Friday, May 27, 2016

Who am I??

About 6 months ago, our family movie night was enjoyed by watching Wreck it Ralph.  It follows the story of a "bad guy" in a video game.  No one likes him he must sleep in the dump.  He is tired of this and runs away.  Along his way he meets another renegade, a girl who is rejected in her video game. She isn't even allowed to race in the race of cars with everyone else.

Through a semi lengthy path we discover that the girl Vanellope is actually the head character of the game.  The game is about her.  An evil villain has taken over the game and stolen the other people's memories.  They won't let her race either.  The villain knows if Vanellope actually wins the race, she will re-set the game.   The other characters will remember who she is.  

A few weeks ago I did the Velvet Ashes retreat.  One woman's testimony was all about identity.  She had put it into context of a missionary's life.  Who we are isn't identified by what we do, what pasture we are in or even the job we have.  

This really struck me as I did a lesson this week in Sunday School.  We are still studying the armor of God.  This weeks lesson was on the Sword of the spirit. (God's word!)  

I wrote out "lies" we believe on the ground in chalk.  Some tend to be very personal. We carry them around like a burden, even buying into them as the truth.  The kids took red balloons (representing Jesus blood) and blotted out the lies.  Oh how I wish it was so easy in my own life!  We talked about what verses combat the truth and how the only way we can fight is through God's word.

As we are leaving, thinking about re-entry and our lives beyond Belize (until we come back); who we are is shifting.  We wont be "missionaries" or the gringos.  (actually I have only been called a gringa once and that was from a good friend who couldn't remember my name, so she called me the Gringa that's Nathanael's wife). 

I personally have struggled. While it's mostly my job to handle "publicity" my personal "job" as a missionary is much in the background.  I have been humbled.  Housework takes me so much longer.  Homeschooling takes a long time.  Shopping? Don't even get me started.  I have enjoyed opportunities to get out in the community through interactions like shops, art class, and Sunday school.  Kids Konnect was a breath of fresh air for me, a chance to use my nursing skills.  I have longed for returning to the States and using my nursing skills.  

The truth is none of this brings us value and none of it really should be telling me who I am.  Vanellope?  She discovers in the end she's the princess... the queen of the game.  Me?  I am not always sure who I am.  I don't want my opinion of myself to come from that which surrounds me.  My relationship with Jesus should always be that which brings me my identity. 

The exciting part is I am still on a path of discovery.  Vanellope was able to discover about herself by believing what was placed in her was the truth, not what others told her.  I will also continue to seek truth through changing circumstances. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Reverse Culture Shock

It all started when I was looking at a friend's Instagram feed.  There was nothing abnormal about it. She had pictures of her family in a grocery store.  It was a grocery store I used to go to a lot when we lived in PA and plan to go to when we get back.  I took one look at the picture and was overwhelmed. I thought:

" all.."

Honestly we have been dreaming about visiting a grocery store in the States maybe since we came.  Like a lot of countries there is significantly less available here than what we had been used to in PA.  One time Nathanael even joked about running up and down supermarket isles jubilantly celebrating how much food is on the shelves.

Seriously though, it hit me like a ton of bricks. What originally seemed like it would be exciting all of the sudden seemed overwhelming.

I thought about how it would feel to have so many choices.

I thought about what it would look like to enter our new church on the first Sunday back. Our church has grown both with people and in their building size.  We have lived in a smaller house, gone to a small church, and visited smaller grocery stores. We even are in a smaller country.  There are no trains, and very few paved roads. What would take us minutes to travel in the States takes us hours on a bus.

We are used to it (most of the time). Our children have become excellent travelers on the bus. (although tablets do help!).

While we've all now transitioned on to the field I am the only one who has transitioned back.  I remember 18 years ago, after returning from Mexico, how big my house felt.  I did some odd things like cleaning my parents bedroom without their permission.

What I am asking of you... our faithful supporters both physically, spiritually, and emotionally is to recognize when you first see us that we're again in transition.

 You may be the first person (or 50th) who has asked us "How was Belize?" Look at the "large" world from our perspective. It is fun and amazing when you haven't seen it for a year.  At the same time it's overwhelming. We may even feel unsure of how to react to it.

The owner of our local grocery store in Perkasie won't come up and shake my hand each time we enter the store, or give our children treats. No strangers will rub Zephaniah's head as he walks by. We will have to walk more than a few steps to get a quick item from the store.

Take a moment to see the world through our eyes. Love on us, and give us grace.

Thanks so much each one of you for your faithful support! We look forward to seeing you soon. Prayer page updated. (I am trying to do it weekly)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

meanwhile in another part of my computer...

I am working on our last newsletter.

Since that is the case I'll share with you some multimedia from the past week. Anticipate the newsletter soon!!

We had the opportunity to do Hopewell Christian Fellowship's morning announcements again.  Even if you've seen them at church, you should watch the following video.  Selah made sure to add some fun bloopers at the end (which weren't included on Sunday).  We are thankful that we are able to participate in this way!

We are having a lot of "lasts" which will continue into firsts as we go home.  We are going through the gammot of emotions involved in transitions.  I am so thankful for the community around us, here in Orange Walk and in Pennsylvania.

Nathanael preached his last sermon at Jesus Deaf Church this week for Mother's day.  They also did some skits. What a lot of fun!

Here is one of the skits:

Unfortunately I thought I had uploaded the other skit but hadn't and deleted it from my phone!

Can you figure out what Bible story this is?

Look out for the newsletter in the next 2 weeks.

Thanks for supporting us!

Prayer page updated again :) Thanks  for checking on us and for praying for us.  It means the world to us.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Not in Kansas anymore 4th edition

May is our last full month in Belize.  We are discussing transition, discussing our next steps, discussing the fundraising that must happen, language study, and what our year will look like.  We are processing the goodbyes and hello's that will happen soon.   What a journey we've been on so far and it really is just beginning!  

We are still really newbies and will be when we return.  I thought I would share some other differences that I haven't focused on in other blog posts: 

Living in Orange Walk is similar to what I imagine it was like living in a small town in the 50's.  Everyone knows each other.  Almost every time we go out, from grocery shopping to visiting the local shop, we see people we know.  In fact our 3 local shops (all within a block of our house) know us so well they are often generous with us.  Just today our friends added 2 bananas and gum to my bag after I paid.

We don't have zip codes here. There is one post office in each  town and all mail goes to post office boxes. Our water and electric bills are delivered by the company and stuck into our gate.  Speaking of our gate, we have frequent visitors.  There is much solicitation here.  Sometimes I will buy what they are selling, but most of the time I don't.  Jehovah's witnesses make weekly visits as well.

Our trash is taken care of by the county.  This is what our trash truck looks like:  There really seems to be no certain day that the trash is taken.  The first week we were here, it came at 5am.  It seems to come now in the afternoon. This is actually a truck that helped clean out the sewer next door.  You can see our "hole" in the wall.  We toss the trash bags into the hole and on the other side the trash guys take it out.

We buy water and don't drink it from the tap.  When we're out and hot (happens a lot in this season) we will buy "shilling water".  A shilling is 1/4 of a dollar.  Shilling water is called that because it costs a shilling. The great value in it is the packaging is so thin that the water cools quickly.  When it's not cool though, I don't really enjoy it.

The city also is responsible for the grass which grows outside of our gate.  They have used "weed eaters" twice to chop it down since we arrived in August.  They have some powerful weed eaters!

While we were in Dangriga, there was a terrible accident.  The one bridge that lead to town was at a standstill.  The doctors who had come with Kids Konnect help stabilize the one woman in the accident.  Once this happened, the car was removed.  There aren't tow trucks in Belize.  Instead a backhoe pulled it out of the road.  Finally cars could pass! 

There are many more examples but I thought you'd enjoy a few today. 

Just FYI:  I updated our prayer requests.  I also added a page which gives a direct link on how to support us.  Thanks so much for all you our supporters have done for us!!