Friday, May 24, 2013

SPED Field Trip to Cerros Maya

Yesterday we took all of the Special Ed. students and their parents and siblings to Cerro Maya (Maya Hill).  Dating back to 350 BC and flourishing as a trade port until 250 AD this coastal historical relic was ideal for a family fun day. How incredibly cool to be able to go on a school trip to a place that looks like this!!!

Our bus was full to the brim.  Some even sat in the aisle.
This is the palapa where we ate lunch.
Jaheed, Misael, and Gineli played catch with a football.
Kristel brought her computer (?) which created a gathering of curious classmates.

Here is some of our gang walking to the palapa.  You can see Misael, Yelitza and her daughter.

This is the pretty path into the forest surrounding the Maya temples.

Here is the main temple that has been excavated.  It overlooks the sea. 

The main mask on the lower right panel is a depiction of the rising sun and of Xbalanque, who is God of the sun. 
The lower mask on the left is Xbalanque as well, but in the position of the setting sun
The upper mask on the right is a depiction of Hunahpu, a god visualized in the planet Venus or the Morningstar
The upper mask on the left is Hunahpu as well, but in the position of the Eveningstar

Three Deaf friends on the top of the temple.

The sea and beach beside the temple.  This is a nice place to swim, but we chose to swim back at the palapa because the sea was calmer there.

This later temple was built to a king who wanted his temple to be more prominent..

The pretty walk back is lined with the snake plant, also called "mother-in-law's tongue" because it wags continually in the breeze.

Good advice.

This is the ferry that carries cars and people across the river. When two men crank the heavy wire, the ferry moves further up the wire and thus across the river..  I seriously wondered if our bus could fit on it.

Our bus driver and another man turning the crank..

Yep, it fit.  This was a fun adventure to end a terrific day. 

Galen and Gloria Come to Visit

It was wonderful to have Galen and Gloria Lehman spend about 5 days with us.  They were full of encouragement and helpfulness.  Galen helped me to figure out how to turn the empty building on this property into an apartment for the interpreters next year.  He built his own home and is good at designing, so it was nice to benefit from his advice.  He joined the Boys Bible Study and even played "spoons" with us afterwards.

Gloria was often found chopping vegetables or washing dishes.  I so appreciated her help in the kitchen and her funny sense of humor.   It was a joy to have them both with us.

They also joined Women's Bible Study, video taped me teaching
Morine, met two Mennonite pastors here, joined our worship at Jesus' Deaf Church and basically became reacquainted with the people in our fellowship.

Friday was Teacher's Day.  The teachers at St Peter's went on a retreat and the students had a day off.  In celebration, Galen, Gloria, Sulmi, Brittany and I took a trip south to show them Belmopan and the Belize Zoo.  We found a few geocaches along the way (so much fun!) and took lots of pictures of the beautiful animals at the zoo.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mal De Ojo (Evil Eye)

Many of the Belizeans that I get to know grew up with Maya medicine. They still go to the doctor but also try the traditional remedies if the plant is available. Here are a few that I've seen personally or someone has come and told me that they used it:
*Put thin onion skins on a deep wound to draw out the toxins
*Use Aloe-Vera to make your hair soft
*Grind up a dried snake, mix it with water, and drink it to relieve stomach pain and cancer.
*Use the soldier (large) leaf cutter ants to suture wounds and provide anesthetic
*Grind up and boil the leaf of the epezote plant and then drink it to cure worms.
*Eat cooked chaya to reduce symptoms of diabetes.
There are a lot more. Many people who walk past me watering the school garden tell me about how the plants in the garden are used, or could be used, or used to be used by their mothers. I've read on the internet how many of these remedies are truly successful....even the onion skins.

Even if people are more likely in 2013 to pop an ibuprofen than prick their foreheads with the sharp needles of the "headache plant", when it comes to babies....all of the old traditions are rejuvenated.

One of the biggies is the Mal de Ojo. (The Evil Eye).  Shortly after a baby is born mothers tie a red string on their baby's wrist.   It is thought that if the baby cries inconsolably or runs a fever, it is because something evil has entered the baby.  To keep the evil out a red string is tied on the wrist. Sometimes the string can be a beaded bracelet.  I know that God is much better at blocking evil than strings, so I would avoid this tradition and preach against it. But even some Christian mothers tie the strings while thinking "well it couldn't hurt and my mother did it for me."  But it does hurt because whenever we put our trust in something other than God, we lose the power that God has to save us.

Another baby tradition is with the plant called ruda. (It's called Rue in the US.)  Most people who have babies will look for a ruda plant soon after the baby is born.  One mother explained to me that if the mother takes the young baby out (such as shopping), the baby may pass or bump into people who are thieves or drink too much, or are cheating on their wives.  By brushing past them, the evil from the strangers will rub off on to the baby. As soon as the mother and baby get home she takes a local egg (she emphasized NOT a Mennonite egg, but an egg from a free range chicken), and mixes it with milk or water and crushed ruda leaves.  The mother then rubs the mix all over the baby.  This will protect the baby from the evil that rubbed off on him during the outing.


I'm reading through the Old Testament.   It strikes me that the Hebrew people of both Judah and Israel were doing the same sort of thing  There was God, the Lord, Yahweh who they knew had saved their ancestors, but right in front of them were people who were telling them about local gods that could fix "what ails ya".  Sometimes the Hebrews chose to "try everything"...."just in case".  But God is a jealous God.  He is the ONE God. The only way to ward off evil is to trust and look to him.

The Maya medicine is fascinating in it's longevity and possible curing potential, but the baby strings and ruda rubs verge on alternative religions.

It's hard to help Deaf Christians here draw the line between Maya medicinal practices that may help and traditions that are against  our faith  The traditions, the way their mothers are telling them to take care of their babies, trumps whatever I say from a Christian perspective.  This whole "conflict" makes me feel very much of an outsider coming in and telling them what to do. Exactly what I DON'T want to do.   It's an interesting balance trying to respect culture and also draw the line where I think God would say "NO!"

Monday, May 13, 2013

Boys Bible Study

 Please pray for our Boyz Bible Study.  The older "boys" (men) have not been coming recently...or coming to church, either.  I really think we need a man to lead this group!  I'm just too mother-like.  Some of the men have families, some are just defiant and not wanting to learn about God, others say they are too tired.   If the older (20-something) men wanted to come, I could have the Bible study on Friday or Saturday nights.  But if it is just going to be a young group, we are meeting on Saturday afternoons.

This week we talked about anger from Matthew 5:21-24.  We talked about times we have been angry.  They were quick to tell about a time the other one was angry but eventually we were able to self-analyze and talk about how to solve problems without getting angry.  This is a life-long task and hard to do sometimes!

After the Bible study we played UNO.  It was fun to laugh and take the seriousness out of the atmosphere of the room.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Night of Pampering

For about two months now we have moved Women's Bible Study from Friday Nights with dinner to Wednesdays from 1:00-3:00 (without food!).  Traumatic as that sounds, smile, everyone seems to be adjusting well, but they miss the fellowship and fun of gathering together over a meal and telling stories.  So we decided to hold a monthly gathering to just do something fun.  I called it "A Night of Pampering".  We had dinner and then broke into pairs to massage and paint each others hands or feet.  Yelitza was good at making artistic nails.  Kristel ran around and took photos while Joshue ran around ....and around ... "talking" on a phone.

Yaniry's 5 month old baby has one long piece of hair that sticks up on top of his head like Alfalfa.  Pretty cute!

Looking Great! Nice job Britty!

I kept thinking during the evening how this was sort of a modern day "footwashing".  It also impressed me that although we did not have time to switch roles, Alva was content to serve.  Praise God for the changes He is making in her life.

 Joshue, Alva's youngest
 Gane, Selena's youngest.

 Me with Yaniry

 Yelitza making fancy nails for Selena.

 We'll have to do this again.