Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fotos From the Field Trip

Today we had our annual school field trip. We only get ONE...so we packed it full of things to see. Too full? I don' t think so. It was fun.

First stop was Belmopan, our nation's capitol, to see the House of Parliament. We were given a great guided tour. In the picture above we are standing on the steps of the House of Parliament. In the picture below we are in the chamber where the House of Representatives meets.

This is the chamber where the Representatives meet. It's a small country. There are only 35 seats on one side and 6 on the other. The UDP (red party) currently has the majority. The PUP (blue party) is called the "opposition".

This is the committee meeting room.

The Mace is the symbol of authority in parliamentary government. Every time the house is in sessions it is brought in ceremoniously and returned to its box at the end of the session. it symbolizes the authority of the process and of the speaker who functions like a judge when the two parties discuss (argue).

This is the filing system for the proceedings of the House of Representatives. Hmmm.

From Belmopan we went to the Guanacaste National Park. It is one of nine Audobon Society administerred parks in Belize. It was very clean and well managed. The trails led us through dense jungle on an easily traveled path to the Belize River. Beautiful! It was a hot day but the trees kept the jungle cool. One of the park managers gave us a guided tour, pointing out significant trees and making sure we did not miss things. We ate our picnic lunch here in the shade. It was the perfect combination of rest and walking and learning something new.

Next stop was the Belize Zoo. They raised this orphaned jaguar from a baby. He looks so comfortable straddling the log.

... even though he is just few feet away from Angelica!

This is a tapir. It's the national animal of Belize.
It was a great day!

Cool Technology

We took a field trip to the Toucan School at the British Army Base and saw technology that I never even imagined. It was so cool. It also blew me away to think that it is probably "old" to everyone at home...have I been away that long?
A friend of ours, Pandora Cantun, paired our school with the Toucan School because we both have garden projects. Back in December we invited them to visit our garden. Now they invited us to come see theirs and see their school. We were so impressed! What a wonderful trip!
They have computer touch screens on the walls of the classrooms. They showed us a story that had a sign language interpreter in the corner. Very cool, but the interpreter was using British Sign Language (of course!), but that was interesting, too. The children were a little confused at first but I think they enjoyed seeing the British signs and were awed that the technology could show a story and signs at the same time.
They gave us a snack and showed us their garden. They have a water aspect to their garden. Hmmmm I wonder how we can do that. Something to think about....
In the picture I am teaching the sign "turtle".

Then they invited us to learn about a computer program that lets the children invent their own computer game complete with aliens and falling fruit. Each of our children was paired with one from the older class at the Toucan School. Talk about a "hands on field trip" smile. Our children loved it!

Hair Stylistas

Sunday I was working on report cards and Kristel and Sulmi were bored. They weren't just bored because they had nothing to do, but they were iritated that I wouldn't let them watch TV, (I have a "no daytime TV" rule), and wouldn't let them play with the computer I was using to type the reports. I suggested they play Beauty Parlor and fix up each other's hair. After about 5 minutes of brushing and applying clips and scrunchies,with giggles and clandestine winks and nods, they came after me with their combs. How do you like the cat ears? or are they alien antenae?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday Night Believer's Bible Study

Mario had been straying, but I praise God that he gave up his Friday night and walked a mile to my house to join us. I felt compelled to share that we all stray...and are "lost sheep". I shared personal examples and then we read Luke 15: 4-7. God was speaking to my heart to emphasize that God does not give up on us no matter what we do. It would be nice if baptism imposed a magic on us that made us immediately righteous with no future struggles with temptation, but the reality is that every day is an opportunity to reconfirm our faith and choose the path we will walk. The blessing is that if we goof up, a million times, God is still the shepherd who is searching and seaching until he finds us. When he does, all of Heaven rejoices that we have come home.

When we were done with the study, Mario looked at his watch and said, "8:00? Already?!"
Edgar nodded, "I told you, church time always goes fast." (Smile.) PTL

Just Goofing Around...

Here are some cute pictures of Kristel and Sulmi playing with Photobooth.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


There's a house down the street that has "Gangstaz" "Home-ez" and "Welcome to the Ghetto" spray painted on it. There's actually a nice family who lives in that house now, but it looks like the "Gangstaz" have moved into mine!

Elizanie came to play one Sunday afternoon. She and Kristel put together about 6 puzzles.

This would have been a nice picture if I wasn't being obnoxious with the rabbit ears...Some of us never grow up!

Life in our house is busy, but fun. I like it when both girls are here. They get along well, they help with dishes, iron their own uniform blouses and keep each other company. Kristel is only here Tuesday evening through Friday morning. And now that her mom's college is out for the summer, that will stop. We have school until June 25. (ARGH!!!!! no, there aren't extra days added to the calendar... it's just when they finally let school out here.) Sulmi will be with me until the end of the month and then go home to spend the summer with her family.

Wild Weekends

Whew! It's been a bit busy. Every weekend from the end of April to the end of May was filled with a "must be there" event. June will be quieter and easier, thankfully. Evenso I'm glad to have been part of these things and help as I was able.

It started with a Special Olympics Football (Soccer) training weekend for the children. Many of the Orange Walk children who participated packed into my van with all their gear for an overnight stay at the British Army base next to the airport. We moved into the barracks and ate in the mess hall. It was the perfect location for us and had a flat field that could fit 4 "pitches". Children in special education from all over Belize attended and there were about 130 children in all, I think. In addition there were volunteers who agreed to be coaches.
It was well organized, too. Andy Aspinall planned the event in conjunction with Special Olympics Belize. We had several rotations where the children did a drill at a station for a few minutes and then rotated to the next one. Everyone was "on the ball" much of the time.
The weather cooperated and we had sun the whole weekend. It was a blessing because the following weekend rained...in fact, it has rained almost everyday since that time.
I welcome the rainy season because the clouds and wind that accompany the rain cools things off a little and helps the garden grow. Fortunately we have not experienced the flooding and mudslides that are nagging our neighbor Guatemala.
The annual Festival of Arts is a nationwide event. St Peters Anglican School sent a dance troupe to the competition. Our Luis was one of the dancers. He loves to dance and he is so good at it. The first part of the competition carried over two nights. We made the first cut so the dancers were asked back for the second night. We got "gold" for our effort. Then on Saturday night we, along with two other Anglican schools, were asked to dance for a conference of Anglican visitors from the US at the Princess Hotel in Belize City. It was an honor and the children did very well.

NaRCIE (Special Education Office in Belize City) hosted an HIV/AIDS awareness workshop for three consecutive Saturdays. They asked me to help with the second two Saturdays. Andre McCool and I acted as "relay interpreters". The woman who led the workshop only knew a few signs so we worked together to figure out what she said and relay it in ASL. We were a good team and it was wonderful to work with Dre. He's a Deaf teacher at the Stella Maris School for the Deaf inBelize City.
Twelve deaf youth and young adults from the Orange Walk area attended. There were about the same number from Belize City and some from Corozal and Stann Creek. The best part of this kind of event is seeing old friends and making new ones. I think we also got the message across. Belize has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in central America and the third highest in the Caribbean, so we need to grab this bull by the horns and get the word out.

Update on Jesus' Deaf Church

Manuel preached for the first time two weeks ago. He took his topic from a picture tract that Joel Reed had given him when he worked in the woodshop last summer. The nice thing about the tract is the pictures help the words make sense. When you are not a great reader that helps a lot. Manuel drew pictures on his own to share with the sermon. Intuitively he knew that he needed some kind of visual aid. I was planing to show the D.O.O.R. Video about having a relationship with God ("God Connect"). I didn't know that Manuel had a sermon planned. So when he told me I said... "Hey, Go ahead!" I wish I had a better picture of him. This isn't very flattering but it shows him using expression and he's moving around taking on the role of the people in the story. It's amazing to me how the Holy Spirit is teaching him. As I sat in the pew watching him share a story about being connected to God I thought I might have a glimpse of the future... and it felt so comfortable.
Our numbers are up and down...sometimes we have about 9 and sometimes we have 19. Most of the time it is somewhere between those two.

I'm looking forward to the day that the others take more responsibility...offer to clean the church, close the windows without asking, bring a snack to share. I can hint and nudge but when they do it without asking, I will feel that there is some transformation taking place in terms of ownership and taking responsibility for "OUR" church (not Nancy's church).

The boys who were baptized in November continue to meet with me on Friday nights. I wish I could testify to the marvelous changes in their lives, but it's a tough slow struggle. There is a deaf woman who is a prostitute who lives right around the corner from Alejandro. She gives them condoms and invites them to her house. (I've talked to them repeatedly about the dangers of HIV/AIDS and other STD's. So have their mothers.) When they are with me or near me they swear up and down that they are walking the straight and narrow... and say the right things and read their Bibles and pray. BUT... there's other evidence that finds its way into my lap that bears otherwise. So I pray for them and hope they can get through this stage and develop enough maturity to resist the temptations around them and choose "life".
I'll close with a "happy" story: Last Sunday when we were cleaning up Kristel went up to the pulpit and started "preaching". Almost everyone was outside. I think I was the only one that saw. I asked her if she wanted a turn to preach, next week when Manuel was finished....shy, quiet, Kristel who doesn't like to stand in front of the class to talk, said "Yes". I told her that after she's baptized and makes a commitment to walk with the Lord,I would love to let her preach. She smiled and said, "Ok". I was chewing on that for a while. I had not pictured Kristel in that role. Hmmmm.... still chewing on it. The Lord gives power to whom he chooses! I have been praying for other leaders in the church to emerge. I hadn't thought of Kristel in that role. Hmmmm. I think the Lord is nudging me to open my mind up a little.

Chicken Pox!

We have been playing chicken pox tag since Easter. First it was Angelica...then 14 days later Kristel broke out in spots...then two weeks later Sulmi complained of a sore throat (?). The next day she had spots all over her stomach and back, some on her arms and legs. She stayed home to recooperate, but now two of her sisters have it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

School Update

After Easter break, Miss Olive returned to our school and was placed in our class. It's been great to work with her. She runs on an even keel and is so helpful with the new student, Edimir, that we received at the same time. In fact, if she had not come, it would have been really difficult to manage the exisiting 11 students at various levels plus Edimir who is 13 but did not know the abc's, or how to count past 4. So it's been a blessing that she can focus on him and his needs since they are so much different than the levels of the rest of the class. Edimir was in school for a while 6 years ago, but for some reason was pulled out and has just been sitting at home or working on their farm land. He's learning quickly under Olive's guidance...writes all of the letters of the alphabet, and reads some dolch words so he is able to read his pre-primer leveled readers. He is counting to 20 and adding and subtracting. With guidance he can write his own patterned sentences following the model in his reader. That's a lot of learning for about 5 weeks!

The other interesting thing about God's timing with this, is Olive used to sign but because she was away for 4 years, she had forgotten a lot of it. Edimir did not know how to sign either. It was a great opportunity to teach Olive who then was able to teach Edimir. Olive picked up many more signs than she taught, but it is pretty awesome that God brought her just when we needed her and gave her the opportunity to teach someone who did not know signs rather than have her jump right in and try to understand the deaf children who sign fast and are not so patient.

I don't have a picture...but another blessing that amazes me is we now have a new Peace Corps volunteer. who is a speech therapist! How amazing is that? I am so thrilled. Four of our children talk even without hearing aids, but I've never really felt comfortable teaching them speech. Miss Colleen will teach them twice a week in 1:1 therapy sessions. Wonderful!!!! She uses the reading passage that they are supposed to read for the week (as well as other things). I can already see an improvement. Those four children are making connections between what they hear and what they read. Yes!!

This is a picture of Angelica. She is such a wonderful asset to our program. She's so patient with the youngest children. I'm hoping and praying that there is a way that she can be employed by the Anglican Diocese to work in our school. Mrs. Briceno says it can't be done unless she has a high school degree or teacher training. Hmmmm. That's not really possible because she can't read. Hmmmmm again. Yet, I think God will make something happen. Somehow. I'd love to see her employed legitimately.

Hooray for all the programs on the internet that help children with math. Our kids' current favorite is called Multiplication Grand Prix. It never gets old...it's always a real race in real time. Children all over the world sign in and pick a race from a list on the sidebar. They race against anyone else who chose that heat. Each child has a different car which moves ahead if they get the multiplication fact question correct. Sometimes the competition is easy but most of the time the other players are FAST!

Some "Random" Pics and Thoughts

We saw this boa constrictor one Sunday on the way to church. The man found it in the jungle and calls it a pet. Yikes! It was big!

Juan and Angelica getting up close and personal with a baby crocodile.

Just some random thoughts:
We had village council elections two weeks ago. Angelica was sitting in her yard and was approached by the blue party. They offered a handshake and $100 (equal to a half-week's pay). A few hours later the red party council seat defender came to her house and gave her $15. Smile. The red party won that election. I don't care about the politics but I think it is interesting that the bribe did not affect the outcome.
There are some magnetic words on my refrigerator. Hilary Mayhew gave them to us a long time ago. The children can now read well enough to enjoy rearranging them to make sentences and poems. Here's an example: I know my love, name who? come when?
After asking around, I found out Alejandro was the author.