Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fun night

While Nancy was the pastor of Jesus Deaf church, she did Friday fun nights monthly. Since we came running into the position, Nathanael had decided to wait until things were a little more settled.

He decided that we would do the first Friday fun day in November.  

It felt like a grand undertaking.  Nathanael picked out a movie. He interpreted it by putting a movie of himself in the corner of the movie as it played. He chose A Princess' Bride.

I took charge of the food. I can't tell you how thankful I am that the instant pot was on sale before we left. I made bean soup for about 60 people using it!  It is a kitchen gadget I don't regret.

After cleaning and picking people up, We gathered for prayer.

The girls and I served the soup with carrots/cucumbers and cupcakes.  Next time I will recognize that I can't just have bowls to serve in. Oh well live and learn!

Nathanael played a short review game. He has been going through the Bible, starting with creation. Friday nights he reinforces the teachings he has on Sunday. It was great to see people interact and see what they remembered.

After the short game, we played the video. From the feedback, people really enjoyed the interpreting being "on screen" so they could view the movie and the interpretation at the same time. Nathanael has a bit to work on as far as the technology. I admire what he's done so far and trust next movie night will be even better!

For the drive home, Nathanael chose to make one trip instead of two. we had over 20 people in the 15 passenger van. It was a tight squeeze but we did it!

This week we will have visitors! Todd and Liz from Connecting Deaf (one of our sending churches) will be here from Saturday to Saturday. Pray for save travels for them and connections within people in the church.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A familiar trip

Things are settling into a pattern for us.  That isn't to say we've got it all "together" or that we are totally organized. This past week Nathanael emptied the trailer of the items we had in storage from our last term. Currently our house is messier than it had been in the past. I am trying to take it in stride. I want to organize it once and for all, making a place we can feel at home.  I will spare you the picture of our mess.

A rude awakening was what started our trip 2 weeks ago to Dangriga.  After prayer, it was decided that Abigail would make the trek to Kids Konnect this time. To take the bus we have to get the 4am or 4:30am bus.  I like to choose the earlier one. There is a greater likelihood of getting a seat.  Nathanael was kind enough to drive us to the bus depot.  We were surprised to find a tour bus instead of the usual old school bus. Abigail and I were unprepared for the trip in AC, and the kind conductor allowed us some blankets for the 2 hour trip. We switch buses in Belmopan and this was a "normal" old bumpy bus. Both Abigail and I had a restless nap on the bus

If you recall, my mom and I did the trip a year ago. We were unable to do any more of the Kids Konnect trips while in the US. This was our first time back.  We always feel welcome and enjoy our time serving.  It is nice to serve in a different way than our "usual".

This particular time was a bit humbling for me. I borrowed some ear plugs to aid in sleep. When I went to pull them out the second morning I found my right ear was without the ability to hear.  We got some of it cleaned out with the help of a lovely doctor. That night I figured the ear was totally cleaned, and still needed the plugs to help sleep.  This time I woke up at 1am and had the same issue which had now worsened.

Unfortunately this caused undue stress in the middle of the night. I was ashamed I had shoved the earplugs back in my ears. I was embarrassed that I would again have to ask someone to help me totally remove the wax. I spent most of the day Saturday only hearing out of my left ear. It made taking blood pressures difficult.  Finally another doctor helped me totally clean and wash out my ear. I was as good as new. What a huge relief.

Speaking of being humbled, it is a good thing for me. My biggest struggle this trip was the repeating nature of it. How can I be of service to these people in a way that leads to their betterment? How do I introduce them to Jesus in a tangible way?

Kids Konnect has a team of missionaries that live in Belize. Those people directly connect, pray with , and live among the people we minister to.  It is a great continuum of their ministry.  They also have a place they own employing locals to give them greater opportunities to learn and grow, both in their faith and job skills.

Abigail had a great time. I was a bit worried for her, but so many people took it upon themselves to help. She was not lacking work. She held babies and walked people from one station to the next.  She even allowed two ladies the privilege of brushing her hair one night. (something she doesn't allow me to do)You will note that all pictures I have are mostly of her. I neglected to ask her to take some of me ;) I promise you I was there!

Thank you for your support and prayers for us. This week marks another trip to the immigration office.  Nathanael is having trouble contacting the American woman who will help with his long-term visa.  Also please pray through our transitions. As things have settled, I think we are all missing Pennsylvania now more than when we first arrived. We know it is part of the process but it is still difficult.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

visa Process

Being in Belize finds us again at the immigration office.

Every country has different laws when it comes to Visas. I can honestly tell you the Belizean process is not my favorite.

When you arrive in Belize, you recieve a month "tourist" visa. Once that month is completed, you must return to the immigration office. Thankfully for us there is one in Orange Walk.  Each month you must pay 25$ US to be in the country. After 6 months, the costs goes up to 50$ per person.

One must go to the office (in person) and present your passport to the officer. Sometimes they ask why you are here sometimes not. I have to say that this last time (our first time this term) the officer was quite pleasent.

Once they have taken your passport, they send you with a form to pay for your visa. We have about a 1/4 mile walk/ride to pay for the visa.  When you return, you  turn in your reciept to the immigration officer.  They stamp your visa for the next month, and you are on your way.

Last term, it was a toss up. In the end we paid the same total as would have been paid for the longer term visa. We had monthly visits for the length of our stay in Belize.

This term, our stay will be much more long term. We are starting our long-term visa process.

There are two visas we could apply for:

Pastor/missionary visa: volunteer visa, a one time cost.

Worker visa: any job that one applies for must first be offered to a Belizean. In Nathanael's case, there aren't any Belizeans who can do his specific job. Nathanael has spoken with the head of the minsitry of education. They are in agreement with moving forward with him getting a visa through the work.  This will allow us more likelyhood of having residency. This is a process that will most likely take a long time.

Honestly the best way to get things done in Belize is to go somewhere "in person". Nathanael had been emailing the ministry of education with little response. He went without an appointment and waited for a time when he could speak with her. She agreed to help, but there is still a process involved.

(Abigail waits with our dog outside of the minstry of education building)

The first step is going with an American who just recently received her residency and work permit. She is helping him navigate the process. This must be done in Belmopan, the capital of Belize.

I hope this has opened your eyes a bit to the process we are going through, and that you would know how to pray for us.

Thanks so much for your prayers and support of us!!

By the way, we discovered that it is an ardous process to get a new post office box. Instead we have decided to keep the one we had used with Nancy before.  Here is that address should you want to mail us a letter:

PO Box 158
Orange Walk Town
(there is no zip code required)

If you want to mail more than a letter or post card, we suggest you contact us. We have people visiting us or Dangriga often and it is the safest way to get something to us.

Thank you!


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The unpromised update

Nathanael and I watched a movie together last Friday night.

The African Doctor has been on my Netflix list for a while. I personally felt like it was the perfect timing for watching it. The doctor is from Tanzania, and gets a job in rural France.

Many points in the movie felt familiar. I laughed harder and cried more than normal. There is one point where the family steps off the bus into the unknown that I truly identified with. If you are interested in a movie about moving cross culturally, this is one I highly recommend.

We had a couple and their daughter visit church this past Sunday. Janice and Pedro live south of us in Spanish Lookout. It was a blessing to have them fellowship with us.

In other news, Nathanael will be speaking with the head of Education on Friday. He really wants to be able to get a visa through them. Please pray for favor for this process.

Thanks so much

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

We are still learning

If I am honest with you, I would tell you I often write blog posts in my head.  At times it's an ongoing conversation.  Often, God speaks to me and teaches me more about the things I am thinking about posting.

This past week I spent a lot of time writing in my head.  I struggle with the balance between honesty: This week was pretty hard on us, and the fact that it feels like there is a need to only report the good.

The other day I shared an article on facebook.  It was specifically about the concept of, "When Helping Hurts."  If  you are unfamiliar, let me introduce you to the concept.  The idea is that  if I am only filling "needs" and not enabling others to become independant, I am in essence "hurting" them. It may be couched in good intentions, but the effect is still the same.  It creates a dependance: someone has to continue to fill the need (financial or otherwise).  It also lends itself to an enviroment of "less than"/"greater than".

It wasn't until recently that we realized we had created a situation.  For us it felt like it went against everything we had worked not to do.  Even when you are striving to find (and do) God's will you will have times you feel like you failed.

Two years ago, we flew out of Cancun.  It is often cheaper to fly from there.  Taking that flight meant we had a little time in Mexico.  I can tell you after a few hours in Cancun, I was sick of my own skin.  I couldn't change the fact that I stood out, and the preceptions it made on the vendors.  When I was talking to my mentor about experiencing the similar thing in Belize she had some insight.  I told her I don't want to be precieved as the rich American, "but you are" she stated.

I can't be something I'm not.  No matter how much we try to not be "that" to those around us; it happens.  The conbination of the preception of being a "rich American" and hurting instead of helping became volitile.

I can tell you that it lead to me driving a neighbor's truck down the pothole filled roads of Orange walk.  (he was on the back holding our wardrobe on the truck).  He shouted directions to me.  I wished for a pillow so I could pull just a little closer to the stearing wheel.

We will step into our proverbial shoes.  The "lot" we have, bumpy ride, can't reach the steering wheel and all.  Sometimes it's okay not to get it right. The process of learning and growing is lifelong.  I am thankful to be along for the ride



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Week 3 highlights

In some ways our family feels like they are getting into a " groove". We are following our old traditions:
                   walk to the park Saturday night to play and hang out with others

                   eat out Sunday after church, hopefully in a place that has air conditioning as a reprieve

We officially started school this past week. I can tell you that we've been unschooling of sorts through the summer. I was planning on not counting school days this  year, but it was too difficult for Selah to not know. ( Please don't tell her I haven't started counting yet)

There were some firsts this week:

Nathanael preached his third consecutive sermon. From now on it'll be a first every time for length of times he's preached in a row. Nathanael likes to keep track of these types of things

Zion caught her first gecko this term. She was delighted. She kept him in a pencil sharpener overnight and fed him ants.

We have animals!! We have been holding off for years, till we had a place of more permanence. Before you wonder why.. we have chickens (for the eggs), 2 dogs (to protect from robbers) and 2 rabbits (to "mow" the grass) it has been a learning curve but overall we are delighted to share our lives with some pets.

We continue to unpack and make the house ours. It has been difficult planning around getting everything out of the living room on Fridays (and on Sunday) to have people here for Bible Study.

Rainy season has started, a welcome break from the intense heat. I actually turned on the warm water in the shower.

Plan for this week: Update our prayer corner :)

Thanks so much for joining us on this journey.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

one month or two weeks, depends on how you are counting

Wednesday will mark the two week time for us in Belize. It also happens to be exactly a month from when we left the Hopewell Parking lot. (August 27th).  We have had many adventures in the process. All learning experiences!

How does being in Orange Walk 2 weeks feel to us?

This transition has been much different.

Two years it was a drastic change. We were walking basically into the unknown, with 11 suitcases to our name.  

This time we had a home with some things set up. We also were aware ahead of time the things that would make our house a home. 

Two years ago the heat was a shock to our Pennsylvania born bodies. 

This time we expected it. That doesn't mean we are less hot

Two years ago all of the food tasted strange to us. 

This time the first food the kids wanted to eat was rice and beans.

Two years ago we spent a lot of time trying to figure things out

This time we feel like we're on our way

Two years ago we had a one year commitment

This time it's indefinate.  Things are feeling like we are working towards finding home. We are building a place that we can celebrate as a family.  

Two years ago we were under different leadership

This year Nathanael is leading the church.  In some ways this is more difficult as we are stepping into someone else's shoes.  For right now we are following the order of worship and way of doing things that Nancy had set up.  

Thanks for joining me in the small comparisons of our transition.  Feel free to text us (we have internet numbers through google so it's free to do) email us, and even call us. Skype with our kids. We finally have good internet.  :)  My goal is to get into a regular blog updating schedule again.