Sunday, June 26, 2011

Church This Morning

Praise God for a wonderful church gathering this morning. It started with about 35 minutes of Spirit led singing. Manuel led "I want to be a Christian in My Heart" closed his eyes and made us all want to take the words seriously. There were maybe 12 songs before we stopped.

I led a sermon/teaching moment about lying. Four people read Bible verses and explained what they meant. Then we did dramas with various scenerios about choosing to lie or choosing to not lie. Everyone was in one of the dramas.

Tien Lee who is new to Orange Walk, wanted me to take pictures so she could label them and get to know the names. I thought that was a good idea but I only had my phone camera. they are a little fuzzy...

The Band of Brothers: Sherwin, Alejandro, Edgar, and Mario

Jaheed, Rayan, Misael, and Jaheed's hearing brother Raheem with Manuel in the back.

Senaida (with her daughter Olinda in front of her), Juan, Angelica, and Nicole

Delina, Yelitza (with her daughter Kristen in front of her), Kelsey, Sulmi, Elizanie, and Kristel

I just realized that because the pictures were "for Tien Lee" she is not in any of them....bummer. Next time we will get the whole gang.

Continue to pray for Luis, Hipolito, Sair and Alva who were absent today. Thanks for your prayers. Our Deaf Church is growing, maturing and becoming "family". God is good.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


During the last week of school the children had some free time while we organized, cleaned, sorted and packed boxes. The girls decided to make friendship notes to give to each other. Inside each card they wrote about five sentences about the person similar to the front "You are my friend." "I like you." "You are fun." etc.

When I saw they had thought up this free time activity all on their own, I thought... oh how nice!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lamanai High

Woooo hoo! Lamanai. We love this place!

Our class joined the Standard 2 regular ed. class on a field trip to Lamanai. Some of the Maya ruins date back to the 16th century BC (!), but the period when Lamanai was at its height was the 600 years between 100 BC and 500 AD. This is OLD stuff. It's fascinating and beautiful...set on a lake and surrounded by jungle (rainforest).

There we are in yellow shirts climbing the stairs to the top of the "High Temple".
The view from the top.

Going dowwwwwnnnnn.

... a sweaty picture of me.

... an old sugar mill built by the Brittish, hence the imported brick. It looks so out of place here.
Woooo hoo! Lamanai. We love this place!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Drippy Trip

I am not too fond of zoos, generally speaking. I know they help to breed animals that are endangered but I hate to see caged (well-fed but pacing) animals. BUT the Belize zoo is a beautiful environment. It is designed like the jungle that the animals call their home. The shaded pathways have natural plantings along the sides and occassionally you will see an agoti (rabbit rodent) running around. They also have spider monkeys that swing through the trees and sit on the branches, jaguars, and the National Animal of Belize called a Tapir. You won't find an elephant or giraffe here because all of the animals in the zoo are "rescued" animals native to Belize.

Atlantic Bank wanted to make a donation of a field trip to the zoo, all expenses paid and lunch catered. They chose our special educaiton unit as the recipient. Lucky us!!!

The day started out perfectly with everyone in the bus excited and chomping on their snacks, but 30 minutes on down the road it started to rain. When we got to the zoo, we took shelter and tried to figure out what to do. We decided to eat lunch first and see if the weather changed by the time we were done. Lunch was yummy, but the rain continued.

The children in my class brainstormed ideas of what we could do. Misael said. "Let's just run and see the zoo really fast." Rayan said to pass out garbage bags and everyone could wear one. We looked around and counted umbrellas. There were 40 people and 4 umbrellas. Finally the rain became a drizzle and the 7 foot guide....whoooooosh took off at a clip. We followed trying to keep up. He took us to see the jaguars and feed the macaw. We got a dashing peak at the crocodiles and some birds as the rain started to come down harder again.

All in all the children would say it was a fun trip. I think the rain and what we actually saw didn't matter. It was an "adventure".
Rayan checks out the Boa Constrictor.

This place is so pretty, even in the rain.

Ok. Mystery picture game time: Can you find the sleeping jaguar? He is off the ground and hidden by a large log.

Our girls got a turn to feed the macaws.

A pretty hibiscus that hung over the path.

Taking cover in the picnic area.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Garden Dinner after Peacemaking

Kristel, Sulmi, Gineli, and Kelsey

Sometimes the girls get into arguments. Today at school Kristel, Sulmi, and Gineli were fighting about something. I honestly still don't know what it was about. But the beautiful thing is that they resolved it. They took the initiative to work it out. I didn't have to say anything. On the way home from school Sulmi said she wanted to go see Kristel and "Discuss". There are several conflict resolution strategies that I have tried to teach the children but "Discuss" is the one that works the best. "Let it go" never works at this age... and "Flip a coin" seems to leave everyone still angry.

"Discuss" means one person talks at a time. You say what the first person just said and then say your story. It goes back and forth for a while until someone puts their right index finger in the middle and the other person hooks their index finger around it...making the sign for friends. Sometimes they hug. That's nice, too.

With a slightly skipping gait, and big smiles on their faces, they all came back to my house after they had resolved the issue. I think they knew that they had done something significant all on their own. I was proud of them.
We had a fun dinner. It was a "mostly from the garden" meal. All of the children helped...Sulmi cleaned the lettuce, picked limes and made the cucumber salad. Kristel peeled the cucumbers (yeah the kids don't like the skin), Kelsey pealed the mango and Gineli set the table. Meanwhile I fried the green plantain (which becomes something like french fries. We salt it and eat it with ketchup). Yum!

In the middle of the meal Kelsey said that "Discuss" is cool. She has friends from her previous school who never talk to each other. She gave examples of how they hate each other. She thinks they need to learn about "Discuss". Hmmm...maybe. I wonder how the girl's could be the "teachers". Something to think about.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Growing Rice in Belize

This is a rice field. Although the camera is not level... the field is. On Thursday we took a trip to Blue Creek to see how rice is grown and processed. The farm we visited has 2000 acres planted in rice. The fields are rectangular and "small" so they can be level plots. This helps the water irrigate the field evenly. How do you plant 2000 acres of rice?
With planes! Interesting.

Where are the weeds? When they drop the rice seed from the planes they let it sit on the 3 inches of water in the field for about two days. The seeds slowly float down to the soil. Then they drain the water off and let the roots find their way into the dirt. After about 10 days they flood the field again to keep the weeds and bugs out.

This field has been cut. They plant in January and cut the rice from May through June. After the rice is cut, they level the field again and then flood it. The water keeps most weeds and bugs out.

This is Mr. John Peters. He is one of the co-owners of this 2000 acre rice farm. Here he is showing us two different kinds of rice. One has a very rough hull and the other has a smooth hull.

This is the pump that draws water from a drainage ditch and pushes it out into the fields. The concept is: if you bring the water up to a level that is higher than the field, by gravity it will spread across a level field. When you turn off this flow of water that is raised up, the excess water from the field will drain back into the ditch.

What beautiful fruit. Has anyone tasted this? Or know the name?

This combine is HUGE!

Everyone got to sit inside.

A pose in the shade of the combine.

A pose in the sun...(Jaheed and Rayan missed this trip and Alejandro was at his gardening internship.)

Mr. Peters explains how the rollers take the hulls off of the rice. A side note about the T-shirts: Aren't they nice? :-) We will muck them up on the last day of school signing our names and writing good luck phrases on them.

At the end of the tour Mr. Peters gave us 40 pounds of rice. When we got back to school we split it up into 4 pound bags and each child got one. I cooked it up Saturday night to feed to the boys for Boys Bible Study. It was wonderful! This brand called "Uncle John's Rice" is not pastey and it is super clean. Rice in Belize is sifted for rocks and hulls. The small pieces of broken rice also fall through the sifter. Some rice processing plants sell the crummy rice plus pebbles plus hulls for 25 cents a pound. (The good rice is about $1.50 a pound.) So the shop keepers buy a bag of each and mix them and then sell the mix for $1.30. They make a huge profit...but the result is most of us in Orange Walk rarely see clean rice. When you buy the rice in the shop you have to spend about 30 minutes sorting it by hand to remove the pebbles, hulls, bugs and other pieces of crud. This rice is completely free of "crud". It's delicious. All the parents commented on how clean the rice is. I'm glad we got such a big sample. What a generous gift.

After lunch we played a short while on this neat swing at the Blue Creek School playground. The whole contraption reminds me of a horse walker.

You pretty much just sit and hang on.....

while someone runs around in circles pulling everyone. Sulmi laughed the whole time whether she was in the swing or doing the running. It was a good break before heading back to the van and our hour drive back to school.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Friendship Bracelets

I love a half day at school. This past Wednesday we had a half day and Sulmi, Gineli and I invited Kristel and Elizanie to come over and make friendship bracelets. The bracelets were challenging but it was fun.

It was easier to work with two kids at a time than to help everyone at two watched TV or played with their phones while the other two made the bracelets.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Swim

My Sunday morning routine begins about 7:30 when Kristel and I drive the van all over OW picking up the Deaf people who come to church. This last Sunday she invited Kelsey to come and they were both at my gate about 7:15. It was already hot. The sun was getting an early start on it's climb to 95 degrees (in the shade). As I peeled my legs off the seat and got out of the van to greet Sulmi's parents at her house, I told Sulmi...when church is over, let's go swimming. Sulmi, Kristel and Kelsey chimed in with a few arm pumps and broad smiles, "Yeah!!!"

A little later in the morning drive we arrived at Elizanie's house. Kristel said, "Can Elizanie come swimming, too?" (We now had about 12 people in the car who all looked at me saying "swimming???!!") I had a feeling this after church swim was going to get bigger.
By the time we arrived at church I had invited all of the girls to come to my house for lunch and then a swim...we would take the boys June 11th.

The whole afternoon swim was full of smiles, no fighting, no drama, just laughter. It was a wonderful day. Ahhhh. How refreshing.

Sometimes They Surpise Me

This is Alejandro and his mom.
Alejandro started his internship at the landscaping business. He is in "propogating" (he weeds and waters). He likes gardening and maybe this will turn into a full time job for him after he graduates June 22. It depends on his work ethic and if he can figure out how to communicate with his hearing boss. One of his biggest hurdles is he does not like to eat meat. Who would have thought that figured into the equation???!!

He's not a vegetarian..but he has had some bad experiences with beef and pork that has not been refrigerated. He is scared of getting sick form eating "meat". The men he works with noticed he only eats beans and chicken. Tomorrow they are going to buy some cooked beef and make him eat it at lunch. I asked him what he was going to do. He said, "Tough it out."

I'm proud of him.

Last Friday at Bible study he said he needed a cap to wear to block the sun. After everyone left we headed to town and hit the "Guatemalan stores". They have a good supply of mens caps with all kinds of logos from US baseball teams, to marijuana leaves, to solid colors, and lots of "HIP HOP" money, gold, "I'm rich" messages. There was one that was black and had a cross on it. It had a heart and the word "Jesus". He picked it up and said, "Hey here's a Christian hat". "It says love and it's got a cross. I like that."
Hmmm... Most of his buddies go for the "hip hop" variety. I was surprised to see him pick the cap with "Jesus" on it. He loves it.
Me? I would have picked something solid. Now how boring is that! Good for you Alejandro!

Drama at Church

This is the good kind. We have enough of the other stuff... but this is "good drama".

We often dramatize an application of the story... or parts of the Bible story. It gets everyone involved and helps me to see what they understand and what needs more clarification. Dramatizing also gets everyone working together. Each person selects a poker chip from a basket. They work together with the other people who picked the same color poker chip. The groups are small and random. It always ends up giving us a good feeling of comraderie...teamwork...and helping each other.

I tried to take pictures but it was too dark or I flubbed the camera setting...but you get the idea.

A New Friend

Kristel has her priorities straight. She loves to socialize... she loves to chat... and she really gives her friends 100%. Last week while Kristel and Sulmi were waiting for me to finish watering the garden, they sat at the picnic tables on the school grounds and talked. Then Kelsey walked by. Kelsey is a 16 year old Deaf girl who used to live in Belize City but recently moved up to OW. Nobody knew that. Evidently she had been riding the bus back and forth to attend school in Belize City and she passes our school on her walk home. Kristel and Sulmi were ecstatic. They knew her from the annual spelling bee and from Mennonite gatherings. Kelsey is a nice girl...not into "drama"...she smiles alot and was happy to have a local friend. Kristel immediately asked her to church.
Today after school they walked around the corner to her house to visit. We are so glad that Kelsey moved into our neighborhood.