Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Christmas from Belize!

Sulmi with her brother and sisters in front of the neighbor's "Christmas Tree".
Dear Friends and Prayer Warriors,
Thank you for praying for us and following this blog this year. One friend said, "You sure have had a lot of drama this year." I think that the drama is part of being in the middle of what God is doing. Sometimes there are astounding transformations in people's lives that are so rewarding. I just spent an hour praying and reading the Bible with Edgar. Yesterday he sent me a letter: "Please, can you and I study the Bible? I want to follow Jesus. Please can we meet today?"

I asked Manuel if he would lead worship while I am in the states for Christmas and minor surgery on my finger. He jumped at the chance. (YES!) I reminded him I would not be here to drive, so everyone would have to get to church themselves. He's already planning what he wants to preach on. He's telling everyone to come to church on the 27th. He is so excited. He is so "called". I praise God because a year ago he had turned his back on the church. Now he is letting the Holy Spirit lead him to do God's will. It's one of God's transformations.

Finances? I don't know how God does it, but I am just so thankful how blessed I am, from people who send Dr. Wonder Workshop videos, books for school and church, a computer for me, a projector for the church, money for the school to build a bathroom, Christmas gifts for the children, a HUGE box of seasonal crafts, Crystal Light, and money to support transportation needs...

All these blessings and answers to prayer remind me daily that God is working here in Belize. There is drama, and attacks from dogs, mean people and other diversions, but God answers that with blessings and support and change and your encouragement. So I think of all of you this Christmas and thank you for being part of God's plan and work here in Belize.

Our theme this advent has been "O, Come let Us Adore Him". I pray, as I write, that you will encounter the Christ child, and living Jesus with unbridled adoration, just like the wisemen, angels, Mary, Joseph and all of the shepherds who ran to find him, then knelt to worship him.

With love,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This is the Day That the Lord Has Made!

On Sunday Alejandro and Edgar were baptized. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day. We chose to worship at the pool At St. Lucia's Hotel instead of in the church so that we would not need to drive somewhere in the middle of the service. Galen and Phyllis Groff came from Guatemala to join our group of 18 deaf people, some small hearing children and the mother of one of the boys. The worship began as we always do with prayer and members each leading a song. I taught about why baptism is necssary. I wanted the boys and the church members to have a handle on the concept so they could be confident, and be able to give an answer to anyone who asked, "Why do you get baptized?" Manuel taught the story of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River. Then the two boys, Edgar and Alejandro came forward and each made a confession. They were honest and sincere. We then proceeded to the pool. We baptized each boy individually. They knelt and I asked them questions of faith: Do you believe in God the father who created the world? Do you believe in Jesus, his son, who died on the cross to reconcile you to God? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit of God that comes into your heart at baptism and gives you power to resist temptation and do God's work? Do you want to join the church and help the church do the work of the Kingdom? Do you want to grow in faith and knowledge of Jesus through prayer and Bible study? They answered the questions with yes and a smile... and then I baptized them. I kind of expected the heavens to open up and for God to say something wise to all of us. It was a moving moment for me. We closed by welcoming our two new brothers into the congregation and sharing hugs and blessings. Everyone stayed for a fellowship meal of rice and beans and chicken.

It was also Edgar's birthday. He turned we had a cake and sang to him.

Edgar walked home saying, "Will we continue to meet on Friday's for Bible study?" He enjoyed the two months of Friday night Bible studies that we had in preparation for his baptism. I am asking God to guide me with what to do with Friday nights. There are several ideas I am tossing around and am not sure which way to go. God will make it clear.

The Friday Night "Girl's Night" Bible study became a mothers with children Bible study and we often had more children than women. It was hard to concentrate and made me think that these mothers need to get together. Maybe the focus should, be something to do with healthy to play with your child, how to make playdoh, how to get your child to go to sleep at night, how to discipline your child, how does a deaf mother "read" to their child? how and when do you teach your child about Jesus? Yet the best time for "Mother's Night Out" might be during the day...maybe in the mornings or afternoons when I have school. Transportation is difficult at night but most could walk or ride the bus during the day. Hmmmm. Where is the best place for this idea? (probably at the church). How do we organize it? Who leads? Do we have food? Do we need childcare or is the focus including the children? How long should it be?

For a while I have also had the inkling that we should do a Believer's Bible study...this would be a continuation of the study that Edgar and I did... it would probably be held during the week right after school (4- 5 PM?) because the boys live far away and I dont want them traveling in the dark. Yet, I wonder if they would be too tired from school to launch into this. I wonder also how often an after school teachers' meeting woud conflict with this time. Should it be Believer's only... a small group... a committed cell group, or should it be more open to anyone who wants to come?

If anyone feels called to take a leap of faith and bring their ASL signing skills to Belize, I think there are a number of different kinds of groups like this that God would help you lead (smile).