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.