Thursday, October 31, 2019

all is not quiet

Although it may seem as such, ( because it has been silent on the blog) Actually the opposite is happening. It has felt that we've been busy since we entered Belize (and possibly before then).

the view from one of the hikes Nathanael went on (sporting his EMM tee)

I could list all we are doing, but I am holding out that "someday soon" I will catch up on the blog.  One thing that has happened since we returned is we have had a significant number of visitors: both Belizeans and people from the US. This is fun and adds to the schedule.  I am hoping to do future posts about all of our visitors!

leaving Belize

Today I am going to focus on something that I should not be writing about.  Before you begin to contemplate, let me set the stage.

Seeing an old friend and his new baby

 Back in March/April, Velvet Ashes had a feature post about Traction. (A retreat specifically for men in missions, see link for more information and a cool video)  Immediately I was excited. I spoke to Nathanael about it and his only response was "do you know how much it costs to fly to Switzerland?" I was excited because this type of retreat fit him to a tee. No note taking requirement, lots of extrovert time and of course hiking!

they rode up the mountain in this, similar to an incline plane in Pittsburgh/Johnstown area

I prayed about it and discussed it with people from our sending church Hopewell Christian Fellowship.  People there caught a vision and sponsored Nathanael to go. Once I had the go-ahead, I sat down and paid for his tickets. My mentor and I had a great plan to surprise him, however when Nathanael inspected the credit card charges (he does this every day) He asked me why I had  a plane ticket as a charge. The cat was out of the bag!
the table is set

Nathanael left Belize to be (very) cold in the mountains of Switzerland.  He was even able to reconnect with old friends. (Who had come to PA on an exchange program 10 years ago)
at the highest place in Europe

He attended sessions, spent time in small group and counseling time.  He hiked, interacted, and played Settlers of Catan in Polish. (Everyone spoke English but the game was from Poland).  Mostly though he rested and recharged in ways that he hasn't in years. It was a time of refreshment.

Nathanael and his friends at the highest place in Europe

We are so thankful to the individuals from Hopewell that supported us in this way. Existing in health allows us to minister in health.  (physically, emotionally, and spiritually).

signing cow

Next on the radar, and an additional reason I am mentioning retreats today, is my trip to Phoenix, Az.  I will be spending 9 days retreating.  It has been helpful to have our zoom calls weekly, I feel like I have at least gotten to know some people's faces that will be at the retreat. 

I leave tomorrow.  Please be praying for Nathanael and the family during this time.  We have a visitor on her senior experience until Monday. That will be helpful at Bible study and church this weekend. If you want to be praying for me, I have the prayer calendar downloaded, I am hoping I can attach it to the Facebook post.

Thanks so much for supporting us in this way! We are excited about what God is doing

this is a screenshot of the PDF. If you would like me to email you the PDF let me know :)

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The disparity

Amy Young has written a new book entitled Getting Started. As a part of her editing process she allowed some people to read a chapter she was working on about suffering in missions. It really hit home for me. A part of the chapter talks specifically about grief, specifically the grief experienced on the field. A huge one with grief is coming to terms with the differences we face.  Amy also makes the point that grief isn't a one time circumstance. It sometimes creeps up on us.

The street in front of our house

For us this past month, it was with our dog.  In a time of celebration/fun we accidentally let the dogs out of the fence. One of them got run over by a car. We took him to the vet, but his injuries were too extensive. We had to say goodbye to him in the office.
Zion, Shep, and Zephaniah

The other day, Nathanael was driving around later in the evening. The water place was closed. (where we buy filtered water). Instead, he passed by the one that is open all night. A guy from youth group was there. Selah and Nathanael made conversation with him. He works at the water place. His hourly salary is 3.75$ an hour. He was excited because that day he had worked overtime and was making 5.75 an hour.
Abigail and Selah participated in a run with the Koinonia youth group

For some reason, this in particular hit me. I held it in my heart as we navigated care of our dog. We prayed and tried to do our best for him. At the same time I thought about this high school aged guy who contributes to the family income.

our front gate, where a lot of exchanges happen

Is it okay to spend more than he makes in a week on a dog? There isn't a good answer. We face questions like this weekly.  It is a space of grief, looking at disparity, and asking God for wisdom.  We don't always navigate this well. We are learning.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The road traveled

We made it safely to Belize last Sunday night. Pastor Ed generously picked us up at the border. At around 12am EST, we were greeted inside our house by this lovely group of people! The cleaned the layer of dust in the house (so helpful!!!) and put clean sheets on our beds. What a huge blessing. We gave hugs, greetings and said goodbye.

our welcome home crew

Sleeping came quickly but sweatily. We are back in the Belizean humidity and heat.

Nathanael holding Briany(Elizanie's daughter) 

Monday Nathanael woke up early, it is his "par" for getting to Belize. He wakes up about 4-6am for the first few weeks until his body adjusts. His first action was to pick up Briany and Elizanie so that we could meet the baby.  He just couldn't resist meeting her in person!  He's been holding her every chance he can get.

Zephaniah and Nathanael on the bus to meet the custom's people

We did have some adventures on the road including the hub blowing out, paying a bribe, and hours of Down Giliad Lane :).  We are thankful to be in Belize.  We feel like the transition process is a bit smoother and quicker than the past, since we returned to the same location.
The elusive tire issue

Thanks so much for walking with us on this journey!  We are excited to have returned to Belize.

our last stop before leaving the US: Starbucks to use up our Starbucks card

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

an update on our journey

The 22 some hour journey through the US is about over for us.
had to stop in Harrisburg to get a title printed for the van

I honestly wasn't sure we would make it, the sleeping in the van isn't too comfortable!  We made it to Corpus Cristi Texas last night.
That was a quick 5 min process! PTL!

We did run into some issues with a wheel on the trailer. Please pray it is fixed well and lasts us the rest of the 1,500 miles back to Belize.
at a rest stop

Today we have 2 hours to go to the Mexican border. This was a place of high stress last time. We are walking into it with more knowledge and hopefully wisdom. Please pray with us as we do this!
Selah was my navigator while Nathanael rested in the back

Finally I am looking at safe places to stay along the way. Pray for wisdom and safety as we travel in Mexico.

Finally sleeping in a bed! 

Thanks so much!


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Taking up my yoke

We are coming to the end of our 9-week furlough. To say it was fast would be an understatement. We have enjoyed small tastes of many different activities we missed and big tastes of special treats. We squeeze in times to fellowship and extra hugs. I have come to recognize that I can't "make up for" the two years we were gone, nor the time we will be gone in the future.
our visit to Connecting Deaf church

My kids, Zephaniah especially, are experts in this area. They enjoy what is in front of them with full vigour. I am trying to learn vicariously from them.

we did a bit of hiking in Peace Valley

The point was reiterated to me today. I was in a conversation with friends. They talked about kids, fixing up their houses and camping.  Although we paint some of the rooms, the house we stay in isn't our own. We make it home to the best of our abilities.

we went ice skating as a family

The conversation led my mind to wander. There are many times as of late I believe that others have an easier road than we do. In my mind, I recognize it's a lie of Satan. In my heart, the cool air blows my hair and I remember snow. I begin to wonder how much better our lives would be if we lived in Pennsylvania. I miss things, people and opportunities.

even Abigail dipped her toes in the water

It is in these moments that God reminds me. Driving in the snow really stinks. I am blessed that I only have one wardrobe. I haven't had to buy winter clothes for our kids in years. (We usually make sure they have one sweatshirt/jacket that fits and one pair of pants) More importantly, my calling looks different.
Selah and my mom work on a tye dyeing project

If we all had the same calling there would be a lack in so many areas. What a blessing to be a part of the body of Christ. What an awesome thing that our Heavenly Father actually planned for this.

Nathanael had the opportunity to boat with Greg Stemler for an overnight trip

While on the EMM retreat this past April, we were asked to take one truth with us. The thing I felt called to apply to my own life was understanding more about what it means to take up his yoke.  The process of listening to my friends, yet find joy in my own life, is an ongoing one. Some struggles are more blatant while many times they remain hidden.

I was fascinated by the book check-out process at the library

I am choosing to step into the calling He has placed on our lives as a family with acceptance.  He loves us, sees us, and has a plan that involves both Nathanael and I and our children. The "missed" opportunities aren't a reality. Our assignments are contrasting yet prepared ahead of time, should we be willing to step into His best for us.
as cold as we'll be for a long time! 

What yoke has he called you to today?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

an open door

You may have noticed the pictures of Sandra. She is a Deaf woman who resides in  the town of Spanish Lookout. Spanish Lookout is a Mennonite colony in the middle of Belize.

Sandra has a unique story. She grew up in Guatemala as a Deaf child, with little language. At 15, she braved the journey alone to the Belizean border. She had heard about a school in Spanish lookout that teaches Deaf. She attended the school and lived with a host/foster family there.  She is now 38. She lives and works in the Spanish Lookout community.

Sandra, the first time she visited with the children

Sandra's story has many amazing twists and turns. God has used her in our lives and others.  About 6 months ago her host mom contacted us. Sandra is able to occasionally attend or church: Jesus Deaf Church in Orange Walk. When she comes it's a 3-hour trip, encompassing changing buses once and being aware of where to ask to be dropped off.  Mostly, Sandra stays in Spanish Lookout and attends church there.
Sandra came to our Easter service. Here we are at the Lagoon

The Deaf Church in Spanish Lookout was started because of the school for the Deaf there.  The group that does ministry in that area are some of the most conservative Mennonites living in Belize. They have done amazing things. The difficulty for some of the Deaf is to attend church requires conforming to the idea of wearing cape dresses, coverings as well as specific clothing for men.

Alva, Josue, Selena

Sandra's parents pastor a less conservative church. Her mother attempts to interpret, but this isn't her training. They were contacting us to wonder if we know of a Christian who would be able to interpret at Fountain of Life church on Sunday mornings.  There isn't one that we know of.
Elton and Misael

The conversation didn't end there. We were invited as a church to join them at Fountain of Life, (their church in Spanish Lookout), for worship.

On June 2, Nathanael navigated the Belizean highway, picking up 17 people along our way, arriving at Fountain of Life for their 9:30 am service.  Nathanael interpreted for the people we brought, Sandra, along with Deaf living in the area who don't feel welcome at the Spanish Lookout Mennonite Deaf church.
Manuel visiting with some Deaf from Spanish Lookout

Following the service, Fountain of Life prepared a lovely lunch.  We enjoyed the yummy food and fellowship.

Nathanael interpreting at Fontain of Life

Where does this leave us?  We feel called to continue the ministry. We want to navigate this with a lot of grace, without competition. We see it would be possible to attend Fountain of Life about once a month. This means we'd need the funding of 150$ for gas (there and back). In addition, it signifies that we are walking to a minefield spiritually speaking.

After lunch, some people from Fountain of Life prayed for Elizanie

We ask that you would pray with us. What does this open door mean for us? More importantly, what does God want to do? Thank you for joining with on this journey. We are excited about what God has planned.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

learning to be an advocate

Three weeks into our furlough. What have we been doing?  We have been eating salads and junk! Last week I went to the grocery store and came back with 4 different types of ice cream! The prices and variety just appealed to me too much!

Kelsey, Yalitza, and Elizanie

Things continue in Belize.

A post that I'd been wanting to write about for a while has been the gradual increase of medical involvement with our community.  It started as needs popped up.  It had an exponential increase as we took people to Kids Konnect, and has propagated by having 3 pregnant Deaf women.
at the hospital waiting to be seen

Nathanael's roll in the US was as an interpreter. He has years of experience in doctor's offices, hospitals, and in the community. He has taught me a lot about allowing the Deaf in our community to become their own advocates. It is unquestionably a process on both ends (mine and theirs).  The Deaf in our community often have people tell them what to do.  We are actively attempting to educate while allowing them to step in and be a part of their care.

Nathanael interprets in an appointment

One way that I am doing this is with the pregnant women.  I attended medical appointments. Nathanael interpreted, I encouraged the women to ask questions.
our last day (June 9) of church

In this process, Nathanael and I recognized the gap in the area understanding labor and breastfeeding.  I put together a short class, including YouTube videos and pictures.  I taught exercises to aide in preparing the body for labor, stages of labor, and about breastfeeding. Nathanael interpreted.  He had 2 Deaf women share their labor stories.

the class setup

We ate lunch together after the class.  I was able to give all 3 a stretch band to take with; hopefully incentive to continue the exercises at home.
Lunch was yummy, Anna joined us

The matriculation (and arguably most anticipated part) of this story is that Elizanie had her baby on July 2.  It is exciting to see her. We are bereaved that we were unable to be in Orange Walk to interpret during her labor.

Please be praying for Brieany as she had to go back into the hospital due to jaundice, as well as healing/health for Elizanie.

Kelsey and Yalitza will also (most likely) give birth to their children before we return. What prodigious time to be a part of Jesus Deaf Church!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Crossing Cultural Lines (again!)

I have about 5 ongoing lists currently. Things we want to see while in the US, things we need to buy, homeschooling needs, the list of lists goes on.  Today I'm sharing with you a list of what we will be required to remember.  What we need to remember you question? The behaviors and rules that are different here vs in the US. Without further ado our non-comprehensive list:

1.  Toilet paper goes in the toilet. (we may have to move the trash can outside of the bathroom to help with this one)
this is the sign inside of the bathroom of Western Dairies

2.  Personal space is a very different concept in the US vs Belize, especially when standing in  a line or waiting for something
Selah in line for popsicles at 

3 "right now" actually means that very moment! Here it means that is the next thing I will do, or just a moment.

Selah and Zion waiting for the water jugs to get filled

4. Wearing seat belts is the law. It would behoove me to tell you that not too long ago I was quite a stickler for carseat safety. That "me" would be embarrassed by this me.
Full van at Easter. Ni is on my lap. Misael and Elmer aren't even in seats (not to mention the kids bouncing around in the back

5. The sun goes down slowly and later. Here the time that the sun goes down only fluctuates between 4:30pm-6:30pm year round. Once the sun starts going down, it's usually down within half an hour.

picking out costumes for drama Sunday

6.  It's okay to walk in the rain.  Belizeans don't like to go out in the rain. They will stop at a shop and wait till the rain stops to continue on.
How seating is usually arranged for the sermon portion ( encourages interaction)

7. Re-orienting ourselves to be more "cold culture" in our time.  Belizeans tend to be relationship oriented "I give you my time because I care about you" They will make conversation with you, with a long line behind you.  North Americans tend to be task-oriented "I won't take up your time because I care about you" Neither is wrong, they are just different.

some of the people from Jesus Deaf Church who came to Abigail's quince

8 Pants and sweatshirts!  I have a feeling we are going to be quite cold! Our temps haven't been below 90 for over 2 months.  Due to high humidity, the overnight lows aren't usually below 80.

Selah helped serve at a Koinonia event

9 Eggs. In Belize, we buy them from a shelf and keep them on the counter

10. sending the kids to the local shop. In Pennsylvania, I probably would refer to these as a "convenience store" in a one block radius we have 3 food stores and 1 hardware store. I often send the kids out for eggs, rice, beans, onion or flour. The shops are labeled by the country of origin of the owner: "the Chinese shop" , "the Mestizo shop", "The Hindi (Indian) Shop"

I will leave the list at 10. This is mostly because we are in the midst of packing and cleaning.  If you notice my kids (or even us) doing something odd, feel free to ask us about it. Zephaniah especially seems to lose the context for how to act in the US. (We all flounder at times). We look forward to seeing you all in person and lots of hugs!

P.S. If you haven't received our newsletter yet, we do have a list of our current needs. If you feel called to fill those in one way or another please let us know!  :)

For those of you who live in Eastern PA, We are having a fundraiser dinner at Hopewell. Here is a copy of the Flyer. Email us or call Hopewell for more information:

I can't seem to load the flyer correctly (sorry) Here is the information:

Casual dinner and gathering of friends and supporters of the Davis Family serving as missionaries to the Deaf community in Belize. June 23, 2019 5:30 pm Hopewell Christian Fellowship 601 Hunsicker Road Telford, PA 18969