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.