Monday, August 27, 2012

Thank You God for Sending Brittany

Brittany Lentz with her main mode of transportation.
Ok, every  mother thinks that their child is exceptional... but I have to tell all honesty...Sulmi is.  It seems clear to me that God has a plan for her.  God has a plan for all of us, true, but there is some reason that God has blessed Sulmi with priviledge.  She grew up in a very poor family.  In the US there are very few people who are as poor as many people here in Belize.  Sulmi's family has no food in the cupboards (at all)...not even cans.  The only furniture in their house is a picnic table and three beds.  Her mom and dad don't read or know the alphabet, and don't know how to write or spell their names (or the names of any of their children.)  When the social worker became concerned for the children, Sulmi was placed in my house.  Here she has clothes and food, a computer, a phone, her own room, anything she needs. Like Joseph and Moses taken from poverty and placed in the prince's castle, I kind of wonder what God has planned for her.

Academically she is smart.  How did that happen?  I'm amazed she won the national Spelling Bee for the Deaf last December...the top deaf speller in the country?!  Last year she was getting 95% and 100% on every test in her deaf class, but honestly, she was not doing 6th grade work.  She was not doing the work that other 12 year olds could do. Mrs. Briceno, our principal,  asked me what I wanted for her in the future.  In other words, she wanted to know what would happen to Sulmi when she graduates from the Deaf program.  She would not be able to go to high school, because in spite of excellent grades, she wasn't up to par with her hearing peers.

So I prayed about it, and thought about it and decided that Sulmi needed to join the hearing 7th grade class this fall so that when she graduates next year from primary school she will be better prepared for hearing high school. But how could she join the hearing class.  She is totally deaf.  So I prayed about an interpreter for her and told some people in the US who have contacts with interpreter training programs to see if there was someone who might be interested in coming to Belize to interpret for a year.  I couldn't expect anyone to come for longer, but at the same time knew we would need an interpreter for 6 years (7th grade thourgh 12th grade).  I decided to trust God one year at a time.  After all, it is His plan.

Brittany contacted me and said she might be interested in coming.  (Hooray...Go God!)  She did the paperwork for EMM, raised her own funds, and arrived August 23.  God knew what he was doing when he tapped her.  Brittany is a bit reserved.  Some Americans have come to Belize and sort of told the administration what Deaf people interpreting should work, etc.   BUT this is the first time our school has had a full time interpreter for a deaf students in a hearing class.  Brittany's gentle way helps with the transition and smooths out the  "inconvenience" for the hearing teacher.  (The classroom teacher is also wonderful ... he is learning to sign (some) and regards Sulmi as an intelligent child, not a special needs student. He's great.)  Anyway, back to Brittany, her skills are good and her personality is a perfect fit.  I am so glad she is here and God chose, this woman, Brittany to come interpret as the person to initiate this deaf child in a hearing classroom setup.

Please pray for her and for Sulmi.  Beginnings are tough.  Sulmi's doesn't have all of the background skills she needs.  Sometimes she is actually ahead many of her classroom peers (like in math) but sometimes, she is behind and that is a "new", frustrating, embarrassing feeling for her.  Pray also for Brittany that she will have God's wisdom in adjusting to life here and making decisions about how to interpret aspects of classroom life.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

DEAF VBS 2012 "Put on the Armor of God"

11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil's evil tricks.14 So stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the protection of right living on your chest.15 On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong.16 And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One.17 Accept God's salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:11, 14-17
We had Deaf VBS at my house July 30 - August 3 and used this Armor of God theme.  The children memorized these verses, made crafts, played lots of games, ate lunch and went swimming in the afternoon.  The week was fun and full of smiles. 

The "belt of Truth"
Jaheed and Raheem modeling the "Breastplate" which was our VBS T-shirt.
The shield of Faith
The helmet of "right living".

This was a fun Bible memory game.  One of the verses was cut up into small phrases.  Each phrase was put inside a balloon and then the balloon was blown up. The teams had to pop all of their balloons by sitting on them and then gather allt he phrases and glue them together in the right order without looking at the model.
Here's another Bible memory aid for the shoes of the Gospel of Peace.

Mid-morning we took a break, had popsicles, (called "paletas") and then played games in the building adjacent to my house.

This game was a race to see who could chew their bubble gum and make a bubble first.

Water balloon volleyball....catch the balloon in a towel with a partner and send it back to the other side of the line.
We were blessed with 5 sunny days.  It rained the entire week before VBS and the week after!  I had a movie as a back up plan but we never used it.  Everyday we swam at a different place.

One of the places we swam had a waterslide.
This is Jaheed swimming straight for the wall because in the beginning he did not know how to swim.
Here Jaheed is again on Day 4.  This pool is about 4 inches over his head when he is standing on his tippy-toes...He practiced and practiced until he had it figured out.  We were so proud of him.
While some of the kids cleaned up from lunch the rest watched the Olympics.  Swimming was on.  When Misael and Raheem got to the pool they had Olympic fever and tried to dive in and race with different strokes just like they had seen on TV.  They saw this picture and they said, "That's us doing the Olympics!"

Sulmi wants to learn to snorkel so she can go diving at the Coral Reef.
The kids were thrilled to find that one of the pools had a trampoline. It was the first time on a tramp for all of them.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Our First CODA VBS. So much fun!

 This was the first time I did a VBS for Hearing children  who have Deaf parents.  I included the two 4-year old deaf children that i teach and their sibs.  We had lots of help:  Kristel came to help with the babies. Angelica came to help in many ways but especially as a signing model for the hearing brothers and sisters. I asked all of the mothers to participate because I wanted the Deaf Moms to practice signing with their children...(they tend not to) and I wanted the Hearing moms of the two deaf children to learn some signs.  So we were a big mix of hearing and deaf learning about God and learning ASL at the same time.  I praise God for all the ideas and the way all the helpers made it run so smoothly.

 This adorable guy is Glenford.  He's 4.
 We began with a very short singing/worship time and an introduction to the theme for the day. 
The themes were Who is God? (He made the world.)  God made you.  God loves you.  God wants us to love each other.
 God made the world and all of the animals.  Here I am teaching Glenford's older sister the sign for tiger.
 Every day we played games.
 This is Selena's littlest (Jenay) playing with Joshue.
 Everyday we made a craft related to the theme.
Kristel was invaluable as baby holder.  Here she is with Alva's 8 month old Joshue.

 And because they are little we had a "free play time".  It was a good time to try and teach them a few signs while they played.  This is Glenford and his little brother Rennick.
 Lejandro, hearing neighbor of Selena (Deaf Mom).  He was an angel and so quick at picking up sign vocabulary.
 Morine (in pink) and her sister Adriena.  Morine is one of the 4 year old Deaf preschoolers that I teach.  Both are so cooperative and so smart.
 This is Glenford's mom reading to her daughter.  She can sign many words and was SOOOOO helpful. 
 Whenever we did anything (craft, game, worship, play) Angelica jumped in and taught ASL vocab. Here she is signing "flower".

Here Angelica is teaching Selena's oldest (named Selena) the sign for ambulance while they play with the transportation blocks for threading.