Sharon Jargba and Family
A Diary of our Refugee Family Sponsored by St. Luke’s

December 30, 2003
December 29, 2003

December 27, 2003

December 26, 2003

December 24, 2003

December 19-22, 2003

December 17-18, 2003

December 11-16, 2003

December 10, 2003

December 9, 2003

December 8, 2003

December 7, 2003

December 6, 2003

December 5, 2003

December 4, 2003

December 3, 2003
December 2, 2003

December 1, 2003
November 30, 2003

November 29, 2003
November 28, 2003
November 26-27, 2003

November 25, 2003
November 24, 2003

November 24, 2003  

From Laurie Gilbert: A recap of yesterday, 5 of us went to the apartment for the new family to get it set up, or started anyway.  It's in the Old Stapleton area.  The whole building is in the renovating process, so the halls are all torn up.  The apartment is pretty nice, but it will be tight for 5 people.  We have most of what they will need to get started.  Betsy is doing some more shopping this morning to finish up with some small items.  Jan is going to the Ecumenical Refugee Warehouse to pick up a couple of donated furniture items this morning.  We met their case worker, his name is Mohammad Ali, he is a refugee himself, from Sudan , he's been in the US for 3 years.  Tonight we will go pick up the family from DIA.  They will arrive on United around 8:20 pm .  Today, Pam Rowley and Linda Streaty will be getting groceries and making a simple homemade chicken soup, to be waiting for them when they first arrive to their new home.  Please keep Sharon (mother), Comfort, Roland, Darlington and Grace Jargba in your thoughts and prayers today for a safe journey and arrival.  I'll write again after they've arrived.  

Nov ember 25, 2003  

From Laurie Gilbert: Good morning Everyone! 

Last night the Jargba's arrived safely!  They missed their connecting flight in Chicago , but caught the next flight to Denver and arrived approx. 9:30 pm

Everyone looked happy and a little scared at the same time, also, totally exhausted.  The Mother, Sharon, spoke to us quietly in broken English, but appeared very relieved to see our little group and glad to hand over the baby, Grace, to one of the caseworkers from the Ecumenical Refugee Services.  The children were all "wide eyed" and sooooo quiet.  But, little Darlington held on tightly to Betsy's hand as we walked to the car. 

They brought all their possessions in one small backpack. 

It took us a while to get in to the building of their new home, the key didn't work on the outside door, we bundled them up with all the coats we brought along. 

Once we got into the apartment they all went to the couches and sat down.  It took a few minutes for them to take off their coats and start looking around.  They all ate chicken soup, bananas, French bread and milk.  The children do have distended tummy's, probably from malnutrition, Keytondi(spelling?) told us it will take several weeks of eating properly to reverse this condition.  They will all have medical checkup soon. 

Then it was time to share how everything worked.  The stove, the faucets, the bathroom, the intercom, the TV, you name it.  They all seemed amazed at everything! 

The children loved the little cars, stuffed animals, dolls, balls and books, they started to warm up to us and became much more animated, it was so cute to hear them discussing everything in their native language. 

Betsy will be going over today at 11.  She'll be taking them to Social Services and will meet with their case worker, Mohammad Ali. 

Someone will be going to visit them each day for a while.  Betsy will email those who have signed up with a schedule, if you'd like to help out please contact Betsy so she can make the arrangements. 

Blessings, Laurie

November 26-27, 2003  

From Betsy Keyack: Hi All, 

Laurie, thanks for the report on the arrival of our refugee family. 

Thank you so much for all you have done so far to help our refugee family:

Laurie, Bryan Thomas, Jan & Charlie Rufien, Debbie, Ken Decker for all the loading, unloading and setting up of the apartment on Monday and Tuesday. 

Pam Rowley and Linda Streaty for going grocery shopping and preparing a wonderful chicken soup in the crock pot. 

Laurie, Marie (Thomas) for coming to the airport and seeing the Jargba family safely to their apartment. 

Mary Anne Eagleston for spending time with the family today (Thanksgiving). 

Wednesday I picked up the family to take them to Human Services to get their Food Stamp Card and Medicaid Arrangements. Our caseworker, Mohamed Ali, met us there. 

Sharon speaks very little English, so I was given authorization to provide a PIN number for her Food Stamp Card. The card is just like a credit card that she would use at a grocery store. Her PIN number is supposed to be private, but I need to give it to you in case you need to take her to the grocery store: it is xxxxx. Sharon has the card. 

If the family needs to go to the doctor, there is a sheet of paper that authorizes Medicaid to pay the expenses, until she gets her Medicaid card. 

Mohammed said we greatly need a Liberian interpreter. He will look into it. I will also ask Connie Shoemaker and the people at St. Andrews UMC, who have a family from Liberia

When we returned from the appointments, I helped serve the children some of the soup in the crock pot. I put the remainder in the refrigerator and showed Sharon how to reheat it. Then I left because I was exhausted. 

Mary Anne spent 3-1/2 hours with the family today (Thanksgiving). She showed Sharon how to roast a chicken, peel and cook potatoes and carrots, make a salad with lettuce and tomatoes, eat oranges and apples, make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and make salad dressing. The baby Grace (10 months old) loves oranges. Mary Anne also taught Sharon about cereal and milk, and Grace loved it also. Maybe this is the first solid food she has had. 

Mary Anne also taught the children how to write their names and do their ABC's in capital letters. She gave each child a set of markers and a notebook. The kids really warmed up to her, especially Comfort, who had been very withdrawn since she arrived. Grace even let Mary Anne hold her! 

Grace now has a runny nose. When she arrived she had a loose cough. Mary Anne said that she did not appear to have a fever. I will call Mohammed on Monday and ask how soon we can get into the doctor. In the meantime, we should keep an eye on her. Marie Fornof - any advice? 

Tomorrow (Friday) I and maybe Maria will visit. Perhaps we can show her how to use the laundry room, make pasta with meat sauce, cheese sandwiches, and/or crockpot meatloaf. Mary Anne suggested I bring some coloring books and cans of soup. 

These are some items that Mary Anne suggested:

A radio tuned to KLOVE 91.1

Check to make sure they have enough socks (Jan Rufien is getting some) and shoes that fit.

A Betty Crocker boys and girls cookbook for Sharon

We are still trying to determine clothing sizes. Sharon is about a size 6. Darlington is about a size 5. Roland probably size 8. Comfort maybe size 8-10. 

Please volunteer to visit the family whenever you can. Fresh people who are not tired can really make a difference! 

Friday, 11/28 - Betsy and maybe Maria

Saturday, 11/29 - Betsy

Sunday, 11/30 - Betsy and family

Monday, 12/1 - Laurie and Maria

Tuesday, 12/2, 12/9, 12/16 - Kathy Mossman

Wednesdays indefinitely - Jan Rufien 

When you visit, please email us a report or call me and I will email an update to everyone. 

THANKS! May God will with us as we act as His loving arms, heart, eyes and ears in reaching out to Sharon and her family.


November 28, 2003  

From Betsy: Hi Everyone, 

Marie Thomas and I had a wonderful visit with Sharon and family. They really acted like they had a good time with Mary Anne yesterday because they greeted us with enthusiasm and smiles. Highlights are: 

- Since we haven't been to the doctor's yet, we advised Sharon to continue breastfeeding baby Grace and not give her cow's milk. Sharon had found a baby bottle and was trying to get her to drink milk. We advised Sharon to drink a lot of milk and water herself and to eat well. 

- Sharon was also giving baby Grace whatever food the other children were eating. We were worried about Grace getting a stomach ache, so we decided to tell Sharon that she should just give Grace plain rice and Saltines and then she could gradually introduce other foods. 

- Baby Grace still has a cough and runny nose. Mary Anne Eagleston brought over some Triaminic this evening and the pharmacist said the dosage is 1/4 teaspoon. She did not give Grace any of the Triaminic yet because her nose was not running this evening. However, she said Comfort appears to have a fever. The Triaminic is in the cabinet above the kitchen sink. 

- We made meatloaf in the crockpot. Sharon is really interested in using the crockpot. 

- We did laundry with Sharon

- We showed Sharon where the dumpster is. 

- The children colored. We worked on their ABC's, taught them some words and worked with numbers. Roland is very bright. Sharon is eager to learn also. 

- We called back to the Ivory Coast so that Sharon could talk to other people from her family and village who are in the refugee camp. This was the highlight of her day. (We used my AT&T account and needed the help of an operator to get through.) 

- We took a digital picture to show the church. Sharon said she wants to bring the family to our church so she can say "Thank-you" to everyone. I am hoping to bring them on December 7, but I would really like to get the doctor's appointment done first. 

- Tomorrow (Saturday), Jan Rufien is visiting and taking underwear and socks for the family. She will also make sure that Sharon is comfortable bathing the children in the tub. She will also confirm what all the clothing sizes are so we can tell the church members. 

- Sunday, our family is visiting the family. 

- Monday, Marie Thomas (with Laurie) plans to take the family grocery shopping. They will try out the new Food Stamps card, along with the King Soopers card. Marie Thomas said she would talk to Laurie about coming up with a menu plan of SIMPLE meals. We need to teach Sharon more simple and healthy recipes - e.g, crock pot meals, scrambled eggs - meals that she can memorize. We need to try to find out what she liked to cook in Liberia and see if we can get it at the grocery store. 

Thanks for all your involvement. Sharon 's spirits seemed to be very good today!


November 29, 2003  

From Jan Rufien: Saturday, Nov.30th.

Hi to everyone, 

 A friend and I (Jan Rufien) went and spent the morning with Sharon and the children.We worked on the alphabet, color words and writing names and a few words. Read the children several easy books (picture books). I spent time helping Sharon sort through bags of clothing, determining sizes, boys/girls etc.  Clothing that would not fit anyone I brought home and will give to Jeffco Action. 

All got baths! 

I bought underwear and socks for all of the family. Showed them to wear the underwear under their pants. I also went to a children's consignment shop and bought clothes for Baby Grace. There wasn't much at the apt. for her. Following are sizes and needs: (Note from Betsy: Updates are in [  ] ). 

Sharon : sz. 6 pants, small to medium tops (8-10) 

Comfort: sz 10 [size 8 could also fit] pants 10-12 tops.  She has some jeans and a few turtlenecks. I bought her a sweater and 2 new tops. She could use a few more. 

Roland sz 8 jeans (does not need any at this time) long sleeve shirts and a sweater or 2. He has quite a lot. Size 10-12 tops. 

Darlington : sz 6/7 pants. 8/10 shirts. He also has quite a lot. 

Grace : sz. 12-18 mo. She could use warm playclothes and 2 more blanket sleepers. [Her feet are size 24 months]. 

All of the children could use belts.  [Since taken care of] 

They all have wonderful coats, hats and mittens. They also have snow pants. 

Gave the kids a lesson on how to use markers ON PAPER. 

Sharon told me she is Christian and not Muslim. They do celebrate Christmas. I have a small tree for them if you think it is appropriate. It is very small, but comes with lights, and decorations already on. What do you think?

Send this on to everyone.


November 30, 2003  

From Betsy:  Hi Everyone,

Ken, Kara and I, along with Peter Reif, visited Sharon and family today.
Everyone was in good health. Grace looked very good, although her nose ran
just a little. The girls' hair looked really nice. Sharon looked beautiful
in a skirt and top.

I reviewed with Sharon the use of shampoo, conditioner and hand lotion.

Sharon talked with her friend in the Ivory Coast refugee camp on the phone.
She wants to talk with her sister (also at the camp) but we could not reach

Peter showed Sharon how to make spaghetti with meat (ground turkey) sauce.
The kids loved it! (Way to go, Pete!)

I also showed Sharon about plain cheese sandwiches. The children seemed to
like them. I peeled a carrot and gave some pieces to the children, but they
were not excited about the raw carrots. I told them the carrots were good
for their eyes!

The crockpot meatloaf made on Friday looked and smelled great and they had
eaten most of it. We told Sharon we had to throw the leftover meatloaf away
since it was still sitting in the crockpot and not refrigerated.

Roland and Comfort know their body parts in English well. They learned the
written words for the different parts and "Head and Shoulders, Knees and

Ken worked with the VCR and TV to make them work together correctly. It will
take a while for Sharon to get used to the steps involved. To watch TV, you
must have the VCR off. To watch the VCR, you must turn its power on and put
the TV on channel 03 (using the remote). There are some children's video
tapes on top of the TV.

Peter went out to get some crackers. The Saltines were all gone already.

Plans going forward are:

I will call Mohammed Ali, our caseworker, about setting up the doctor's
appointment for the entire family.

Monday - Laurie and Marie Thomas will take the family grocery shopping with
the Food Stamps "credit card" at King Soopers.

Tuesday - Kathy Mossman has the flu! We wish you a speedy recovery! If
anyone can visit Sharon and family on Tuesday, please let me know.

Every Wednesday - Jan Rufien and friend. Jan will work on English lessons.

Thursday - Jennifer Jensen - will bring a rice cooker and show Sharon how
she can use it.

Friday - Betsy and my friend, Deniz.

Saturday - Carolyn McIntosh. Carolyn will bring some girls clothing and some
religious Christmas things.

Please let me know if and when you can visit!

The children's choir will be adopting the family for Christmas. I will be
sending them a list of needed items. If you think of any items that they
need, let me or Cindy Raap know.

Thank you everyone!!!!


December 1, 2003  

From Laurie and Marie (Thomas): Here's yesterday's recap to pass on.  Also, Linda Backus has clothes for Sharon , I'll email her to put the clothes in the mission closet marked for Sharon so someone can pick them up to take over to her.  There's a turkey in the churches freezer marked for them as well. 

Marie Thomas and I went over to the Jargba's after shopping at Wal-Mart for an hour, we had fun picking up odds and ends. 

We bought her a small microwave, some Tupperware and containers, pj's for Comfort, an ABC game for the children, plastic sippy cups and bowls and plates,some large spoons, and a few other things. 

The family seemed very happy to see us, lot's of hugs and smiles.  Sharon had a cough yesterday, she said it had just started.  The kids all seemed fine. 

We took the family shopping at the King Soopers on Havana .  It was easy to get to, take 13th over to Havana , turn N or Left, go a few blocks and it's on the left.  I think Sharon was a little overwhelmed and had a hard time understanding her Food Stamp Card was money.  The prices really surprised her, she was very concerned that we pick the cheapest of everything!   She needs to keep her receipts each time someone takes her grocery shopping, on the bottom of the receipt it has the total left that she has on her card.  I'm not sure if the amount is for one month or two, I tried to call the number on the back of the card, but for some reason I kept not getting through.  We bought just a little bit this time, Baby Grace was a little fussy, so she will probably have to go again soon. The card was really easy to use in the machine, just like another card.  Sharon doesn't need to sign anything either, just use her pin number.  We ran out of time yesterday and forgot to have her sign the card though, it will just help identify her if the card is lost.  When we asked her to sign it at the store, she said she didn't know how, not sure if she understood. 

We made macaroni and cheese with hotdogs for lunch, they gobbled it down.  Marie made a lentil soup for them for dinner.  We tried to explain to Sharon , she could eat anything, at anytime.  We're not sure if she really understands that it all belongs to her and the children.  We had a fun day with the family. 

The kids really need belts!  We used a shoestring for Darlington so his little pants stayed up. 

Blessings, Laurie and Marie


December 2, 2003  

From Andrea Mezger: Debbie Lawrence and I visited Sharon today.  Debbie worked on reading and writing with Sharon and the children.  We put a chicken in the crockpot
with carrots and some water and seasonings.  Neither one of us are great cooks especially without a cookbook, but it will probably taste ok.   

I went to the store with Roland.  Sharon needed milk and the bread was running low. I picked up more diapers, baby cereal, juice, and baby crackers as well. Roland is very well behaved and just pushed the cart in King Soopers with a wide eyed look. My problem was that I didn’t know where the store was – I did find one in the Mayfare neighborhood.  There is a King Soopers and a Safeway on the same block.  The address is 13th and Krameria.  Just go west on Colfax until Krameria then go south 2 blocks.  

I brought Sharon a pocketbook and wallet and showed her how to use them. I also had a coat for her and some sweaters and slacks and one skirt. I also found one belt - which Roland put on.  I would say the daughter, Comfort needs some clothes and Darlington .  The pants he had on today were way too big.

I will visit with Jennifer on Thursday if she wants me to tag along.

Note:  Sharon seems eager to learn reading and writing skills - she may
not know how to read. She told Debbie she worked in farming before the war and
the kids just stayed with her while she worked.

December 3, 2003  

From Betsy: Hi Everyone,

Today, Jan Rufien and I went with Sharon and family to a 3-1/2 hour
orientation at Ecumenical Refugee Services. The children were very patient
and baby Grace slept in "Grandma Jan's" lap the whole time.

The highlights of the day were:

*Mohammed, our case worker, got us a translator. Her name is Oretha, she is
a recently-arrived single mother refugee with a 4-year-old child, and she
lives a block from Sharon ! Oretha has a roommate, Angeline, who is a refugee
from the same village as Sharon . She and Sharon knew each other! Angeline is
a single mother of a 1-year old child.

*After the orientation, the kids enjoyed riding up and down the big glass
elevator with Jan.

*We all went to Burger King afterwards. The kids loved everything,
especially the french fries.

*Later, we walked over to Oretha and Angeline's apartment. We talked and the
kids played. Angelina gave me some African food - spicy chicken and rice.
She likes to cook with spicy peppers. I saw she was also using plantains,
cabbage, tomato sauce and yams.

Key points from the orientation meeting:

* Sharon grew up in the village of Puto in Liberia . She speaks the "Kran"
form of Liberian. She lived in Puto all her life. She did not go to school,
so she does not know how to read and write. She made a living farming rice
and vegetables. She kept some and sold some. Her children did not go to

*When the rebels came to the village in 2003, Sharon and others fled to the
refugee camp, known as the Peace Camp. She stayed there for 3 months before
coming to the US . The children received some English training while in the

*When Sharon and the children fled, she lost track of her husband. While in
the refugee camp, she found out he was alive in Liberia . ERS said it would
be difficult to get her husband (the father of all 4 children) to the US ,
because they were not officially married. (This is also the case of Oletha
and Angeline).

*A next step for Sharon is to get into English School . The refugees go to
the Emily Griffith Opportunity School in either the morning or afternoon.
Finding affordable child care for baby Grace will be a problem. Denver
county does not provide child care assistance. Jan will work with Sasha
Verbillis at ERS to investigate child care - Head Start; Whiteman School ;
Curtis Park. Maybe someone can come to Sharon 's apartment to teach English.

*The ultimate goal is for Sharon to become self-sufficient. Normally,
refugees are supported by ERS through the government for 4 months ($725 a
month). (In addition to Food Stamps and Medicaid). Sharon received her first
check today. This period can be extended to up to 8 months. In Sharon 's
case, even longer than 8 months may be needed. At that point, other
government assistance would be sought, such as TANF.

* Sharon started to cry when she heard the above timetable and the need for
childcare. ERS assured Sharon that she would not be under pressure to get a
job, we would all be there to help her and that eventually everything would
be worked out. Sasha (ERS Employment Coordinator) said we may need to find
some mental health assistance for Sharon also.

*The $725 a month is for Sharon to pay utilities, phone and other bills.
Sharon also received a transitional grant of $1826, of which Betsy is the

*Mohammed will set up the medical appointments for the family. (This is
after Betsy faxes him the I-94 forms). We will take them to the medical
appointments. It may take 2-3 weeks to get in. Sharon is eligible for
Medicaid for 8 months. The children are eligible until age 18. ERS will help
Sharon apply for a Blue Card at Denver Health, unless she is employed and
her employer provides health insurance.

*After the medical appointments are completed, then the 3 older children can
be enrolled in school. Whiteman is the nearest school and it has a good ESL
program. Jan will take care of the school registration process.

*Friday, Betsy will take Sharon to the Social Security office to apply for a
card. It could take 2 weeks to 3 months to get a card. After that, we will
get an ID card (similar to Driver's License).

*Bus pass - wait until Sharon is in English School and then she can get a
free one.

* Sharon has 42 months to pay off her plane ticket loan from the US
government - $2551. We won't worry about this until she is working.
Circumstances are taken into account.

* Sharon should get a phone for basic local service only, and purchase phone
cards for long distance. (Food Stamps does not pay for phone cards).

* Sharon must report any change of address with 10 days to the Justice
Department, for the first 5 years of being in the US .

*Oretha will explain the apartment lease and have Sharon sign it.

*Oretha recommended going to an African grocery store to get some items.
Sharon said she wants fish and pork. Sharon very much wants to learn how to
get around and operate in America .

Let us all keep Sharon and her children in our prayers. Dear God, thank you
for the Jargba family in our lives and the chance to give and share life
with them. Please help her not to feel so overwhelmed and to build a happy
life here. We deeply trust in your guidance as we strive to help them.

Thanks, everyone, for all your continuing involvement and support!

December 4, 2003  

From Betsy: Jennifer Jensen had a nice visit with Sharon today. She gave her a rice
cooker and showed her how it works. Everyone seemed fine. Sharon talked
about how much they like Grandma Jan.

Thanks, Jennifer!


December 5, 2003  

From Betsy: Hi Everyone,

We had a very busy day today.

When I arrived at noon , Sharon and the children were over at Oretha's place.
Sharon was talking on the phone to her aunt in Philadephia!

We came back to Sharon 's apartment, where she fixed lunch. In the meantime,
I went to King Soopers to get some Tylenol for baby Grace, who had had a
fever the night before. She seemed OK today, except she is cutting a lot of
teeth. I also got bread and milk.

Then we went to the Social Security Office in Lakewood , listening to
Christmas songs on the radio the whole way. Once we got there, it was a
piece of cake - hardly any line, only a one-page form, and Sharon was in the
database! So she should get her card in 2 weeks. I need to tell the Post
Office this will be her first mail.

Afterwards, we went to the Makota African Market. It is only about a mile
from Sharon 's apartment. (Go north on Yosemite to Montview, right on
Montview, left on Clinton ). It was very interesting! We got lots of dried
fish, cans of fish, pork, fufu (cassava flour), cassava leaves, palm oil,
palm fruit, crushed dried hot peppers, jasimine rice, plantains and other
stuff I can't identify. We also got an African phone card for $10.

Sharon seemed very happy at the end of the day. The children were full of
hugs and smiles.

Tomorrow (Saturday) Carolyn McIntosh and Jimetta Pyles are going to visit.

I think the biggest needs now for help are transportation to shopping and
appointments, instruction in English and safety and cleaning tips. Jan is
looking into child care for baby Grace so Sharon can go to English school -
if there are any ideas out there for child care we really need them!!!

That's the report for now!


December 6, 2003  

From Carolyn McIntosh: Jimetta and I just got back from visiting
Sharon and the kids.  We had a great time... not too sure
how much we communicated back and forth!
I told Sharon that the bedroom set was from Jimetta and Sharon gave
Jimetta a big hug and thank you, which was nice, I thought.  The kids
loved the paint sets and did a beautiful job with their paintings.  I
wish we had thought to bring some fridge magnets to display them, but
we ended up standing them on the window sill.  Jimetta helped them put
the big Scooby Doo floor puzzle together while I cooked lunch (lentils
and rice). They tore it apart and started doing it again before we
left so think it was a hit, too.  We both thought it would be good if
the kids could get outside to play and on the drive home noticed a
school playground at 11th and Yosemite , 2 blocks away.  Would that be a
possibility?  I brought them each a couple of articles of clothing.
Sharon put them right away so I don't know if they fit or not...hope
so.  They all have belts now! 

I took a stool plunger for them to keep, as we had two here at our
house.  She says the toilet was working and used it while we were
there.  They are painting the hallways and with the construction and
all it's a mess to get in and out!  Sharon had a bone in the garbage
disposal so we tried to explain to her that only soft things could go
in a disposal.  Her main concern that she expressed to me is that she
wants to find someone to watch the kids so she can go somewhere to
learn English and also to get out and visit a friend or just have some
time to herself.  Would the Gathering Place be a possibility or is that
only for homeless women?  I think socialization is a big issue for her
right now.  She says in Africa they are able to go and visit all the
time and the kids take care of each other but here in America they
don't do that!

The kids are so well-behaved and Darlington is really a big help in taking
care of Grace.  Rowland and Comfort do a lot of playing together.  I
hope that the childcare issue can be worked out soon.

December 7, 2003  

I stopped in to see Sharon and family on Sunday. Everyone was fine.

Sharon expressed that she really wants her husband to come. She would like
to have both of them take turns working and caring for the children. We
called Kidani and he told us what the process is. It would be a difficult
one especially because they were not officially married (this is very common
in Liberia ). I told Sharon I would follow up with Gordana at Ecumenical
Refugee Services on Monday.

Sharon gave me a delicious lunch of spicy pork and dried herring with rice.
It was delicious! Everyone enjoyed the homemade hats given by the
crochet circle.

Since it was a nice day, we went for a walk. Grace loved the stroller and
the others enjoyed pushing it.

I told them that snow is coming!


December 8, 2003  

From Betsy: Today when I arrived Sharon was cooking something good on the stove!

Sharon was in very low spirits today because she is worried about how she
will be able to manage by herself with the children. So far, the lawyer in
New York for Ecumenical Refugee Services says that since she was not
officially married in Liberia , her husband is not eligible to follow her
here. Sharon would like to have someone with whom to share the
responsibilities for child care and earning a living. In Liberia , extended
family and friends helped each other.

I told Sharon there is no hurry and that we would take care of her and help
her. However, I think she does not want to be financially dependent on us or
the government indefinitely. As a result of Sharon 's sadness, the children
were not their usual happy selves. I think they all had some cabin fever
today and Sharon does need a break from the kids. Sharon also seemed eager
to learn some English today but I did not have enough time to do a good
English lesson. It is very hard to try to understand someone's pain and not
be able to make it go away, isn't it?

I emailed Genevieve Cruz and Mohamed from ERS about today's visit and
Genevieve would like me to call her.

Bill Selby called me today "out of the blue" and told me about the Liberian
family that St. Paul 's sponsored. Their name is Krangar and the mother's
name is Josephine. The family is a father, mother, a 6 month old baby, a boy
in gradeschool and possibly some other extended family. They live at 8000 E.
12th (12th and Uinta), #18-32. The phone number is 303-377-2704. I hope we
will be able to get Sharon over to meet them soon. I talked with Josephine
and she said to come over.

I did go to the Post Office today and let them know that Sharon is at her
address. I tried to get a key to the mailbox from the manager but she said
they are on order. So Sharon can get mail delivered but she can't retrieve
it. The manager is after me to get the paperwork done with Sharon (e.g.,
lease) but I asked if I could have a reprieve until next week.

In the meantime, Jan Rufien (Grandma Jan to the children!) is doing a lot of
good work in the background. Here is her report from today:

I feel we are doing everything we can for Sharon , and it is just going to
take time. I spoke with Sasha [from ERS] on Friday, and we discussed
Sharon 's emotional state. She will try and get a mental health worker to
spend some time with Sharon .

I made calls to 5 groups that have provided free child care in the past.
They all had the same story--The state and federal gov't. have cut off all
funding to poor working mothers needing child care in order to get off
welfare. They couldn't give us much hope! What a shame.

Sasha and I agreed that Sharon needs time to get adjusted to living here
before we start her in school. What do you think? [yes]

I have made arrangements to take the older children (and Sharon) to school
on Jan. 5th. to meet their teachers and  look around the school The staff at
Whiteman will be there, but no students. They can begin in the classrooms on
Tuesday the 6th. The principal, Dr. Oaks, was very positive about having the
children in his school. They have approximately 20 other children from
Africa --most from the Sudan and Ethiopia . It will be good to get the
children in school, and may be a way for Sharon to meet other families.

When Betty and I go on Wednesdays, we will work with Sharon on reading and
writing some basic things she should know ie: writing her name and the names
of the children, address, dates of birth etc. Sasha will try and get a tutor
to go to Sharon 's apt. twice a week,  they will only help her for 1 hr. each
visit-BUT it is a start.

Betsy, let me know if you are still planning on taking the family to church
on the 21st. If so, I would like to be involved, and sit with the children
since they are comfortable with their new grandma!!! Hang in there and don't
get discouraged--this is a long term project.

Visitors for this week:
Tuesday: Debbie L. and Andrea M.
Wednesday - Jan and Betty
Thursday - Caroline Merchant
Friday - Diane Tolleson; maybe Laurie and Kris
Weekend - looking for volunteers!

Anything you can do to lift their spirits and/or give Sharon a break would
be wonderful! There is a Dairy Queen on Colfax 5-10 minutes east of
Yosemite. There is a park with playground equipment at 12th and Verbena
(about 6 blocks away to the west). Sharon is very eager to learn English.
Maybe Josephine will turn out to be a good friend, too.

Thanks, everyone. That's all for now!  

December 9, 2003  

From Betsy: It was a wonderful day! Debbie and Andrea went up and played in
the snow with Sharon and the children. They had snowball fights and made
snow angels. Sharon was laughing! Thanks, Debbie and Andrea, for the gift of
fun and laughter!

In the evening, Sharon and the children came to St. Luke's for the annual
UMW Christmas Candlelight Dinner. I had the honor of introducing them to the
UMW group. Sharon received a very warm welcome. Amy Holton said she wants to
connect with me in January so that the UMW as a group could do whatever they
can to help Sharon get settled. I am so appreciative of the support of the

Grandma Jan took care of the children during the dinner so Sharon could
enjoy some free time. Thanks, Jan! For the children's dinner, Jan gave them
Chick-Filet nuggets and fries we had picked up on the way as well as treats
she brought from home. The children had a good time and the whole family has
much affection for Jan. Darlington said he had made a new friend, too!

I had a refreshing conversation with Genevieve Cruz, Director of Sponsorship
and Development at Ecumenical Refugee Services. She said St. Luke's is the
best church she has dealt with in years.

She said that depression is common for refugees who come to the US. In the
refugee camps, people still fear for their lives. They put up an emotional
"defense shield."  When they come to the US and are safe, they let the
shield down. Depression occurs.

Genevieve said she would have Mohamed and Kidane talk with Sharon. [Sharon
said Kidane came to see her already. She wanted to make sure I knew that she
does not want to go back to Africa, she is glad to be in the US and wants to
make it work here. She is still wishing her husband could come, though.]

Genevieve also said ERS would start an application process for low income
housing in Arapahoe or Adams county. In this scenario, Sharon and family
would live with other people from Liberia in the same house and share the
child care and work responsibilities. With low income housing, the renters
pay 1/3 of their income as rent. The government pays the rest, so the
landlord gets the full amount. A big factor is that Arapahoe and Adams
county do have money for child care assistance.

The process to get low income housing takes about 6 months. Genevieve asked
that I make sure the apartment lease is for 6 months only. This housing
scenario sounds really good to me. Within the limits of the language
barrier, I believe Sharon is receptive to living with other people and
sharing the responsibilities.

There is a new refugee family (single mother) from Liberia who are in the
same apartments as Oretha and Angeline. They are sponsored by Hope UMC.

Wednesday, Jan and her friend Betty will visit and do English lessons.
Thursday, I am going up because Caroline Merchant has the flu going around
in her family. I can take care of the lease then and get settled with the
apartment manager. Friday, Diane Tolleson, Laurie and her friend Kris are
visiting. Monday Marie Thomas will visit.

If anyone would like to visit Sharon on Saturday or Sunday, it would be
great. I will be hosting the pastor from Poland at my house all weekend.

Thanks, again, everyone for your continuing love to Sharon and her children.  

December 10, 2003  

From Jan: Betty and I visited Sharon and the children today. It was a very different
day. We were greeted with hugs, smiles and even some kisses. Baby Grace
loves her Grammy Jan. I played a game with the children while Betty helped
Sharon write her name in manuscript as well as cursive. She was very eager
to learn how to sign her name and write the names of the children. The kids
were really "squirrelly" They wouldn't play the game etc. so I took them for
a LONG walk. Went by their school. Roland and Comfort seem excited to go to
school. I told them that there were other children from Africa and they
would make friends.

On my second visit, I knew that Darlington would be a more difficult child.
He will have a much harder time adjusting to school than the other two. As a
kindergarten teacher for 25 years, I know that he will need more time to
learn  how to behave in school. I hope he has a loving, BUT FIRM  teacher.
Today, he had many "meltdowns"  over everything from the hat Roland wore to
where he would sit for a snack. He cried, kicked and flopped in the floor!

Sharon was very positive at the beginning, but when I left with the
children, she had many concerns and questions about the future. She asked
Betty "Why are these people doing so much for me?  When they quit, how will
have any money? She also seemed confused that she would be here for a
year???? Betty couldn't understand her concern over this. She said " My
children follow me" Don't know what she was saying. When I returned, she was
very down.

I will be in contact with the school tomorrow and apply for free lunches,
and check school hours. I will also check  the bus stop for the older

We need to continue to be positive, but also answer Sharon's concerns.  

December 11-16, 2003  

*As of this Friday by 5:00 pm, Sharon will have a phone number. It is
303-320-1588. (Genevieve - we had to go with Quest because Comcast does not
have service in their area). Sharon will have basic phone service with no
long distance. She can use phone cards for long distance. The phone will be
a great relief for everyone.

*Today Jan went over to visit Sharon and family. They were so happy to see
her! Sharon was across the street visiting Angeline (Oretha's roommate) when
Jan came. Sharon has also met another Liberian family nearby - a single
mother with a teenage son and one or two other children.

***Volunteers are needed*** Jan will be registering the children for school
so they can start on January 5. They will be taking the bus. Volunteers are
needed for the first week to make sure the children get to the bus stop in
the morning and get home from the bus stop in the afternoon. If you are
interested, please meet with Jan and me this Sunday at church from 10:30 to
11:00 or call me.

*Additional report from Jan today: Well, we have talked several times today, but I keep thinking of things to tell you. Here are some updates.

- I bought Sharon a new (used) vacuum today

- I will call the WICKS program tomorrow and see if  Sharon qualifies. It
provides government surpluses ie: milk, cheese etc.

- I will talk to Una tomorrow and get appointments scheduled. We need to ask
for flu shots for all--if not all, baby Grace needs one.

- I have a VERY GOOD second car seat for Grace. I bought the 2 missing parts
today so it will be available for others who will be driving. It should be
left in the apt. when not in use.

- Tomorrow, Charlie and I will go over around 10:00. We will fix the mirrors,
hang the picture in the bathroom, show Sharon how to vacuum and then go
register the children at Whiteman. I will get all the info for our meeting
on Sunday.

- I'm sure I will think of other things, but this is all for today!!!
*Monday's (12/15) visit was cancelled due to the bad roads. Kidane visited
Sharon over the past weekend and reported to me that everything was fine.
Last Friday, Sharon was visited by Laurie

*Last Thursday (12/11) I visited Sharon. First I wanted to have a chat with
her. I phoned Josephine Krangar, the mother in the Liberian family sponsored
by Bill Selby's church, St. Paul's. I was very pleased to learn that
Josephine and Sharon could communicate well using the "Liberian English"
language! Josephine lives at 8000 E. 12th #18-32. Her phone # is

*Through Josephine, I told Sharon:
- We understand that you are worried about the future and how you will
support yourself and your children. We understand that you have difficulty
sleeping at night.
- Together we will work on a plan for your life. This will take time. We are
doing our best for you.
- First, you need to learn to read and write English at home.
- The children will go to school during the day starting in January. Jan
will find out how the children can get to school and get home.
- Mohamed and Kidane's people will figure out how you can get money until
you can support yourself.
- One possibility - MAYBE - is that after 6 months you and the children can
move into a house with other people from Liberia and get help with child
care while you work.

*Sharon said she really appreciates what everyone is doing for her. She
still wants her husband to come and now says they WERE traditionally
married. She said since she does not know English well, the people
interviewing her in the refugee camp did not understand her and vice versa.
Her husband's name is, phonetically, "Galo Pine."  (Oretha thinks it is
spelled "Graleo Pe.") I will follow up again with Gordana at
Ecumenical Refugee Services. However, I told Sharon that our government is
saying he can't come over.

*On Thursday, we also went to King Soopers. Sharon was out of a lot of basic
things. We bought a few American treats such as frozen yogurt and goldfish.

*Until I can get Sharon to the bank to cash her check, we could use
donations of grocery certificates for the items that Food Stamps does not
cover, such as diapers, paper goods and toiletries. Also, for now it would
be nice to have a regular King Soopers day with either a volunteer to take
the family or a two-person team to take Sharon and babysit. Would anyone
like to do this? (except Wednesday, when Jan does English lessons).

*The Children's Choir went shopping for Christmas gifts for the Jargba's. I
will bring the family to church on Sunday for the 9:30 service and the choir
will present the gifts some time that morning.

*Jan is visiting tomorrow (Wednesday). I am stopping by Thursday to take
care of the lease, which I took home to read.

That's the report for now. Thanks again to everyone for your prayers, time and gifts!

December 17-18, 2003  

From Betsy: Sharon and family are doing fine. Jan visited on Wednesday and has been
doing a lot of preliminary work with the children's school. Remember that
Jan has now left a car seat at the apartment for anyone's use.

I also went over Wednesday in the afternoon because they would not let me go
another day without having Sharon sign the lease for her apartment. Sharon
can sign her name now. Oretha and Mohamed were there, too, doing paperwork
with an organization called Mercy Housing, which is involved somehow.

Today, Caroline Merchant visited. Caroline did math with Sharon - place
value, coins, and addition and subtraction with carrying and borrowing. She
left a page of math problems for Sharon to do, as well as $40 in cash of
various denominations so Sharon could practice using money. THANK YOU very
much, Caroline!!

Friday, Jan and some of her family are visiting, bringing over some
Christmas gifts and going to lunch. Sunday, I am bringing Sharon and Co. to
church for the 9:30 service and to meet the Children's Choir. If you can
help with the children's first week of school (getting to and from the bus
stop), January 5 - 9, please meet with me and Jan on Sunday at 10:30 .

On Saturday, feel free to try out Sharon 's phone number - 303-320-1588.

We are still waiting for medical appointments to be scheduled and working on
getting a key for Sharon 's mailbox, where her Social Security Card hopefully
is sitting. These are needed for school registration.

That's the report for now!  

December 19-22, 2003 

From Betsy: On Friday, the 19th, (Grandma) Jan, husband Charlie, daughter and
grandchildren had a Christmas party with Sharon and family. The wonderful
generosity of Jan's daughter toward the Jargba's is very much appreciated!
There were many gifts of clothing and toys. Afterward, everyone went out to
lunch. The children had a great time playing with each other. Thank you, Jan
and family!!

On Sunday, the 21st, Sharon and the children came to St. Luke's to the 9:30
service. Many people offered them a warm welcome. Fred Venable gave them a
wonderful introduction and thanked the people of St. Luke's for the
tremendous outpouring of generosity, welcome and caring toward the Jargbas.
After the service, they met with the Children's Choir who presented them
with Christmas gifts, which they opened with the help of the choir members.
Thank you Kay Coryell, Cindy Raap, the Children's Choir and their parents!!
Afterwards we went to McDonalds for lunch and play time.

During all the Sunday activities, Sharon seemed very overwhelmed and
somewhat sad. However, the children had a great time. They seem to thrive on
excitement, activity and attention.

Also on Sunday, Jan had a meeting with people interested in helping Sharon
the first week of school for the children, January 5-9. We need volunteers
to take the children to the bus stop in the morning and meet them at the bus
stop in the afternoon. Currently we are covered except for Friday, the 9th
and the afternoon of the 6th(?).

Jan Rufien is covering the 5th and 6th. Jan Stull will help on the mornings
of the 6th and 7th. In the afternoon of the 7th, we will be picking up the
children to go to the doctor's. Judy and Bill Dearasaugh will take them to
and from the bus stop on Thursday, the 8th. Thank you Jan, Jan, Judy and

On Monday, the 22nd, Diane Tolleson, with children Paige, Meredith and
Spencer; and Marie Thomas, along with children Katie and Monica had a
WONDERFUL visit to the Jargbas. They were greeted with lots of hugs. I am
happy to hear that Sharon was in good spirits. Diane said her children got
so much out of it - Spencer asked "Mom, when can we come back again?" THANK
YOU, Diane and Marie!

Here are some highlights of their visit:
*Roland and Spencer really like each other. They were really communicating
even if they didn't speak the same language.
*Everyone was very eager to learn math and English.
*Roland and Comfort did math, ABC's, their names and numbers.
*Marie helped Sharon with Math, signing her name and money. Sharon
remembered what Caroline Merchant had showed her last week about money.
* Darlington was a very dedicated student. He traced and copied his name and
all his letters. He focused on his work for about 20 minutes! He was so
*There is a white board with dry erase markers to use for teaching -ask
Roland. He stores the markers in the drawers the Children's choir gave them.
*Diane and Marie brought a set of Duplo legos. Roland and Spencer had fun
building things with them and they used the square Duplos for teaching math.
*Marie brought cookies for the children to decorate. It was interesting that
the Jargba children wanted to finish working on their studies before getting
into the cookies!
*The children had fun playing with a toy shopping cart.
*Paige brought play-dough, which they had fun with.
*In Liberia , for Christmas they kill a cow and cook it over a fire and sing
a lot of songs.
*Marie and Diane organized the puzzles and books. All the books are in the
bottom of the cabinet.
*Diane and Marie also brought donations from the Missions closet and some
other clothing.
* Sharon needs closed-toed shoes, size 8. At the grocery store, they need

On Tuesday, the 23rd, Jan will be delivering paperwork for the children's
school registration. There are so many papers! We are still trying to get a
key Sharon 's mailbox so we can get her Social Security Card.

On Tuesday, the 30th, Jan and I are holding a meeting from 1:00 to 2:30 in
the church Fellowship Hall. We want to put some more planning and structure
around the English lessons for Sharon , donations of items not covered by
food stamps, and other logistics. Please come to the meeting if you are
interested in helping. If you cannot come, but are interested, please let me

Jan has scheduled doctor's appointments for the family for the afternoons of
Jan. 5 and Jan. 7. Jan and I will go. The family will get exams and flu

December 24, 2003  

Yesterday (the 23rd) Jan and her daughter went to visit Sharon and family. Jan helped Sharon with all the many, many forms for school registration for the children. Jan's daughter took Sharon to get special hair supplies at a store that African Americans like. Thanks, both of you!

Jan reported that we need a vacuum cleaner ASAP. We have had problems our two donated ones.

Jan's granddaughter was also there and took the role of teacher. She had Comfort and Darlington working on addition, color words and the names of colors. They were so eager to learn. Darlington cried when Jan told him he couldn't go to school for 10 days.

Today (the 24th) Sharon called me and asked if she and the children could
go to Christmas services at St. Luke's. So we all went to the 3:00 pm Children's Service today. Many people greeted Sharon and the children and wished them Merry Christmas. Ken reserved front row seats for us and we enjoyed listening to a story and the Children's Choir singing. Comfort, Roland and Darlington each held a lit candle during "Silent Night."

Sharon said going to church on Christmas and New Years' reminds her of her mother. Her mother, Elizabeth, went to church and taught her children to pray before meals and before bed. Sharon has also taught her children to pray. She wants to go to church on or near New Years, too. ( Sharon ’s parents were killed by the rebels in Liberia ).

After the Christmas service, we took some pictures in front of the St. Luke's Christmas tree and then went with my daughters and my brother Mike to Village Inn. The kids ordered a variety of items off the children's menu - there was a lot of sharing and enjoyment. We were amazed that baby Grace was sipping orange juice through a straw. For dessert the kids had vanilla ice cream, which they ate all up. During dinner, Comfort, Roland and Darlington enjoyed having their pictures taken with the digital camera and seeing themselves in the photos.

On the way home, we drove to a cul-de-sac in Highlands Ranch with amazing displays of lights and decorations. The children enjoyed the singing snowman and Santa Claus. They knew who Jesus was, when we passed the Nativity Scene.  

It was a wonderful, festive evening. Sharon was in wonderful spirits and laughed a lot. All the way home, Comfort, Roland and Darlington talked, laughed and giggled in the back seat and made their mother laugh. Sometimes they were spelling words in English. For example, we talked about the difference between, d-o-g and G-o-d. I didn't know they knew so many words!

At the end of the evening we wished each other Merry Christmas with high-fives and hugs (depending on whether you were a boy or a girl). This was really a very special Christmas eve - what a gift the Jargba's have given me tonight!

On the business side of things...still no word on a key to Sharon 's mailbox. The mailperson came from the P.O. and opened Sharon 's mailbox today. There was no Social Security card! Ugh! So Friday I'll start to track that down. Also, there was an Excel Energy Bill to the previous tenant that said that if he didn't pay ASAP they would turn the power off next week. Oh-oh! So that's another urgent matter for Friday!

In the meantime......

To All of You - A Merry Christmas filled with the Peace of Christ and to All a Good Night!  

December 26, 2003  

From Betsy: The Social Security Office was closed today. The Post Office said they do not have Sharon 's Social Security card there. I took care of Xcel Energy service for Sharon . The bill will not be due until January 15. 

Today Sharon and family and I went to FirstBank to set up a checking account. I wanted to set up a checking account with both Sharon and my names on it. They would not let Sharon be on the checking account because - you guessed it - she does not have a Social Security number yet. Something about the Patriot Act. 

So I set up an account with just my name on it - we can add Sharon later - and deposited the check I had from Ecumenical Refugee Services less $40 cash for Sharon . We also have some blank starter checks to pay the rent and any bills. Sharon has the checkbook. She also still has an uncashed check from ERS. The bank is in the King Soopers at 13th and Kalmeria. 

We got some bananas and bread at King Soopers. I put some whole wheat bread in the basket, like I did last time, but Sharon said "No - the kids don't like it." Gee - my kids won't eat whole wheat bread either, but I thought I could pull one over on Comfort, Roland and Darlington ! I guess kids are kids! 

When we returned, I showed them how to use the Leap Pad that Risa and Greg Smith had bought. They all really liked it, especially little Darlington , who took charge of the whole thing. We need to get some more of the beginning level books for it! 

Someone (I don't know who) had also donated a bag of neat English language teaching resources. Today, we did the box of 96 flashcards - Sharon and the children did very well.  

Everyone was in a good mood when I left.  

That's all for now! I'm going to the mountains on Sunday and Monday. Feel free to give Sharon a call to say "Hi" - 303-320-1588.  

December 27, 2003  

From Jan: I have just returned from spending the morning with the Jargbas. I took 2 of my grandkids, ages 10 and 11. They had a blast with the kids. Justin played soccer with the boys, Chelsea played with Comfort and the baby. She also taught Comfort and Sharon their telephone number and street address. They said they will continue to work on it . Sharon loves the Leap Pad game. Again, Chelsea spent a long time with Sharon showing her how to use it. There is one book and cartridge that is made for another Leap Pad game (Reading with writing) it will not work on the one they have.

I took a port -a -crib for Grace to sleep in--The playpen with the sides down was not safe. This should be better for her.

We introduced them to Pizza. They seemed to like it. Darlington had fun putting lots of parmesan on it.

Sharon and the kids were really happy today --all smiles and laughter. A good visit.

Sharon had signed all of the school registration forms and seems to be relaxing more about sending the 3 off to school. She told me today that the kids don't want to speak Kron anymore, only English.

More later. Jan Rufien  

December 29, 2003  

Today Marie (Thomas) visited Sharon and family and did some English lessons.  

December 30, 2003  

Today, Jan, Marie and Betsy met to discuss plans for teaching English to Sharon and other logistics.