Tuesday, July 9, 2019

learning to be an advocate

Three weeks into our furlough. What have we been doing?  We have been eating salads and junk! Last week I went to the grocery store and came back with 4 different types of ice cream! The prices and variety just appealed to me too much!

Kelsey, Yalitza, and Elizanie

Things continue in Belize.

A post that I'd been wanting to write about for a while has been the gradual increase of medical involvement with our community.  It started as needs popped up.  It had an exponential increase as we took people to Kids Konnect, and has propagated by having 3 pregnant Deaf women.
at the hospital waiting to be seen

Nathanael's roll in the US was as an interpreter. He has years of experience in doctor's offices, hospitals, and in the community. He has taught me a lot about allowing the Deaf in our community to become their own advocates. It is unquestionably a process on both ends (mine and theirs).  The Deaf in our community often have people tell them what to do.  We are actively attempting to educate while allowing them to step in and be a part of their care.

Nathanael interprets in an appointment

One way that I am doing this is with the pregnant women.  I attended medical appointments. Nathanael interpreted, I encouraged the women to ask questions.
our last day (June 9) of church

In this process, Nathanael and I recognized the gap in the area understanding labor and breastfeeding.  I put together a short class, including YouTube videos and pictures.  I taught exercises to aide in preparing the body for labor, stages of labor, and about breastfeeding. Nathanael interpreted.  He had 2 Deaf women share their labor stories.

the class setup

We ate lunch together after the class.  I was able to give all 3 a stretch band to take with; hopefully incentive to continue the exercises at home.
Lunch was yummy, Anna joined us

The matriculation (and arguably most anticipated part) of this story is that Elizanie had her baby on July 2.  It is exciting to see her. We are bereaved that we were unable to be in Orange Walk to interpret during her labor.

Please be praying for Brieany as she had to go back into the hospital due to jaundice, as well as healing/health for Elizanie.

Kelsey and Yalitza will also (most likely) give birth to their children before we return. What prodigious time to be a part of Jesus Deaf Church!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Crossing Cultural Lines (again!)

I have about 5 ongoing lists currently. Things we want to see while in the US, things we need to buy, homeschooling needs, the list of lists goes on.  Today I'm sharing with you a list of what we will be required to remember.  What we need to remember you question? The behaviors and rules that are different here vs in the US. Without further ado our non-comprehensive list:

1.  Toilet paper goes in the toilet. (we may have to move the trash can outside of the bathroom to help with this one)
this is the sign inside of the bathroom of Western Dairies

2.  Personal space is a very different concept in the US vs Belize, especially when standing in  a line or waiting for something
Selah in line for popsicles at 

3 "right now" actually means that very moment! Here it means that is the next thing I will do, or just a moment.

Selah and Zion waiting for the water jugs to get filled

4. Wearing seat belts is the law. It would behoove me to tell you that not too long ago I was quite a stickler for carseat safety. That "me" would be embarrassed by this me.
Full van at Easter. Ni is on my lap. Misael and Elmer aren't even in seats (not to mention the kids bouncing around in the back

5. The sun goes down slowly and later. Here the time that the sun goes down only fluctuates between 4:30pm-6:30pm year round. Once the sun starts going down, it's usually down within half an hour.

picking out costumes for drama Sunday

6.  It's okay to walk in the rain.  Belizeans don't like to go out in the rain. They will stop at a shop and wait till the rain stops to continue on.
How seating is usually arranged for the sermon portion ( encourages interaction)

7. Re-orienting ourselves to be more "cold culture" in our time.  Belizeans tend to be relationship oriented "I give you my time because I care about you" They will make conversation with you, with a long line behind you.  North Americans tend to be task-oriented "I won't take up your time because I care about you" Neither is wrong, they are just different.

some of the people from Jesus Deaf Church who came to Abigail's quince

8 Pants and sweatshirts!  I have a feeling we are going to be quite cold! Our temps haven't been below 90 for over 2 months.  Due to high humidity, the overnight lows aren't usually below 80.

Selah helped serve at a Koinonia event

9 Eggs. In Belize, we buy them from a shelf and keep them on the counter

10. sending the kids to the local shop. In Pennsylvania, I probably would refer to these as a "convenience store" in a one block radius we have 3 food stores and 1 hardware store. I often send the kids out for eggs, rice, beans, onion or flour. The shops are labeled by the country of origin of the owner: "the Chinese shop" , "the Mestizo shop", "The Hindi (Indian) Shop"

I will leave the list at 10. This is mostly because we are in the midst of packing and cleaning.  If you notice my kids (or even us) doing something odd, feel free to ask us about it. Zephaniah especially seems to lose the context for how to act in the US. (We all flounder at times). We look forward to seeing you all in person and lots of hugs!

P.S. If you haven't received our newsletter yet, we do have a list of our current needs. If you feel called to fill those in one way or another please let us know!  :)

For those of you who live in Eastern PA, We are having a fundraiser dinner at Hopewell. Here is a copy of the Flyer. Email us or call Hopewell for more information:

I can't seem to load the flyer correctly (sorry) Here is the information:

Casual dinner and gathering of friends and supporters of the Davis Family serving as missionaries to the Deaf community in Belize. June 23, 2019 5:30 pm Hopewell Christian Fellowship 601 Hunsicker Road Telford, PA 18969

Thursday, May 30, 2019

a cultural celebration

If you are friends with Abigail on Facebook, this post isn't really a surprise to you. This past weekend, May 18th we celebrated Abigail "coming of age" through a fiesta de quinceaƱera.
The court for the quince: (l-r) Zephaniah, Jose, Alexander, Benji, Misael, Timothy, Abigail, Giani, Selah, Morene, Sasha, Zion

Last year Selah was able to be a part of Bethsy's and that was when Abigail decided she wanted one. It came with much discussion. 

Bethsy's Quince

I struggle because I am not one to plan details. Thankfully, Selah took up the reigns there. If you are wondering what a quince is here is a good short video on it:

I debated it but to be honest the idea of celebrating a child and dedicating them to the Lord as they are coming into adulthood was meaningful. I don't at all think it's a be all end all. As a teen, I got to attend a Barmitzvah. In some ways, a quince is the Christian form of this Jewish tradition. I do think honoring a child in this way can be significant. The real blessing to us came in that so many people came around us and helped make the day possible.

Abigail and Nathanael did a Father/daughter dance. Sorry about the photography. I had issues with the phone

Glendy was Abigail's madrina (godmother) and on top of it she planned all of the dances. Eve did all of the awesome decorations. Hermana Blanca and many other ladies in the church made the food. Pastor Ed and Dyna helped out with planning, renting tables and the sermon. Elizanie, my mom and Julie Groff were able to read verses to Abigail. Tim Groff took photos. Tanya helped with doing hair and opened her house to multiple people walking in and out all afternoon. Mariana and Rosa were the MC's and interpreted (into Spanish)

Julie and I try to navigate the bow on the back of Abigail's dress

Giani and Misael at practice. The court practiced about 15 hours of dances before the party

Jo interpreted for our church. What a blessing to celebrate and worship together as hearing and Deaf church.

Hector, Abigail and Glendy (the madrina and padrino)

Jose Luis and Zion

We are so thankful to those near and far who came to celebrate Abigail! In fact, my mom (Mary Ruth Ziegler) came down for 6 days surrounding the quince. She not only helped with makeup and washed my dishes, but she also helped complete the painting project that I'd been wanting to do for months now! Nathanael and I talked about her task-oriented nature :) (I do follow in her footsteps!) She didn't once complain about the heat. She and Julie helped put the curls in Abigail's hair. Of course, I just enjoyed being able to see her in person and hug her!
Abigail, Rosa, Mary Ruth, Mariana and Jo up front reading a verse

Benji and Selah

Abigail has set a precedent! We will see what the 2 more quince's we have will look like ;) I did talk a little with Zephaniah about how they really don't have a celebration for males. He said that when he turns 15, Nathanael and Misael will take him out for pizza. Then he wants them to sing happy birthday to him. We have 6 years to think about that. I am thankful at least one kid is thinking of a simple way to celebrate.

worship: the Deaf seating was on the left side of the church

Mary Ruth and Mariana

For now? Selah is already planning her quince!

Misael and Timothy holding Abigail during the dance

Sunday, May 19, 2019

connections through medical work

The middle of April arrived. Kids connect is something that the whole family really loves.  It was Selah's turn to join me.  Kids Konnect has graciously allowed Selah and I to ride the bus from the airport to Stann Creek. This is awesome because it means not waking up at 4:30 am to catch the bus!  TJ was returning to Dangriga. Other than the very full bus, the trip(s) went without incident.
Selah playing with one of the dogs at Camp Legacy(where we stay during our time with Kids Konnect)

Selah and I found the best places in the bunks (I like to stay away from the blowing air conditioner).

Selah, TJ and I wait for the bus

Wednesday nights are usually spent organizing distributing medicines, and catching up with friends. April Kids Konnect has been extra special the past two years. Nursing students come and serve. It is fun to meet people at the beginning of their nursing journey.

Selah, the helpers and nursing students had a drawing competition

Clinic days for us went: Silk Grass village, Pomona, and St Augustine. Routine is familiar but the patients fluid. I really do enjoy being able to bounce back and forth between interpreting and doing triage. It gives variety. I also often get to follow the same Spanish speaking patients from triage, to see the doctor and hand them their medication in the pharmacy. I believe I have now been in Silk Grass 6 times. It delights me to return to the same place, getting to know the same people and ask them how their lives are progressing.
the table set up for triage

Friday Nathanael brought a (very full) van load of mostly Deaf people from Orange Walk. It was an interesting and full day. The funniest part was me attempting to interpret ASL. Apparently if I didn't know the word in sign language I was vocalizing the Spanish word. We are so thankful to the people at Kids Konnect for loving the Deaf and accommodating them.
Nathanael interpreting for an eye exam

the "seating chart" for the van ride up. 23 people in a 15 passenger van for 3 hours (each way!)

The best part of this process has been an open door for me. We have been able to speak into the medical parts of people's lives. We sit with them and discuss medications. It helps to have a basis of understanding of what their medical issues are.
the April group who served

The other exciting thing was Zepahniah got to stay from Fri-Sunday with us to visit with his good friend Tucker (another TCK) who lives at the camp. His parents serve with Kids Konnect. Zephaniah spent Saturday exploring the creek, riding bikes, and having dart gun fights. What a delight for an 8 year old boy!

Zephaniah and friends catching fish in a net in the river

Thanks Kids Konnect! What a delight to work with you!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Truly celebrating

After returning from the EMM retreat, we had a meeting Friday night for Bible Study and planning of our annual Resurrection day service. What I love is that others are willing to contribute and make food! We bring the van, drinks and paper products.

The spot at Honeycamp lagoon

Friday night after Bible Study, Nathanael got a text. The private beach we had planned to go to at Honey camp Lagoon wouldn't be available for us to us. Nathanael scrambled with Misael out to the Lagoon on Saturday and secured a different spot. It was unexpected but we are thankful the pieces fell into place!

Alva and her 2 children Josue and Keily

Sunday we were ready bright and early. It is always a bit strange to me picking people up. Nathanael does this job. I am the one who stays at church to clean or stay at the house on Friday to finish making dinner.  We had a full van but not as full as last year.

we found a way that everyone fit in the van!

It was awesome celebrating Resurrection Day as a church. Elizaine led 2 worship songs she had practiced. To that end, April 22 after much discussion Elmer, her boyfriend also gave his life to the Lord.  What an awesome thing to rejoice over!  We hope and pray that the discipleship process will lead them to desire marriage for them and for their new little one that is coming in July.

Elmer and Elizanie in February when Todd Miller came

After our Easter service, we shared a meal, had an egg hunt, and enjoyed the time at the lagoon.  What a blessing to celebrate in this way.

Kids lined up for an Easter egg hunt

enjoying the swim in the lagoon

Had anyone noticed the extra non-Belizean in the group?  TJ Groff was with us for the weekend so he could practice the dances for Abigail's quinceanera. It was a delight to have him with us. Please lift us up in prayer as the pieces fall together to celebrate Abigail. The event is May 18, a week and a half away.  

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Friends, Fellowship and Dry heat Oh my!!

Mid-April brought an exciting time of year for us again! We were so excited to travel with the Groffs (Tim, Julie, TJ, Simeon, and Gabe) from Belize to El Tule Guatemala. Why do you ask? For the EMM Central American annual Retreat.

a evening worship session

Chiquimula felt just as dry-hot (about 7-10 degrees hotter than what we are used to in Belize) as it did last year. We did arrive at a different time of year (last year was during March).  Trees and plants were a bit more green; so beautiful to behold.  One may get the impression that we who live in Belize are "used to" the heat, but to me the day it hit 101, all I wanted to do was return to Belize!
singing together

We arrived a day early and got to shop at Megapaca, the Guatemalan form of a thrift shop. Picking through long aisles of clothes which were not ordered by size (or color) in a non-airconditioned store just about did me in!  We found some good deals though so I can be thankful!

we tried out this "4d" ride at the mall for 25 q (3$ us) we found the ride to be lacking

It is a joyful experience to hug old friends and meet new ones.  This year the Guatemalan Vida 220 team, Jeanne and Emily Hess provided child care.  With 29 kids, 17 between the ages of 10-16, they have a big job cut out for them! Hannah Zimmerman is the TCK advocate and comes on the trip. She spends time with the kids (mostly the older ones but the younger as well). She talks them through issues and helps them navigate the unique world they all face.  It is such a blessing to have her come!

older kids getting prayed over

While we have morning and evening sessions, the afternoon time is free. A lot of time is spent either swimming or sitting in the only room with AC. I didn't not feel so inclined to hike this year, although my kids did.  My favorite time is reconnecting with friends and learning about what God is doing in their lives.

multiple games of foursquare happened here

This year we were blessed with an uneventful trip to and from El Tule!  Last year we had issues with the tires and people who came along for rides, and their visa issues.  We did listen to some audio books which was enjoyable (from my perspective!)

Monopoly Deal with friends

The most difficult part of our retreat is the goodbyes that happen. We are so thankful to be able to participate in the EMM retreat!

Nathanael found a Deaf guy at the market