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!

Monday, November 5, 2012

There are Bugs in the Pasta!

     "ARGHH!  There are bugs in the pasta!" Brittany exclaimed in her most animated meek, mild voice.
      "That's what the little strainer is for." I tried to suggest helpfully.  She looked at me  incredulously:  Are you serious?
      Yeah,  Bugs manage to get into everything: factory sealed pasta, tupperware, even "lock and lock" containers.  CheezWhiz glass jars which have rubber lined lids seem to have the most protective seal.  These jars are keeping the ants out of my sugar, so far.
      I did tell Brittany that when she seasons the pasta to leave out the pepper.  It will make her feel less paranoid eating her meal without wondering if the black speck is a bug that escaped the strainer.

Yummm! One of Brittany's favorite foods from Belize is fresh homemade flour tortilla. She said she wanted to learn how to make them so she could make them when she returns to the US in July. The really hard thing about teaching this is traditionally, there are really no measurements.  You put some flour in the bowl, add a big spoon of baking powder, mix it up and pour some oil over the top.  Then add enough water to make it manageable but not sticky.  Add more flour if it is too sticky.   Then knead.  Sulmi and I showed her the Belizean way to knead the flour and then how to knead small balls. After letting it set a while and while heating up the cormel, Sulmi showed Brittany how to press the dough into a circle.  The tortillas were delicious especially when hot, but, in retrospect I thought, hmmmm, these are good but Camy's, Kristel's mom's tortillas, are great.  They are always soft and just perfect.  Maybe Camy would be willing to give Brittany her  lesson/experience #2. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

St. Peter's Thank You Card Company

Misael (11)
He's taking his job very seriously, making sure the "Thank You" stamped paper is straight.
     For the past three years the Deaf class has made Thank You cards and sold them for the annual fundraiser.  Ms. Francelia asked me to help the children make them again.  This time we made a string painting, glued it on to a piece of card stock, stamped "Thank You", and finished it off with a sticker on the back that says "Handmade by the Deaf Class at St. Peter's Anglican School." They look so attractive and each one is different.  It was fun to make, too.
Jaheed (13)
His sign name is "happy" because he is always smiling.

Elizanie (13) is signing "Stubborn" to Kristel who is not in the photo.  I don't think Kristel was doing anything "stubborn". She may have been laughing.  Elizanie was just shy about having her picture taken so she was ragging on Kristel in a "stop-it" kind of way.