Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Presents, staying up late and lice, Oh My!

This is our third time we have celebrated Christmas in Belize.  That is comforting to us. We kind of know what to expect, we are feeling "settled".  We have developed some traditions and adopted new ones this year.
Koinonia prays for us on a Sunday morning

To begin the holiday season we had a new tradition with friends from Stann Creek, the Groff family. They also serve with EMM, and it is a blessing to be in Belize together.  We occasionally get together. It is difficult at times, since their kids are in school during the week, and we have weekend commitments. We decided to get together for Thanksgiving but were unable to until closer to Christmas vacation.

playing a quiz game with the Groffs



Tim decided to call it Friendsmasgiving. It turned out to be the perfect name.  We had a great time eating a traditional American Thanksgiving Dinner, hanging out and playing board games.  Of course, we enjoyed Bubble Tea, our favorite Orange Walk drink.
Adults snuck out for a childless time of bubble tea and dumplings


Christmas Eve is what Belizeans celebrate as Christmas. It is often brought in with a "bang" ie fireworks.  We stayed up till 2am at Pastor Ed's house, playing games, eating and hanging out.

Dyna and I chatting Christmas eve. Zephaniah eventually fell asleep next to me


Christmas day we spent as a family. The brunch was awesome. For some reason, our dinner was kind of a flop. Everyone survived. ;)
Pastors Ed and Dyna


We had two cookie parties. One with local friends, and one with the Deaf Youth.  At the end of it all I was exhausted. Thankfully Anna came and cleaned/washed the dishes.
a wonderful family sent Oatmeal cream pies. Nathanael says they "made" his Christmas

While we worked on cookies, Nathanael and Misael took the three wheeler to villages. They invited the Deaf in villages to our New Years Eve party.
The van packed full before our first cookie party



the Deaf youth event 



One not so fun thing that happened in our house over Christmas vacation was lice. They were discovered immediately following the Groff visit.  I spent way more time than I wanted to picking out nits.  The good news out of all of this is I've found the best method that works for us! Now to get a nit comb that works! I had to pull every nit out by hand.  If you were wondering, that is why Ni lost his dreds. He is actually fine about it. Since kids here can't wear them to school, there are no boys his age who have them. I was probably more upset about him losing them than he was.

nitpicking takes hours



there go the dreds




Next week I'll share pictures and stories from our Annual New years eve party. Stay tuned!

Love Spring


Sunday, December 30, 2018

The post that I've been hesitant to write

Good News, Great Joy, to ALL people

If you read our newsletter this past Tuesday, I shared some of the spiritual things that we come against in this area.
The back area behind Koinonia


As I became more and more aware of the fact that a lot of the Jehovah's Witnesses live on our street, I was overwhelmed. They seem like there are so many of them. Their building is huge. They seem to have different concepts on if helping hurts.  (in other words, they seem to spend a lot of money on it and a lot of the people who go locally have a good amount of money)

hanging around before Bible study Friday night



As I stated in the newsletter, Nathanael reminded me that we have more on our side.  I would also like to mention that in the same area of street, we have 2 Christian churches. (one Spanish speaking and one Kreol). It is comforting to know that in the physical sense, there are more buildings devoted to Christianity than JW's.
an intense game of "kings" on a Fun Friday


All of this to say I was personally challenged. It is not my responsibility to convince or persuade. It is my job to do what I'm called to do.  I have felt that calling in the way of doing prayer walks on our street. This is where the title of the post comes in. I haven't done the prayer walking yet.  I am hesitant to post this because then I need to hold myself responsible.
Thanksgiving time at Koinonia, everyone brings things to share and we pay for the treats. The funds go to the church's mission trip to Central America


I will be starting to prayer walk on Jan 8. I am hoping to do it every Tuesday, 7am our time.  If you would like to pray with me, please sign up for the prayer emails. (which yes I also need to take more responsibility for!) I hope to share short snippets of the prayers and pictures of our street so you can picture it while you are praying.

we went to Corozal with Koinonia as they did baptisms. Nathanael helped as people were baptized



Thanks for joining with us on this journey. Thank you because without you we would be unable to do what we do.

Happy New Year!


Spring

PS please be praying for us as we prepare for the New Years party, our biggest event of the year.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Library fun

I have failed in my advent weekly newsletter. I have a pretty serious subject coming up next week for both the blog and the newsletter. ( I let it set in for a little suspense) :) I am still planning 4 weeks of letters, we will just have missed this week.
Zion and Zephaniah at the Library

I have written in the past about the library. It is actually in a building that was formerly a hospital. It was expanded by a man named Sandy Hunter (thus the name of the building)




The younger 3 kids were able to attend a library program over the summer. They learned about how oil was discovered on Belizean soil. They designed a shop with cardboard and other recycled materials.
Zion with the group project she helped make this Summer


We don't go to the library as often as we would in the states. Only the kids have library cards and they are currently allowed only to check out one book per card.  The other issue is that I am still not skilled at driving the three-wheeler. (I stink at it and my carpal tunnel kicks in, leaving my right hand numb; needless to say, I don't really drive it at all)
a rice dinner on the lawn in front of the library


We were blessed to be still invited to the Christmas program for the library.
The kids watched a movie then sat on the lawn for a lunch of rice and beans.

Abigail enjoys her cookie


They were given cookies, candy canes, grapes, and an apple to take home with them.  I consider ourselves blessed to be a part of the community.
rice and beans and plantain. The kids won't eat the plantain or the potato salad


How else do we get books you wonder?  We use our cards from Bucks County library to access them online.  Abigail uses Hoopla a lot (it has a wide selection of graphic novels). Selah and I use Overdrive which has books and audio books.  There is also RB digital which offers magazines.

Selah's cookie


I have to say I am very thankful to be alive during the digital age.  There are occasionally books that aren't available in both the library and electronic form.  I actually haven't figured out why this happens especially with a newer book.  I totally understand preferring the "real, physical" copy. For us, it is about access.  We are thankful that we can have access to books in whatever way is best for us.


Hope you enjoyed our fun and interesting library excursions.




Monday, December 3, 2018

Finding a better way

Nathanael took a Statistics class this fall.  In his "spare time," he is working towards his bachelor's degree. He has one class left, we are all so proud of him.


Zion peeling veggies for Friday night


For his class project, he was to collect life applicable statistics.  Nathanael decided to research the eating habits of the people we work with.  The research was astounding to me.  Most of the people he asked admitted to never eating fruit or vegetables.
Fun Friday night



The main issue for people sums it up to have cost. A lot of healthy foods cost more. In addition, they often aren't filling.  One can buy a plate of rice and beans for 7$ (which includes rice and beans, stewed chicken and coleslaw as the veggie) Buying vegetables is just as expensive or more and it doesn't fill the stomach.
Wednesday Ladies night after eating Taco salad. We played Apples to Apples pictures


We struggled with what this could look like for us. We aren't equipped to be a feeding program. We decided to initiate change in the way we can.

Geneli and Elizani on a Friday night. Chicken Chili is a hit!



We have chosen to use veggies on Friday nights instead of high-calorie non-nutritive snacks.  Both the adults and the children are given veggies. The children are also fed a meal of chili or dirty rice. Wednesdays we changed the menu also. We had been feeding hot dogs. This past month we did taco salad. (we repeat the meal weekly for a month since it's a different group of people that comes each week). We are open to different suggestions. Since most Belizeans eat rice and beans just about every day, we aren't too worried about variety.

Nathanael peeling oranges



Sundays Nathanael thought the best solution would be oranges and bananas.  Oranges are not easy to peel here. They require a knife to peel. We aren't that talented at it. Nathanael asked people how to do it. Next, he's been practicing weekly. In no time he'll have it down to a science.



Thanks for learning a little more about our quest!

Spring



Saturday, November 24, 2018

Language(s)

The official language of Belize is English. It was a colonized British colony until 1981.  Most people who know a little bit of Belizean history know this.

Living in Belize presents a different picture. Yes English is the official language.  It does seem that it is the language in the street. That being said it's mostly the people's second language.  Nathanael likes to say that the US is the most diverse country he's ever been to, Belize is the second. 
the different countries represented at Koinonia


The most frequent languages spoken are Spanish and Kreol.  There are also many Chinese, Indian, and Nigerian immigrants, not to mention the Garifuna people.  

In our house, we speak English. Nathanael's second language is ASL (obviously) and mine is Spanish.  I never went to school for Spanish beyond level 2 in college. We are trying to navigate helping our kids become second and third language users while figuring that out ourselves.
A celebration of culture 


I (Spring) struggle with understanding the Kreol. Nathanael has a good grip on it. Our kids have some of the words down (like Ketch which is tag here).  There is also a mixing that happens (as I referred to in the last post) It is funny that I can go workout, and yet there are so many things I miss. I know English and Spanish, but I don't always understand what they are saying. The mixture of words is confusing for a second language user. (that and the accent)

Zion and Zephaniah often come with me to work out, other moms also bring their kids


Two weeks ago we had surprise visitors. We saw a family at the local hostel. The hostel was full, they were unsure of where to go. On a whim, Nathanael offered for them to stay in the apartment. It was a couple with a daughter the same age as Zion.  They are riding their bikes across Central America. What initially attracted them to me was the fact that they had a tandem, and the exact tandem I had wanted for Nathanael and I.
we ate a meal together with the French Family



We got to spend two days with them.  Communication consisted of halted Spanish and lots of use of Google Translate. Why you ask? They are from France. Their second language was Spanish.  Nathanael actually did a better job communicating. I guess I speak too fast?  Nathanael also has a degree in communication and I don't.
Playing Apples to Apples at Ladies night

All of this to say we're still learning. I have worked at engaging in ASL. Nathanael is learning some Spanish. Abigail and Selah are each taking classes in ASL and Spanish for school.
Abigail and Selah at youth group this past week

When the rubber meets the road though?  We are getting closer and closer (slowly) to be better communicators.

 for "fun" Selah stuck her finger through the hole in the ladder. She was smiling about it but it was stuck for about 15 min. We had to use oil and soap to get it out. 

Hope you have a lovely week!


Friday, November 16, 2018

a different Sunday


There isn't anything to review in Bible Study this week.  Why you ask? Nathanael didn't preach. We weren't even at the church building.


We were privileged to be a part of the communal worship service of Belize Evangelical Mennonite Conference.  Nathanael interpreted for the service. They provided an interpreter (from Spanish to English) and he interpreted into ASL.  They didn't have anyone for worship, so I did my best. I am by no means a trained interpreter. That and being in Belize makes me lazy. Any words I don't know in Spanish, I add the English instead; and I am fully understood.


We were also very close to the speakers, the base booming in our ears(not to mention shaking my entire body!) It was a great place to be for the Deaf, they could feel the music!


The preacher was actually originally from Guatemala. Interestingly Nathanael and I had a conversation with him after the event. I told him that I can understand his Spanish better than the Belizeans. He pointed out that it's similar to Texan's Spanish, this mix of Spanish and English, using words that aren't actually words in either language. (Ie an English word with a Spanish ending)  Here we also have a Caribbean/ Kreol accent.


The interpreter who helped during the service actually had more trouble with the speaker, probably because of the accent.


It was a good experience for all involved.



Thursday, November 8, 2018

October Kids Konnect trip

"I am the worst patient/mother of a patient ever," was the mantra running through my mind this past week at the Kids Konnect medical trip.
the very full bus after pickup at the airport


Zion and I were blessed to be a part of the largest and most diverse (amount of states involved) medical team.

This has nothing to do with Kids Konnect, Zion just wanted a pic of her helping carry groceries


Of course it threw a wrench in my "plans" as I know what to do in the triage area.  I realized that there were enough qualified nurses.  I ended up being more of a circulatory person. I had the privilege of  to interpreting, give out instructions in the pharmacy, and just go where the need was.  One thing they changed this time that I really valued was having a constant prayer person.  I had the privilege of doing this several times throughout the 3 days.
The table set up for triage



I was asked to help find a plan for a family. I talked with Dr Ed because I was certain that the issue had been addressed with the family in the past. I felt like it was non-compliance. He gave me a gentle reminder that has stuck with me. He said sometimes people are just trying to make it through the day. They can't add one more thing.
Zion found this guy on the toilet paper


Although I can't say I was in their particular situation, I have felt like I am just trying to slog through my day.    Honestly I know that my situations have probably been easier.


The lovely view from St Augustine school


While in the pharmacy, I explained over and over to patients that it is very important for to take all of the antibiotics. One shouldn't stop when they feel better. Yet I have done that with my own children. (out of forgetfulness, not because they felt better).  We don't know where someone has been or what their current journey is.
Zion helps set up the tables for triage


It was also a reminder to me today as I read Liturgy of the Ordinary. This week the focus is on work. You could be in Belize doing wash, or in the US. (or have one of many other important jobs). We are called to bring Him with us. To allow him to work through us, to find a place with Him in our daily tasks.
Sherri reads to the kids



Zion takes a turn reading


May you be spurred on towards holiness in the everyday tasks of your lives,

Spring

“It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God: but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes” 
― Oswald Chambers