Monday, November 30, 2009

Ups and Downs

We had 24 people for worship today. That is the most we have had in about a 12 month period. The extra people were hearing brothers and sisters of the deaf people. There is still a peace that is hovering among us. I praise God for that. This is a picture from this morning. Pastor Chon had a "Bible Institute" in his church so we had to find another place to worship. We used the empty building next to my house. Everyone loved it because it felt like "our church". I prefer to be in Pastor Chon's church because the space is larger. Yet, even though we were shoulder to shoulder, "cozy" is nice, too.

The sugar is tassle-ing. I love it. It's so beautiful to see a field full of it blowing in the wind under a blue sky.

The pointsettia trees are in full bloom. (Yes, here in Belize they are trees...not cute little plants.)

I'm healing. I thank God and the many people who prayed and helped me especially Mrs. Briceno who took me to the hospital on Sunday night and waited with me three hours while I got a drip and some insulin. She also gave me a good lunch each day. Now I am finally feeling stronger and there is just a little pain at the site of the wounds and some are even itching and the scabs are coming off. So the long and short of it is... whew! I'm glad to be alive and can't wait to get back in the classroom on Monday.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Always give thanks to God the Father through Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:17

No one was hurt this morning when a big red pick-up truck driven by a young Mennonite man swerved around us and crashed into the left bumber of the van. We were driving slowly on the "Sugar Road" that is a dirt road that runs between the sugar factory and Yo Creek on our way to pick up more people for church. There were three children in the van and two were sitting in the very back. They yelled that the man is coming "crazy fast". I didn't hear them. The road was recently smoothed over and more dirt put down on the holes so you can actually fly about 60 to 70 mph on it. When he caught up to us I think he did not calculate the distance he needed to overtake us since we were not going very fast...and he got too close before he was able to swerve into the other lane. The passenger side of his truck got pretty wrecked up, too. There was a woman sitting in that seat holding a baby. Fortunately she did not let go of the baby. So in the end, no one was hurt.
I made a police report, went to the insurance agent's house and made the insurance report, and will go to see Mr. Estrada (body shop) tomorrow to get an estimate.

It could have been worse. It could have been a lot worse. So I thank God for protecting us, again.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jesus' Deaf Church

These photos were taken two weeks ago. This is pretty much who is in our group on a regular basis (except Sherwin and Kristel are both missing and they are almost always at church). I thank God for these friends and faithful people. Sometimes the journey has been rough, maybe even tumultuous, but we're blessed with a peaceful period right now.

They used to come to church to socialize with other deaf people. That's always a big draw...even more than food. We who are Deaf need to be with others who understand us, know us, and can communicate with us no matter what age they are. The difference in the past few months is now they are also coming to learn.

If there were some kind of developmental research to explain how deaf people grow through stages in church membership, I think it would look like:

1.) curiosity

2.) wanting to be with other people who are deaf so badly that they will sit through the preaching and music, sleeping possibly and daydreaming certainly, reluctant to participate or share. They are just waiting for it to be over so they can visit and socialize.

3.)They come to socialize AND to learn.

4.) They come because they want to worship and praise God. They see God working in their lives and want to take time to thank him. They want to learn what God is doing in other people's lives. They want to honor the commandment to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. In other words, they come because of God.

5.) They sense a call on their lives to be part of God's Kingdom plan and want to help God to communicate His message to other Deaf people. They want a role in the mechanics of the church.

I think we have rounded the corner. Although some are still in stage 2, many are showing an interest in learning. They now answer questions and share their thoughts and experiences. It's a big step. Stage 2 is self-centered. Stage 3 starts to show some openness to others and to God.

Manuel is growing weekly as a leader and in the knowledge of Christ. We all love to see him share a song or Bible story. He puts so much heart into it. He knows he is called. I think it is a huge responsibility for him...maybe too big. It's not up to me. It's God's plan. It's in His hands.

Please continue to pray with us to grow in Christ, to grow in expressions of love, and to be patient and forgiving of each other.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The School Garden

Sulmi and Kristel wrestling in the garden.

Cilantro (the naturally growing Belizean variety) in the back. Basil and peppermint (in a sunken pot so it won't spread too much) in the front.

Beans, then okra starting to sprout, habenero, then lettuce and cabbage.
The potatoes that didn't grow well are in the back.

While my North American friends and family are buttoning down the hatches and bracing for winter, we are planting seeds. The Special Ed. Unit is responsible for maintaining a school garden. I love this aspect of my job. In fact, if someone asked me what I do these days for "fun" I would say "play in the garden". Some of the children also love it. Yes, there are some who vie for the title of "who can stand around and do the least amount of work", but others are really proud of what we have joined God in creating. It's fun to keep it looking nice. The children are obviously proud of it. Luis said, "Maybe we will get an award." I smiled because there is no award for school gardens, but it showed how he was proud of the fruits of his labor. A kind-hearted British woman who married a Belizean is helping us. She's given us manure (lots of it), many plants, seeds, and lots of encouragement. I thank God for her support and friendship.
What's growing?
We have a lots of stuff to watch:
Tomatoes and green peppers from seeds
radishes, carrots, squash, cucumbers, okra and beans sprouting from seeds
chaya, calaloo (both green leafies) transplanted from my house
cabbage, lettuce, and habenero pepper plants
mint, sweet basil, thyme(or oregano... it's different than the US variety) and cilantro
some potatoes (it rained too much and they got kind of soggy so we will have to plant them again)
Pretty cool, eh?

Ugh! I'm not impervious to bad things. Shucks!

This is a terribly unflattering picture...but I wanted to show off my battle scars.
Last Tuesday I was bitten by a pitt bull, several times. Here's the gruesome story.
Most people here in Belize have "guard dogs". I have a dog, who jumps up and kisses the strangers who come to the gate, saying with his ears and eyes,"Are you here to play with me?". He is not a guard dog. The Belizean guard dogs are kept on a "short chain" and loosed at night to roam the yard. These dogs are mean. They are there to protect the family from intruders.

A teacher I work with has a husband who is a nice man and does wordworking professionally. He often does small woodworking projects for me for free. On Monday he made something for our school garden, so on Tuesday I went to his house and brought him a Coke to say thank you. He has said in the past when I offered to pay, "Nancy, you don't need to pay friends to do things for you." Taking that as an "oops...American idea" correction I went to his house with Coke in hand at noon. I have been there more times than I could count and the dog is always chained in the back of the house. On Tuesday it was inside the yard. I noticed it too late. It bit my left arm...with deep tooth marks on both sides. I briefly got away and then it bit my right arm tearing the flesh with a shake of its head. The owner and two other men were trying to get this enraged dog off of me and couldn't. I was on the ground crawling when it bit me the last time...on my butt. The gash on the right arm took about 6 stitches inside to sew the muscle and 5 on the outside. It's slowly healing but... oh so much pain!

First I went to the private doctor that I know and trust since the hospital is a crazy, not so sterile place, IMHO. Then I went to school. The principal said to get rabbies shots at the hospital, so another teacher took me there for a tetnus injection. We reported the dog to the health department and they are going to watch it to see if rabies develops. (They'll notify me and I will get the shots, but I doubt that the dog is rabid). Then I came home and my neighbor applied Maya medicine. I think that probably worries my parents. Two of the puncture wounds were still draining blood 48 hours later. The neighbor got it to stop with tetracycline directly on the wound and then covered it with an onion peel. (huh?) It was an ingenious idea because the onion did not stick to the wound and could be peeled off...the hospital had sent me home with gauze on the wound and it stuck. They also wrapped it in a tight bandage. The neighbor said it should not be covered. On the swollen part she put aloe vera plants. That was so refreshing. I worried, though about sterility and about getting infection. I continued to wash everything with alcohol and hydrogenperoxide. It's now Friday, 3 days later, and I still have pain (yes, I'm taking various meds from the first doctor) and there is no infection that I can see. I do wish the swelling and pain would go away.

The Angels are Still Rejoicing!

Every Friday night Edgar (16) comes to my house carrying his Bible. He says he wants to learn more about Jesus. I give him scripture to read at home and he comes back next week having read it...not always understanding it, but reading with the help of God's Spirit. When we are together we read a passage and try to understand what God is saying in each verse. In this picture he is reading John 3 about Nicodemus and being "born again". Just like Nicodemus, Edgar puzzled over the concept of how he could be born again? He can't go back inside his mother? He wondered out loud, "What does Jesus mean?" I let him struggle, like Nicodemus did for a minute, not giving him the answer, emphasizing the "you must"...repeated twice at this point. The next verse said with the Spirit and with water. He started to catch on. Jesus meant a different kind of birth. "Ah Ha!" he almost shouted.
Well, from here on it gets theologically sticky because there are different interpretations of what it means to be born again. As we studied we knew that the water was to wash away our sins... to wash away the old and clean ourselves ready for the new. I told him that when he is baptized on Dec. 6 he will have a chance to come to the water like all the people John baptized including Jesus. With repentance he will need to ask God to forgive him for all his disobedience. The washing, or actually "dying" by being dipped into the water and rising again is a symbol of his being born again to a new life. The magic is not the dipping in the pool, but that God forgives and then fills us with his Spirit. He can go back to stealing and lying or he can allow his heart to be born again by the Spirit and walk in God's love.
He seems pretty intent on trying to follow Jesus, but temptations are all around. Two weeks ago he stole $50 from his mother's purse. He lied about his job. The whole church was in shock, "You lied? All this time you said you had to hurry and go to work at 1:00...but you never had the job?" At church he cried when Manuel said, "You lied to us!" I don't think he can stop overnight. I pray that God's word, his deaf friends support, and God's Spirit will get him on the right path. Please pray with me.