frankie Chicken dinner at their home
November 30 Sunday ???? ???? TBC worship service

One of my goals for today is to create a list of activities for the family that they should experience in December. As Kathy indicated in an email we need to review and focus on the extended learning activities in the LSS booklet prior to our meeting on Sunday.

We have so much to be thankful for this season. God has given each of us an eye-opening experience to appreciate his gifts to us. Elvern and I chose to participate in the refugee resettlement team to divert our energies and focus from our son Larry to something positive. Larry is seriously mentally ill and medicates himself with crystal meth. God is good all the time and we can personally witness to His blessing!
Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Hi all,

Our time with the family yesterday was wonderful. We shared with them the story of the first Thanksgiving and why we celebrate it. Lest they think that we eat like pigs all the time I also tried to explain that we only make this much food once a year!!! They ate some of almost every single dish I had made and plates were all clean (“clean plate club”) when the meal was over. I was amazed – so many new foods and they liked everything, and of course were very grateful. After dinner we walked to the park across the street from my house and the girls hit a racquet ball around for a few minutes until it got too dark to see it any longer. We’ll DEFINITELY have to do that again – they loved it. Then we came home and had pie. Either they didn’t care for pie or they were just too full to eat it but those plates weren’t clean like the dinner plates were! No problem though! I took some pictures but haven’t had time to download them yet. It was a really precious time. Tom played his guitar for them and they had never heard of Jingle Bells!! He seemed quite surprised by that!!!

According to what Tika told me yesterday, the family is definitely planning to attend the 9 am service on Sunday. So I HOPE that a couple minutes can be inserted into the schedule to introduce them.

Sorry this is a day late. The last few days have been challenging. I would greatly appreciate your prayers for my son Jonathan, age 26. I think we are just learning that he is mentally ill. If it isn’t that, then pray that it gets figured out. He is in St. Luke’s psych ward right now. Please pray that he will be accurately diagnosed and that a proper treatment plan will be formulated and followed. Thank you.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day Before Thanksgiving

Had a good day of skill building in light of moving the family towards independence. Brought Tika the Az. Republic which he devoured page by page while the girls and I cleaned the bathrooms. Typical! Actually, it was a good morning and it was very encouraging to see Tika really putting effort into the paper. The 3 girls were very industrious in cleaning. It was a timely activity. They had not yet used the shower spray function so were quite surprised when I used it to rinse down the shower. Their tub doesn't have a plug so I"m guessing they were using a lot of running water with their bathing. They were intrigued with feeling how the shower sprayed and seemed to think it would be too hot. They appear unaccustomed to hot water, as they wash their dishes with cold water also. Kamala jumped into cleaning when we moved into cleaning her bathroom, and again they were very energetic about it once they got direction. I had them gather up some of the dirty clothes and such and explained what the clothes hamper was for. Funny moment in married lives, as Kamala had to pick up after Tika and kind of "tsk-tsked" over his clothes. Some things span cultures, I guess. There were a lot of mini-lessons within the lesson of cleaning a bathroom, and they did well. We also checked on their grocery stock....they are out of food except rice and the canned/boxed goods that they don't eat as yet. I made a grocery list, but Tika said it was not necessary to go shopping since their food card would be available soon. I respect that immensely. When I arrived at 10 am they were just sitting down to a meal of about a cup of rice each and a few ounces of steamed veggies, with a spicy broth. They graciously served me a bowl and gave me a spoon, since they eat with their fingers. I tried to graciously refuse but that didn't work. They still have bread and crackers as well. They hadn't opened up the apple juice that was in the fridge from last week, so we opened that and they all had a taste. I also checked all the preserves and such from Frankie just to make sure that they'd be refrigerated once opened, and the store- bought sauces. Did find one item that needed to go into the fridge. They popped open a jar of Frankie's peppers. I think they'll like them. They didn't know how to open some of the containers that have seals under the lids or around the lids, so we opened up those and put them in the fridge. They asked about the dishwasher but we didn't do much with it since dishwasher soap is a luxury and they wash each dish as soon as they are through eating. Health alert.....if you have concern over catching any contagions, which they'll be exposed to in great amounts once they start school, be very careful about eating/drinking. I let the water run for several minutes on full hot and couldn't get anything but lukewarm water. They use cold to quickly wash off each dish then use a used towel to dry then put them back in the cabinet, still wet. The dishwasher could be a great help in this area eventually but they use the same few dishes over and over. I also emphasized a LOT about hand-washing and showed them a full 20 second scrub. They hadn't made much of a dent in the handsoap, and had run out of TP but didn't know how to replace the roll or even where it was in the closet.

Tika and Kamala had an appointment at noon with the case manager so I took the girls and got extra copies of their house key made for them. We went by Cortez and I picked up two student handbooks which also contain a full academic "day timer" so that was cool. Per the resettlement handbook, the kids needed winter clothes and appropriate school clothes so we made a trip to Payless and Target. I will not need to be reimbursed. They might have enough clothes to go 4 days without wearing the same thing. They have adequate shoes and socks as well. We talked about finding clearance marked items to save money.

From my stock of used flash cards and educational resources, they now have two boxes of basic word flash cards, one pack of multiplication flash cards, a dry-erase kit with handwriting/manuscript and flash cards for money. Tika seems like a good teacher toward Kamala. These would be good resources to use if you have time just to hang out with them or to take the girls out for a soda or such. Kamala kind of gets run over by the girls doing the cards first, so needs some extra encouragement. A friend of theirs walked them to the library and they have a table full of books and dvd's.

Helen, Tika made a point of telling me he was going to check the mail, and sure enough came back with a notice of some importance! Good job!

RE: the envelope with money and receipts. I asked Tika if he had it and that I needed it, he said yes but didn't go get it. Their baggie that started out with a few dollars in quarters has lots more coinage so he's gotten change at some point for something.

Well, this was a very detailed email so hope you found it interesting. I hope everyone understands our shopping trip, with the weather turning and all. Carol, they are looking forward to your dinner tomorrow and to Saturday with Frankie and Emery.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!


This is to remind you that we will be meeting on Sunday Nov. 30 at 5:00 pm at Trinity in room 203. This will be a brief meeting 15 to 20 minutes.
There is not a formal agenda for this meeting. The purpose is to check in and let each other know how the mentoring is progressing with our family. What areas are lacking, what needs to be reinforced, how can self-sufficiency be encouraged? What can be planned for the next week or next 2 weeks?
Please have these in mind when you come.
Thank you for all your hard work and dedication.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Family, Laundry Day

Trinity Team,
Yesterday we took Tara and Tika on a walk to show them where our house was and how to walk to Cactus Wren. At Cactus Wren we showed them the office where the Principal and Nurse was, showed them where the cafeteria were the playground was. I have a suggestion that I would like to pose to the team. Would it be possible to buy a bike/helmet/bike lock for Tara with the $485? A lot of kids from the apartment complex where they live ride bikes to school. I asked Tara and she said she knew how to ride a bike. If we can't buy one maybe we could ask around and see if anyone has a spare bike they can give? I think a bike would be great for Tara since she has to be at school 20 minutes earlier than her sisters. It would also allow her to ride bikes with the other kids from the apartments to school?

We can discuss this further at our meeting on Nov 30th.


We have a nearly new girl's bike helmet and a bike lock. She does know how to ride and to use hand of the girls in the complex lets the girls take turns and they all showed me their skills. I'm sure she'd need some safety lessons, but great idea, Amy.
And congratulations to Nick for being chosen as outstanding performance artist of the month!! (I can't remember what it was actually titled, but congratulations!)


I have actually had an offer of two bikes – one guy’s & one girl’s. I believe they both may need some work on tires however.
The offer came from one of the gals in our singles class – Patty Watts. She lives in an apartment on 28th Drive between Cactus & Peoria I believe. Not too far.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Trip to the Post Office

We arrived about 10:00 and we were invited to watch the videos which they love. They love the music! I told the girls that I thought the sensual video was too sexy and I really did not like it much! In my mind it would be a good DVD to lose!

Elvern and Tika practiced using the iron using the distilled water and the steam feature. He was very committed to professional standards in ironing both his slacks and dress shirt.

They seemed interested in the fact that Carol teaches college students and I have taught high school students for many years. We discussed school schedule - start time end time, periods per day, available courses, ESL classes, girls wear jeans and t shirts. This was a concern for mom since they had worn skirts in Nepal. Amy, when we drove on Dunlap past the high school, they indicated that they are so anxious to learn more about Cortez high school. Perhaps a student handbook, yearbook or even textbooks would satisfy their curiosity

Then we headed for the post office which I was dreading since I remembered how I felt 25 years ago waiting in line at the Northern and I 17 post office. The line was just as long as it was 25 years ago! We picked up an address card which will be placed in the apartment complex lobby mailbox this afternoon at 4:00 when the key is available, bought stamps with our debit card from the machine, examined mailing resources available to purchase and learned that it will take three stamps to send mail to family in Nepal. They have telephone numbers but do not have mailing addresses for their family in NH, Ill or WA.

Using car doors, window buttons and following the GPS all made the trip to the post office more exciting. I carry chewing gum in my car so they each tried it. We did not discuss chewing quietly with our mouths closed!

I learned that Komula married Tika when she was 11 and he was 18 years old. I understand that they lived with his parents for some time. I told the girls that most American girls wait to marry until 20 - 30 years. I'm not sure how to interpret their giggle.

Take care
Helen and Elvern

Tika said he is very interested in learning about Christianity

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I thought the picnic went well today with most of our team members in attendance. Several of us were present to teach them how to open their first can of COKE. Emery and I are also positive that it was their first time to pull back the tab! What a joy to share in their firsts. I hope they did not find our circle prayer offensive... Thanks to all for participating.

It is amazing to talk to Tika. He is like a sponge so ready to learn. Now about the calendar - they are ready and anxious to acquire so much knowledge and skills! We all want to spend time with them and offer them new opportunities in December. According to Ghanga they will probably start school and begin work in January. December is a great month to share our culture and our family Christmas traditions with them.

Mike is going to provide a common place for all of us to go view their schedule. He also will post activities that are sent by email on the "calendar". We are hoping that all of you will use his site prior to planning events with them. It would also be helpful if you check the calendar prior to doing your activity so you can inform them what is happening the next day. We'll need to evaluate if this is an effective approach at our next meeting.

This week we have the following activities already scheduled:
Monday- Elvern and Helen will go there at 10:00 and go to the post office, complete new address form, buy stamps, mail letters in blue box in their neighborhood, obtain mail key at the apartment, etc. The Rabayda's will drive to Cortez and Cactus Wren schools in the late afternoon on either Monday or Tuesday. Amy will need to confirm.
Tuesday- 1:30 PM Elvern and Carla will focus on laundry practices. We are considering asking him if he is interested in going with Elvern to our laundromat at 27th Ave and Camelback in the late afternoon. All work is honorable even mopping the floors, cleaning the machines and perhaps meeting the security guard for that area. He might enjoy meeting the culturally diverse customers at that store.
Thursday Thanksgiving dinner in the afternoon with Carol and Tom
Friday ???
Saturday- Emery and Frankie will serve them chicken at their home in the afternoon.

What did I miss? Each of us have the opportunity to identify an activity and forward to the group.
There is so much to learn.

Carla what time is laundry on Tuesday?
Amy do you want to lock in a day and time for driving/walking to the schools?

Helen and Elvern

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanks Carol for that wonderful expression of your experience with our "Family"!
I too am so grateful to be able to come along side this wonderful family. It was great to visit with them today! When I got there they had never met me, but welcomed me so graciously. The girls are very sweet and respectful. We talked for a little while and Mom fixed some tea. Very delicious! And she was really pleased that we enjoyed it. It was so fun for Carla and I to take the girls to Savers to find an outfit. They really enjoyed trying on clothes, so we could discover what size they are, and soon could find their sizes on the racks. What fun to help them pick out clothes. They will still need some clothes for winter and Mom will need to have a heavier jacket since all she has is a sweater, so I'm sure they will need some more shopping trips someday soon.
Keith, I'm thinking that they will need a day to themselves and Ganga confirmed with Carla that they could probably use a day without a lesson. So I think I'll wait till next week to schedule a time with them again. Mom seems to be able to use the stove and find her way around the kitchen. I also warned them not to put anything metal in the microwave, and they seem to know that.
I'm sure they will be ready for their day at the park. Thanks for all that you all have done to help these folks and show the love of Christ to them. They really seem to appreciate everything that is being done to help them adjust to life here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Last night (Wednesday) I returned to the apartment for another visit. I have been there every day now since the family arrived. The family welcomed me. At first I sat at the couch. Later as the conversation warmed, I was asked to have tea and moved to the kitchen table.

Tika told me a little about the fear of their move. There was a dread of the unknown. It reminded me a bit of Abraham's challenge to move to land he did not know. While still in Nepal, Tika had made notes of the time zones in the US. From a map at the back of a calender, I was able to show him the time zones that matched his notes. He asked about the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. I showed where Canada would be at the north and Mexico at the south. If I understood correctly, Tika has an aunt that lives in New Hampshire. They were able to talk to her. It seems like they want to travel. They also new about Chicago and Utah. Tika pointed to the state of Washington and asked if that was the capitol. I showed him where Washington DC is.

We had a rather embarrassing conversation about the temperature in Phoenix in the summer. I explained that we have over 100 days above 100 degrees. He was very concerned that this would be unbearable. Suddenly I realized that he was thinking in Centigrade. I was describing temperatures in excess of 220 degrees! Then I realized I did not know how to do the conversion. I guess that 100 degrees Fahrenheit would be about 35 degrees Centigrade (it is actually about 37). This will require some future correction.

We talked about holidays. Their two big holidays are September 12 and October 28. Diwali is the holiday in October. I asked if they celebrated Christmas. They like Christmas. In Nepal they had Christian friends. This is our first spiritual conversation. It does not go far. I explain that our next holiday is Thanksgiving. They do not know what a turkey is. Tomorrow I will volunteer to invite them to Thanksgiving dinner.

Tika explains what a relief it is that they have a nice place to live. They are very greatful. I asked about the conditions in the refugee camps. They lived in a bamboo hut with a dirt floor and thatch roof. Their camp was Beldangi I.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I was drawn back to the apartment. I wondered if I realy had a freindship going with Tika. He greated me warmly. I gave him some lip balm. My original suggestion of usin lotion was a little desperate. Frankie and Emery had just left. Carla was still there. She was surrounded by all the girls on the couch. Carla took the girls out to blow bubbles. A dozen kids from the complex were dancing below the balcony in the bubbles.

I found out more about Ganga. Her parents chose to go to New Zealand. Her husband and his parents chose Phoenix. There are over 30 people in her complex from Bhutan. I asked her about the red mark on her forehead. She explained it meant that she went to a ceremony. They blessed an indoor plant that improves breathing. When Ganga's family came they did not have a church sponser. She is often amazed at the headstart we are giving the family. We agreed that the girls should do well in school and Tika has characteristics that should make him a good employer.

Ganga explained that tone is a challenge to learning English. By this I think she means more than accent. I don't pay much attention in tone but it may be the part of the Indian-type accent that makes it difficult for us.

Tika was quiet for much of the beginning of my visit. He suddenly mention that he wanted to learn to drive. I may have that Ganga was telling about her failure of the driving test that prompted this. My immediate thought was to take him out so he could watch me drive. I asked him if he had ever operated any machinery. He has not. My mind started spinning about all the activities that prepare us for driving. We play with toy cars. We learn to steer a bike or a coaster car. We spend hours watching our parents drive, looking out the window at the signs and singals. We pick up hints from television. It was overwhelming to think of all the steps to teach Tika to drive. So I decided to take him for ride. Ganga needed a ride home so --two birds, one stone.

I showed him how the key starts the car. Seatbelts were easy. Red means stop. Green means go. Speed limit signs tell you how fast you can go. Left turns are dangerous.... I learned to drive in a small town. Phoenix collector streets are a nightmare. Then, there's the freeways! I needed gas so I let Tika fill the tank. Driving lesson number 1 complete. 299 to go??

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I don't usually get nervous but it was a little obvious. I called Carla twice to let her know the refugee family's flight was early. Julie, Nathan, Melissa and I left the house about 10:30 PM. We expected the family no earlier than midnight but I had a few things to do. When we go there, I attached the queen bed's headboard the frame. I was missing one nut. I brought my pipe wrench to tackle the bathroom sink drain but it was dislodged already. It is not fixed but at least it is not stuck closed. I paced around turning on the lights to look in closets and turned them off again to save on the electric bill.

They have 10 extra tubes of toothpaste, eight bars of soap and nine toothbrushes. I brought in two folding chairs. Those were needed. There is already a vacuum cleaner so the one I brought goes back home. I asked Julie to get the dinner in the oven - 325 degrees should be fine for an hour. Melissa got the Go-Phone unpacked. I spent ten minutes on my phone trying to get it activated. I got distracted so Melissa started the process over and got the $25.00 card credited to the account.

We hear a car pull up. I go outside and greet the people. They are refugees from Bhutan but not our family. We find out later that they are a brother and sister from the same refugee camp in Nepal that arrived on the same flight. The girl from Lutheran Social Services hurried them past our open door because their apartment is not furnished nearly as well as our church-sponsored apartment. She did not want them to see.

Carla calls. They are on the way from the airport. They are just entering the Deck Park Tunnel. The kids, at least, are hungry. I find out later that the family is silent. Ganga, he interpreter is telling Carla her story. She has been in the US for 7 months. She was rescued from the refugee camp just in time. The leaders of the camp sensed her desire to take the offer to go to the US despite their insistence to stay and press for repatriation from the Nepal refugee camps to southern Bhutan. The leaders are insistent that they were wrongly forced from the country as a kind of ethnic cleansing. They were accused of being illegal immigrants from Nepal. They spoke a different language and tended to be Hindus instead of Buddhists. The authorities were after here, Ganga recalls. Carla senses Ganga is not telling everything. Her ordeal was likely much worse that what she says.

When Carla calls, we spring into action. We set the table for dinner. More pacing and turning lights on and off. I decide we should have the bedroom lights off when they arrive. The gal from Lutheran Social Services is back, "They are here." She scoots out of the apartment. Carla comes in with armloads of last minute items. Behind here is Ganga and then the family. The place their palms together in a greeting. I immediately return the gesture not sure if I should have my hands at chest level or face level. Just do it. Everyone is shy-- obviously tired. I learn later they have been traveling for 44 hours! Their dress has a hint of India but not too different. On their shirts are large white labels indicating their immigrant status.

Tika, the dad has a laminated tag on a string around his neck. Carla takes the girls to their bedroom. I show Tima and Kamal the master bedroom. Everything is new to them - light switches, toilets, water faucets, clothes hangers, separate bedrooms, gas stove, toilet paper, mop for the floors, vacuum for the carpet, folding chairs, drawers in dressers, bunk bed, laundry baskets, locking doors, closing windows, unplugging the swag lamp in the dining area, pilot lights, shower, tub, toothpaste, shampoo...

Tika points to his chapped lips. I look everywhere for chapstick. I settle on a bottle of lotion. As I struggle to get the pump top to work, I wonder what it would have been like for Tika to figure it out. How can he know what bottle of what is used for what? I pump some onto my hand and use my finger to spread it on my lips. How can I tell him not to ingest it? I keep pointing to things and try to explain what it is for. He keeps saying "Thank you." It becomes overwhelming how much this family will be asked to learn just to make use of all the stuff we gave them.

Ganga shows the women the bathroom. She is explaining everything in their language. I think about the gas stove. Safety is primary for this first day. I show Tika how to turn on the gas. Then I show him the pilot light. Is this too much information too fast? Probably. Kamal, the mom comes in. She is very interested in the kitchen. I start to show her dishes in the cupboards, towels in the drawer. We get stuck on baggies. Squeeze the top it seals shut. I doubt she understands, then she says, "Fruit." Yes! Then aluminum foil. How do explain that aluminum foil covers hot things. The dinner! I show her the dinner warming in the oven with foil covering. Julie and I move it to the table. They won't sit down to eat. Too much to learn.

I wander back to the girl's bedroom. On the way past the hall closet, Tika explains to Kamal that the vacuum is for the floors. Tika finds a mop and recognizes that the mop is for the tile floors and the vacuum is for the carpets. Kamal gets it. Back in the girl's bedroom, Tika wants me to explain to the girls how the lights work. One lamp is on a swith. The other requires turning the switch at the base of the bulb. Purna tries it but fumbles. Uma gets it quicker. I ask them which bed they have claimed. Pruna, the oldest has claimed the single bed. Tara, the youngest wants the top bunk. Uma, the middle claims the bottom bunk. The only thing they have ever known is a refugee camp. That has been their life since 1991. What a transition. What a challenge.

We try to say goodbye. A neighbor arrives. Kamal is excited to see a familiar face. If we don't leave soon, they will be too tired to eat. Between all of us, the windows are closed, the door is locked. I forget my papers and squeeze back in the living room. The door closes. They are home. We head back to ours.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Funeral For A Church

This past weekend I attended a funeral for a church. I was even introduced as a special guest because I had served as Youth Pastor and Chrisitan Education director for two years from 1982 - 1984. There were three parts to the funeral. On Saturday 250 previous attenders were invited to a reunion sit down dinner. The second part was on Sunday morning. We were all invited back to the church that has now been sold for a final worship service. The third part was a catered picnic at Saguaro Ranch Park. We celebrated our memories of First Baptist Church of Glendale. We said our goodbyes to those memories and went away with a sense of closure.

I had envisioned that the death of a church would include a wrecking ball smashing through the roof of the auditorium. That is not happening. The church will still be there. My old office is still someone's office. The field is there were the youth played kickball. There is a new sand volleyball court in the middled of the education buildings. Cooper Hall now has a soda machine. There is a new sound board installed instead of the little amplifier in the claustrophobic closet. The building is well maintained. I thought it was even "pristine" until I looked a little harder. The sanctuary is on the small side - seating about 250 but its laminated beams and light oak ceiling is still quite impressive. There is a drop down screen but it is hard to imagine how the front could be modernized for projectors. The death of the church had nothing to do with the buliding.

Maybe the death of a church means that all the people would lose a sense of their spirituality. Or maybe they would realize how wrong they were and repent. The lampstand has been removed. I remembered a lot of their names. They also remembered me. There were a few people who weren't there that I hoped would be. Some were there who I did not want to talk to. Some I was excited to see. Their lives are complex like mine. Some have kids who no longer serve Jesus. Others have had many years of great ministry experience. Sonja and her husband are planting a church! Lots of divorce. None to speak about. The death of our church is not a indictment on our spirituality. We have all moved on long ago and found other places to worship and serve.

Then I thought that there may be an ugly racist side to this death of the church thing. We aren't them. When they take over the building, it is proof that what we had is no longer there. But that is not what happened at all. The church was sold over two years ago. The leaders and assets that were still First Baptist of Glendale moved out to Surprise to form Harmony Church. The thing that really died was a non-profit corporations. The assets needed to be distributed. There would be two parts to the distribution of about $600,000. First, establish a scholarship fund at Southwestern Bible College. Second, throw a party. Wouldn't be great if there could be a final worship service at the old building? Let's rent it. Extra income for them; a break in the pastor;'s preaching schedule. Everybody wins. No, there is no insult there.

I was a blip in a 100-year history. The golden age was before me. The real struggle happened after me. I was one in a long line of short term associates. My only significance was that I accepted the invitation and showed up. There was the usual disapointment that I had left the ministry. And the usual admission that what I do now is like ministry. Most don't know why I left. Why should they? I did not tell them about the meeting when I was told to leave. I led a Sunday School class of young adults and bult it into something good. But they remember their friends in the class mosts. As they should. The youth group was starting to meld into a ministry force but they remember the trips before and after that acutally happened, not what could have been.

I was really young in the pictures! I could do things then I am not sure I could do now.

Monday, September 08, 2008

An author I read recently suggested that the Muslim world needs to adapt to the modern world much like Christianity has. He did not elaborate about what this adaptation looks like either for Islam or Christianity but there are some hints.
  1. The secularization of government. In the western world this is "the separation of church and state." This has been a gradual progression. First was the separation of Pope and Emperor. Then Monarchy by divine rule was replaced by the rule of law. Then the application of this principle by rulers subject to the rule of law in increasing applications such as impeachment, war crimes accountability and the encroachment of international law. In the West, the extent of the seculariztion of government is continually tested as the role of religion is tested.
  2. Incorporation of a scientific (naturalistic) approach to problems. The dualism of Christianity has permitted a naturalistic approach to the physical world and a spiritual approach to the mental/emotional world. Pscychology and philosophy are continually pushing the dividing line in mental processes but the essence of the dualism is strong enough to give freedom to naturalistic exploration within a religious framework.
  3. A natural and supernatural view of revelation. Dualism has permitted both a historical critical analysis of scripture and appeal to its authority.

Dualism is what makes it possible for an ancient religion to co-exist with modern naturalism. It may sound like hypocracy or compromise, but it is written into our created identity. We have physical bodies and immaterial souls. We live in a physical world with consistent laws but also are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who surprises us with supernatural impact on our very physical lives. We have a brain with chemical reaction and electrical impulses that often perceive the promptings of the Holy Spirit and sense the presence of God. We rest our faith on a real person named Jesus who is the eternal Logos.

Without Jesus, there is little hope of Islam to get it. Without the serious view of the incarnation of Christ, what can be the basis for a balancing dualism? Their scriptures were given by divine verbal dictation with no participation by the human author. How can they trust a secular government when their basis beliefs require government throught the Koran?


From belief to behavior.

The structure of Paul's letter to the Ephesians is founded on the principle that true beliefs about God result in godly behavior. Morality comes from a correct understanding of God's character. Community unity is produced by a correct understanding of God's calling. Family harmony results from being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Part of the equation is the believer's identity in Christ. When we understand that we are redeemed saints with Chris'ts imputed righteousness, that should make a diffeence. However, this is a partial picture. Our identity in Christ is only one piece of the belief tapestry that transforms us. Giftedness is a function of calling and indwelling, not a function of identity. Understanding God's character and applying that to morality goes beyond our imputed righteounsness. Submission in relationships may be founded on our identity in Christ, but it is a separate thought process. Salvation gives us a new identity but sanctification is much more complex than knowing who we are.

Being or Doing?
We are well aware that living for Christ cannot be about works and performance. It must be about knowing God. But we cannot say it is never about doing. Being without doing is just as incomplete as doing without being.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Major cleanup today in the trainroom:
  • tools moved to workshop
  • dresser moved in to provide storage
  • wall repair from plumbing leak finally completed
  • fan moved in
  • all locomotives and rail cars removed from layout and placed into temporary storage to faciliate completion of track laying and landscaping
  • Landscape foam applied on south and west ends of ramp

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our trees are starting to bloom.
Photo to follow.

Still considering whether I have an interest in Southern Pacific in HO scale.

Monday, May 12, 2008

We took the week off for Mother's Day activities. However, as a windfall, we obtained a good deal of mountain material from the packing material of a new entertainment center. This may help resolve transition issues to the proosed bridge.

Monday, May 05, 2008

This weekend our staff was hired as consultants to design and build a rail line in the nearby town of Patio. Ava Operating Company acquired Brio track and trains. Our challenge was to use all available equipment and inventory to create two independent loops of track and a trolly line in a space approximately 1 scale acre in size. The equipment is a little less than half size of O. The scale area is about 4 acres.

The solution was a two-level operation. This required construction of additional piers. A photo of the prototype will be attached to this post in the next few days. The prototype has been disasembled to improve the property.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Operations were interupted again last night. All personel were involved in an emergency project in the nearby town of Pool. The Lake of Pool developed a significant algae bloom. Scientists determined that the lake had abnormally high concentrations of minerals and salts. The lake had to be drained and refilled with fresh water. Equipment was available for only 12 hours so the project went until 1:30 AM. Original projections for refilling was 4 days. However, by using two water sources and maximizing the available water sources, this was shortened to 12 hours. Filling was interupted at the 9th hour to permit other uses of the available water pressure.

Pool Lake is now sparklig and ready for a summer of recreation. We are expecting full enjoyment by all the assistant engineers and their families.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Operations sputtered to a restart last night. The strike is settled with management conceding to none of the demands of labor. Trains ran with freight deliveries and track inspection. Several incidents were recorded:

1) An unexplained uncoupling occured in the upper tunnel. While attempting to push the cars involved, the cars were derailed. Plans are to dispatch the crane this evening.

2) Problems continue in the lower tunnel with the Santa Fe F3 bogging down.

3) Construction of the yard spur needs to continue.

4) The engineers are considering options for the upper loop extension.

Monday, April 21, 2008

It is now the 21st day of the virtual shutdown of operations and halt of construction progress. All workers have been laid off for three weeks now. There were a few minor operations and acquisition of materials during the last three weeks, but it has been essentially a total shutdown.

One crisis is the questionable structure of the upper loop. Engineers are suggesting that the last electrical modification for the track resulted in the need for the acquisitions of an additional small strip of property on the north end. This will require significant structural changes to the upper loop as well.

In the yard, work stopped on the last spur. The uncoupling track requires significant electrical connections. There are also questions about the proper way to install road bed around the curves.

More work is also required for warehousing of materials and tools.

At the next board meeting, we must consider whether to hire additional assistant conductors. There are two candidates currently under consideration in addition to the one already hired. Ava has not been available the last few weeks. Sarah and Mikie are the candidates under consideration.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In honor of tax day and other family events, no work has progressed on the railway for two weeks! The financial picture is bleak just as operations are close to begin.

Ironically, the skies are now blue instead of a dusty brown.

Yesterday we were able to perform some maintenance on our passenger car named Summit. It was cleaned. The maintenance department degreased the wheels, improving the electrical connections to the interior lights. The maintenance department determined we did not have the resources at this time to properly repaint the outside of the coach.

The marketing department is insisting that the board determine a name for the rail line. The following were submitted for consideration:
G&A Railway
D-FC Lines
AVA Express Company

Revenue is now being generated by providing the following services:
Sightseeing tours to Summit Station - historic steam or diesel
Milk production
Gravel mining
Lumber transfer and transportation
Military support
Auto transport

Future revenue streams:
Over sized document handling
Inter modal transfers

Location and geography description:

The G&A Railroad is nestled in Summit Valley at the foot of Summit Mountain in northern Wisconsin. To the north is Canada. In order to ascend from the valley floor to the foot of Summit Mountain, engineers followed the Petrified River. Two tunnels were required to complete the connection. From the foot of Summit Mountain, a bridge is planned to span the gorge to the west for connection to the city of Desque. This will provide access to markets in Minnesota. The upper tunnel was needed to provide this connection as well as a station at Summit for sightseeing tours and future lodging. the lower tunnel provides a connection to the east. To the east is our connection to the Chicago Northwestern mainline to Greenbay.

Summit Valley provides room for a yard and a few industries developed on railroad property to support the railroad. These industries include a dairy farm and a gravel pit. The gravel pit was started to provide roadbed and ballast for the railroad but then became a lucrative operation in its own right. The dairy farm was a natural fit because of the readily available pastures and the inheritance of the necessary railroad equipment to support the business.