Thursday, December 28, 2017

When God does something, you just sit back to watch

I have to admit I'm a bit hesitant about posting this. We live in the tropics. Palm trees are a part of our daily landscape. Before leaving on our internship, someone made the statement that we were "going on vacation".  I really shy away from sharing anything that would seem that we are on vacation, or that our life is a vacation. Honestly I wouldn't choose this life as a vacation, but perhaps you would.

The reason I am hesitant is we took a break. It was a planned break, planned around our visa renewal. It costs us 37.00$ (bz)to leave the country as a part of Belizean law. This is why we don't frequently leave. Our visas were due to being renewed. Last time we went to Mexico, we were able to avoid our visa renewal fee by leaving and only paying the exit fee.  Unfortunately we did have to pay both fees, but it was worth the try!

Where did we go you ask? Chetumal!  Most Belizeans, especially those more north, go to Chetumal to shop. While it is distinctly Mexican, it does have some vendors from the US.

 Our first stop was Mcdonalds.  The kids had dreamed about this for 4 months!  I joke that I only let them go to Mcdonalds while in Mexico. We don't while we are in the states, and there aren't any in Belize.  I unfortunately got something. It made me suffer later. Mcdonalds and I don't get along. Of course this was a Mexican Mcdonalds, they had a variety of salsa to put on your food.

Shopping was next on our list. We walked across the parking lot to the mall. The mall! An air conditioned place to walk and peruse the thousands of things available to buy. Not to mention the food court!

After a day of shopping, looking and exploring things in Spanish, we looked for a place to stay. Someone recommended a the hotel behind the mall. Nathanael and I navigated checking in in Spanish.  As they were in the process behind the counter, Nathanael noticed that the woman was gesturing at a cleaning lady behind us.  Nathanael asked if the cleaning lady was Deaf. "Yes" came the answer.

Nathanael conversed with her some. The next day we took her and her friends who work at the hotel out for dinner.  It was a difficult time. There were 4 languages at our table. The children conversed in English. We ordered in Spanish. Nathanael attempted a combination of ASL, and the Deaf taught him some LSM (ligua de sordomudo) the sign language in Mexico.

We were in awe!  We could not have planned to meet these Deaf people. It was simply a thing we stood back and saw God do!

We were able to connect with them via what's app and Facebook. We are thankful for what God is doing and hope that we can see the Deaf again in our next Mexico visit.

Thanks for sharing with us. We pray you have a blessed holiday season!


Friday, December 22, 2017

Living without Snow

Snow drifting silently, covering everything in its path with freshness; the early morning
calm; Nothing to compete with, just me and God. There is certain quietness after a snow
storm. The world blanketed in white, it is followed by indescribable silence.

At age 13, a paper route was a way that I could earn money. I had to pull myself out of
bed, wrap papers, and carry them door to door. Honestly most days it was my mother
who made sure I was up in the morning. The job required having the papers delivered by
6:30am. I often found myself alone with my thoughts. Post snow storm was one of my
favorite times to deliver the paper.

These moments on my paper route imbedded an idea of what peace should be. In my
imagination, it is a place of tranquility. The demands of the world fall off. I have open
communication with the one who made me. There is specialness about the peace in my
mind, similar to the feeling after a fresh snow.

Reality comes crashing into my imagination. That peace I long for, is it still attainable?
No paper route to follow, I still have dreams (nightmares?) where I can’t remember
which house I must deliver to next. In my dreams I worry that I won’t get my route done
in time…

As my mother grew up, her parents were having trouble with her brother. They had to
make difficult decisions. One night she slipped a paper with this verse beneath their door:

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to
you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

In the midst of their heartache, it was a comfort. About 30 years later, she found herself in a
similar situation. My grandmother had framed the paper that my mom had given them. The
paper was returned improved. She clung to the verse in the midst of the world that was far
from peaceful. She found the peace in the midst of difficulty.

I am an introvert. I long for that place on my paper route. I even entertain thoughts of living
in a land where people wear coats. Currently 75F is chilly. My children sing in the
background as I write instead of eating their lunch.

Just as my mother found peace in the midst, this is what I seek. I am thankful that the peace
he gives doesn’t look like my imagination. He faced greater trials than waking up early and
making sure the right people got the correct paper. He is the One who knows what I face.
Nothing I face surprises him. To me that is a great comfort.

As for my own peace, I have come to believe it isn’t the paper route or the snow that I seek.
It is the One who gives eternal peace. When I cling to anything but him, I lose my peace. I
am thankful that the peace he gives doesn’t require my imagination. He is one who brings
peace in the midst of difficulty; land without snow and all.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fun in celebrating

We had the pleasure of celebrating with others the past few weeks.  Here are some of the ways we've done that..

As I mentioned on a previous blog post, we take off school and work on Mondays. One of our "regular" stops on these days is the Library. 

Since we are frequent visitors to the library, the children were invited to a Christmas Party at the Library. The children arrived and were ushered into the main area where they watched a movie.  They were handed snacks of pop-corn bags

Following the movie there was a raffle for small presents. The plan had been to decorate cookies and eat outside. Unfortunately, the day was found to be chilly (by Belizean standards) with an occasional spritz.  They moved the tables inside for festivities

Instead the children decorated a cookie inside.

They were also given lunch of rice and beans, stew chicken and soda.

Somehow three of my 4 children ended up with Coke!! 

They really did enjoy themselves!

The next celebration starts with breaking a window. If you haven't read our post about meeting Levi, feel free to do so.  :) 

We are thankful for Levi and his family. It was an honor to be at his wedding celebration and to meet his wife.  Zion was especially excited since it was the first time she has been to a wedding. 

Of course the children enjoyed meeting the puppies that were at the church! 

The final celbration was at a children's club. Selah, Zion and Zephaniah have enjoyed being a part of Koinonia's children's ministry.  They have meetings every Saturday. You can earn tickets by memorizing verses, attendance, and bringing your Bible.  

Since the children had only attended one other time, they were 'gifted" some extra tickets.

They were able to worship with all of the children

And then they stood in line for an ideal. (a popsicle in a bag)
Personal space here is a different concept than in the states. The children take it in stride. 

They then played carnival games with their tickets and won prizes. 

We have really enjoyed celebrating and learning more about culture.  May you all have a blessed Christmas!  

Coming next week the way God blessed and surprised us recently!


Friday, December 15, 2017

An adventure in Spelling

Nathanael was contacted by the ministry of education. They asked if he would help a girl in Orange Walk study for the Spelling Bee. Every year Belize has a spelling bee for the Deaf and hard of hearing.  Two years ago Nathanael helped make the video and was present at the event.

Morene had a crowd chearing her on! 

This year he was asked to help train a local girl. She goes to the same school that Nancy used to teach at.  Morene has a sister who is one year younger. They attend the same class together. Nancy also spent time working individually with her over the years. In 2013, Chelsea came and worked with Morene and Sulmi. 

Morene had a disadvantage in that the other students received the study video 2 months prior.

Misael and Kristel also came as a school field trip

Nathanael did his best, and Morene studied hard!

We were all proud of how well she did.

Nathanael says next year we will make sure to have the video ahead of time.  He thinks she'll win or at least place if she's given enough time to study!

Thanks for sharing this journey with us


Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Hit

on the head..

quite literally...

I had one of my biggest scares recently. I say recently because there was this night in Mexico... I will refrain from the details because I haven't told my mother about that night. If you want to know the Mexico details ask me in person.

Our most recent scare in Belize had to do with Zephaniah. He has this crazy habit of bed jumping. I don't just mean jumping on beds, but jumping around, in, on top of, off the floor craziness.

This past Wednesday he was all into his craziness (and I had told him to stop several times. When I heard the hollow smack of head hitting pavement. (all of our floors are cement and tile) Zion ran for some ice.  Zephaniah just lay there for a while.

He was responsive but groggy. A similar thing happened to Zion 2 years ago when she flew over the handles of her bike. As a medical person, I realize that there isn't much to do for a minor head injury. He felt so bad he wouldn't even allow himself to be helped to lie on a bed.

I had scheduled a skype call to a friend. He stayed next to me.  I was okay with his progress until he started throwing up. I admittedly was in the call, Zion had to tell me that he not only threw up but was too tired to exit the bathroom. (He lay on the floor with a pillow near the toilet).

I have been a nurse for 14 years. I am aware that I'm always a mom first. When I am concerned I call my mom. She agreed I should take him to the hospital.  We packed up Zephaniah, Zion and locked up the house.

The doctor who saw him was also concerned.  She drew blood, and started an IV after getting the nurse's vital signs. Although they have a CT scanner, she felt that observing him was the most important. If he continued to show signs of brain injury, she would get a CT scan.

I have been reading the book Radium girls (about the women in the 1900's who got cancer and died from painting radium on watches) I was fine with waiting and reducing his exposure to radiation.

When we entered the hospital, I had to carry Zephaniah. he was pale and nauseous.

The doctor had him stay for 4 hours and gave him IV fluids. Zephaniah got progressively better, and more bored! At one point, he decided he wanted to know how to raise and lower the bed.

As he got better I could tell he was okay.  It wasn't till we got home that the reality of what happened hit me. It really could have been much worse. I had also been scared about the level of care that would be provided to him. I was very impressed with the medical staff.

Fear is a funny thing. It causes us to react in ways we shouldn't, to try to protect ourselves, or place our trust in something other than God. For me it was a moment I hadn't considered much. God did protect Zephaniah. I was reacting to the idea that he might not be "safe" here as he is in Pennsylvania.

The truth is he might not be. I have to learn to trust who God is and how much he loves us, no matter what the circumstances. It was good to be thinking and praying about what this looks like in our daily walk with him.

Have a good week,


Sunday, December 3, 2017

We had visitors!

Todd and Lizette Miller were our first visitors this term. What a privilege it is to host people and "show them around. "

I have to admit that this post was one that is difficult to write.  I am an introvert by nature. I also am still in the process of learning ASL, my third language. I think a part of me just forgets what it was like when I was learning Spanish. Shirley, my mentor from our stateside home church and I talked about this recently. She talked about two years into her term, (in Mexico) she could understand enough to contribute to a conversation, but by the time she said something the conversation had passed what she was going to say. This was kind of how my week went. To Todd and Liz's credit, they were very patient with me.

All of that to say, I was mostly the observer last week. This is my account as the observer.

Todd and Lizette arrived on Saturday. We brought some people from church along for the van ride. The thing that really impressed me was how they jumped into things. Lizette sat in the back of the van and chatted with some of the people who had come.

Saturday night, they went with us for our time in the park. They were able to try some different food: Mexican and Orange Walk tacos, marquillatas, fruit, and western dairies ice cream. We even "ran into" a few Deaf at the park.

Sunday, Todd preached. There friends from Spanish Lookout came along with their family. Pedro has 7 siblings, 3 of which are Deaf, then he also has a hard of hearing brother in law. His Spanish speaking parents came and one of his hearing siblings interpreted the sermon. Pretty Cool! The church was invited to go swimming at the local swimming pool. Most of us went. (although I think the only ladies that swam were Liz and I)

Nathanael's favorite ruins (that we've been to) are the "closest". I put that in quotes since it's a 2 hour trip (only 28 miles) on a very bumpy, potholed road. The benefit to the road is one can see the Mennonite community in Shipyard while traveling. Laminai doesn't disappoint. We saw Spider monkeys, parrots, a lemur and of course the ruins.

Todd and Lizette were able to visit with many people from church. I was touched by their ability to relate and talk with different generations. They encouraged, did devotionals and played games.

Friday Night Todd lead Bible study. I missed it since I was with the children.  Saturday morning it was time to say goodbye.

Thanks so much Todd and Liz for blessing us and the church!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

some "luxuries" we have now that we didn't two years ago

Lucianna, Joel and Heidi and even Ben Martin were witness to how we lived in Belize two years ago.  Really not much has changed.

I don't have a map in my head. Zephaniah and Selah seem to though which is helpful. I still get lost from the middle of town to our house. We live in a different area. I still haven't turned the map in my head around. (it takes me a bit.) ;)

What are the luxuries you wonder?

We actually did have access to the library last time, but didn't utilize it much. As a family we take a rest day every Monday. (since Sundays are so full for us) We like to visit the library on Mondays. The limit to check out books is one per card. The children don't want to squander their precious book, they choose carefully. I should mention that we also have library cards from the Bucks County Library. Those we use to access online items. (especially me!) Actually since we got some books, were given some books, took some in suitcases last October, and some on our trip here; we have a lot of books!  That is a nice thing to have. We really missed them last term in Belize!

Dogs.. another not "luxury" but a much enjoyed part of our lives. We have 4 now. Two came from the local hardware store. I am not sure they were receiving nourishment. After a few days with us they perked up. They scamper, sleep and play! We also made a trip to the Humane Society in San Pedro. There I was looking for a little dog to be my companion. Instead I ended up with a sweet yet larger dog. While I was falling in love with a quiet calm dog, Zephaniah found a excitable, energetic young half shepard. We ended up taking both dogs! The dogs aren't only here to be companions. They help gaurd the house from "thieving"(as one would say in Kreol)

You may remember the confusion Zephaniah had when we returned to Pennsylvania over the machine next to the washer.  We didn't own a dryer last term. Every piece of laundry had to be hung on a line outside. 

Nancy had a dryer, that she left here for our use. It does feel luxurious. That being said the chosen method of drying clothes tends to be our wash-line. The electric bill thanks us!  It also adds to the heat, which is something we don't want to do. If I need to dry I plan it at night. 

 A heated shower! Somehow in my years of using these, I missed the name. If you don't know, read on to the end of the blog post :). They work best with a low water output. I have found that if I am patient and do it correctly, the shower is a warmish temperature.  That being noted, it is glorious to take warm showers when one is chilly.

we did have bikes our last term. In fact our friend has one of our old bikes now. This term I was able to bring a cargo bike from Pennsylvania. I can throw children and "stuff" on the back of the bike. What a huge help!  Nathanael found a folding bike here that he is enjoying. He is hoping to travel with it on his bus trips to Belize city. It is freeing to have transportation that is functional.

Speaking of functional transportation this is the biggest one. We use the van for 3 things: Friday night Bible Study, Sunday morning church(transporting people), and grocery shopping/ water hauling(which we limit to one trip a wk. Gas in Belize is expensive. The current price is 5.75$/gallon (US). This is why we choose to make use of the van only for specific circumstances. It is beneficial for our budget, and our health. 

Todd and Lizette Miller are in the process of getting home as I type. They joined us this week in Orange Walk. It was a blessing to have them! We are praying the get home safely. Next week? A summary of their time here!

If you don't know the name of the shower head (like I didn't) It is called a "widow maker".

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.