Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Classroom Christmas Party

Our classroom tree was covered with the ornaments the kids made...and a popcorn chain. The youngest children enjoy arranging and re-arranging the figures of the Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the shepherds and animals under the tree.

During December we studied Christmas traditions in other countries. One of the things we learned was that in Germany each family has a creche (a nativity scene). This was surprising to the children since none of them had one at their home and the only one they said they had ever seeing was the one at school. (Although I did see one in the Catholic Credit Union today.) I thought it would be fun to challenge the children to make one out of modeling clay. I gave the 4 boys a set of colorful clay bars and a base. I gave the same to the four girls. They had 45 minutes to work together as a team to mold the clay into the figures. When the time was up, we would take a picture of what they had created.

Well the boys made their nativity scene in about 15 minutes while the girls were working meticulously on details. One glance at the boy's work showed a manger, and a baby, several "people" and a couple animals. It looked pretty good actually. They wondered what they should do for the remaining 30 minutes and I said,"Why don't you use the remaining clay to refine what you have, add some details, maybe make another animal... what do you think? They all said

I went over to the girls to see if I could help to move it along...when I heard loud laughing from the boys. Evidently one of the boys had picked up a sheep, turned it into a "marble" and shot it at the tree, which feel over. Then another boy grabbed the top of the tree and turned it into a "marble" and shot it at Mary and Joseph knocking them over (thus the laughing). Within about 3 minutes their scene was turned into several large colorful marbles. Hmmmm. Well, I told them that the girl's were moving right along... they now had about 25 minutes to re-create their nativity. They Hrrrrumphed for a minute but the thing about clay is ...not so much the final product but the way it feels in your hands. They picked up their "marbles" and before the time was up, had recreated the scene below. Nice.

Below is the girls' team effort. They also made a roof (stable) over the whole scene but I didn't choose that picture because the roof blocked the view of the figures.

Our Christmas party was really a lot of fun this year. Five of the local stores donated gifts for the children. We were so blessed. One store said go and pick out $150 dollars worth of merchandise from the shelves and it would be free. (!!!) Other stores gave goodie bags of candy, apples, chips, small treats.
After the three special ed classes had activities for the children in three 30 minute rotations,
Santa arrived and passed out the gifts to the children. He was great. He did a little punta (a Belize dance), danced with a few of the children and had us all laughing. The children loved their gifts. The little ones gushed and gushed saying "Look what Santa gave me!" They were so happy. After Santa left we had lunch, played some Christmas Bingo and exchanged gifts in our own classes.

This is a picture of Victor and his mom. When their rotation came to my class I told the story Reindeer Christmas and they made reindeer paper bag puppets. It's wonderful to see the parents of the children in Victor's class come to the parties and be involved in the school.

This is Abner. He is so funny. When Santa called him up to get his gift, Abner changed his voice to sound deep (like Santa's). Abner's imitation was so cute, that we all clapped and laughed. In this picture he is giggling because he feels the pen running against his fingers.
Merry Christmas everybody!
May the peace of God guide you and sustain you in the new year.

Maturing in Christ

Here is the gang who came to Bible study tonight. Nicole, Edgar, Sherwin, Angelica, Juan and Kristel.
Their walk with the Lord magnifies for me, how gracious God is. They face so many temptations. They struggle. They win some of the battles, and they lose some. It's a long and winding road with few positive role models and examples, especially for the boys.
I read chapters 9 -11 of Romans where Paul is deeply concerned that his Jewish brothers and sisters are missing the Savior through their disobedience. Sometimes his words in those verses speak what's on my heart for my deaf brothers and sisters.
But God has worked a miracle in Juan. Such a transformation he's experienced. Now he wants to help the younger boys not make the same mistakes he did. On Sunday afternoons he invited them to play football in the school field near his house. On Saturday he took Edgar fishing. I asked him to build a wall and create a flower bed...moving dirt and cement blocks. Instead of doing it alone and taking all of the pay, he asked Alejandro to help him. In the process he taught Alejandro how to build the wall.
Please join me in praying for all of the people in our Bible Study, but especially for Edgar, Nicole and Sherwin.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Expanding the Family

On Sunday we gathered at St. Lucia's Hotel to baptise Juan (29) and Angelica (24). We had a large number of people there including both Angelica's and Juan's family.

After giving his testimony, Juan stepped into the pool, put his hand over his heart, and joined our church family.

Angelica put her past behind her and said, "From this day forward I will walk with the Lord."

After Juan and Angelica were baptized, all of the previously baptized members of Jesus' Deaf Church came forward and made a confession of faith recommitting their lives to God. This is Manuel. Behind him is Alejandro. Edgar also gave a testimony and re-dedicated his life to trying to follow the Way. I gave them crosses as a reminder for them of their commitment.

My dear buddy Luis and I shared the meal together. I love him so.
Angelica is standing behind us. She was so happy. She said she felt "free". Praise God for the freedom that comes from redemption and forgiveness.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The School Garden Project

Rayan looks a little lonely standing there at the end of these empty garden beds. Our school garden used to be one large single plot. This past summer some men built these much mroe attractive beds for us but they filled it with scrap dirt that was full of glass from broken bottles! ARGH! Juan, Angelica and students from my class dug in the dirt and found two 5 gallon buckets worth of glass, metal, parts of shoes, plastic, food wrappers, and nails. Finally it was clean enough to let the other special education children come help plant. Just before we planted, our faithful forever friend, Pandora Canton, donated 10 bags of organic compost. (Hooray!). That made our soil much richer.

Each of the special ed. classes planted one of the three beds. This is SPED3 planting beans. Everyone had a hand in it. They are super planters...not so great at weeding (smile) but they enjoy feeling the soil, digging and being a part of the project.

SPED 2 planted two kinds of tomatoes. My class turned the last bed into a "salad garden" with various kinds of lettuce, peppers, radishes, carrots, cilantro, and a little bit of parsley.

We water the garden almost everyday when the sun is starting to set and making long shadows. Here are Hipolito, Rayan, Sulmi, and Kristel clowning around after watering. The beans are flowering now, some of the tomatoes are also. We transplanted the lettuce to give it room to grow into nice sized heads. God seeded some calaloo from a plant we had last year that seems to keep speading seeds even though the plant has been gone since September.
We also found space to grow a papaya, about 8 plantains, some cucumber, thyme, oregano and chaya.

Alejandro looks tough but he is really a nice boy. He works very hard. Anytime I ask him to work in the garden he is happy to do it. One day he and Misael and I were moving some boulders and other things left over from the men who made the new beds, and all three of us were sweating buckets. We were making great progress and we could see how the space behind the tree looked much better, but the fence started to fall over. The thin tree is basically the fence post on the end and it is not straight. Alejandro took some of the tomato stakes and made a brace. He was so proud of himself for thinking of that solution.
This confidence carried him as he did some more heavy work all the while saying, "I love work. I love working in the garden." Wonderful! If learning to love working hard and feeling proud of what he did is a lesson Alejandro learns from our garden project, it is worth every bead of sweat.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Some Classroom Clips

In the background you can see Gineli sweeping. The children take turns doing various classroom maintenance jobs because the schools don't hire janitors like they do in the US. I think it's good to have the children take responsibility in this way.

Rayan and I are in an "editors conference" about his Birth of Jesus story. You can see what they wrote on our classroom blog: Deaf and Smart

Misael and Rayan (both 9) compare math calculations.

Gineli, Elizanie, and Angelica practice sight vocabulary. They are signing "quiet". We do a lot of small group work because the children are better engaged in learning when they are practicing with or teaching someone else.

Alejandro is at the teaching table with me. That handsome smile manages to get him out of a lot of sticky situations.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

National Spelling Bee

Hooray for our hardworking students! On November 25th we took four children (Sulmi, Kristel, Rayan and Misael) from my class to the National Spelling Bee for the Deaf and brought home a 1st and 3rd place trophy :-).
The children compete in two age groups: Juniors ages 9 and under, and Seniors ages 10-14. The Junior words are predominantly Dolch words with some tougher words like "difficult" and "weather". The Senior words are all monsters such as "advertisement" and "communication". We had a little over two months to practice the 300 words. It boiled down to about 30 words per week plus review of the words fromt he rpevious weeks. Whew! I am glad to be done practicing and to be able to go back to focusing on reading and reading comprehension.
The highlight for the children and all of the Deaf fans who come to watch is seeing Deaf friends from all over the country.
This is the auditorium at the Belize Elementary School where the Spelling Bee was held.
Rayan got first place for the juniors. He didn't miss a single word. Amazing. A lot of credit goes to his mother who practiced the words at home with him almost every night. He is standing with the Spelling Bee sponsor and all of the things he won for first place...chief among them a dvd player. Go Rayan!

Sulmi won third place for the Senior division. She, at 11, was competing against boys who were 14. The two second place finishers had a run off to determine who would be third. She spelled 5 words in a row correctly and then stumbled. I was very proud of her.

When we came back from the event, our whole school was lined up cheering for our deaf spellers. I hope that feeling of success and support stays with Sulmi and Rayan for a long time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Go Orange!

One of the many events on a Saturday this November took us to Belize City for the Special Olympics. Although it poured in Orange Walk, we had a nice, slightly cool, overcast day in the old capitol. Perfect! I was so thankful we didn't have blazing sun or pouring rain.

Belize doesn't have a Deaf Olympics Team. Our deaf children are encouraged to participate in the Special Olympics events. They hate to practice for the Olympics, but love to spend a weekend cathing up with deaf friends from other far away places in Belize. In this picture are Kristel and Sulmi with their friend from Stella Maris School for the Deaf in Belize City. We took four deaf children from our class.

Kristel watches as two of the other people in her relay try to pass the baton to each other. She is looking up the field and gesturing to help them figure it out.
Sulmi is ready to race.
The other student who is standing behind her is Sarina. She is from St Peter's too.
Miguel, Misael and a child from Corozal all in orange and representing the north end of the country. I was really impressed with this boy from Corozal. He has one leg that is longer than the other by several inches and he still manages to race with a lot of dignity and confidence.
A lot of Peace Corps volunteers helped to make this day run smoothly. I left thinking that it would be fun to have a deaf-only event...gathering all of the deaf children from north to south... who race to earn a place to compete in Deaf Olympics with other countries...hmmm... Anyone want to come and organize that?

Monday, November 1, 2010


I really look forward to this annual gathering of EMM missionaries in Central America. It's a humbling group of people to hang around. One of the men has started a ministry with the boys who live in and around a garbage dump in Honduras. Their families try to make a living by recycling the trash. Matt listens to them, oraganized a soccer team that is beating the richer, taller boys, has school tutoring sessions, a Bible study and he makes each of them feel special by celebrating their birthdays. I am so excited to see how God channeled him to do this work all thorugh "God-coincidences". Read more at
Then there is Andrea who works at an orphanage. She and 5 other people (I think have it right) are responsible for the programing for 93 children! Can you imagine? Her heart goes out to the girls and has a Bible study, teaches English and tries to think of fun things for them to do. It's an on campus 24-7 kind of job. Whew! You can follow her blog at Another couple has been in mission work for about 20 years. The support and encouragement they give me is so wise and valuable. I cherish them. They blog too: It's an oasis for me to spend some time with these English speaking Lancaster Mennos. It doesn't matter to me where we hold the event... just being together, catching up with these fellow missionaries that I only see once a year, worshipping, receiving support and encouragement, praying for each other. It's a "The Kingdom of God is here and now" kind of event.

This year Gloria Myers from Lancaster came to interpret for me. It was so nice of her to come. It was great to be with her. After spending time at the retreat she came to Orange Walk and spent 2 days with me, visiting my class and even riding the bus up to Corozal and checking it out.

Thanks Glo for coming.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Don't Even THINK of Throwing That at Me!"

On Friday after Bible study, Juan noticed my cats pawing at something on the screen. We all went over to see. It was a GIANT grasshopper. Enormous! Juan (ick!) picked it up (awghhh!)and brought it towards me. I'm not usually afraid of bugs, but this thing was Gigantic...Yikes!
Yea, I panicked a little bit while everyone laughed...then I buckled under and got the camera.
Bible study is going well with 5 regulars. Juan and Angelica want to be baptized. We're looking at early December (when the rainy season is ending and it is not yet too cold to take a swim). Praise God that he has worked a miracle in Juan's life. Juan comes from a family that drinks rum or beer everyday until they pass out. His brother was killed 6 months ago after a fight with a drunk neighbor. Juan has lived his 27 years surrounded by alcohol. This week he is celebrating his third month of sobriety. Total abstinance. He gets teased. They try to get him to drink. They leave beer and rum around his house, but he is a new man. Praise God.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Independence Day Parade

A little history lesson:
Belize celebrated it's 29th birthday on Tuesday September 21. The fight to control the "Jewel of the Caribbean" began with the Maya City States. The Cuello Maya ruin here in Orange Walk is said to be the oldest Maya site on record with carbon dating to 2600 BC. Amazing.
The Maya City State Government had pretty much fizzled out by the time the Europeans arrived to plunder the resources here. So the Spanish found it an easy "win" to claim the land as theirs. They didn't like Belize too much, though. In fact, they did not ever have a settlement here. The coral reef damaged their large ships. They were happy in the Yucatan and Guatemala and Honduras which were easier to access by sea. When English speaking pirates (yep..the ruddy sort with hooks and patches and skull and crossbone flags) were searching the Caribbean for Spanish ships to ransack, they ran aground on an island near what would become Belize City. These pirates, that Belizeans affectionately call "the Baymen", eventually got into the lumbering business... and married local women. They needed more permanent settlements and forts to protect themsleves from the infrequent Maya Indian attacks. So they built them.
About this time Spain was trying to enforce their claim on the land and the argument between the British and Spanish governments blew up. France intervened with an agreement (The Treaty of Paris). This allowed the British to log but NOT to settle, farm, or set up "government". The Baymen, loggers, and slave labor acquired from Jamaica (another Crown Colony), totally ignored this Treaty.
In 1798 the number of Brits in the "jewel" was climbing. Spanish ships from the Yucatan, Mexico, came down to Belizean waters and intended to roust the "Buccaneers" in what they thought would be an easy enforcement of the Treaty and claim Spanish rights. But the Baymen got word of the attack and begged Jamaica for ships and guns. Jamaica gave them some but the Baymen were still outnumbered about 4 to 1. However the Spanish didn't have the grit, swash or buckle, and were trounced, literally blown out of the water, in a surprise attack as they rounded St George's Caye in 1798. From then on England claimed the jewel as one of her own and later named it British Honduras.
Colonization had it's perks I guess but Belizeans have a strong independent streak. They formed a self-governing body and negotiated with the king of England for independence for over 20 years. Finally on September 21, 1981...Belize was born.
We celebrate every year with a parade. I saw a video of the first parade. How awesome to see the founding of the country and the first time the national flag was flown! It's a goose bumps kind of thing knowing it was won peacefully through years of patient negotiation. But the parades today (2010) are more like mardi gras... lots of drinking, passing out beer from the floats, exotic dress and dancers. It's lost the thrill and pride that the history represents.
Fortunately there is a parade for the schools called the Children's Rally the day before the "wild" Independence Day parade. Below are pictures of our school and my class marching in the Rally.
Kristel and Elizanie in our patriotic visors before the parade.

Sulmi was wondering if the parade would be cancelled. We had thunder and lightening 45 minutes before it was supposed to start...but it cleared up and was great weather.

Almost all of the schools particiapted...each wearing their school uniforms. Our uniform is blue.

The minstry of education spoke, the Mayor's office, someone prayed, someone else spoke, and another, and another... it went on and on as we stood in the sun. Finally the parade began.

These are the girls from our school who danced on our school float.

Here you see the front of the float with a National symbols and rainforest theme.

Most schools have a school queen. Sulmi was queen last year. This is the new queen. Each school is very proud of their queen. It's an honor.

Best friends... The umbrella is to block the sun... not rain in this case.

Marching and waving Belize flags. It was a lot of and a lot of work to make the float, but great camraderie.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A New School Year

It's time put up some pictures of the new school year.
I have 8 students. They are all Deaf and range in age from 9 to 15. Angelica has also returned to be the teacher assistant. I was holding the camera so I am not in the picture this time.
Yes, that is an Orea cookie on Misael's eye. We were playing one of the "Minute to Win it" games called "Bite the Bickie". In this picture Misael is trying to jiggle the cookie from his forhead down into his mouth without using his all.

It's a major giggle-fest as Rayan and Elizanie give it a try.

Hipolito and Alejandro look through some of the books we made in years past.

Misael reading a book.


Sulmi and Gineli

Please pray for us, particularly that the children will learn to be tolerant and patient with each other. Thanks, Nancy
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Saturday, August 21, 2010


Here we all are except for Mary Beth who was taking the picture. We had 13 deaf children for VBS this year. Mary Beth, Chris Moore and their deaf sons Mynor and Mario from Staunton, Virginia came to help. Maggie, Angelica's mom, cooked all of our mid-day meals. The theme was practical Christianity based on the book of James. The curriculum we used was the Jeff and Toby Parable Theater from Deaf Missions. It came with lots of well thought out ideas for planning as well as a funny video-taped skit for introducing each lesson.
We dramatized Bible stories and creative spin-offs.

We worshipped in song. Here Mary Beth is singing "Need You".

Bible memory was easier for some than for others, but everyone learned at least one of the verses from the week. Misael is holding his Bible memory book.

We ate all of our meals together and shared in the clean up.

There was lots of time just to chat and be with friends.
One of the highlights of VBS was making tie-dyed T-shirts. Mary Beth found a way to print a Jesus' Deaf Church logo on the front at the "name tag" area and big cross on the back with an ILY handshape. She brought the printed white shirts and dye from the US. We had a wonderful, messy afternoon making them into bright tie-dye'd shirts.

Cooling off with a swim in a nearby pool was an ideal way to spend hot, sunny afternoons.

On the third day of VBS we studied James 2: 14-26. It is the passage where James says if you have "faith" but do nothing, your faith is worth nothing. "If you say to a person 'God be with you. I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat,' but do not give the person what they need, your words are worth nothing." Our group had never DONE something for someone else. As Deaf people and poor people in Belize we tend to be on the receiving end most of the time. So I thought it would be good for the children to have an opportunity to do something for someone else. We went to Liberty Children's Home one afternoon. Liberty Children's Home is an orphanage for children who are HIV positive. We planned games for the children and gave them ice cream.
It's interesting that the deaf child who I thought was having the hardest time trying to put the Liberty children's needs ahead of his own, that VBS'er who I thought was acting like he was bored and not really helping much, was the one who on the last day when we were summing up said his favorite part of VBS was going to Liberty Children's Home. (Not swimming, or dramas or ice cream but this service project.) Hmmmm. Some of the seeds we are planting are taking root even when it seems like they aren't.

Here we are at the gate to Liberty Children's Home wearing our snazzy Jesus' Deaf Church VBS T-shirts.

Edgar helped the children make bead necklaces and bracelets.

Angelica and Sulmi did face painting.

We gave everyone some ice cream with sprinkles.

Elizanie and Rayan helped the children to play a ping pong toss game.

The Moore Family gave us new Bibles.

The children helped each other try to find the verses we were studying.

And we played games.

All in all it was a wonderful VBS. I thank the Moore Family for coming and helping us, for donating T-shirts, Bibles and other things, and mostly for bring their sons Mynor and Mario who were delightful. I thank God for keeping everyone safe, particularly while swimming and while we were driving. God's hand was on each of us working many little miracles that helped our days go smoothly and helped the children to grow as disciples of Jesus.