Thursday, November 19, 2020

a new not normal

 Things are settled. That is what my heart keeps telling me. Seven months into this uncertainty, we are finding a groove. While restrictions came off quickly our first time around; they have "stuck" much longer this time. Friends I watch in Kenya, Honduras, and the like have been much more confined than we are, so we find ourselves thankful.

Alma leads the people in prayer

At the same time things have opened up; the government still refuses to allow church meetings greater than 13 persons.  There have been multiple arrests, mostly of pastors. Nathanael had to prayerfully consider what this meant for us. Our numbers don't usually increase over this amount since COVID.  It is a frustrating place to be in when casino's, bars and busses can be open but God's house can't.

Last week Nathanael spoke on the "rocks crying out" and placed some rocks in the center of our meeting

As a leadership team, (Jeimmy, Nathanael, Elizanie, Elmer and I) have been feeling a greater pull to fast and pray. Specifically last weekend we were fasting for marriages in the Deaf community.  Thanks so much for those who prayed with us.  We broke fast as a team last Saturday evening.  

Brianny is delightful especially this night when she and I ended up covered in chilli (She was thus given a sink bath!)

Next week, (November 27) Elizani and Elmer will be in charge for our monthly time of "getting away so that leadership can be trained". This time Jeimmy will travel with us to visit some friends in Spanish Lookout.   Please pray that this would be a time of learning and growth for all!  We are excited about what is doing in Elizanie and Elmer as a couple and as leaders.  

Zephaniah turned 10 last week. He chose to make an ice cream cake. bonus points to those who know the character on the cake! 

Individual discipleship and visiting continue to happen. Two weeks ago Nathanael, Selah and Jeimmy met with a woman who has now tested COVID positive.  While we believe we are out of danger, she is struggling with fear. Nathanael was able to provide assurance to her over Facebook messenger.

Reynalda and Yalitza during "turn-taking church"

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Just News

 Often it feels like we went in a full circle, pandemic wise. April 1 the country shut down. There were times when we weren't allowed out of our own yard. I had the opportunity to shop online at our local grocery store (a first).  By July 1, we had completely opened up the country inside. What a relief.

praying for each other at the end of church

By August, we actually had Covid cases (there had been a total of 19 our entire time April-July). The planned "opening" of the airport and subsequently borders never surfaced.  We were put into as much quarantine as they could muster without closing businesses. We have been in this place of limbo since August 1st.

Last week turn taking church (socially distanced) Marta leading a song

October 1, our airports opened. 

Yalitza leading a song during church

We are able to have ten people at church plus 3 in leadership.  Some of the regular attenders choose not to come for fear of Covid, which is currently worse than ever before.  We do broadcast those services over facebook. We (Nathanael and Jeimmy) also have been doing individual visits. 1-3 times a week in addition to the discipleship and going through The Purple Book.  

Jeimmy told us that it was Children's day in El Salvador, so we celebrated!

And now for TWO big news issues..

Elizani practiced her sermon to a rapt audience

First: As a family we have come to the decision that we won't be able to return to the US this holiday season. Border issues have been volatile as well as the fact that it won't be the same experience for our kids. This does mean that we have made a decision to return this summer (2021) no matter what. Start making plans now. We are (it is helping make us feel a bit better).

We are so thankful to have the work permit!

The even better news: NATHANAEL GOT HIS WORK PERMIT! We rejoiced and then got right to work on my dependency permit and the children's student visas. My dependency permit was obtained the next day. The kids now have to be certified by the government of Belize to qualify as homeschoolers. This process is said to take 6 weeks.  We also hope to apply for residency in the next few weeks.

Well that's all the news that's fit to tell currently ;) God Bless you thanks for engaging with the ministry to the Deaf in Belize. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

It is the Lord who opens doors

Last week we were in the US for 2 hours. We threw the toilet paper in the toilet, waited in the air conditioning, and had a conversation in US English.  We traveled to the capital to renew Zion's passport (which had expired during the quarantine). We are overjoyed/relieved to have completed this small yet important task. How were we in the US? The embassy is considered your passport country once you enter. Of course, we didn't actually cross any borders, much less leave the country.

yesterday we did a craft with shaving cream then used it to doctor our faces

The journey to Belmopan also added a passenger in our vehicle.  We excitedly pulled into the parking lot, jumping out of the car to hug Jeimmy.  

Nathanael and Jeimmy work on learning ASL and Spanish (ASL for her, Spanish for him)

Jeimmy is the former leader of the Vida 220 team. They all were able to return to their passport countries. She hasn't found a way yet to get to El Salvador.

Jeimmy practices her ASL skills

We met Jeimmy in 2019 when she was a student/participant. She returned as a leader to Dangriga this January. She was able to visit Orange Walk twice with her team while serving alongside Tim and Julie.
the 2019 Belize Vida 220 team(when they rode on our scooter)

The 2020 Belize Vida 220 team

Jeimmy has been getting into the mix both language-wise and homeschooling. She is in the process of learning her third language (ASL) while at the same time improving her English. She bravely departs with Nathanael and participates in visiting church members. We also have had the privilege of enjoying her culinary skills twice a week.  She is currently residing in the apartment. (on the property we rent).

Jeimmy and Nathanael on a visit; they helped with laundry

We are unsure when the 'bug' hit her but she's developed a heart for Deaf ministry. She is praying alongside us as to if she is called to be an intern here.  Please pray with us for God's wisdom and vision.  We entrust that God will answer our prayers for ministry partners in his way and his timing. 

Zephaniah doing schoolwork with Jeimmy

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

a huge praise!

 Last month after the Americans left the Vida 220 team, we got together with the Groff family in Belmopan. (a halfway meeting point between us and Southern Belize). We had fellowship together, stayed overnight at a missionary friend (of theirs) house, and spent next day hiking/swimming in the river before heading home.

The "Gravis" (a name that the kids came up that combines both of our last names) children play a rousing game of monopoly

When discussing my conundrum about receiving school books (I didn't have a way to receive them this year), the other missionary suggested we look into Harvest Aviation.  We were pleasantly surprised at what they do and how quickly they processed our request, (to help us get books). They provide a monthly service of flying needed items to missionaries. This flight happens once a month from FL. They provide it for free, but accept donations (hint hint ;) )

out for an ice cream treat with the team (I apparently didn't take pictures while we were swimming)

We had less than a week to get stuff sent to "try things out".  I had my parents and sister send the most pertinent things that were sitting at their houses (a small box of school books and our drivers licences).

not relevant to the blog post but Nathanael did a fun skit this past week in church

Today was the exciting day! We drove to the Belize airport and Nathanael was able to get our two small boxes of items. We are so very grateful!

Zephaniah with our cat: Tacocat

I have to say that in general with the borders being tightly shut, the feeling of living here has been a bit claustrophobic. (I do have a tendency toward those feelings anyway!) I can't get out and I can't get what we need for our school year. It was overwhelming! (and it would be the first time that we were unable to find a way to get our items.  I just didn't make school decisions. 

We were able to start our school year yesterday

Harvest Aviation has been a light to me and provided something we really needed. (Please feel free to donate to them as a blessing to us!  We want them to benefit, they ask for nothing from us!)We are so very thankful.  Not to mention most of my glasses are scratched and we were finally able to get our new pairs. 

What a blessing to be able to see clearly. May God bless you with clear vision today! 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Out with the old..

My blog post from a few weeks ago alluded to the fact that I wanted to record the "little" things.  This will be a "little things" type of post.

Sunday morning a month ago, Nathanael took the picture while Marta was praying

Our van:

Was a blessing given to us the summer of 2017. It has a wonderful engine and as most of you are aware, the transmission was rebuilt on our way to Belize in August 2017. It is steadfast! It also gets terrible gas mileage.  The gas mileage as well as the added expenditure of fuel here makes driving less than economic. Nathanael considered ways to adjust this. 

Misael driving the van full of people on our return trip from Spanish Lookout

One way that people combat the price of gas here is to convert their vehicles to use propane. While it actually makes your miles per gallon worse, the cost of propane is less than half the price of gasoline; thus making a worthwhile endeavor. We had been considering it for years. The monthly trips to Spanish Lookout were what helped make a decision.

Fountain of Life church always serves us lunch! What a blessing. 

Nathanael had a welder friend make a frame for the tank, as well as add a luggage rack.  He then took it to Shipyard. It took less than a day for the conversion.  Nathanael figured out the math. In three months we will have save the amount it cost to have the conversion done: a win/win.

A back view of the van 

The second new thing we got were chairs. When we were sharing a church, the benches worked for church well. Since moving the church, we've been forced to scavenge for chairs.  We just had enough and some Fridays the kids didn't have chairs. Pair that with the fact that some of the chairs here are 15 + years old and weren't well made in the first place; meant that there were times chairs broke. (while occupied) 

Unpacking the chairs

The chairs won't make up for any savings in a matter of months. That being said we are so grateful to have reliable, plentiful seating.

a time of prayer (you can see our palanthera of chairs behind people) 

We are so thankful for the ways that God provided for these needs!

Misael unboxed the chairs

Wednesday, July 22, 2020


It took months of waiting. We had the idea we would do baptisms and our traditional Easter visit the lagoon.
(Elmer leading church this past Sunday)

As a side note, if you wanted to understand why we go to the Lagoon for Easter, you can look at this post.  

Belizeans go swimming for Easter (it is the hottest time of the year) and we stopped fighting for attendance. Going swimming, fellowship and celebration (with an occasional egg hunt) are the way we remember our Savior.

Waiting was a piece of the story due to being quarantined during Resurrection Sunday.
As a family, we had a celebration that we hadn't had in years.

The church was able to bring our dream to fruition the first week of June.

Without further ado, here is the video. (Please be kind I am just beginning to learn how to edit. I had no idea this would take so much work for me!)

Friday, July 3, 2020

It's the little things

I admit it. I have gotten out of the habit of writing blog-posts.

Since arriving in 2015, our schedule has changed multiple times, my responsibility increased, and the kids got older.

Selah drew this

As I was thinking about the blog, I recognized that it is somewhat of a record. It is the place we share what is going on. When I am writing a newsletter, or sharing a Facebook post, I have to share "big" events. The little things get lost in the muddle. It is the little things I miss. A victory at church, a child accomplishment, Jesus teaching me something.

Nathanael and Elmer working through the Purple Book (a discipleship tool) 

I am making an attempt to veer myself back on schedule. My goal is biweekly posts. If you want to stop and see some of the little things that make up our daily life here at Jesus Deaf Church.
my class last night at Koinonia was all kids. So fun :) 

Next week I will be sharing the video and a short blog post about the baptisms that happened last month.  Keep your eyes peeled!

Our last rest day we drove to the ocean (about 45 min away) and spent time by the waves

Some little and not so little things that have happened in the past few months:

  • Kids finished school
  • Abigail is now officially taller than Spring(by an inch)
  • Spring has restarted in person classes both with Deaf and hearing
  • We are able to meet as a church
  • We painted Abigail's room in an astronomy theme
  • We have family church weekly which stared during COVID
  • Things opened up internally and we spent time outside more
  • The Vida 220 Belize team came for a visit before leaving the country
  • we are able to attend Koinonia with our friends for Father's day
  • we got a puppy
  • Abigail turned 16
  • We celebrated her birthday and our friend's graduation together this past weekend

Father's day Fellowship meal enjoyed with friends

Thursday, June 18, 2020


My parents were never stoic. Actually I often accuse Nathanael of "not caring" because I grew up with a dad who was willing to cry.  In the same moment I am not sure I learned the "art" of grieving. I didn't understand until adulthood that this is something that comes and goes in waves.

In the face of Covid19, I have watched people face things that were unexpected. Grocery store shelves empty, events cancelled, distancing from people they love; all unimagined effects from a pandemic.  People on the front lines work, exhausted.

In the beginning, I was "okay" with the happenings. I am an introvert. It didn't feel "stuck".  We had to adapt. I finally agreed to offer Revelation Wellness classes online. My kids found minecraft. Nathanael takes time to meticulously interpret the news as it comes out and offer devotions.

Then I hit a wall. I saw people on Facebook complaining about having to look at their parents through a window, when the last time I saw my parents was November 26, Nathanael's this July.  This week we couldn't find yogurt. I gave up after 2 stores because it wasn't worth my time looking for something I wasn't sure I could not find.

What is my point? I was hitting a grieving wall. As a family, we have different times that we realize what we have given up; and we deeply miss it. Does this mean we need to leave the field? Is it wrong to feel a loss at these? No and most definitely not.

It is also okay for you to be sad that you can see your parents but not hug them. I can't imagine missing high school graduation.

Today if you need to grieve, give yourself the space to do so. Don't stay in that space complaining. Ask Jesus into that place, see how he comforts  you and what he shows you.

This past Friday my grandfather breathed his last breath on earth. Today I honor him by grieving, and reminding you that you have the right (and perhaps need) to grieve as well.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Celebrating our Savior

This Resurrection day was different than any we've had yet. Usually we are returning from Guatemala (and our Annual retreat), and gearing up for our time at the lagoon.

This year brought none of that.  Nathanael asked me what we usually have for Easter dinner. We don't usually have Easter dinner! (Our usual is lunch of rice and beans with church at the lagoon).

Thursday night we had a Passover Seder. (again something we haven't done in years). It was a good way to bring our hearts to remembrance with soberness. I love seeing the Seder through the eyes of Jesus!

Sunday dawned. I enjoyed 3 different online services. It was nice to commune with others online. Nathanael joined in as well for parts of it.

As a family we've been doing church together. When I was a child, vacation meant tenting through the US. Sunday's meant we compiled a service as a family. Prior to the pandemic, I don't remember family worship. (we may have, I just don't have the best memory).  This point of connection as a family, and sharing has been very meaningful to me. I am thankful that we were pushed into this.

We were able to have family church, followed by an egg hunt and dying eggs. I was so excited. I saved silk ties from a few thrift shops in the US to attempt to dye eggs that way. They didn't turn out as pretty as I imagined.  I hope next year we can do this with friends!

Thanks for sharing with us in this celebration of our Savior and his Resurrection. In the words of Andrew Peterson, this is something we have the privilege of celebrating all year!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

A time to celebrate

Amid the Chaos that has become common-place, It seemed appropriate to shed some light on more happy subjects.

While there is a nice little "ditty" in the newsletter, I wanted to give you a bigger picture of Elmer and Elizanie's wedding.  

After returning from furlough to Elizanie giving birth to Brieany; Nathanael, Elizanie and Elmer talked about making their relationship permanent.  It may look simple on paper but this wasn't the case in real life. They had to meet and discuss commitment. They worked through questions for Christian couples prior to marriage.  Finally they chose the date of Feb 8.

Koinonia gracefully allowed us to use the building. A wonderful woman, Eve helped Nathanael and Elmer decorate.  A couple from Grace Mennonite gave some money to Elizanie and Elmer for their wedding.  Selah made (one of) the wedding cakes.  

The ceremony was lovely. It was Nathanael's first wedding to officiate. Mrs Mesh interpreted from ASL into Spanish, an symbol of the multilingual culture we have the privileged of being a part of.

For their honeymoon, Elmer and Elizanie were nervous about leaving Brieany. Instead they stayed overnight in Orange Walk, visited her and took day trips.  Where did Brieany stay  you ask? At our house, more specifically in Nathanael's and my bed. She slept fine. She did wake a bit early. It was me, nervous about a baby in bed with me; that settled into a fitful sleep.  I was delighted to send her home after 3 days.  

As a side note, we discovered that the cheap diapers they had been using don't hold up at night.  I asked Elizanie what she does and she told me she puts plastic on the bed.  That day I went out and got some Huggies night diapers.  I may not have slept better but I wasn't sleeping in urine!  We have been giving them night diapers as they come to church. 

There was some non-wedding related stress. I was changing for the wedding and placed my glasses on the window ledge in the bathroom at Koinonia. I released my glasses and immediately realized my error. I had actually deposited the glasses into a hole in the cement block which ran 5 feet or so down. Rodel, who lives at the church, bent a hanger and got them out for me.!

Thanks so much and we anticipate this brightened your day a bit.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

fostering relationship

Prior to leaving in June,we visited Fountain of Life church in Spanish lookout.  We were able to bring people from our community as well as the Deaf in the area came. The purpose in the visit was to explore possibility of connecting for frequently.

having coffee before church

Since then, Fountain of Life supports Jesus Deaf church to come once a month.  We bring people in the van, Nathanael interprets, and they provide a lunch for us.  The monthly visits began in January. It is a "typical" non-denominational service" with worship, Sunday school and preaching.
the Deaf section

The exciting component is seeing both communities collectively enjoy fellowship and foster relationship.  Just as thrilling is that there are people at Fountain of Life who feel called to Deaf ministry.  We revel in the partnership.

Nathanael interpreting during worship

Please pray with us as we continue. Pray that the people of Jesus Deaf church and Spanish Lookout Deaf community would experience Christ. We long for it to go beyond a set of rules, for them to truly know and have a relationship with the Father.

a game of volleyball after church

Additionally, (and somewhat unexpectedly) our kids are flourishing in the relationships they are forming.

The kids also hung out and drew with chalk on the court