A St. Lucas member has done an amazing thing by recently paying the family’s food debt. They should feel a warm glow. They, and every other generous person from St. Lucas, have been Christ in the world for this family.
We visited the Afghan family Sunday, and again and again, the father sent his thanks for such generosity. But we have reviewed the expenses that he will soon face, utilities, rent, doctor bills and commuting, and he grows nervous.
We visited because another church member has offered to give the gift of a baby walker. Every parent knows this short-lived but necessary tool. When a baby is ready to walk, he has no fear. The walker teaches the baby balance, and the walker relieves the parent’s terror. A good gift.
We discussed the School District’s offer for the six year old to spend a month in summer school. Knowing how valuable language and acclimation is for a child, they gladly agreed, asking me to make the call. (At the moment, I speak better English.) They also will get their three year old’s eyes tested—Down Syndrome comes with a variety of eye issues. But every time I see this girl, she shakes my hand, sometimes kisses it, and then steals my phone. So she sees at least that well.
We worry, though, about the English of the mom and dad. Our group got good advice from another Afghan friend who warned that English will come quickly only if the adult has a need, especially as part of a job. But the mom stays home. How we can speed her mastery of our complicated dialect, remains a tough nut to crack. But we have good news; we recently heard from a staff member at Lindbergh who volunteered to help. The nut may crack after all.
Finally we discussed their eligibility for TANF, the Missouri Temporary Assistance Program. The program provides assistance to needy families with children so that the children can be cared for at home. The program also tries to reduce dependency by promoting job preparation, work and marriage. With these social safety nets, and the generous support from our church, our Afghan refugee family is making its way into the fabric of America, a journey each of our ancestors knew well.