Friday, December 21, 2012

Making Gingerbread Cookies

Today I invited Kristel and Martha to come help me roll out, cut and decorate gingerbread cookies to eat at Girl's Night.  It was so much fun to give the cookies personalities.

Here Kristel is working on a well-dressed guy with a shirt, pants, belt and bow tie.

Do you see the girl in a swim suit in the second row?  She's wearing "bling" around her waist and green sunglasses.  That one's Kristel's masterpiece.

Oops! Kristel got a hold of the camera and took a picture just as I realized my gingerbread man's hair was a little excessive.  "Oh well," I signed, "Maybe this cookie's personality is a Rock Star."

Hmm, that was fun!  I wonder what we can make, cook or create after Christmas is over...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Crafting

I love making Christmas crafts!
A few years ago Linda Leakway sent a huge box of things including many Christmas crafts and this foamy gingerbread house.  On Friday we had a half day of school which gave us time to do something fun. So Sulmi and Brittany stickered and glue gunned this cute house together.  I thought of my mother many times while they were doing it.  She has the tradition of making a real gingerbread house with icing and candy with her grandchildren every year.  I thought it would be nice to add real candies and perhaps icing on top, but then I came to my senses.  In the tropics those candies and icing would be breakfast, lunch and dinner for a whole stream of various ants. Foamy is good.

At Friday Girl's Night we decided to just pray for our church and some of the members who have prayer needs.   Then we made these angels from wire ribbon. They are fun and easy to make...a good craft for a group with an hour or less time.

This is Alma and Martha.  Martha is very crafty and picked this up quickly.

Yelitza and her daughter Kristen.


Sulmi, Kristel, Angelica and Yaniry with her new baby.
Angelica ran around the table so she could be in all of the pictures.  She has a good spirit right now and encouraged us all with her prayers for the people in the church.

Monday, December 10, 2012

National Spelling Bee for the Deaf

 The annual Spelling Bee for the Deaf is a BIG event in Belize.  Many of the children practice the over 300 words for 2 months. Many of the parents get involved and help their child practice. Last Wednesday Deaf students from schools in Cayo, Toldeo, Belize, Orange Walk, and Corozal Districts came to Belize to see who would be the top Deaf speller.  Many others made the trek including hearing classmates, Deaf classmates, former winners, fans, and parents.  It was enough to fill a gymnasium.
 These are some of the "junior" spellers.  They are ages 7 to 9.

 Omica Chun from Toledo won the senior division (ages 10 -14).  It brought tears to my eyes because her father was so proud of her.  His joy and pride were spilling over.  Omica is 14.  She goes to a regular ed. program since there are no classes for older deaf kids in Toledo.  She studied the words all on her own (without teacher help). Her parents speak Mopan Maya and know some English but they speak Maya at home.  So this amazing girl jumped all those barriers to learn to spell 345 multi-syllable words and to be the first Fingerspelling Bee winner from Toledo. Awesome!

 Brittany interpreted what the hearing people said; the prayers, instructions, how many points each person has, if they spelled it right, etc.   I was a "judge".  I watched the spellers and said if they spelled the word correctly.

Once you have won the selling bee you cannot compete in the same division again.  Sulmi won last year so she was just a fan this year.  The kids had a lively hour and a half ride to and from Belize. It's a fun (exhausting) day that we look forward to every year.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Puttin' Up the Tree

 On Tuesday, Kristel and Brittany put the tree together while Sulmi and I did homework. Brittany was really careful about getting the branches spread out evenly.  It made the tree look nicely shaped.

On Wednesday we decorated it. The nice nativity wall hanging on the door to the left of the tree was given to me by Viorica and Veturia ...way back when Deb came to visit me just before my first Christmas in Belize.  It's still lookin' good and is a nice memory of First Deaf Mennonite Church's faithfulness in this ministry.

Lots of the ornaments were made in our Deaf class at St. Peter's, so they too bring back memories.

Ta Da!   The tree trimmers and their beautiful workmanship!

Joshue is 1 year old! (already)

 A few weeks ago Alva told me that she wanted to have a ONE year birthday party for her son Joshue.  She said she had been saving money and was starting to make plans. I knew her house was too small so I said, "Great! Where are you going to have the party?"   She laughed and replied, "At your house!".... hmmm.

We decided to have the party as part of Girl's Night Bible Study and let the moms bring all of their kids.  It was fun to watch Alva organize it and take responsibility.  I really (REALLY) wanted to make some changes, particularly with the food, but it was her party so I sat on my hands and encouraged her to go ahead with her plans.   I'm so glad I didn't say anything.  Her plan worked out perfectly.  It was a good lesson for me in letting go of control.
 Some of the women are eating chips and dip...a typical Belize party food.

Joshue was a little tired and probably had no clue what the big deal was all about. I thank God for this precious gift that he has blessed us with and I look forward with anticipation what God's plans are for him.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Some Random Holiday Pics

This is Solana (aka. "Scratch").  Sol means sun, but it may be a misnomer because she sleeps about 22 hours a day.  Sometimes, when she is awake and not eating, she likes to sit on the top of this chair and watch the world go by outside.  I took this picture because it looks like only a cat could be comfortable in that position. She's 7 years old, loving and always wants to sit near me or rest her head on my arm while I am on the computer.  However, she goes through this complete character change with other people and becomes bossy and protective of her "space".  Sulmi named her "scratch". Fortunately, with age, she has mellowed...some.

 Brittany said, "Let's have a Thanksgiving meal with pumpkin pie." 
I haven't celebrated Thanksgiving since I came to Belize.  I don't know why.  I think I just didn't feel the need to maintain that American tradition here. But...sure, why not?
So we bought the pureed pumpkin and Sulmi, Brittany and I made the dough and batter.  We baked two chickens, found cranberry sauce in the store (surprising), and whipped up some mashed potatoes.  Sulmi invited Kristel and I invited Juan and Angelica, Manuel and Edgar.  
It was a nice night.
What do teenage girls do when they have a friend come sleepover?   Play Buggle, check Facebook and video chat, of course!   Oy!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Special Olympics Regional Games in Orange Walk

We had a beautiful, sunny, 80 degree day for our Special Olympics Regional Game which met in Orange Walk.  As with many events in Belize it started with a parade that included drummers.  The sound of the drums lends a nice syncopated beat to the walking and makes people feel jovial and in a mood for socializing.

The Orange Walk team wore their new PE shirts with the school logo on the chest.  There were about 250 people involved including officials, parents and participants from Orange Walk and Corozal.

Morine, her sister and their mom wait patiently for the festivities to begin.  They sip icy drinks that were available at the stadium.

Jaheed, Misael, Kristel and Elizanie sat on the top of the bleachers and mugged for the camera as we waited. Below you see Kristel's dad coaching her to throw the shot put.  It was wonderful to see him  helping out.  He stayed on and helped record scores for the coaches.  Thanks Vidal!

The morning was filled with the track and field events including the shot put, baseball throw and  running and walking races.  The afternoon was a football (soccer) game which would determine whether Orange Walk or Corozal would go to the National Games the first week of December.  Orange Walk won (Yea!!!)  While the football game was in progress, I did face-painting for anyone who wanted it.  I painted over 100 kids!  Some even washed it off and came back for a second picture!  I like doing face-painting and will probably set up shop again on December 7 when the school has a fundraiser.

Note:Kristel, Elizanie, and Misael won most of their events and will go to Punta Gorda, Belize for the National Games.  Sounds like fun but I will cheer from afar. :-)

Friday, November 16, 2012

What about the children?

These are two pictures of our Girl's Night Bible Study.  It's a great group of people.  It used to be that everyone in the group was under the age of 25 (except me), but it's changed as we discovered other Deaf women in the community.  Maybe the name "Girls Night" should be changed to Mom's Night Out.

One of the challenges for me has been trying to balance a respect for a culture where the children go wherever the moms go, and trying to encourage the women to grow in their faith. A few years ago we had fewer women and more children.  In fact the children out-numbered the adults 7 to 6.   Every mother brought ALL of her children. Hmmmm.  The number of distractions that 7 children can create in an hour trumped the tiny tidbits of learning we were acquiring.  It made cohesive discussion impossible.

I talked to some hearing women and asked them if that was a normal part of Belize culture that the mothers would bring all of their children to the Bible study.  They said yes.

So, trying to adapt to this "norm" and also hoping that we could learn something about God's Word while we were together, I hired a babysitter to watch all of the children in a room adjacent to the room we were in.  It didn't work.  If the mom was only 10 feet away, the children wanted to ask the mother for water, to go to the bathroom, to solve a fight, instead of asking the "stranger"/babysitter.  I thought I would give it time and the children would fall in love with the babysitter.  The babysitter was great but the children continued to interrupt and distract us. Some days I felt like we really learned nothing at all.

So last August I talked with the Deaf mothers individually and then proposed that only the children who were nursing or under the age of 2 could come to the study. The older children would have to stay home with their fathers or grandmother.  Most of the women all agreed. (I think they actually enjoy the break.)  Yet there was still one woman who wanted her 8 year-old to come.  It's hard for me to say no.  It sounds so cold to say "Your child can't come" but I also know the domino effect is real and if I let the 8 year old come, soon all of the other mothers would bring their children too and we would be back to "zooey night".

For the most part we have kept it to babies.  But...the children are growing so fast!  The babies are starting to walk and wander.  For the last few weeks we have corralled the chairs into a circle and put some toys on the floor in the middle. The walker and crawler played for a long time. When they got bored, they wandered around the circle of women looking for someone to pick them up or give them attention. They would get picked up for about 30 seconds and then wiggle and want to get down again. It was ok.  Sometimes the discussion completely stops because all eyes are on the child.  Other times it seems we can still carry on the study.  With the children growing all the time and growing so fast, it is a changing dynamic.  Will next week be the same or will the children become bored more quickly?

It makes me think the Bible study has to be so lively or amusing or entertaining or heart-grabbing that the adults in the room are only momentarily distracted by the wandering 1 year olds. That sounds like fun but exhausting.  I'm praying God will give us wisdom and show us how to balance the adorable blessings that the children are, their needs, and a chance for the mom's to learn God's Word.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Praise and Giggles for the Harvest

Every year our school has a worship service to celebrate "the harvest" and to give thanks to God. All of the children make harvest boxes which are decorated baskets or shoe boxes which they fill with fruit, vegetables or canned goods to share with the poor. Each class plans a poem to recite or a song to sing.  Then they line up and bring their boxes up to the altar.  In these pictures Sulmi and Kristel are carefully making their harvest boxes.

Then....I tried to get a picture of their finished masterpieces...but the giggles set in...

 We would just about get a good pic and then the girls would explode in a burst of giggles...

 Sulmi's signing, "Stop it!  Stop.  You are making me laugh!"...It was hopeless and then....
they held it for 2 seconds and.....we got the shot....and our stomachs hurt from laughing.


"Children are GOD's best gift.
                                The fruit of the womb His generous legacy."                            
 Psalm127:3 (The Message)

        I continue to teach two deaf 5-year-old children everyday. They are enrolled in the regular preschool class at St. Peter's and I pull them out, one at a time, for an hour each.  It's a joy! Their smiles and laughter are contagious. After teaching a classroom of children for many years, teaching one-on-one is a teacher's dream. I can focus on exactly what that child needs to learn without "keeping one busy while I teach the other one". Another reason I don't teach them at the same time is they have completly different learning styles.  Glenford doesn't like to imitate the signs I teach him or do pencil and paper tasks. He kind of doesn't want to "learn" in a traditional sense.  He wants to play.  So if I can incorporate the learning of signs and language into his play, we have a win-win.  In the picture above he is threading beads. To get another one, he needs to ask for it by color,label (ie. "car") or sign "please bead".  He would prefer to just say "ahhh" and point, but he has learned that using language is the key to getting what he wants effieciently.  Such an important lesson!  Glenford is a blessing.

This blessing is Morine. She loves pencil and paper tasks, cutting, gluing, and looking at books. She often shows her younger hearing sister her new sign language vocabulary.  She likes to teach her mom, too.  As a first born, she likes taking charge. That's a good thing if it means looking for ways to learn new things.  Today we were cutting and pasting a 4 piece story sequence onto another paper.  Each part of the sequence had a number.  After she glued the first one down she signed, "your-phone-me-write" which meant she wanted to use Kidspaint on my phone to practice writing the numbers. That wasn't part of my plan but, one of the benefits of teaching one-on-one is the plan can change at any time.  We proceeded to glue the pictures, sign the picture, sign the number, write the number, and then glue the next picture.  What an ideal teaching situation.  I thank God for this opportunity.

Kidspaint uses a touch screen.  The child uses their finger like a pencil to draw.
Last week after taking a picture of her,  Morine signed she wanted to take a picture of me.  Below is the picture Morine took.
Peace everyone!