There is a difficult gap that we live in.. the one between a world we left.. the church that thinks we are "awesome" for being missionaries. and the world we are currently in. Sometimes we still get exalted. Other times people are confused by us. We don't fit into their frame of reference.
Living in Mexico was a coming of age experience for me. I moved from my parents to a place I didn't know, a language I wasn't familiar with, and people who confused me. I am sure that our children are also experiencing this. The first time I went to visit someone who lived in a house; small throw together house from tossed off materials, I was unsure of what to do. Their house was smaller than my bedroom. The only thing that they seemed posses of any value was the TV.
I experienced something similar here. While visiting the taxi driver, I had to use the bathroom. The 5 boys/men who are sharing the "toilet"(read outhouse) were quite embarrassed. I tried my best to be gracious, as well as acting like it was no big deal. I want to invite them over to our house.. but how without seeming like we're bragging about what we have?
It is times like this I go back to my original epiphany. The only thing we ever have to offer is Jesus. Our houses, money, programs, and fanciness are worthless without him. He is the reason, he is the calling, his is the ultimate relationship. Nothing compares.
As we continue to navigate this journey; riding full "chicken buses" standing up, using the toilet that doesn't flush (with out paper), visiting those who have to use a bucket to relieve themselves; remember Jesus.
Monday: Nathanael went to Belize City. He is still discussing his "job description" for the ministry of education. He also worked on the spelling bee work with people there. He is helping the ministry of Ed to decide signs for the national Deaf spelling bee.
Tuesday: was Selah's birthday. She chose to go to the local "bubble tea" restaurant. The kids all love Bubble tea. :) It is a vegetarian Taiwanese place, so we also had vegetarian dumplings for lunch.
After dinner, we had some friends over to eat cake with us. It was a really nice evening. We had a impromptu prayer time for the father of the family. We ended the evening with a game. Everyone was laughing and enjoying the time spent. Selah felt loved.
We also got to "sit in" on the MST meeting that happened in the states. It was good to give an "in person" update (via Skype) and see people!
Wednesday: Nathanael continued his work for the ministry of Ed with the spelling bee. Abigail and I visited Selena, a woman from the church who just had a baby. I was slightly concerned about how Abigail would react to their small home. She did so well, playing with her girls and talking with them. I only got one picture.
Thursday: Nathanael finished the spelling bee work (600 words to approve signs for) with some help from friends. While he was working on this, and the girls were doing school work, Zephaniah and Zion were playing a game where Zephaniah's hands were tied.. or immobilized somehow.
He fell face first (or rather chin first) onto the hard tile floor. Since his hands weren't there to stop him, it was a pretty bad fall. He already had a healing cut on his chin so I think it simply opened up. Nancy was able to take us to the local clinic after her morning work. Ni did well. They only gave him one stitch.. right in the middle of the wound. That is not how it would have been done in an ER in the us.. but oh well, minimalism is good sometimes ;) The entire bill for the visit 80 Bz dollars (about 40 American) not a bad deal at all!
About an hour after we got home, the bandage fell off. It is so sweaty/sticky here I'm surprised it stayed on that long. We just have to work a little harder to keep it clean. :)
Friday: Nathanael went to the town's center to interpret for the children's parade and activities. The parade is part of their Independence celebration. Sunday night at midnight there will be fireworks, followed by a huge parade on Monday. Nathanael is forcing me to "take the day off" of school on Monday. I tend to want to push through, so that we are done by May. I will concede that Independence day is a holiday the kids need to learn about.
Friday night Bible Study at Nancy's went well. It was Nathanael's first official time of teaching the children, while I attend Bible Study.
Saturday: we have been taking things easy today. We are exhausted, and at times overwhelmed. Sunday we have a lot of activities, we are taking today as our day of rest. Actually Nathanael took the children out and I am sitting in a quiet house. I am working on finishing my Emm homework, planning school, and enjoying the silence.
Some prayer requests:
As things settle here and are less new, we are starting to miss home. Please pray with us in this transition, that we would give each other the grace we need.
a peace about the school year for me. I am not used to feeling like a pioneer on this journey. I missed "Homeschool Dedication "night that happens every year in Franconia, the friends from choir (for my children and myself) and having field trips to attend with other homeschoolers. This journey is good for us, making us more dependent on Jesus.
for Nathanael to have a clear decision from the Ministry of Education. We know things take longer here, but it would be nice to make some decisions we are waiting on.
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We have reached the one month mark of being here in Belize. Technically, Spring and the children will have been here a month on 9/17.
We are starting to "settle in" to our routine..
We are also getting used to the heat. Today I left the house at a fast pace and checked the temperature. 88 degrees with a real feal temp of 92, 54% humidity. I felt comfortable.
Our children have experienced so much. They get to ride a school bus (the busses here used for transportation are old school busses) and taxi's something the never did in the states. On our way back from Corazal, the bus was so full. I started to get into my "oh dear the bus is full" mentality. I pulled my backpack in front of me. I took note of who was around me and where my children were. Abigail on the other hand looked at me with delight dancing in her eyes: she was excited to not only be riding the bus (the very full bus) but be standing in the isle, driving down the highway!!
One thing I just love about this culture is the warmth of the people. People greet you in the street. The town is so small, you really have the ability to know people well. Just today at a store, a man remembered what I had bought from him before and suggested I buy it again. I didn't even remember buying it from him.
Nathanael mentioned the other day at a Taco stand that the cultures here are much more integrated than in the US. You can hear English, Creole and Spanish in the same sentence. I can speak in Spanish than say an English word in the middle of a sentence.
People here don't know how to place us. Unlike Mexico, there are many light skinned people, mostly Mennonites. We don't "fit in" with the cape dressing ones. And then there is my Spanish. A lot of people know Nancy so sometimes that helps. They also are unsure of what to do with homeschoolers. I get asked a lot if my kids go to school.. (especially if they see us during the day) When I say they are homeschooled, they don't understand what that means. I think I've given up trying to explain it :)
Why is it good that so much is different? I was just realizing that it is simple to see pictures of other places, to look at poverty or disasters. Experiencing things first hand is irreplaceable. We as a family are all being changed by what we are doing here. It is our hope that we are also bringing and spreading light to those around us.
No pictures today but feel free to check Nathanael's post below. He makes up for my lack of pictures :)
This past Friday Nathanael had a unique opportunity. He got to help someone break the window of their car with Selah's hammer! That had to be the first time for him.., for all of us really.
Nathanael had gone out to get something and both ways he noticed this man trying to get a car opened. He figured that if someone would be stealing a car, it wouldn't take so long. Nathanael grabbed Selah's tool set (which did not include something to help get into a car). They tried for a while, but were unable. As a last resort, the hammer was pulled out and the back window was smashed (by Levi, Nathanael would not smash the window of someone else's car)
In the process, Nathanael got to speak with Levi. He lives in a village close by. He has a gathering for children in the village on Saturdays, and at church on Sunday afternoons. We rode in his taxi (the window was quickly repaired the next morning)
We spent some time with Levi, in his small house he shares with his brothers, rain beating on the roof. The kids got antsy, and Levi wasn't sure that children would come since it rained. Three children did come, and we sat to listen to a lesson in Spanish.
He then shared a snack for the children and Nathanael did an impromptu session of charades. The children played "cetch" and we got to ride the taxi home. The kids love the taxi.. no seat belts, no car seats.. what will they do with themselves when we go back to the US?
Levi is from Belize but spent 6 years in Nicaragua. His mother is from there. He had given up everything there to come here and take care of his sick father. What a blessing it was to meet him. We could not have orchestrated that meeting if we had tried!
It is exciting when you get to "sit back" and watch what God does. We are seeing him make connections, and meet people, living in a community and learning from them.
A huge difference that I haven't mentioned in the previous blog is heat! We stepped out of the plane two Mondays ago to a wave of hot humid air. It really hasn't changed much since then.
Our bodies are slowly getting adjusted to the heat. This past Sunday, I was really struggling with the feeling of "I just can't get cooler". In the first week, we asked the locals what we can do about the heat.. take a shower was the only real advice.
We don't have a water heater, and honestly it doesn't matter right now. The water is not freezing cold. During the heat of the day, you can step out of the shower and still feel sticky. In Pennsylvania, we would give the kids a bath 1-2 times a week. Now the kids take baths every day. They don't always use soap. ;)
In other news Fleurette went home this past Friday. For us it settled into our hearts that we're here for the "long hull" now. We are so thankful for the time she spent with us. She spent her last full day with us. We miss her already!
We have started our "regular" activities. Nathanael working with men 1 on one, interpreting for others when there is a need, cleaning the church etc. We have had several guests to our house. The children (and I) started homeschooling this week. We are on a learning curve but overal it's going well and we're thankful for new routines to start.
This is the song I can't get out of my head recently: