Sunday, May 20, 2018

a short word about the heat

Here is a list of things we have done to cool down:

Take multiple cold showers
sit in front of a fan
stay inside during the heat of the day
drink cold water
freeze a hat and put in on our heads
go to a place that has AC (restaurants are really the only places)

Deciding how we will push the van

When it's hot all of the time you start to get creative with ways to keep cool. The fact is most of the time we don't keep cool. In our time in the US, my body had to adjust to sweating less. My skin felt paper dry. For some reason, the lack of sweating gave me acne for months.  (figure that one out!)

Zion and Zephaniah do printmaking for art Ni likes to save on wash for me and uses the least amount of clothes possible

Why am I mentioning this?  Other than the fact that it's hot here, pretty much year round... I had an incident on facebook last week that bears mentioning. Apparently in Pa, there was a hot day. Some people couldn't sleep because it was over 80 at night. Others had to turn on their AC.I had no pity for them.

A glass of cold watermelon juice shared among sisters

 For full disclosure we do have an AC unit here. we put it in our insulated trailer with a TV. We have used it twice since the set up. Electricity is just too expensive.

Back to my post on Facebook. I was annoyed because it is hot here: Hace Calor. That being said, I have friends around the world who have to live in much hotter climates than we do.

Passion fruit vines with some blossoms

I have been reading the book Humble Roots as a part of the Velvet Ashes book club.  It is so good that I need to re-read it at least twice to digest all of it! The chapters I had been reading that week were on pride. Pride teaches us that we are more significant than we are. My upbringing had me believing I was "deserving" of a certain level of comfort. Humble roots humbled me in thinking that there was some level of personal importance involved. The author talks about a thankfulness being paramount in the battle against pride. Not one that stems from what I have that others don't; but a thankfulness that stems from the fact that I come from dust and return to dust. All things are gifts, even the unrelenting heat.
Abigail and I did a workout and this is how we looked when we finished

So to all of those I offended by my facebook post, I am sorry. I am still learning and growing in this. The hot humid climate is growing me in ways I didn't imagine. The last thing I will leave you with is a quote from Humble roots:
Zion doing her school work on the floor

"The problem with privilege is we rarely see our own." I am starting to see the privileges I personally have. All is a gift.

This past week we had the privilege of having our pastoral care team from CTEN visit. I posted some pictures here from their visit. Since the responsibility of pastoral care changed hands while we were in Belize, this was our first time meeting them. Marcia and Randy went with the flow!  They really took whatever was happening and stepped right in, including us helping the Spanish church push their van.  It was neat getting to know them for a few days and having them participate in weekend activities with us. (and apparently the only pictures we took of them were us pushing the van!)
(The van for Spanish Church has transmission problems and won't switch into reverse)
May your week be blessed!


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Exciting new thing happening here

In church we have started something different. Every Wednesday we have a "focus group" as Nathanael has termed it. He has started a group for the youth, women and men.  (and one free week where we do a "fun Friday)
the youth that met 2 weeks ago

While he is currently leading all 3 groups, the goal is to have a church member take the reigns in the future.
The men's group learning to play chinese checkers

It is a good opportunity for growth and informal activities like game playing and discussion.
Some kids playing around on the 3 wheeler, not a focus group picture but still cute! 

Please pray for and with us as we start up this new thing. Also for people's hearts to be prepared.

Thanks so much!


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Exploring other cultures

the sand-fly bites have just started to heal. They ceased being itchy. This is a good thing.

When I first asked Julie Groff what was the most difficult about her move to Belize. She said sandflies. After spending an extra 4 days in Stann Creek District, a week and a day in total, I can understand where she is coming from. I also have less patience with bug bites than she does. They got itchy and I couldn't stop scratching them.  They got bloody and swollen.

We stayed longer in Stann Creek? Why yes we did. Tim Groff suggested that since his parents would be in Guatemala, we could make use of their house for a few days. We were able to go to church with them, hike, enjoy Hopkins, and shop in Spanish Lookout on the way home.

One of the most interesting things we did last wednesday was have two cultural experiences. Tim had a friend cook us a traditional Garifuna meal.

As we pulled up, he was mashing the Hudut.  It was neat to see him in action!

Nathanael and the kids also tried their hand at it.  Mashing required strength and skill. We were told a hungry Garifuna could make it in less than 15 min!

The children were given rice and beans.  

Nathanael, Tim and I ate hudut. Here is a video of me trying it: 

It was a lovely meal with just as lovely people. It was wonderful learning a little about Garifuna culture.  

That evening we spent time with our Nigerian friends. It was another cultural experience.  The food was wonderful as was the company. We learned a little about Nigerian culture. Through our eyes, they appeared even more "warm culture" than Belizeans. I went home with a full satisfied stomac and heart.  

What a blessing it is to be on this journey in Belize!  

If you would like to learn more about the Garifuna people of Belize here's a website  you can visit

I am hoping to finish the newsletter and have it to you in the next two weeks.  Hope you have a great day

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Another sucessful trip!

I should have been "on the ball" and scheduled a post to be posted when we left, I just wasn't. 3:30 am is just an awful time for anyone to wake up. For anyone familiar with our pattern, yes it was time for Kids Konnect!  This time Selah and I took the trek to Dangriga on the bus. I was better prepared and we had jackets for the time on the bus with the AC.  We both attempted sleep but it just didn't happen.

Upon arrival we got to spend some time with the Groff family. It was nice to catch up with them. Selah was disappointed because their boys were in school.

This trip had me spending my first day as one of 3 experienced Kids Konnect participants. The rest of our team were "newbies" .  I had different responsibilities in that I was asked to make sure things ran smoothly. I wasn't sure I could pull that off, but the team was so fantastic,  my job was mostly triage.

Of course we did have a conversation about warm vs cold culture. People come to see the doctor, but our main goal is to reach them with the love of Jesus. What I appreciate about Kids Konnect, is they are also warm culture in their approach. One is encouraged to take the time they need to talk, pray and encourage the person in front of them. This means that often there is a wait for care. Most Belizeans don't have an issue with this. The Americans may though. We all spend time learning and I appreciate that.

We had the privilege of working with nursing students from Indiana. Their hard work and dedication was an inspiration.

 Of course we also enjoyed the company of some "old favorites" those who come every time or several different times.  It is just a joy to serve alongside both the short term team, and the long term missionaries.

\Selah thrived in this setting. She enjoys being a part of the mission, as well as having some responsibilities.  I am not sure the polite Southerners appreciated her take charge attitude. Selah could learn a thing or two about southern respect.

When all is said and done we are thankful for another time we could serve with the Kids Konnect community!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Celebrating Resurrection Day

As a child I attended Perkasie Mennonite Church.  It was a tradition to go to a Sunris service. After the service, there was always a meal. I admit mostly I remember is a meal. Our conservative Mennonite friends asked if we would be doing a sunrise service. Nathanael quipped "If I had a sunrise service, I would be the only one there"

We did not choose to have one!  

We remembered that Easter is traditional for going swimming.  We knew if we attempted to have church in a "normal" way we were likely to have a very small/if any attendance.

We decided to have a service at Honey-camp Lagoon.  One of the families who attends church has a grandfather who owns land along the lagoon. He allowed us to use the lagoon free of charge. 

The next blessing was a huge one. Upon hearing our plans the women in church took it upon themselves to bring the food. They said they realized that I put a lot of work into making meals.  We thought about bringing food "just in case" but decided against it.

It really felt like we chose well. The van was so full of people, food, and a small table. Nathanael tried to capture it, the picture does not do it justice. Even sitting in the front seat, I had 2 kids on my lap (don't tell the car seat police)

Nathanael had a small service at the lake. We did some worship songs, and he told the story of the Resurrection.

After the service, we had a great time! We ate and swam. (there was enough food!!) Abigail even spent some time learning to fish like the locals, with a line, a hook and some dough at the end. She says she didn't catch anything but the process was fun.

I hope your Resurrection day was as blessed as ours was!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A time of Retreat

This past week I missed a blog post.  I realize this is pretty unusual for me. I feel it is imperative to communicate with supporters. I think you want to know what is "going on" in our lives.
Zephaniah, Zion, Selah and Abigail rest from our short hike we took at a national park along our drive

The reason for the absence was our time in Guatemala.  Eastern Mennonite Missions firmly believes in the need for a yearly retreat.  The missionaries go on retreat per the area they are in. We joined with 9 other units (families and singles) in Chiquimula Guatemala.  Before you go thinking we were in the lap of luxury for the week, let me assure you that we weren't. The main meeting area has AC, but everywhere else wasn't.  The air was more dry, (actually much around us appeared dead) but hotter by about 3-5 degrees.
Selah and Phyllis Groff pose for a photo at Western Dairies in Spanish Lookout. The only (food) drive through in the country

The children over 10 stayed in a dorm style building with students from the Vida220 program. What a blessing for them and us. I am ever thankful for people who come into our lives valuing our children. Abigail and Selah enjoyed the freedom they had, hanging out with young adults and other TCK's their age.

Spring got a ladies day out during the retreat. These are the other EMM women serving in Central America

I really appreciated the balance in the retreat. We had a session a day, prayer time in the evenings, and hours of freedom in the afternoon.  It was a time to enjoy the company of others we can relate to. It also helps us know how to pray for each other.

The kids had so much fun with other TCK's

Some of our interesting moments involved having a van full!  Mostly of Davis/Groff families as we traveled to Guatemala.  We added two Vida people for the Guatemala leg. No seat was empty!  We again are thankful for the blessing of our van!

We had an unexpected stop when after checking the air in the tire, the service attendant busted our stem. We are thankful that there were no injuries due to the flat tire. We also happen to stop where there was a restaurant, and the kids got to jump on a trampoline. 

Of course there's always border crossing. Sometimes Nathanael and I stand back in wonder at the stark difference in our childhoods and that of our children.  Both crossing into and out of Guatemala went without an incident. I even accidentally brought in some contraband (Peppers from Guatemala).

the line at the Belizean border on our way out of Belize

Thank you for joining with us on this journey. We hope and pray you have a great week celebrating Christ's finished work in our lives.  If you're interested in what we did as a church, you'll have to wait till next week :) (too much to cover in one blog post)

 one of our times of worship

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Not in Kansas anymore, but comfortable with it (most of the time)

I realize I haven't written a Not in Kansas anymore post in over 2 years.  I actually had to go-over my old posts to make sure I'm putting new information here.

To be honest, it is more and more difficult to write a post like this. We are increasingly comfortable with the environment we live in. We are trying to embrace things that we would have thought "strange" 3 years ago.  I also believe that it is good to look at our world with other's eyes. To see the things we miss. It also may help prepare anyone who wants to visit. (and hey please visit!!! :) )

The fact that it's hot hasn't changed. I just thought I should inform you of that. We are right in the midst of "it's so hot.." and that won't get any better till perhaps October/November.  I suppose there is no point in kicking a dead horse, we live with the heat. We don't have AC, those are facts.
(two weeks ago we had visitors from a FL Interpreting program)

Differences?  Well here are a few ones I've thought of recently.  Individual servings of soda come in "pint" bottles. They are glass and re-usable. You either bring a bottle to the store to exchange, put your soda in a plastic bag, or pay an extra shilling (25 cents) to carry it with you. We don't drink soda but have collected a few pints for exchange when Nathanael has review games at Friday night Bible study. Last year the littles made it a game, finding pint bottles and exchanging them at the local store for 25 cents worth of candy.

(Sprite the prize for winning Nathanel's review game at Bible Study)

Mosquitoes are a year round problem for us. When we first got here two years ago, I was sure we had bed bugs, there were so many bites happening at night. Thankfully it was just mosquitoes. What do we do about mosquitoes?  We have a lot of bug spray. We also burn these incense type coils. They help keep the unwanted creatures out.

Houses are built of two things here: Block and Cement or wood panels. The wood ones are mostly assembled by conservative Mennonites.  Some people build their own houses from any materials they find or are cheap. Ours is a block house, with a cement roof. I have come to learn that cement tends to hold in the heat, long past the sun going down.

If  you can think of things you suspect are different, but aren't sure, feel free to ask :) I'd love to think up more for a new post.

Have a lovely week