Sunday, December 20, 2015

Friday busy day..

Friday was a busy day. Excitment was in the air.  We had been anticipating Ben's arrival for over a month.  The countdown was on.  

In the morning, I went over to People store.  They are the ones who sell butter the cheapest.  Nathanael left at 10am.  He had to take a bus then taxi to get to the airport.  

While we were waiting for Ben, we also had to make cookies. We had a cookie exchange to go to on Sunday. To shake things up a little, friends came to help.  There were lots of cookies.  

There was dancing, Christmas movies, Christmas music and play in the pool. 

Dance party!! 

We also had a dog :)

I made the kids go out to play so I could wash the dishes.  

Ben and Nathanael walked down the street from the bus stop. Shouts and excitement ensued!  Poor Ben must've been overwhelmed. 

Of course I enjoyed going through the suitcases! Thanks so much for all you sent us.  More to come on our experiences, and of course pictures!  We are about to spend the week on Thank you notes ;)  :)  

Thursday, December 17, 2015


She was "little" when she came out.. all 6lbs 10oz of her, smaller than her sister.  The first thing I noticed about her was the two dimples on the right side of her face.  The smaller one she had has faded.  The larger one is one of my favorite things about her..

So why talk about Selah?  The Velvet Ashes theme of the week is "ponder" Selah's name just kept running in my head.. over and over

Nathanael came up with her name. Since he chose it so long ago from the Psalms, we have met or heard of a good number of girls named Selah.  At the time it felt pretty unique.  Selah is a musical term. It means to stop and think about it, or rock.. much along the same line as ponder.  Selah is a ponderer. She just loves to think about how things work, what things do, or how they can be put together.

We really wanted Selah to carry the name of a friend.  She is named after our dear friend Lauren whose middle name is Elizabeth.

Esperanza is Selah's second middle name.  It means to wait or hope in Spanish.

When we decided Selah's name we didn't realize right away that her initials spell SEED.  Now she loves that it does as do we.

I struggle with this not being a "perfect" post but I will leave it as it is.  I have really enjoyed re thinking why she was named what she was named.  To us it was very important to also consider name meanings.

She is the girl that when I stop to think about it, never stops amazing me.  I am blessed to be her mom

Monday, December 14, 2015

National Spelling Bee for the Deaf

This past Thursday was the culmination of a 4 month project Nathanael worked on. It was the National Spelling Bee for the Deaf of Belize. It was one of the first projects he was given the opportunity to help with for the Ministry of Education in Belize

Nathanael was given two lists of words with about 300 words each. He then had to choose a sign or signs for each word. He had the opportunity to work closely with Andre Craig Macool, Deaf Belizean man. Mr. Macool helped to make sure that the signs chosen fit the Belizean regional ASL signs.

After the 600 words were confirmed, and signs were agreed upon; Nathanael aided in making a video of all of the signs with their spellings.  This was sent around the country.  The Deaf and hard of hearing students studied their words by watching Nathanael ;).

You can imagine Nathanael's confusion when we visited the Cayo Deaf school a month ago.  The students pointed at him.  They signed "movie".  Finally Nathanael realized that they recognized him from the study video!  What a fun thing for people all over the country to recognize who you are.

Nathanael really appreciated being able to work on the spelling bee for several reasons.The Spelling Bee is a valuable tool. It introduces the Deaf students to vocabulary.  The exposure happens in ASL as well as English. The students also improve their spelling skills  immensely . Some of the students walked away with prizes; but all of them have walked away with knowledge. This means that they are all winners.

Nathanael had a lot of fun and hopes to participate again he following year.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Treasure Hunt!

When I was 5, a family tradition started.  Age 5 was the only year we were allowed to have a "non-family" party.  My parents made it a big production.  This is a blessing that comes along with being the oldest; getting to be the first to do things.

My father put together a treasure hunt. My friends and I followed clues through the yard trying to get to the end. I actually don't even remember what the prize was.  The joy of the hunt stuck with me.

When Abigail (our oldest) turned 5 we also had a big-production party. Not really pin-trest worthy, but still fun.  Her theme: The pirates who don't do anything.  We again had a treasure hunt.   Why?  I had so much fun when I was 5; and pirates go together well with treasure hunts?

We actually didn't do a treasure hunt again, not in my family growing up or our family now.  It was a fun tradition and I wish we had stuck with it.

A little while ago I started a different type of hunt.  I began to read Ann Voskamp's book.  I tried
to be thankful for what was around me.  I felt like I'd found the key to unlock a magic door.

Most of highschool, my marriage and especially when I graduated nursing school I struggled with depression.  I prayed about it.  I read books.  I asked God to make me joyful.

I learned that thankfulness is key.  Does it "solve"depression.. no it doesn't. It does help with  my attitude.  It does help me see the world differently.

I seek joy, and I find it.  "Working" for it makes the difference.  You see the treasure hunt isn't always about the prize, it is about the delight of the hunt.
Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What we see

My blog post is a little late this week.  Between Nathanael's work (mostly him being gone), extra church activities and regular activities, it's been a full week!

I thought it would be fun to show all of you a little of what our world looks like:
This is our house. We stay on a corner of two streets.  We live in the top of the house.  The bottom is a storage area.  A few times a week guys with a big truck stop by to pick up/drop off things to the storage area.  

This is the street that runs along the "back" of our house.  I have the back in quotes because there is disagreement as to what is the front and back of the house since we have 2 doors, both of which face  the street. 
This is a little shop directly across from our house.  The people are friendly.  We can get eggs and water, also snacks from them. We also have two other shops walking distance from us.  The children say they will miss the ability to walk to a shop and get something quickly.  

 This is the view of our house from the neighbors yard.. you actually can't see much of our house except for the palm tree. We don't see much of the people who live in this house. I think most of the time the kids are watching TV.

At one point the doorknob on Abigail and Zephaniah's room was stuck, I was trying to go around to help her but I got scared.. this ledge runs around the outside of our windows. Below me is our side yard
This is our other gate, along with the opening for the storage area.  We have a small side yard as well with plants and grass

Here is further down our street, right across from the church.  This family sells shaved oranges and a few other items outside of their house. We buy the oranges at least once a week. I like to make fresh squeezed orange juice with them.  

This is the side of the church, directly across from the other picture.  The bathrooms are in the right of the picture.  Nathanael was cleaning for a movie night. He left the windows shut. 

here is the front of the church.  We usually enter the church from the other side, the door with the keyhole is in that side :) One must walk around the church to get to the bathroom as there isn't a direct way through the church. 

This is the view of church from the back. It was set up for Movie night on Friday.  There are usually more people here on Movie night so Nancy has to take two van "runs" to pick everyone up.  I sat in back with the very young children. 

This is a street being redone.  It is close to the market where we buy vegetables as well as the ice cream place. 

of course I couldn't resist adding a picture of us enjoying ice cream. Western Dairies is a Belizean company based in Spanish Lookout.  Ice cream from them is very reasonable.  These cones were 2 $ each.  The American ice cream costs us a pretty penny (and we don't eat it!!) we saw it in the store for 65 dollars for a half gallon (Our exchange rate is 2$ to 1$ American) 

And Finally Nathanael on the street conversing with a friend from church.  This man has about an hour bus ride from a village outside of Orange Walk., A few deaf people have been attending from the outside villages. It is so awesome to see them come

Friday, November 27, 2015

Some misc fun pictures/Thanksgiving

We had a small thanksgiving celebration as a family.  It was good to simply not have the pressures to "do or be".  The kids enjoyed relaxing, we played some games and watched a family movie. 
We also had the joy of spending time with Nancy and Sulmi on Saturday.  Weren't we lucky two thanksgiving meals!! (In one week) now to go on a diet... ;)

Here are some pictures of our recent weeks experiences.  

There are many rainbows here! So beautiful

We enjoy the tacos/tostadas on the street.

Selena had her baby about 2 months ago.  Everyone in church loves to hold him.

Zephaniah Celebrated his birthday in style!!

What an awesome day at the local thrift shop!  New games.  I used the money a friend gave us to buy a few.  We had missed playing games!

Second game of clue since we got it on Saturday

This is a really interesting video on the emotions that TCK's go through when thinking about what "home" is.. I liked it in light of my other post :) 

Fun with curlers

Nathanael joined some men in cooling off Sunday afternoon

and finally Hopewell does their church announcements through video. This past Sunday,  we had the privilege of doing the announcements.  This is just a video of the announcements.. nothing exciting, but we thought people who didn't see them may enjoy a small glimpse of what our environment looks like on a daily basis.  
Nathanael worked very hard on the captions and signs so please watch :) Captioned for Deaf signed for Deaf:

Getting larger or smaller?

As a someone who is a "Martha" by nature, I tend to measure my worth in what I do.  I can tell you I know this isn't healthy. I can tell you that is not how God sees me. I can also tell you that getting my "to do" list interrupted is a troublesome thing for me.

God and I we're working on this.  First he moved me to a country where I feel lonely; and a culture where things move at a much slower pace (this is good for me!).

When I looked at the word for today, I was baffled.  My world in many ways has gotten much smaller, not enlarged. We work with a people group that is marginalized but isn't necessarily "all around" me.  It is a people group that is in every corner of the world, yet largely remains unreached.

My husband had a job and many opportunities the minute he touched foreign soil. Me?  I still have to get my nursing licence in order to apply to volunteer. We are still unsure of how this will work with Nathanael's responsibilities and calling.

 I have enlarged my heart, for the people around me; for the opportunities that we would love to see happen.  I have enlarged the vision for what I would love to do with my responsibilities.

At the same time, the pace, the home responsibilities (which simply take longer in a developing country) are teaching me to try to live every moment with God.  Really the dependance on him is what is enlarging my heart..

for a country that is not my own
for a people who are different than me
for the climate that means you are constantly sweaty
for the alone time I get when I hang wash on the roof
for the fact that I have the privilege of being with my children all of the time..

Really largeness and smallness are relative, but I pray God would enlarge the places in my heart that need it; giving me the focus on the important things.

Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas

Friday, November 20, 2015


When I first read the word, I had to make sure I was reading it right.. so I did what all millennials do, I used the google dictionary!  There are two parts of examination that struck me:

Examine- an internal examination of ones-self; the discipline of exploring the how and what of our actions.  This is a tough one for me.  I tend to be very self deprecating.  If there is a conflict, the first person I blame is myself.  Since I have this tenancy, my self examining tends to lean towards me telling myself how terrible I am.

But God... when I focus on God, while examining my heart the view is much different. I am able to see my own fallacies, need for improvement and thoughts.  At the same time, he shows me who I am.  He lets me know who I serve.  He gives me a reason for doing the examination in the first place.

When I focus inwardly, I don't desire to change.  When my focus of examine is heavenward, I am propelled toward change.

The second part of the definition is a testing.  I was immediately reminded of how James tells us testing will cause us to be more complete, to lack nothing.  Oh how I want to lack nothing. In the process of learning not to lack, is the process of giving up.

Testing is difficult.  Most people don't choose to walk into a trying time.  I would have to say I like to join with the sentiment.  I told our pastor's wife that I am not sure I would re-choose the path we had taken if I knew what it looked like.  Her response: most people wouldn't.

It affected me profoundly.  God doesn't show us the whole picture because it involves a lot of testing, trying and becoming more and more like him.  While I can be brave in the moment and say I am glad he choose to test me. I am glad he allows me to grow and change.  I hope the next test that comes along I remember what I just told you!

James 1:2-4The Message (MSG)

Faith Under Pressure

2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas

This post based on Velvet Ashes the Grove's word of the week.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Care package

A few people have asked us about care packages.  The best way to assure that something will get to us is to send it with someone who is visiting us.   Please email us if you'd like their information.. or just drop things off at my parents house ;)

521 Broadway Ave
Sellersville Pa 18960

Please feel free to get things from the Thrift Shop

Hail Merry (available in the Giant natural foods refrigerated section)
whoopie pies
Stash tea( Breakfast in Paris, Chocolate mint)
Yogi tea(detox, perfect energy, woman's energy, calming)
Trader Joe's Fall harvest decaf tea
Trader Joe's Chai Latte mix
Chia Seeds
Kozi Shack Tapioca pudding
dark chocolate
popping corn (anything that is not Goya brand yellow kernels, those are the only kind we have here)
any healthy snacks.. (coloring free) there is a great lack of healthy snacks here
Beef Jerky
Black Twizzlers
Real maple syrup
steel cut oats

legos (Not available here at all)
picture books
chapter books reading levels 3-8
These books for Selah's Spring semester  class: Sarah Plain and Tall, Christy, Poets of the 1800's
Selah really likes Geronimo Stilton Books, Abigail enjoys graphic novels
headphones (over the ear work best)
minion or frozen posters etc to hang on the wall. (this is the theme of the kids rooms)
cell phone chargers
board games (monoply and Life are family favorites)

Misc. items:
printer ink hp #61 especially black ink (this printer seems to go through more ink than our other printer we have started to print in draft mode)

This is not a "we demand everything on the list" type of thing.  Some people had asked me for suggestions, so I wanted a place we coud refer them to :)  Thanks so much for praying for us. We would love to connect with you!
This is my favorite picture from the goodbye party in July :)  We think and pray for you all often. Thank you for loving us

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

We have started using the "h" word

and it's not the word you're thinking of...

The word home can mean different things to different people. Yesterday we were watching Little House on the Prairie. Selah has a class through Landry Academy, and has been reading through these books.  We watched the pilot, released in 1974. :) We watched as the family said goodbye to grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends.  They would "probably never see them again"

They traveled to the unknown, in search of a dream.  Laura's father didn't want to continue to live hand to mouth. He wanted to own land, a wide expanse of land.  At one point the family gets very close to a town. Ma is elated! Oh to see other people again, and buy what they need. Pa is annoyed. They did not come all of this way to see town. They came to find land. 

Finally the perfect plot is found and house building starts. Ma must help Pa in the building even though she "wasn't built" for the job.  She tires, Pa feels guilty.  He should not have her do the work.  There is no one else to do it. He took her away from her home, her family all she has known.  Ma looks at Pa and says "my home is where you are."

The sentiment is sweet. We like to believe that she thinks this all of the time.

Us? we are just starting to experience things, culture, newness (or not so new), food, etc is really all different to us.  There are some things we like and some things we could do with out. There are a lot of things we are doing without.

How do we decide what home is?  All of the children have a different answer.  No one feels like here is home yet. Will that change? Probably. For now we find ourselves in the middle.  We appreciate both cultures, we dislike some things of both cultures.   As we work through this, we are finding the need to give each other grace.  Life can get messy.

One cool thing about leaving all you know is that you are called to more deeply depend on each other. It has been a blessing to watch my children become better friends with one another.  Does this happen all of the time? Absolutely not!

As you think of us, pray we can find our culture. We need to be dependent on Jesus. We need to find places and times to rest, and times to interact.  We need to find our "home" with each other.  Our home won't look 100% American or 100% Belizean, but it is our prayer that it will be 100% us. We pray that through finding this, we can reach those we've been called to reach.  Thank you for praying with and for us!

(Pictures taken from our monthly trip to renew our visa's, drinking water from a bag, Western Dairies, the Mennonite own ice cream parlor, the map book Zion is studying, and Zion's math today, we had to use coins from here.. it was fun!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Excitement and anticipation are building up in our house!  Zephaniah has been waiting since June 26 (Abigail's birthday) to turn 5.  We are only 5 days away from that goal!  It is difficult since his birthday is always "last".  There are over 3 months between his and Zion's birthday.

The thing about Zephaniah's birthday is for me it is a time that is bittersweet.  I will take you back to me being approximately 8 months pregnant with him. I had attended MOPS for years. In the course of that time I met a wonderful woman named Michelle.

Michelle had children later in life than me. She was wiser and experienced.  She told me it was okay when I came off of nighshift not to turn on the lights in the house.. (why did that matter you ask??) It felt like every shift as I returned at 4am, my feet would crunch as I walked across it. It was so difficult to have 3 children, work and homeschool. Crunchy floors didn't matter when the day was done!  Michelle found out she had breast cancer, stage 4.

So when I was 8 months pregnant, I attended her funeral.  I didn't have the right words to say. I watched her youngest son, 6 at the time, and thought about what his life would be like.  Her death was only the beginning.

The week that Zephaniah was due, we received an email from my aunt. My cousin had gone into premature labor with her son.  She lost Jonas the next day to Potter's syndrome, and 18 months later her second son Jeremiah to the same syndrome.  We were unable to attend the funeral since I was in the hospital during his funeral, with Zephaniah.

November 12 2010 Zephaniah all 9lbs 4oz of him, entered the world. He was surrounded by so many who loved him.  The same day, only a few miles away our friends had their daughter at CHOP.  Zephaniah thrived.  He was over 10 lbs by his follow up visit a week later.  Their daughter did not. She had a heart condition, and died in January.

While Zephaniah was still in the hospital, we found out a good friend's mother was diagnosed with cancer. Daisy was not only a friends mother, but she made me and my children feel welcome.  She also later died.

January 2011, we were at my aunt's house (the same one who lost 2 grandchildren) when we got another terrible call. Our dear friends lost their daughter during labor.  It was a comfort to be with someone who knew about the pain we were experiencing.

Sometimes I get stuck on the "why's". Sometimes I wonder why there was so much death  in that period of our lives.  Prayers didn't get answered the way I thought they should.

It profoundly affected me.  Five years later, I still think about loss in a different way.   Mostly I like to remember. Michelle, Jonas, Jeremiah, Daisy, Liza Jane, and Jubilee.  To me their lives mattered a lot.

Friday, November 6, 2015

One last post on our trip

I know that the blog posts on our trip have gotten drawn out over a 2 week period.  I hope the anticipation makes  it more exciting to read. 

Thursday our day in Cayo district was "free" originally Nathanael had planned on visiting the Deaf institute that day.  Since they were taking a trip, we re-arranged to visit Wednesday.  The best part of this is Galen and Phyllis drove us, otherwise we could have had a few mile walk from the bus stop.

Since our newsletter had recently been sent, we got an email from Mr. Theisen.  We originally met them at the Belize reunion. They are a part of the Spanish Lookout community.

I will diverge into a short history lesson: The Mennonites in Belize began their immigration by going to Canada in the late 1800's.  After the first World War, Canada was not protecting the rights of these original German citizens(to not bear arms, to speak in German).  At this point, many migrated to Mexico.  In the 1950's Mexican politics made them desire to move to Belize.  They have lived and settled in Belize since this time.  They have their own communities, which vary in the level of conservatism.  Some wear cape dresses, others have more "modern" clothes.  Spanish Lookout community controls their governing, maintains roads, and cares for it's people.  If you are interested in a greater study of this, there is a 2 part video on Mennonite migration to Belize on youtube

Mr. Thiesen lives in Spanish Lookout. He owns a part in the chicken hatchery, the one that provides 80% of the chicken to the country.  He and his wife Tina opened their home to us and we had lunch.  They were willing despite the fact that this wasn't their plan for the day.  Their hospitality was so welcoming.  After lunch, at 12:30, when their children would normally return to school, Mrs Thiesen casually mentioned she should call the school to let them know the kids would be late. 

After she called, we thought the kids would rush out the door.. nope.. they played and talked for another half an hour.  Tina offered for the Davis children to go to school with the Thiesen children. I inquired if the teacher would be annoyed with a interruption in her day?  No, she insisted the teacher would love for them to visit.  Abigail and Zion braved the trip.

I couldn't help but laugh to myself.  My homeschooled kids taking a trip to school.  The mode of transportation? A four wheeler. Zion and Josiah weren't even wearing shoes!  What a difference in lifestyle.  Nathanael, Selah and Ni enjoyed touring their property, visiting, and looking around Spanish Lookout.  The highlight of the trip for Selah was the ride to the bus stop.  This one was taken with all of the kids piled in the pickup. 

I really appreciated the approach the Theisen's had to life. They truly are of a "warm culture".  They place much value on relationship and time spent together.  It was helpful for this mom who rushes to "get it all done".  It truly is a blessing to sit back and enjoy.

Sometimes this attitude frustrates us.  Our taxi driver laughed at my frustration with the length of the visa process.  It takes at least an hour to renew our visas(which has to be done monthly).  Most of this is due to people socializing.  Nathanael has had the blessing of approval for  his work with the ministry of education.  We have to remind ourselves though that we are not in the US;and the process of him getting the job (work permit, etc) is still taking a while. 

It is good for us to learn to value relationship. It is an exercise in trust to continue working at relationships when all we want to do is accomplish tasks. 

Prayer requests:

Things would progress with Nathanael's work permit and his job for the ministry of education
For us in relationships with each other and those around us
for us to find a hearing church to call home
wisdom with Spring's nursing license. (possibility of volunteering but how and what time of day)
language growth with Spring (look for a future blog post on this!)
opportunities to grow in friendships with those around us

Thanks so much for enduring this long post today!  Thank you for praying for us!