Thursday, January 12, 2023

Moving...

 Much has already been said about us moving and the dates of moving. Today I am addressing my emotions and the actual move.  Stick with me or move on (pun intended).  



One of our first photos ever in Spanish Lookout at Western Dairies, a local "fast food" type restaurant. Circa 2018:Selah and Phyllis Groff


To be honest we knew that the move to Spanish Lookout had much to do with what was vital for our emotional health: be in a community with more support. Leaving Orange Walk after 5 years was very difficult, some of this transition happened while we were in the US.  

This is when Jesus Deaf Church first started coming to Fountain of Life church. There is our house in the background!We didn't know it would be ours then (2018)



Recently we had visitors. The person, unfamiliar to our journey asked when we moved. I had to explain we moved into our current house on September 15.  That however preceded a move across countries in July which preceded a quick leave in June of 2021 where things were simply stuffed into a trailer.  All of that to say this move has been drawn out and difficult. We finally feel as though we are at the end of a long  period of multiple transitions. 


First day of school in Spanish Lookout around our kitchen table



This past year and a half was probably double what any of my transitions have been in the past. I felt like I spent too much time not giving myself the space and grace to take in the change. In all of this, I am finally beginning to have a place of feeling "home" when we pull up.  It is gracious and wonderful. We are still finding our feet as we take up new ministry and continue with the "old'.

Our first official night in the house, September 15 2022: also Selah's birthday. Celebrated with the Groff family


One thing that has hit me from the enemy is a feeling of failure. We moved as a family because of our emotional needs. Did we abandon those who also need a touch of Jesus?  Nathanael was one to give me a huge perspective.  He reminded me that moving and having a ministry "come to it's own" is an accomplishment.  It is also a process of entrusting. I am NOT the savior of Jesus Deaf Church. (Neither is Nathanael) Jesus is. I need to trust that He has the best in mind: for our family, for our greater Deaf family in Orange Walk, and for our new brothers and sisters in Spanish Lookout.  

they have built dorm type rooms under our house which was previously on stilts. The work is almost completed



While we are still in the same country, about a 2.5 hour drive from Orange Walk, we are in a totally different culture.  People even speak a different language at times. There are spaces of feeling like we "should" know what to do but we just don't.  It's humbling!  We live directly behind Fountain of Life church. Yes we are again blessed to have church literally outside of our door!  We are surrounded by farmland, cows new smells and sounds. Who would have imagined being able to hear howler monkeys from their porch?  We are ever impressed by the green parrots that make Spanish Lookout home.  My favorite thing is to have less light pollution. We can see so many stars at night!!! 


I like to walk with the dogs down the path behind our house


While we are unpacked, I still have some organizing to do. I hope to do a short "tour" of our home by February.  Be look on the lookout on Facebook!


We have been blessed to find community here. The girls went to the Christmas youth banquet, were able to invite friends, and Nathanael and I participated by serving. It was a lovely time



Thank you for following us on this journey.


Spring

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Kidz Konnect October 2022

 After a year and a half of not being able to go go Kidz Konnect, it was so refreshing to return. 

Taking a blood sugar


Nathanael was able to get people from both the Spanish Lookout area as well as the deaf from Orange Walk. It was fun and challenging to have new people to navigate their health with.  We look forward to continuing in the future!

Kristen helps Dr Ed by interpreting

Kristen is also learning the "art" of professional interpreting. Her mom and uncle are deaf so she has experience. Nathanael is giving her the skills and time to do it. Kristen is in her last year of high school and we hope that this will lead to a good job for her.

Triage with a baby :)

It is fun to be able to walk through the process with the Deaf to have them be completely understood while they are navigating their medical care. At times, we have to put the pieces together of the other care they have received and the medicines they are on. It is a maze and an adventure.

Zion helping interpret fot the people who gave out glasses


The greatest "accomplishment" this time was from a young guy. He really needed some glasses. Fortunately there was a team who was there just to provide basic glasses.   For me I was floored. He is a young guy (15) who has a full time job. He relies on sign language for communication. I can't imagine having to figure things out without being able to see well. We are so excited for him!! 

Of course post clinic I was able to visit, explain meds and do some follow up care. 

Me taking a blood pressure in Orange Walk and explaining meds/visiting with the family

We are so thankful for those who serve with Kidz Konnect!! It helps us better serve the deaf of Belize. 










Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Misael takes to the skies

 In an effort to "catch up" on the past few months, I am working on updates.

Nathanael and Misael discuss travel before the big day


Aug-September were very busy months for us. On top of moving (which involved going through stuff in storage and downsizing significantly), a lot of events centered around Misael.  I know I've done posts with him in the past He has been a part of Jesus Deaf Church since Nancy started it.  He has been a part of family activities and discipleship since 2015.  It has been a raising-up process.  

Church at Jesus Deaf church Orange Walk



Misael grew up Catholic and was hesitant to get baptized. His father passed away last year. When baptism was discussed with his mother, she was very open to the idea.  His mother said if Misael's father was alive, he would have been opposed to the baptism. While we mourn the great loss, we are thankful for the openness of his mother. Misael decided to get baptized in Spanish Lookout at "Mennonite Beach".  You can view the Facebook live here:

Facebook live

On September 16, Nathanael and Misael trekked to Jamaica.   Due to it being the first time flying, and the fact that Misael is Deaf and traveling to a country where they don't use his language, Nathanael went along as an interpreter.  They flew from Belize to Panama, then to Jamaica.  

Misael walks onto the plane


They were able to do some sightseeing, and of course meet with Deaf in Panama. They attended a Deaf church service in Panama. 

Photo of the people after Deaf church


Arriving in Jamaica, Nathanael got to spend 4 days at the YWAM base with Misael prior to returning to Belize.

Playing a game with YWAM staff



Misael is on a journey of learning and growing.


Nathanael and Misael at the YWAM base




We are excited for him!!! 


The group of people at the YWAM base this fall. Please be praying for them



Thursday, December 1, 2022

Souderton Mennonite Youth team (with a few prized adults added in)

 Two weeks after landing on Belizean soil, Nathanael and I trekked to the airport in Ladyville.  On the way we picked up a rented green van. 



The youth group along with 5 adults arrived without a hitch, although the people in immigration gave them a run for their money.



One thing I really admired was the ability of both the youth and leaders in their fluidity. We discovered with regret that the rented van didn't have AC.  The team didn't grumble.  We are in the midst of rainy season. One of the days the team spent the entire day traipsing through mud, rain pouring in their faces while accomplishing manual labor.



Our work days looked like:  Half of the team worked diligently at manual labor. The other half went with Nathanael for a visit to someone in the Deaf community.  It was my job to set up for a Deaf woman to come, and get supplies for lunch.  Nathanael's team returned and worked on preparation for the noon meal.  ( and in the process learned a bit about Belizean cooking and some sign language).



In the afternoon I took a medical team for a check-up. A team would go with Nathanael on another visit, and the laborer's returned to the church building.  



I am glad that the youth got to spend time in people's homes. They saw the reality of life as a Deaf Belizean. The youth played games and interacted, which also was a good lesson in language learning. 



Thank you Souderton Mennonite for visiting, the blessing you were to the Orange Walk Deaf community, and the building of the church!!






This is the service that the youth led after being in Orange Walk


Saturday, June 11, 2022

 

Unlikely Partnerships(better known as giving praise where praise is due)

by Spring: In January, My sister Summer emailed me about being a part of a mud run. Her daughter later asked me why I signed up. My answer? I love your mom. I was NOT looking forward to the cold or dirt or even the running.  When we received the weather report (High of 54 and rainy), I was even less enthusiastic. I imagined myself shivering, uncomfortable and dirty for a few hours of torture.  Honestly it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  There were many obstacles, and an abundance of mud. At one point, we had to climb over a wall with only two places to step and a dripping muddy rope. I climbed to where I physically could. Then I was stuck, both in fear and due to my height. Nathanael and Summer stood on one side, ready to help, Isaac coming up from below. And yet I couldn’t move. Tears dripped, I insisted I couldn’t make it. They looked down at me, and assured me their strength in pulling me up wouldn’t toss me over the wall as I was imagining. I wish I had a photograph as three came together with my strength to propel me over. 

I don’t have a picture but I do want you, as our supporters, to visualize what has been happening the past year.  Many have come alongside us.  Their support allowed us to do what we wouldn’t have been able to do alone, and we didn’t go flying into the mud.  Some of this help came in little things: meals provided, childcare, mentorship, music lessons for kids. Others came as big packages: prayer warriors, weekly check ins, taking care of our kids, cleaning for us.  We want to thank all of you for the support you gave. It didn’t go unnoticed, and reached us in our deepest need.


Saturday, February 19, 2022

 Nathanael gives us a "guest post" about his recent trip.  To that end, we have printed and sent a paper copy of the newest newsletter. As soon as that hits mailboxes, we'll be sending the e-mail version. Be on the lookout there are some "big" updates :)


It was about 7pm and we were hungry.  Misael and I decided to go look for dinner.  We ended up at a pupuseria.  It was a long, tiring, good day.  It started early in the morning with the church.  After church, we dropped everyone off and headed to Belmopan, the capital of Belize for a short hike.  In Guanacaste Park, we saw a family of coatimundis, monkeys, and the normal tropical birds.



I knew the area where we were eating our pupusas, a kind of stuffed corn tortilla with queso and pollo, with a bunch of pepper sauce on the top.  Seven months prior I had dropped a family of 5 with a Deaf mom and dad off in the area so they could walk the rest of the way home.  Misael and I decided to try to find them after we ate.

We drove to the area and walked around in the dark asking people, in Spanish if they knew a Deaf family in the area.  With each response, we were closer and closer to finding them.  Finally after about a half hour a young guy who spoke English hoped off his bike and walked us down a path past many houses with dim lights and a lot of barking dogs, warning us of our intrusion.  The young man pointed in a direction where he said there was a house with a red roof.  The only electric in the area were a few personal solar panels.  Finally we found the house and called to the family.




The family was a little fearful and didn’t respond until I shined my flashlight on my face.  I then heard my friends Deaf voice say, “Tortuga.”  My nick name in sign language is Turtle, but that’s a story for another time.  Immediately they opened the door and welcomed us in.  After 5 minutes I had a 2-month-old in my hands to bless and kiss.  It was difficult to communicate in sign language with the dim lights.  I agreed to give them my rechargeable flashlight to help in the future with their communication.  Misael and I invited the Deaf man on a hike the next day.




We picked Sandino up at 8 and headed to the jungle.  We spent the day exploring caves, cenotes, and cascading waterfalls.  I’m sure Jesus came up here and there, but I wasn’t intentional about it.  I focused on enjoying the time and building relationship.  At the end of the day, Sandino asked me about salvation and baptism.  Misael and I decided to invite the family for Pizza.  We 4 adults sat together as Misael and I laid out the gospel.  What an amazing conversation initiated by the prompting of the Holy Spirit to Sandino.  Please pray for Sandino and his wife Elena as we continue to find opportunities to minister to them. 




Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Same, Same but different

  I had the privilege of working on a book launch.  The book focused on Third Culture Kid issues. The phrase that repeated itself was "same, same but different.", which is apparently a common Thai phrase. the book is set in Thailand)



the mighty group of people who served in the April Medical Trip


Same, same but different would adequately sum up my time with Kidz Konnect 4 Jesus.  This was my first post-covid trip.

Hannah preformed a puppet show for a darling Girl. Shirley was videoing it


Same:  The trip to the airport (with Zephaniah) on the bus was the same. It really was the first time in a year and a half I have ridden the bus. Of course the windows were wide open and our masks were on at all times.  We met those that came in to the airport and rode the Kidz Konnect bus to Stann Creek. 


Ava spent about 6 months at our house. She's a Coatimundi, she was wonderful and destructive. Thankfully the Carney's accepted her onto their property. Now she has the jungle to roam and still interacts with people regularly. Here Myla the youngest Carney lets Ava smell her hand


Zephaniah and I both stayed at the camp. Zephaniah was there to spend 5 uninterrupted days with his good friend and fellow TCK Tucker. From what I understand they spent their days running and playing around the jungle. (Tucker's mom Candace threated them with schoolwork or household chores if they came inside, I think she's awesome!) I was so thankful that Zephaniah had this time. He's been trying to get together with Tucker like this for a long time. 

Tucker, Zephaniah, and Solomon got to ride on the bus with the team on Saturday


Same:  We held clinics for three days at 6 locations. We worked well as a team to pray, minister, and add " a little bit of medicine"   

the clinic set-up in Silk Grass


but different:  obviously masked in 90 degree weather, reduced patients and using a device to call a doctor in the US is different. We were mostly doing medication refills. The people from Jesus Deaf church didn't come, instead I obtained their medications and did assessments from their homes. 


Nathanael and I did medical visits, with Nelly here


It was such a blessing to be able to bring needed medication and care to our community.  Although this was "different" it was the same in the level of care and attitude placed into the work.

Taking Alma's blood pressure



Thanks Kidz Konnect 4 Jesus for another "best  trip ever!"