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!