Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We are the Temple of the Holy Ghost

April 15, 2009

Dear Friends,

It’s time to catch you up on some of the things that have been happening with God’s ministry here in Belize.

We’ve Moved! Our church is now meeting in Pastor Chon’s church building. It’s such a blessing to be in a church. Even Angelica said, “I bet you were tired of the stealing.” Yeah, I was tired of the children and young adults stealing, and the disrespect for the property, and me, but mostly I knew God wanted us to move. It was clear after the boys broke my cat’s leg and

trapped her in a hole with fire ants for three hours. It was a painful wake up call. A few days after that, Pastor Chon said his church would be available for us to use...Sunday mornings, rent free. Wow! God’s timing is amazing.

That’s the good news. I still need your prayers for the young adults. They are not coming to church as often as they did when they were younger. Some women don’t come because they don’t like one of the boys who used to make sexual advances towards them, but has confessed and “stopped”. Some of the boys don’t come because there are other things they want to do on Sundays like swim and fish and hunt....and ride out a hangover from Friday night. So we need your prayers. Pray that the holy spirit will convict the young adults that they need the Lord. Pray that we have a wave of revival among them and in their hearts. Pray that they can resist the temptations to do drugs (mostly weed...there’s a lot of that here, it’s cheap), sexual activity, alcohol, and gambling in Mexico.

Ever get a song in your head and an hour later you find you are still singing it in the background of your thoughts? Yesterday I was singing “Know ye not, know ye not. Ye are the temple....Ye are the temple of the Holy Ghost.” I was weeding the garden and singing in my head while I thought about these deaf youth. Sometimes I long for a sheltered I remember Lancaster. Teaching in 4-H and our deaf church youth group I used to think that THOSE kids had little exposure to drugs, drinking a lot of Starbucks but not much alcohol, and were not having sex in high school. (Or were they?) I think I paint my memory of Lancaster too rosy. I have to get a grip on the reality that youth are tempted no matter where they live. It just seems worse here. I wonder why the more pure life is not more attractive to youth? I guess it looks boring, it’s not cool, it’s not risky or on the edge. There’s no thrill in it. It’s perceived as a lonely option because most of their friends don’t choose the narrow way. I wonder how to make it more attractive.

“Take up your cross and come follow me.” What’s the thrill in that?

So once again this morning I was doing some mundane task like cleaning up the “accidents” that my puppy leaves around the house, and again I was singing that song. ARGH! again. Then I realized, (duh!)...WE are the temple, not my house or Pastor Chon’s church but each of us. We are the place that God has chosen to reside! We are his hands and feet. We are empowered to do miracles in his name. We have a greater task than eating, sleeping, and watching American Idol on TV. We have a Kingdom to build and love to spread. Pray that I can communicate this. Pray that the youth will find God’s infilling more exciting than the myriad of things that tempt them.

Other news: I lost a good friend and mentor this month. Dora Taylor passed away. She was 98. Dora served in Florida, Honduras and then finally in the 1960’s here in Belize. But I did not know her then. When I came to Belize in 2004 for the summer, I felt God calling me to return and start a church for deaf people. I was questioning that call, wondering how I could do that as a woman and asked God outloud if he had the right person for the job. A few days later Belizean friends invited me to San Felipe to meet their family and experience their church. When I walked into the church I immediately saw Dora’s

picture on the wall. I wondered why, in this Maya, Mestizo community, they had a huge picture of a white Mennonite woman on the wall? Javiar’s response was, “She started this church.” I got goose bumps and thought, “God, this is your affirmation of my call. If she did it with your help in 1965, I can do it with your help in 2005” Later when I was back in the states I hunted for Dora and found her at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Center. We talked and shared our dreams for the church in Belize. Right up until her death she wrote to me almost monthly, sometimes by hand and sometimes by plucking out letters one-handed on her typewriter. Her letters were always encouraging and included Bible verses to help me understand God’s direction. I will miss her, but I know that when she sees Jesus he will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

New Students: I have two new students at school. That makes for a total of 12. Ryan is two weeks younger than Misael. They were immediately best buddies. It is wonderful to have an age-same peer for Misael since he has been the youngest in the class and feeling alone. Ryan did not have a teacher that signed at his old school, but his mother is working hard at learning to sign. It makes such a difference. When I send books home, he reads them to his mom, she learns the signs and he gets the practice. I expect great things from Ryan.

Elizanie is 10. She was in a deaf class in San Pedro, but did not learn many signs there. Now she is blossoming from non-stop gabbing with her new friends, Kristel, Sulmi, and Ginelli. It’s exciting to see. Even other teachers at school have commented on how Elizanie has found her nitch. Now...I need to find time to teach her family, too.

The Queen: Our school has an annual fundraising event that we call a fair. There are booths, food, raffles and games. Everyone gets involved. As part of the event each department submits the name of one of their girls to be the school queen. Instead of voting, people donate money in a basket or in the name of the girl they want to be the queen. Sulmi was reluctant at first. She did not want all of the attention and tried to shy away from the role. The other kids in our class convinced her to try for it. I was a bundle of nerves as the money was being counted. What if she lost? I would feel so sad for her. Losing would be worse than not having tried. She would feel awful. It seemed hours went by and finally they announced that Sulmi won. She is our school queen. She won a crown (and a bicycle) and will sit in the truck bed for the Independence Day parade, dressed in her white dress and pink cape...and wave to the public. On our way home from the emotional day, she started waving like the Queen of England, turning her wrist but not moving her fingers. “Is this how to do it?” she asked. Whew...yes.

The Puppy: Puppies are sort of like babies. They are fun to hold but there is a certain relief in being able to give them back to their mothers after a few minutes. I’ve been Googling “How to house break your puppy”, “what to feed your puppy”, “when to give your puppy vaccinations”, etc. and came across a site that said, “Enjoy your puppy. It wont be a puppy for long.” I “get” the enjoy part, but personally look forward to him using the grass as a toilet instead of my rugs and chewing on bones instead of my toes. Gabriel, is from Sulmi’s family’s hound dog. He will be big, with long ears and a deep bark. Now he sounds like a squeeky toy. But he is awfully cute. On the end of his tail is about one inch of white fir. When he wags his tail it looks like he is waving a flag.

Well it is lunchtime and he is squeeking at the screen door. So I will stop for now but know that I will try to write more frequently.

Love to all,