Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some Pics From Deaf Church Last Sunday

Kristel and buds.

Mario (24) was one of the first people to be baptized in our church. He is faithful, not a leader, but an encourager.
Manuel and Mario. Manuel told the story of David and Goliath last Sunday. He preaches/shares a story a couple of times a month. We are meeting on Satuday mornings to rehearse, pray, and recognize how the Holy Spirit is enabling him. Please continue to pray for him. He struggles with the same temptations all 20 year old "boys" face.

Juan (29) and Angelica (24). They were just baptized this past December. Juan is hungry to learn about God and so patient. He sees his ministry as being a model and an encourager to younger boys who are dealing with temptations with alcohol. They both are faithful members of our Friday Night Bible Study.

Luis is clowning around and trying to get Edgar to smile. Praise God that Luis has a sponsor and has been able to continue with school. Thank God that Edgar has a job at New River Wood Products. He started there during his senior year as a vocational training opportunity. They hired him at the end of the school year. He is so lucky (blessed) to have that job.

Thanks for supporting the Feeding Program!

Thank you for supporting our Lunchtime Feeding Program. Ours is the only school in Orange Walk that serves lunch to some of poorer children and those who live too far to walk home for lunch. The money for this lunch is almost totally supported by donations. Thank you for putting a warm meal in about 52 tummies every day.

Rice mixed with beans and a piece of chicken which has stewed in a local spice called recado, is a staple of the Belizean diet. We all eat this at least once a week, and usually more often. We also eat other foods that are influenced by Mexican cuisine like salbuttes, panades, tacos, and burritos. One of my favorite Belizean foods is soup made with marinated onions and baked chicken. It's called escabeche. We eat that with corn tortillas. When they serve it to the children in the kitchen they make fresh homemade corn tortillas...oh YUMMMM there is nothing better. Last night a friend asked me what I was going to cook for Sulmi and me for dinner. I said, "Blackbeans, corn, and an egg with leftover rice. " It's common to eat stewed beans and ...something (flour tortilla, rice, corn tortilla, nacho chips, eggs, or bread) in the evening.

BUT... tonight we ate BLT's. Sulmi had never had bacon, and wrinkled her nose when I tried to describe a BLT. Evenso, it was yummy with fresh lettuce and tomatoes from the garden :-)

More than all this talk about food, I wanted you all to know how thankful I am for the people who came through for us by supporting the feeding program. You are angels. Thanks!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Building Fences

Some children standing by their classroom near one of the new fences.

We were having some problems with the garden. Just as the rose was in beautiful bloom, and before the tomatoes were even ripe, and as the habenero's were hanging from the bush, children from our school would steal them. They wandered into the garden at break time or after school. It was disappointing to the special education children who worked hard to grow the vegetables. It was disappointing to me. The principal and I made some general announcements about not stealing the things that are growing in the garden. We also talked to the children who were caught. But it didn't seem to make a difference.

I'm not really fond of fences. I love the old stone walls that separate property in Maine, but tall fences are barriers and seem unfriendly. Yet, we had to do something or all our work was in vain. I'd like to think that we could have just left the garden open and brushed off the stealing with the thought, "Well at least they are getting their daily vegetables." But the children who were taking things were probably not eating what they took. They just liked the thrill of picking the vegetables and getting something that someone might think had some value. I've come to think that without the fence we are "enabling" children who like to steal. It's kind of like leaving your front door open. So we now have a fence.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Favorite Lunch Spot

Sometimes I get a chance to walk down to the this little park that is behind the center of town and eat lunch while watching the birds and the river.

Team Belize

Special Eduction Belize is headed to Greece in June for the 2011 Special Olympics Games. We will send a team of 8 football players, (three coaches, and one Special Olympics Board Member.) There are only 8 players on our team because in Special Olympics they play 5 on a side on a reduced field that is about 1/4 of a normal football field. Special Education students from all over the country have been training for about a year and some longer to earn a position on the Belize Team. On Saturday the children from the north (Orange Walk and Corozal Districts) and coaches traveled in my van to Belmopan (the capital city) for the final tryout for the team. I am delighted that Sydney Rhaburn (tall, smiling, center, back row) from St. Peter's made the team and will get to be part of the awesome experience of traveling to Greece and being part of the Olympic events.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hooray for the Lord of the Harvest

The children were thrilled to harvest 10 heads of Romaine and leaf lettuce, four tomatoes and all of the radishes from the garden this week. The children are so proud of their garden. They mention it almost every day in morning classroom prayers. They think it looks pretty and feel a sense of accomplishment. I thank God for this wonderful project we get to be part of...hand in hand with him. I also am thankful for the people who helped to contribute to this project by making the beds, or paying for seeds, or donating the fertilizer.

And the growing season here just "keeps on goin". There are lots of tomatoes ripening on the vine, 15 - 20 more heads of lettuce and soon there will be carrots and cucumbers to pick. Fun! (Sure beats shoveling snow... smile)

Our Field Trip to the Sugar Factory

Only the older children were allowed to go on this trip for safety reasons. Here we are at the front gate of the BSI plant waiting for our tour guide to meet us.

The first thing they did was to suit us up with protective eye-wear and hard hats. Kristel got a giggle out of the fashion statement we made.

Sometimes the sugar trucks arrive attached together like train cars. The clever farmer who sent his sugar to the factory this way only has to pay one driver to send three loads of cane. I forgot the exact number but the tour guide today said that the sugar factory processes something like 100,000 tons of cane each day during sugaring season. It was an unimaginable number.

This is "washed" cane that is going into the shredder.

We had a terrific guide, who explained things simply and clearly. He had lots of patience for our questions. Francelia interpreted for us. She was wonderful!

In the middle of the process, a sugary water is squeezed out of the crushed cane. We got to taste it here. It tasted sweet like a thin Kayro syrup.

Toward the end of the tour we got to taste the molasses. Angelica thought the molasses tasted a little bitter.

This is pretty cool. In the past 3-4 years a new company has formed. They use the dried, crushed, leftover cane from processing to make a fuel that is turned into electricity to run the sugar plant. They are proud to say they make enough extra electricity to sell it to BEL (the national electric company).

When I came to Belize there was a 17 story high mountain of the "begasse" (shredded leftover cane). I kept asking around, "What can they do with that? Can it become a fuel? Turned into soil? Is is a possible food source for some animal?" Evidently some other people were asking the same question: How can this waste product be recycled into something marketable?...long before I did.

By March 2007 the Belcogen concept was ready to go... they had secured funding from 4 international organizations with large sums from the US and the Netherlands. They contracted a Chinese company to bring the vision to reality. By 2009 they needed some tweaking but the new Belcogen facility that turned the begasse waste product into energy was built and running. It actually worked. There was an almost audible collective sigh of relief heard thoughout Orange Walk. At first it didn't burn hot enough but they figured it out and it's working now. Hooray for the risk-takers who supported this project. It's a thrill to see the mountain of begasse being reduced, more people being employed, and engery being created from what was considered "garbage".

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Introducing Luis and Jaheed

Here's a picture of my two new students. Luis (13) was in our class before but had not come to school this year. His family pulled him out to work and earn money for the family. The job didn't work out so thankfully, he is now back in school. I also thank God for a special donor who is paying his school fees and bought him uniforms.

The other student is Jaheed. He is 11 and hard-of-hearing. Using hearing aids, he tried to make it in the mainstream, but his speech is not clear and he was not making progress with reading. Being in our class is the right placement and we are glad to have him. He has a little bit of CP and that makes signing a little difficult. He smiles all the time and is trying hard to learn to communicate. Angelica gives him one-on-one attention most of the day.

Now I have 10 students ages 9 to 15....4 girls and 6 boys.

This is what I get for bringing the camera out during recess. As soon as the hearing kids saw me taking pictures of Jaheed and Luis, they all wanted to be in the shot. Some of these children are in the sign language class I teach on Fridays. The boy on Jaheed's left is Alejandro, Edgar's little brother.

In Style

Sportin' the high top sneaker look.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gifts for Mommy

My prescious little cat, who looks more like a kitten, is always bringing me "gifts". Once she brought a snake inside. This is a poor toad that she tossed around until it stopped moving (smart toad). We have received lovely foot long snakes, many huge crickets, and even a hummingbird...(poor thing). Some of the toads are poisonous. Dora Taylor wrote in one of her books about a dog who bit a poisonous toad and died. Hmmmm. So far she uses a soft mouth just to carry the critter into the house and drop it. When she brought the snake, it snapped at her and she recoiled...backing away from it. I quickly swept it outside. A neighbor said I should have taken the machete and killed it. (Blecch!) I guess that makes sense but I am hoping it learned to stay away from my predator cat.

Thanks for the pigs!

I want to extend a big Thank You from the Chan family. The Virginia Mennonite Missionas Alternative Giving Catalog suggested a number of items to give to other people. Two people selected pigs. Back in September we were trying to get the school garden set up. There was a huge mess left from some men who laid the beds. The banana trees were tossed in the back, and side, not dug into the ground and there were other problems that required some heavy lifting. Kenny Chan said, "I can help you." He dug about 12 holes for the banana trees and lifted them. He also helped with another tree. I was so thankful for his kindness. He was such a hard worker and smiled the whole time he was drenched in sweat. I thought, gee, anyone who hires you would be lucky to have such a hard-working employee. He said he wanted to farm. He has land and wants to raise pigs. He's researched it and took me to the training site where there are several pigs in different stages of development. Soon after that Gloria asked if there was anything that I wanted to add to the Alternative Giving Catalog and I thought: "Wouldn't it be nice to give Kenny Chan and his family a jump start on raising pigs." So thank you for helping him. He says a good ratio is to have three females and one male. I wish him the best of luck with this project. He is already talking about how he wants to "pay it forward". When a pig is born and it grows some, he wants to donate it to the school for a Bar-B-Q for a school fundraiser. Terrific. May God bless his efforts.