Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good Friday

Good Friday is a MAJOR holiday here. All the stores are closed, except for a few Chinese shops. No store is allowed to sell alcohol...all day. The streets are almost empty. People seem to stay inside and rest until 4:30. At that time they come out, dressed in funeral clothes and walk the procession with the Catholic Church. There were over 2000 (maybe even 3000) people walking the 2.5 miles of city roads.

In the front of the precession is a priest and some altar boys. Behind them are the adult actors who are portraying Jesus, Roman guards, Mary and the disciples.

The rest is two columns of families... the lines of people went on for several blocks. I wish the picture could show all of the people. They initially walked as if they were in a funeral procession... talking minimally and looking very somber. Some of the women were saying the prayers that were being read by the leaders. If I managed to walk with these women it was a deeply spiritual procession. In other places there were families with young children and people who were talking.

The procession stops at 15 different platforms set up in peoples front yards. Teenage actors stand frozen in the scene that was just acted out in the street by the adult actors. At the same time 4 or 5 women read something into a microphone. I couldn't hear what they said... later someone told me it was prayers they were reading. I'm kind of glad I could not hear the readings. This area is very "Mary" adoring and it would have disrupted my sense of the moment. Silence was nice, even preferable. I could pray and just listen to the quiet.

Tomorrow at our Deaf Church we will see the end of the Jesus movie and sing Easter songs. I'm looking forward to leaving Good Friday behind and moving on to triumph and victory. Praise the Lord that he overcame the evil and oppression with passion and patience. That he was true to his word and rose on the third day. Praise God that he was obedient even in the face of the cross.
I wish you all Easter joy.


Last Sunday the theme was "Remembering". We remembered that Jesus told us to remember his sacrifice for us by sharing the wine and the bread. We remembered our past and confessed our sins. We also remembered that we are servants to each other...
and washed each others feet.

Please continue to pray for Jesus' Deaf Church. That we will grow in grace, obedience and faith.

The Annual "Fun Run"

Yes! Those are Virginia Tech T-shirts! We have a school T-shirt/logo, but many of the children can't afford them. Virginia Tech donated several boxes of "old" shirts with 2007 and 2008 dates on them. Now we all can wear something that matches. It's great for field trips and PE.
This is the second year that a Colorado based agency called One World Running has donated thousands of shoes to Belize. They donate through the Special Olympics (among other places). Each major city in Belize holds a "fun run" for special children and anyone else who wants to participate. At the end of the race the children get new tennis shoes. This year I was put in charge of organizing it. Lots of people helped. The school kitchen people cooked up 300 powder buns and bagged 300 bags of water to be passed out. A man from the community donated 300 bags of ideal (something similar to Koolaid). Our district representative (Johnny Briceno) gave a pep talk, the Mayor said some words of encouragement, our school priest led a prayer, and the deaf children signed the national anthem. The race was about half mile. We wanted it to be short so it would be accessible to all of the 42 diasbled children in our school. The weatherman forcasted rain, but the rain held off. It was a great day.

Gloria Lehman asked for a photo of me and some students. This is the afterschool gang. They hang around for about an hour. There actually are a couple of disciplined stoic looking photos, but I like this one better.

Walking the Way of Jesus

We no longer have a "Girl's Night" Bible study on Friday nights. The "girls" are now moms. We had a ratio of about 2 children to each adult. It was hard to Bible study...or do anything except watch the children. I tried hiring a babysitter. The hiring was easy...but the children wanted their moms. Here in Belize children get used to being with their mothers, by their mother's side almost all the time until they are about 4 and sometimes even later. So taking them from their mothers to play with a babysitter was traumatic. Hmmm. I think the "Girl's Night" needs to be a "Moms Morning Out" with a different focus, maybe something to do with ideas for playing with your child, or teaching your child about God. I'm not sure when this will happen.

At the same time that Girl's Night hit the babysitter snafu, Edgar was asking to be baptized. I met with him on Friday nights for about two months before his baptism this past December. Alejandro also asked for baptsim so we baptised them both at the same time. On the day of his baptism Edgar said, "Even though I'm baptized can I still come to Friday Night Bible study? I told him, "Sure!" So, since December 8, Edgar and Alejandro have been Bible studying with me on Friday Nights. We invited others to come. Sometimes someone else will drop in...but mostly it is just Edgar, Alejandro, and me.

The rear window of my van is some evidence of their transformation. A few days ago I was in Trial Farm Village visiting with Kristel's mother and I parked my van on the street. I came out of the house to see it covered with words. "Love Jesus, God. Go to church. Read the Bible. Want to do good." That's not the typical graffitti that my car collects when it is parked on the street. I drove on a bit farther in the village to Alejandro's house, and there in the front yard, looking quite proud of themselves were Alejandro and Edgar...They wanted to make sure I had seen their artwork.
BUT the nature of learning how to walk the way of Jesus is not straight...
One of the mothers asked me why I kept them til 9:30 on Friday night. I told her no, no, I sent them home at 8:30. Evidently on their bike trip home they had stopped to buy beer. They're not drinkers...just teenagers experimenting. BUT, sigh, immediately after Bible study? ARGH! That was disappointing to discover!
During the last week of this school term Manuel asked to not have to prepare a Bible story to teach so he could put more energy into his studies. (He got a 94% on his Techincal Drawing exam... came into my classroom with a long drawn out face... and said I was going to be disappointed....then dropped the graded exam in front of me... HA! A 94? Wonderful!)
Edgar said he wanted to try teaching a story on Sunday morning. He said he knew the Noah story and could teach that one. So I let him. It turned out to be a great opportunity for him to show some maturity. It also led to a good power point sermon about obeying God no matter what. No matter what other people think. No matter if it sounds crazy. No matter if you don't think you can finance the idea. Obey. Period.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Our Trip to Lamanai

Baron Bliss Day (March 9) is a holiday that celebrates the "Heroes and Benefactors of Belize". Sulmi had been itching to go to Lamanai. Neither she nor Kristel had ever seen it. I opted to take the boat instead of driving because I wanted the girls to get to see all the flora and fauna along the way. We saw lots of birds, bats, iguana, turtles, monkeys and crocodiles.

This angry crocodile is alive. He jumped in the water soon after Sulmi snapped the shot.

The boat pulled over to a spot where these spider monkeys frequent. Someone from another boat had some bananas. The monkey jumped right into their boat to grab the bananas. After he ate it, he jumped into our boat looking for more. There was another monkey who kept his distance and swung in the branches of the nearby trees. It was cool to see them so close up. Sulmi and Kristel reached out to pet the monkey as he wandered around our boat. I didn't.

We opted not to go on the tour since we couldn't hear what the guide said. Instead we spent a lot of time at the "High Temple". The girls made it to the top in about half of the time it took me. It was fun!

Here is a pic of the girls at the top.

This is all three of us at the end while we waited for the guide to return with the tour group.