Thursday, March 28, 2013

Palm Sunday Palm Crosses

One of our traditions at Jesus' Deaf Church is that on Palm Sunday we pass out palm branch crosses.

On the Saturday before Palm Sunday, Kristel, Angelica, Martha and I gathered at Martha's house to make the crosses. In the background you'll see Martha's daughter who  is making a snack for us.  In the past almost any event happened at MY house.  I am so glad to see others taking charge and showing hospitality. It was a fun afternoon.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The St. Peter's Seed and Herb Company

We had another seed and herb bagging work day.  These four children from the Special Needs class are bagging oregano.  A week ago they pulled all the leaves off of several plant stems (fragrant work).  I took the leaves home to wash and lay out to dry.  When I brought the leaves back I asked who wants to help bag the leaves?  These four children jumped up and ran to meet me at the door.  They like doing garden things.  In addition to oregano, we also sell zinnia seeds, epezote leaves (a de-worming medicinal plant), marveillos (flower seeds), and basil leaves in packets. After Easter holiday the children will sell the packets for 50cents each during the morning and afternoon break.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Garden Musings

Usually the children in the Special Needs classes rake, plant, weed, and harvest whatever our school garden produces.  But last week it was time to chop plantain leaves, and transplant small seedlings so I spent a day in the garden "cleaning it up". Just as I was finishing about 2:30, our vice principal informed me that we would have visitors in about 15 minutes.  They were coming to consult about giving items to the kitchen but she wanted to know if they could get a garden tour while they were here.  God's timing is always perfect.  I was so glad we had "cleaned it up" and I could show it off with some confidence. A few of the women are gardeners and they delighted in smelling the rosemary, lemon grass, cilantro, epezote and oregano.   I gave them some of the seed packets we sell.

As I worked my head was filled with praise songs and then wandered to metaphors.  No great sermons here...but I want to share some of what I was thinking:

 In the center you can see some great looking tomato plants and rich dark soil.  In the foreground is a tomato plant that never matured.  The leaves have been eaten by ants.  I planted them all as seedlings. They are all the same size at that time.  Each hole that I put them in got both water and some fertilizer.  All of the plants have the same soil, same light, same periodic waterings.  With respect to Jesus' parable of the sower, even some of the seeds that fall on good soil fail to grow.  WHY? I'm glad the ants singled out this one tomato plant instead of all of them.   It's actually in the middle of the row.  The photo just doesn't show the lush tomato growing on its left side. So I wonder why this one was singled out by the ants.  Why did this ONE not grow even in good soil?  Sometimes it is like that with some people in our church.  Some people receive the Bible lessons, the prayers, the worship, the kindness and love of Christian community, all that is "good soil" and still do not grow...and I wonder "why".

 Now I don't pretend to be able to get inside a cucumber plants "head" but it seems that they prefer to lie down. Lying down is ok, but in the past I learned that if they are not trained to climb a fence, they produce many cucumbers that sit on the ground and turn yellow on the bottom or even rot.   So it is preferable  to me to have them grow up a fence which allows the cucumber to get light on all sides.  This means that as they grow and crawl on the ground I have to pick them up and train them to climb the fence by twisting some of their tendrils around the fence wire.  Sometimes when I come back a few days later the weight of the plant has caused them to fall over.  So I once again pick them up, and help their tendrils to take hold of the fence.  I was thinking that this is a lot like raising children, or specifically Sulmi.  Sometimes she would like to do what is the easy thing, but in the end it is not what is good for her or the fruit I hope she eventually produces.  So periodically I have to lift her up and help her to reach high.  Sometimes she would rather not do homework, or go to bed early on a school night.  Sometimes she wants to watch TV that I think is inappropriate because of violent content.  As I was wrapping the tendrils of these young cucumber plants around the fence wire I was praying, "God please help her wrap her arms around your righteousness so that she can grow up to you and take the right path."

May God guide you all and give you the gift of his presence.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Some Pictures of Church

Finally I brought my camera to church but....forgot to use it until the fellowship time.  I know, I know I should have given it to someone else to take the pictures.  I wuzgonna, because we planned several dramas to help the story be more meaningful.  They would have made fun pictures....but I got involved in communicating to the actors and the photo moment just didn't happen.  So, below are some pictures of fellowship time.
Please continue to pray for our group that we grow in faithfulness.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ministering to One Another

 This is kind of an endearing story.  One of the children in the special education unit had to have his tonsils out.   He missed school for a few days and his classmates and teachers wanted to encourage him so we took a trip in my van to visit him at his home. 

 The children from Mikey's class made him get well bears.  The deaf class brought food that might taste good to him like fruit drinks and yogurt.  When we arrived at his house we found Mikey on the couch.  He has autistic-like behaviors and was a little overwhelmed by the outpouring of attention.

 Some of his classmates knelt beside him and rubbed his cheek and head.  They were just raining love on him. It was touching.

 Erica, who is also in Mikey's class started singing.  All of the children joined in.

 Mikey was still not sure how to respond but he wasn't hiding behind the wash cloth anymore.

 When his mother unveiled a tray of watermelon, he sat right up. He was all smiles for the rest of the visit.

I think he will always remember the day that 25 of his friends came to visit him and shower him with love.

(Thanks to Miss Susana for taking the pictures and sharing them with me,)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Eagles, Girl's Night and Learning to Soar.

"Once a year the female eagle lays an egg in a nest high over a bluff, inaccessible to predators. For the six weeks following its hatching, the eaglet has it "made in the shade": He can see lots of things from his vantage point.  He's fed hourly by his mother. Life is easy.

By week 5 he has grown quite large. Then something begins to happen. Unbeknownst to him, his mother designed the nest in such a way that sticks point inward (!) So as the eaglet gets fatter, the sticks start to poke into him. The eaglet probably wonders why the mother didn't make the nest more comfortable---never realizing that its design was all part of the plan to get him to do something he would never have done otherwise---step out of the nest.

One day around this time the mother returns to the nest and with her eight foot wing span and knocks the nest, bumps it, and rattles it until until the eaglet falls out and tumbles hundreds of feet toward the ravine below.  Feathers fly, the eaglet squawks, the ground gets closer, the rocks bigger---then the mother swoops under the eaglet, scoops him up on her back and drops him back into the nest.

"Whew!" the eaglet thinks.  "Mom needs to be more careful flying near the nest." But three days later the mother eagle stirs the nest once again sending the eaglet screeching and tumbling to the rocks below. And once again at seemingly the last minute she swoops underneath him and carries him back to the nest. The whole process is repeated over and over until about the 6th or 7th try the eaglet catches air in his wings, flaps them powerfully and....soars." 
(adapted from Jon Courson's OT Commentary)

Our Women's Bible Study ("Girls Night") is like this eaglet. I started the group about 6 years ago with a nudge from God and some selfish motives.   After coming to Belize I missed my Friday night fun night with friends.  We almost always went out to a restaurant to relax and gab after a long week of work.  I missed that here.  Also my house was becoming a full time restaurant.  Four times a week someone was coming over to my house to "talk" right at meal time. So I invited them in and shared dinner with them. I started thinking, what if I said this "restaurant" is open on Fridays, come, bring your female deaf friends and we will eat and Bible study together. That way I could gain a little control when I had visitors for a meal and could have a Bible study for deaf women on my previously boring Friday nights.  What a plan!

This worked well and like eaglets they had it "made in the shade".  I did all the cooking and Bible study planning.  All they had to do was show up and help with the clean up.

Yet there were these spikey sticks poking us: Our group has tripled in size.  Many of the women have children.  On a given night we have at least 3 but up to 5 or 6 children "playing" while we are trying to Bible study.   It was too distracting.  God was nudging us to move on.  Our Bible study couldn't go on like this forever.  How do I make it sustainable, I wondered...for several years....but didn't make a major change--until last week. It was time to jump out of the nest. Yikes!

Before we began the Bible study I raised the issue and provided this solution: What if we met during the day while most of the children are in school? Several nodded that was acceptable. We tossed around the pros and cons (chief among them being we would meet from 1-3 PM food).  On our first Wednesday afternoon meeting we sat down and actually got to dig into the Word. It was good.  It was relaxing, it was working.  But there were murmors about missing the food.  I offered carefully, "Let's meet the First Friday of the month just for fellowship.  We can all eat together, bring the kids. We'll do something fun like make a craft, or play games, or have a pampering night painting each other's nails. Everyone relaxed a bit. I got lots of nods of approval. (BUT I did not want to jump back into the nest again... we had to learn to fly...) So I added, "Who will bring some food for the first Friday Fellowship?" Shoulders slumped and a brave few asked, "You mean you are not going to cook for us?"

I am not the "mother" of this group, but I understand the mother eagle must have hurt a bit when she saw the eaglet falling and feeling "I can't". At the same time she knew, he could.  I KNOW these women can share the responsibility of bringing the food. But we'll take baby steps.  I asked, "What can you bring?  I'll provide what you can't."  Angelica said she could buy bread (pan dulce... deicious varieties of sweetbread rolls) for everyone at the bakery.  Terrific.  I offered to make a fruit salad and bring some cheese.

We're not soaring, yet, but were out of the nest. We had a fun time.  The children wandered and played but they weren't a distraction because it was casual. It was just fun to be together and felt relaxing to chat.   It also helped to have Brittany choose to entertain Kristen.  I know Kristen loved Brittany's goofiness  At the end of the First Friday Fellowship last night I asked who would bring food for the next month's meeting. Kristel said she could bring the bread.  Alva offered her mother to bring tacos for the following month, others thought they could bring tortilla.  Thank God for those spikey sticks in the nest.  Without them we would never have chosen to try to fly.

Alva and her daughter Keylie (5)
They're signing Nahum 1:7 which they had memorized (!)
Kristen (8)

Brittany and Kristen goofing around.

Yelitza and Angelica

Martha is such a happy person.

  Her stories are so funny.  She has us all in stitches.

Alva and son Joshue (1 1/2)

Selena and Gane (2 1/2)

Kristel and Gineli

(NOTE: Elizanie, Sulmi, Reinalda, and Alma were absent this time)