St. John’s, St. Luke’s/St. James, and St. Paul’s have partnered since early February to assist the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) in resettling an Afghan family of eight (six children ages 7-19) in NE Minneapolis.  MCC is funding the family through July for rent/utilities and groceries.  The family’s case worker has been working very hard with translators to set up medical, educational, and other essential appointments necessary to setting the foundations for the family’s eventual self-sufficiency and independence.

With that goal in mind, teams from our churches worked together in mid-February to provide and stock groceries for the first month and furnish and set-up the second/third floor duplex of a home that is within blocks of the Holy Land Bakery/Grocery and the Islamic Cultural Community Center in NE Minneapolis.  The family moved into their new home on February 20.

Since then, our “Walking with the Family” team has provided transportation for the father to select additional furnishings at “Bridging” in Bloomington.  More physical needs have been posted to our housing and groceries teams through Sign-Up Genius, and been delivered either by sellers or our volunteers directly to the family.  MCC got WiFi access for the family, a TV was installed and set up by one of our volunteers.  English learned via cartoons got even better.  A sewing machine was donated, and operational support given – one more step to independence.

Medical taxis took the family to medical appointments set up by their case worker.   Our volunteers assisted with transportation and paperwork for school enrollment/registration and bus transportation arrangements for the six children, and also helped sign-up both parents for English Language classes.  Then on April 11, with the school strike done and spring break past, the entire family started school and classes in this new country, new state, new city, new home, new weather system, new culture, and survived another transition of many transitions to come. High Fives all around!

With each visit, tea is shared and a relationship of gratitude is fostered; gratitude from us that we have been so graciously received in their home, and gratitude from them that we are willing to assist them on this difficult journey which they have undertaken.  The strength and resourcefulness of this family is a wonder and a blessing of faith.

A major faith event happening currently for the family is Ramadan, the Islamic month of daytime fasting and prayer which this year extends from April 2 to May 2.   During Ramadan the daily family meals are shifted to pre-dawn and post-sunset for older children and adults, normally with extra prayers and periods of daytime naps.  For the family, these traditions coincide with the beginnings of multiple new school routines and schedules.  Mix all that in with our prolonged injections of wintry weather; it is a lot to balance for a family of eight.  For those reasons and in an effort to honor their faith traditions, we have paused our extended visits until after May 2.  Necessary assistance continues to be provided as needed.

In Peace,
Diane Erdmann