Sunday, October 14, 2018

Cultural mixing

Yesterday I spent an agonizing 15 minutes listening to a woman in the park complain about Belize. She doesn't like the culture, the people are rude, and it's dirty here.

At home, Nathanael and I decompressed from this event. We have met with others like her. Untrained expats who are in culture shock. It isn't a pretty sight. They become bitter and ineffective. The current person talking to me was also from a distinctly "filtered media" country. That fact became apparent in her complaints about Belize vs her beliefs about her own country. If anything it was clarifying moment for me.
Nathanael hangs the Belizean flag on the back of our van to celebrate Belizean Independence day

I am thankful not to be in that place with her.  I am thankful that EMM prepared us for crossing cultures. (We highly recommend the book Foreign to Familiar) I don't think we always get right. There are times we experience culture shock. There are times we are bitter, dislike culture, or feel the sting of relationships we navigated wrongly.

Zion at church with one of her friends

It is also a decision making journey for us. We are grateful to have our home as a neutral ground.  We can decide what the culture in our home looks like. What in the culture do we enjoy and put into practice? What things do we disagree with? What things are not bad or good, just different?

Selah poses at the photo booth of our local supermarket

In the same breath, I realize I can't take my culture out of me. When we were celebrating Belize Independence day at Koinonia, the Pastor's wife spoke. She reminded us that even though she has lived in Belize for 20 years, she can't take the Guatemalan blood out of her.
praying at Koinonia

All of the cultures represented at Koinonia 

I am becoming aware that this is the same in the Deaf culture we share with those around us. We work with them, we visit them, but you can't take the "hearing" out of us. It's a delicate balance.
Zephaniah, Zion and Misael play Master Mind

What am I trying to communicate? Two years into this and we are still learning. We are still growing. As a cold culture family in a warm culture climate, we still experience culture shock on occasion.
Abigail entertaining children

Mid-September we celebrated all countries that attend Koinonia. It was a nice thing to stand in front and recognize that through it all, we are still from our passport country. We are also distinctly experiencing and falling in love with Belizean culture. Selah won't eat Mexican tacos. She prefers Orange Walk ones.
Abigail and a friend at Koinonia

We are still in a process. A lovely, hard, fun, sad process. We are growing. We are thankful.

Family photo with Belizean (and American) colors represented. Lucky us they are the same! 

Thanks for being with us on this Belizean, United States, mixed culture journey.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The in-between

Is there anything else that happens ministry wise in Orange Walk? I made a comment on the video we made for Hopewell. I mentioned something about bonbons.

Actually, I am not sure if they even sell bonbons in Belize.

There are a number of things that happen that don't fit into a specific category (or day).  We are here to do Deaf ministry.  Nathanael is blessed to have been an interpreter prior to coming to Belize.

Just as in the USA, Nathanael walks with the Deaf here as they interact in the community.

He has gone to the hospital with sick people.  He is in the process of helping one woman who has a possible gallbladder issue.

At the beginning of our second term we had a guy from across the street stop by. He is a policeman and had a Deaf man in custody. Since then Nathanael has gotten the word out. He brings his card with his Belizean number to every visit he makes to the police station. He has visited the police office for different issues 10 or more times.

The third thing Nathanael does is work with the ministry of education.  He has done it less this year than our first term. The main reason for this is he is currently the head pastor of Jesus Deaf Church. While we were on our internship with Nancy in 2015-2016, she held the primary responsibility. Since our return, that duty has been passed to us. He has however worked several times at Saint Peters with Morene. He helped her study for the spelling bee, he also tutored her at the end of the school year.

He interpreted for some of the students exams in Cayo.

He also lead some workshops in 3 towns in August for teachers. (similar to continuing education classes in the US)

We are thankful that the "other" things that add variety to our life. We don't always know when they will happen. We are grateful that we are allowed to be a part of this. Thank you for helping us in this journey, for being a bigger part of what God is doing in Belize.


Monday, October 1, 2018

A place of grief

There have been some people in our lives lately who are grieving. I have come to recognize that different people grieve in different ways. There are also stages of grief.

This time our first stage came as a shock.  Nathanael received news that Sharee Bennett had passed away. He met her on our first term in Belize. He invited her to church.  Since then she came to Orange Walk many times. She hung out with friends and went to church.
A Selfie of Sharee

Nathanael also was helping in 2016 in the process of getting her medication for goiter. The trouble was in patient compliance.  It wasn't until after we had returned to the US, that she had received the medication she needed.  She went back and forth between compliance and no-compliance.  It was a health issue that eventually lead to her passing.
Sharee and Angelica

Although she had had issues off and on we didn't realize she was so close to death. It came as a shock to the community.
People at Jesus Deaf Church playing Apples to Apples

Nathanel had to navigate with her family, and the Deaf ministry that goes to Belize City every other week.  Her family choose the church where Sharee was married to have the funeral.

We brought the people from our church who were able to come. The van was full. It was difficult since her funeral was on a Thursday for some. The people who have jobs weren't able to come. Nathanael instead allowed some time for people to share on Sunday during church. It was nice for me to hear other's stories of how Sharee impacted them.
The last time Sharee was at church

Thanks for joining us in grieving and remembering Sharee.

Scenes from the funeral

the "Deaf section" of the funeral

Nathanael interpreted the funeral

This happened this past Sunday. We are still reeling from it's impact.  (that and Nathanael and I discussed where in Belize can we find smoke detectors) Zion used to occasionally play with the 10 year old girl when she went with Nathanael to help out at Saint Peter's school. Zion is struggling with the loss of someone her own age.

Thank you for praying with us.