Wednesday, April 17, 2019

having a target on our backs

I often listen to podcasts while doing work around the house. I started my podcast exploration about 6-8 months ago when a friend had recommended "God Centered Mom" podcast. (the name has now changed to "Don't Mom Alone" but I still highly recommend listening to it!)

peeling potatoes into the yard (our form of a compost pile)


This got me into finding a number of different great podcasts.  I run into a conundrum when listening. I am so "far behind" do I listen to the most recent podcasts or the ones I find the most appealing to me? I currently have 30 some podcasts downloaded on top of being subscribed to 50 different podcasts.  It is a bit overwhelming at times.


Zion and Zephaniah hiking in the bush with Nathanael

All of that last paragraph to say the podcast I was enjoying most recently is from quite a while ago. It was a podcast called Journeywomen.  She was sharing about marriage.  They talked specifically about times and seasons where marriage can be extra difficult. She named things like military families, those in ministry, and missionaries.   The speaker, Carla Weathersbee shared "they walk around with a target on their backs".


Anna agreed to do cornrows in Abigail's hair

This phrase brought me to tears. I commiserate because that has been my experience.  The devil doesn't want us to succeed, especially in marriage. Couples both in Jesus Deaf Church and Koinonia often decide not to get married. We are living examples of marriage and why God calls us to it.

I was attempting to use the fetoscope on Eliaznie but I couldn't get a good heartbeat(moving baby and lack of experience)

In the process of tears and speaking to God, I was also reminded that being a target isn't always a dreadful thing. We are also a direct target for prayer. I could recount to you times when I have physically felt prayers over us. Prayers for peace, prayers for our family and for the ministry.  You play a vital role. Thank you for "aiming" at our target!

Anna tried our bentonite clay mask

This past week, Nathanael had a discussion with one of the guys he is mentoring. There was a question of salvation, and this guy was unsure if he is/wants to be a Christian.  I mulled over that for a while. I started to fast and pray for salvations on Sundays.
Nathanael and Misael play kings

Monday Nathanael took Elizanie to the hospital for an appointment for her pregnancy.  The lab was closed however her heart was open.  After long discussions and spending the day at our house, she decided to give her heart to Jesus. We rejoice with her!!
Elizanie accepted Jesus!  We are so excited!!! 

She brought her boyfriend (and father of their child) the next day. Elmer is open to the gospel but hasn't made a decision yet.


Thank you for making us a target. Thank you for praying for and with us. We need to be in a place of health to minister to others. You are a vital part of this process.

The list of what people are bringing to our Easter service. Please be praying for this as it's our biggest service of the year

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Working as a team with Vida 220

We had a team from Vida 220 visit us for 10 days.  Our first exposure to Vida 220 was at the Central America EMM retreat. Last year they were a part of the team that cared for the kids.  There are so many kids they outnumber the adults!  Fun was had by all. It is a blessing to have young adults with a passion for Jesus pour themselves into our children's lives.

Nathanael transporting the team of 6 in the trike


This Vida 220 Belize team actually spent 2 months of their time in Dangriga with the Groff families ministering to the Garifuna.  Coming to Orange Walk made leaving the ministry they were in and changing direction!  (different languages and culture).
Working on a drama for church



What really amazed me was the groups ability to jump in. For the other teams, outreach is in one location for 5 months. 20 years ago when i was in YES, I had 8 months of outreach. The team set aside personal feelings and went right into ministry with us.
Eating at Pastor Fernando's home




The team here consisted of 2 from the US, 1 from Costa Rica, one from El Salvador, one from Ecuador and one from Guatemala. They spent 5 months in training in Costa Rica and are now serving in Belize.
walking in the community



It was a wonderful opportunity to introduce all of them to a need that really is in their backyard. Two people took sign language books with them to study more. All 6 worked at learning worship songs in ASL. They also spent time conversing.  One woman in particular said she has a Deaf neighbor and looks forward to getting to know the neighbor better.

Nathanael interprets for Jeimmy

The other direct impact they had was on the Davis children. They listened to, danced with, and in general loved on our kids. My mama heart was overflowing!  It was a difficult goodbye.

Worship songs


Please pray with us for the Vida Net team on the next leg of their journey. They were to travel to other Mennonite Churches in Belize. Two of the participants were denied visas. As far as we know they won't be returning to Belize.
Participating in Bible Study. Elizani's boyfriend interpreted


As a side note, we highly encourage anyone taking a gap year to look into Vida 220. Doing missions short term is an impactful, life changing experience.


we spent Sunday afternoon watching Up together

Monday, March 25, 2019

Celebrating Nathanael

I have been getting behind in my posting. I think part of it is this idea I have that everything I write about has to be ministry related or have a lesson involved. Yesterday I had been looking for a post on the blog (which I didn't find) I skimmed some of my old posts. Some of them were simply about what was going on in our lives.

In the spirit of just communicating what is going on in our lives, we are celebrating Nathanael.  He turned 38 on March 5.


One of the things that Nathanael really misses here are hiking trails. He spent a while trying to find a trail we could hike but scrapped it. Last year we went to Crooked Tree. This is a lovely place, but the trails are often flooded. We need to schedule a hike during dry season. (we just always seem to forget).



We went out for bubble tea, a Davis family favorite. It still delights me that the Taiwanese woman behind the counter always knows my order. ( I do get the same tea every time: Green milk tea, no sugar, lychee bubbles) Abigail always dreamed of saying "get me my usual". I could say that but she doesn't know enough English for that to be effective. The bubble tea enjoyment was peppered with Quirkle games.




For lunch Ed and Dyna had us over. It was a time of me feeling grateful that we are devloping friendships here. We spent way too much time discussing the details of Abigail's quince, while the kids enjoyed games.


Final stop of the day? The Lagoon in Corazal. It opens to the ocean so the water is salt water. We had a great spot to refresh ourselves in the water. The kids even climbed the trees.


Pizza for dinner.


The girls got roller skates for Christmas. I had no idea they would be such a hit. They are probably some of the most used Christmas presents we have ever gotten. The park in Corazal was a great place to skate before heading home.


And finally Nathanael has finished his BA!  We are all so proud of the work he put into it!  (and at times the work I put into it.)

May you be blessed this week as you celebrate ordinary and extraordinary events

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

We are so blessed

Something about the past few months (Jan-March) has made me feel extra busy. I really couldn't put my finger on it. The funny thing is I've been making an effort to get up weekdays at 6:30 and weekends 7:30. (with the exception of the days that I sleep in: Saturday and Monday). Waking up earlier so far hasn't meant I complete more in my day. I have a goal to finish school with the kids before I go to workout at 1:30pm. It has been rarely happening. Nimodo (as one would say in Spanish)

I am determined not to be one of "those" overseas workers who stop blogging/communicating. It just seems to be difficult to find the time to do it recently.

Josue gets his first bite of a tastycake

When Todd and his children came, I opened a precious letter. A dear friend wrote a short note. It was a huge encouragement to me. I put it on my closet, and read it often. It is a reminder to me. It tells me you think of us and pray for us, we are on your minds and hearts.
The ones I kept for myself :) 

Your gifts to us and participate in the ministry we do allows us to be active and present in Orange Walk. We couldn't do what we do without the work you do. Thank you for choosing to be a part of what goes on at Jesus Deaf Church. The ongoing monthly support is essential to the ministry continuing. Thank you!

Zephaniah and Josue playing with bubbles during Sunday School

Connecting Deaf Church also took the time to ask us what we miss. We were given precious things like decaf Earl Grey tea, black licorice, devil dogs, and almond butter.


Selah made the birthday cake for her friend on her 14th birthday


We treasure these treats. I wanted to publicly take a blog post to thank all of you who have enriched our lives in this way. The physical things are really nice. They are small things that make us feel cared for.

me enjoing tea with the dogs

A former missionary to Dangriga area with Kids Konnect sent us a grocery bag full of treats from Trader Joe's. I cried when I opened the package. Dark chocolate. Nathanael is still enjoying the Irish breakfast tea!  The kids couldn't hold out on eating the entire bag of candy. I suppose it's much better than the fire ants getting to it.


We have even gotten 2 boxes full of Tastycakes. Those were treasured and shared!  :) Everyone in Jesus Deaf Church got a small taste of Philadelphia.


Thank you so much to those who have blessed us abundantly.



Monday, February 25, 2019

A delightful visit

Todd and Liz Miller  visited Belize and Jesus Deaf Church in November 2017. It was a wonderful thing to have them and to have them come and minister to people in the church.
Todd, Anissa, Ty and Judah at a waterfall in southern Belize


Liz was unable come this time. Todd came with his children: Anissa, Ty and Judah.  It was a delight to have them participate and learn a bit more about Belize.

Nathanael, Anna, and Michael waiting at the airport

Friday involved them participating (Todd teaching) in Bible study and with the kids.  Todd was helpful in reminding me that the kids area needs to be a Deaf centered area. I am still trying to navigate this with my limited ASL and the mixing of languages that happens.  I would appreciate any insight on this front.
Todd teaching on Friday night

Saturday people from Jesus Deaf Church, Todd and most of our family visited Maya ruins. Lamaini ruins are Nathanael's favorite and the closest geographically.

Anissa, Judah, Ty and Todd at the Laminai Maya ruins

Sunday we had church. Nathanael preached. I taught Sunday school.
At the top of one of the temples, Miller kids, Davis kids, Misael and Krystal


After church, Selah and I made pupusas. Joanna, a woman from El Salvador and Selah's Spanish language tutor has taught Selah how to make them. (they are a native El Salvadorian food). The Millers enjoyed them. Ty even attempted to make some of his own.
Ty and Selah. Selah is an expert at making puposas


Mon-Wed we got to explore the more Southern parts of Belize with the Millers. We took them on one of our favorite hikes to a beautiful waterfall/swimming hole. We also hiked in a cave, and swam in the "blue hole" (inland blue hole, not the one in the ocean)
good time hiking and swimming at the waterfall



Saying goodbye was difficult.
the blue hole in Stann Creek


Thank you Millers for sharing your time with us!

The last picture together







Saturday, February 9, 2019

Not the same trip

January came and it was Abigail's turn to go to Kids Konnect. She was excited! She was deferred this fall as we decided Zion is old enough to attend.  We were also blessed in that Todd Stone allowed us to ride from the Belize City airport instead of waking up at 4am.  The sleeping a normal amount certainly is a huge benefit.
Abigail at the airport


Abigail and I rode the bus from Orange Walk to Belize City at 9am. We hung out at the airport, talked to Todd, and watched as people arrived. It is always fun to see old friends and meet new ones.
I took a picture of this person's ticket so I would remember the number when going to the registration desk(don't worry it's not a medical number and after registration isn't associated with the person at all)


Wednesday evenings are spent orienting, and sorting. Meds, equipment and people are assigned to correct places. I am ever amazed at the efficiency and organization of the Kids Konnect staff. They have it down to a science!
unloading the medical equipment at Pomona

Abigail and I did clinics in both Silk Grass and Pomona on Thursday and Friday.  Abigail was a people mover, she also counted meds. I enjoy helping out wherever the need is. I usually start in Triage, do some interpreting, and help with patient flow.

Abigail hanging signs at Middlesex, San Augistine School

In Silk Grass we met a young lady. It was a pivotal moment for me. She was Deaf. Both Abigail and I attempted to sign with her but we got little to no response. She had spend 3 years in the Mennonite school in Spanish Lookout (from ages 11-14), but otherwise didn't go to school at all. She spends most of her days at home. No one in her family signs. She doesn't socialize with Deaf in her community. Nathanael did send a video from Orange Walk of mostly gestures asking basic questions. She finally understood enough to spell out her name for us.
Abigail got to hold babies a few times this trip

 If I am honest it was helpful to me. I sometimes get caught up in the daily grind, wondering what I am doing here. I still struggle with ASL. I ask myself if there is an impact?  Communicating with her reminded me that she is a reason we are here. We want Deaf to have access.

Nathanael interpreting Zion, Josue and Zephaniah watching


Access included Nathanael coming to Stann Creek with 5 Deaf from our church. It was a good time, abet a long trip (3 hours drive each way). Nathanael interpreted for the women who were able to get reading glasses.  Alma has had a missing ligament from birth. Julie (the PT) and Dr Harrel provided braces, a cane, and exercises that should help reduce her pain. They all got adjusted by the chiropractor, which I think was especially helpful to the hardworking women of the church.
Triaging some people from our church


My ongoing job is to check if exercises are being completed and medicines are helping. It has also given me a reason to visit a little more with people.




Alma gets a blood sugar taken and Misael watches 

We were honored that the team from Kids Konnect helped make Jesus Deaf Church so welcome.  Thank you for making this an "atypical" trip, for allowing us to be a part of your family.
Abigail was thankful for new and old friends! (even photobombers!) :)


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Goodbyes

One thing that they tell you when you learn about how to care for Third Culture kids is they have to say goodbye often, more often than most kids.  Honestly, all of us have had more goodbyes than I feel like I can count.

The interesting concept surrounding goodbyes is I'm not sure we now are aware of how to "do them better". They are still difficult. We still struggle emotionally. There is a line in a song by Owl City:

I'm weird because I hate goodbyes


I really dislike this line. I believe we all hate goodbyes. They are difficult. They bring grief, they require us to find a new normal.

Nathanael and I interpreting. Me Spanish to English, Nathanael English to ASL




About a month ago, Alma's father passed. He had been sick for a while.  She doesn't have a good way to communicate with us. Nathanael pulled on to her road and noticed it was blocked off for a wake.  Some inquiries lead to the conclusion that yes her father had passed.  Nathanael finished picking up people for church. At church, it was decided that we would attend the funeral. We cleaned up and crowded into the van.

The Deaf who came to support Alma


We found a place for the Deaf to sit. Nathanael and I also obtained two chairs so that we could interpret. Alma was able to have the service and burial interpreted.


The burial


A not so significant but still difficult goodbye happened for us last week. We have 4 dogs. One of our dogs' Cookies, passed. She was Selah's dog. The most "rebellious" (she found multiple ways to get out of the gate). She was ever faithful to come back. We found more and more stuffed animals that she must've picked out of other's trash in our yard. Selah buried Cookies with the stuffed animal that appeared to be her favorite. We had to go out in the bush and find a place to put her. Selah decorated a stone block to put her memory on.

Selah makes Cookies gravestone



There are also the unexpected goodbyes that happen often. A short term team comes down, we make a connection and say goodbye. One that is not so difficult is Hipolito. He works across the border in Bacalar, Mexico.  He takes care of a training center there. Pastors from Mexico and Central America train to work with kids in their communities.  He also travels and encourages pastors in their congratulations. We had the privilege of staying at the training center a few days in November.  Zephaniah made a connection with Hipolito, following him around talking to him and playing with him.  Fortunately, Hipolito often comes for events that Koinonia has. Zephaniah says that Hipolito is his best Mexican Friend.

Zephaniah and Hipolito


Yes, I do hate goodbyes. At the same time, I wouldn't change the connections, love, and relationships we have gained.

Hipolito buys sweetbread from a man on a triciclo it reminded me of when I did that in Mexico 20 years ago


Please be praying for Alma's family.  Also, Abigail and I head to Stann Creek district today to work with Kids Konnect. If you would like to pray with us, here is a sign up: 

Thanks so much,

Spring

PS: I am trying to regularly send out prayer emails via email (every two weeks) if you would like to receive them and aren't, you can sign up to get them.