Thursday, January 30, 2014

Special Gardeners

"Along with milk and vegetables, kids need a steady diet of rocks and worms.  Rocks need skipping.  Holes need digging.  Water needs splashing.   Bugs and frogs and slimy stuff need finding."  *
 Even though I am pastoring Jesus' Deaf Church on a full time basis, I am thrilled I still get to plug into St. Peter's Anglican School as the "Garden Teacher".  On Wednesday and Friday afternoons, each of the four special education classes get a 30 minute lesson in the school garden. This week we were planting.
 Digging in the dirt and touching the young plants gently gives each child a hands on opportunity to interact with nature.  Aiden, who is "all boy" and loves rough and tumble stuff, was focused on carefully and gently placing the habenero pepper plant in the hole he dug. It's precious beyond words to see his keen interest in nurturing the garden plants.

 Julius broke up the soil and placed it in the garden flat.  He enjoyed feeling the lumps and crumbling them into the holes.
 Omarion is concentrating on planting the lettuce seeds.  With his teacher's encouragement, he is trying to plant just two little, tiny seeds in each hole.
Next we water, trying to water the roots and not the leaves.  Isn't amazing how careful the children are?  


This is where we plant flowers.  There will be tall zinnias in back and marveillos in front.  When the flowers die, the children will save the seeds and sell them in small bags to raise money to buy more seeds and benefit the special education program at our school.

Alejandro is a graduate of St. Peter's Deaf Program.  He is now working at the school in yard maintenance.  By digging up the entire garden with a spade and removing the weeds, he made it much easier for the children to dig and plant.  He is such an asset to the school. I'm thankful for him.

*The quote at the top of the page is from an RVing advertisement...Ha!  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dem Boyz

Well, It was hard to return to Boyz Bible study after Edgar died.  He was THE core member of the group. I could always count on him being there. It was hard for me to try and gather the group without him. I've been dragging my feet for about a month.  The other boys, particularly Juan, wanted to get together for fellowship and to study the Bible.  Several times he asked me, "When will we have Bible study?"   I finally said "Ok".  I'm glad I did.  The group is starting to take on new life.  We added Diego, whom Juan encouraged to come.  It's good to be moving on and talking with them about who God wants them to be.

The photos are from last Saturday, our second gathering this year.  We changed the time from 12 noon to 5 PM.  This works better for all of us. We start with Bible study, then eat a meal, clean up and close with praying for each other.

We are studying what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  Our study led us to the "Great Commission" in Matthew 28 where Jesus said to "Go", Baptize" and "Teach them all I have commanded you".
What did Jesus command?  There are about 35 times that Jesus gives his disciples or onlookers a command.  "Repent", Give to all who ask", "Pray" "Turn the other cheek".   Each week in our study we will look at another one of Jesus' commands.

Jaheed is helping Juan to read his passage.  Juan never went to school.  Most of the over-25 adults did not have an opportunity to go to a school or learn sign language.  I am so impressed with how fluent Juan has become.  He is in stark contrast to his Deaf brother who does not attend church or fellowship very often with deaf people.   When I see them together I remember just how much Juan has grown.  Please pray that his brother and wife can let go of the chains of alcoholism and reach out to Jesus.

 Misael is spelling a word and asking for the correct sign.

 Manuel still remembers many Bible stories and details from the 2 years that I was training him for leadership.  He's smart, reads some, and has beautiful ASL when he tells a story.

Raheem is Jaheed's hearing brother.  We are hoping that if he comes to the Bible study that he not only learns about Jesus but also learns to sign....beyond gang signs...that is.

Diego is about 27.  He also never went to school.  He works cutting cane and helps support his mother.  Diego has a Deaf sister with 3 children.  We hope to reach out to her.  They live in a little village about 25 miles from OW (San Roman) and 12 miles off of the highway.  Diego bikes that entire distance to come to Boys Night.  He sleeps overnight at Juan's house, goes to church, and then bikes back home.

Manuel took this picture of me preparing the meal.  He thought is was funny how hopeful my dog Gabriel was. 

Misael is helping out with the food preparations.

There are several other Deaf men "out there".  Although they cut sugar cane during the morning and early afternoon, they should be free to come to our Bible study by 5 PM.  Pray that God gives us opportunities to invite them and pray that they respond "yes!" to the invitation.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


On December 30th we welcomed Kathy Miller to our team here in Belize. I am so glad she is willing to give 6 months of her life to interpreting at St. Peter's for Sulmi and helping with our Deaf Ministry.

Kathy is married to Marcus Miller (aka. Mark).  They have 3 college age children...

And she left them all, with the confidence of God's guiding, to come here to interpret for Sulmi.  What an amazing, courageous, faithful woman!  With her children all in college and enjoying various adventures (her oldest just spent several months in Japan), Kathy was encouraged by her church and her self-sacrificing husband to answer God's call to come to Belize.  You can follow her decision and her experiences on her blog "Signing for God".

Kathy is living in the apartment that we just finished building.   The apartment is on the same plot of land where I live.  So Kathy is our new next door neighbor.  It's a good set up as she enjoys being close yet having independence. Kathy brings with her experience as a special education teacher.  This is extremely beneficial to Sulmi who is thankful for a little 1:1 extra explanation beyond what the teacher explains.

So... what happened to Chelsea?   

Wonderful things!  
Chelsea is now finally able to interpret for Morine. This is what she had hoped to be doing when she "signed up" to come to Belize. She is a good fit for 6-year-old Morine who enjoys Chelsea's animated facial expressions.  It's good to have someone interpreting for Morine who can also interpret what the other children in the class are saying, something that I was not able to do.

Chelsea had been living in the apartment next to my house.  When we began to scour the neighborhood to look for an apartment nearby for soon-to-arrive Kathy, we looked at a host family option three houses up from me.  They are an older couple who's daughter (now living in the US) was home for the holiday and expressed an interest in having someone live with her parents just to make sure everything is ok. Chelsea immediately hit it off with the Toledano family and asked to move there and let Kathy have the apartment.  So we did.

So the new year brought a major switch-er-roo.
Kathy is interpreting for Sulmi and in the apartment.  Chelsea is interpreting for Morine and in the Toledano's house.   We have had many changes but through the grace of our loving God we are settling into the new pattern and it fits us all well.  I will close this post with a picture from Sunday night.   Although we are living separately, we get together weeknights for dinner (alternating who cooks) and Sunday nights for popcorn and a game or movie. This photo is from last Sunday's game of Bananagrams.

They are in deep concentration.  Maybe next time the photographer can call a "Time out" for an "all smiles" photo.

Thank you for your prayers for our ministry.  Thank God for sending a team so that we can minister more effectively.  Please continue to pray for our Deaf Church, for the people to be filled with a burning desire to serve our Lord.  Pray that God will raise up men and women as leaders.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Angels Watchin' Over Me.

Stacey Hall is one of the Angels watching over me.  About a year ago I saw a cute angel craft that she had made and posted on Facebook.  Every year at Christmas time our Deaf Women's Bible study makes a craft.  I thought, "Oh wouldn't those angels be cute to make." and asked Stacey if she could send me the pattern.

She not only sent the pattern and an example but also 12 complete "Angel craft kits" for each woman.  What a blessing!

Thank You Stacey for being an Angel to us!

Alva, Kristel, and Sulmi with Yaniry in the background.

Yelitza and her daughter teamed up together.

The women and girls loved making this.  It took us three gatherings to finish it, but that just extended the fun.

Angelica and Martha could easily craft as a cottage industry if we could figure out something they could make that used materials found locally and which didn't cost too much to "create".

Reinalda was proud of how her angel was turning out.

Sulmi is a little like her adopted mother (smile).  She's very serious about trying to get it just right.

I think the women with small children look forward to the break that a "mom's night out" provides.

Bible Study and craft night would be a disaster if it were not for two other angels: Kathy Miller  and Chelsea Kobylarz.  They take care of and entertain the two toddlers, one 6 month old baby and two young children that belong to Yaniry, Alva and Selena.
It's zooey to try to teach a Bible study with the children being curious and playful in our midst.  But with Kathy and Chelsea keeping the children busy and giving them lots of attention, we have a peaceful study and a relaxing time crafting together.  I am soooo thankful for their help.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Eve Party

We had a packed house for our New Year's eve party this year.  Over 35 people came ages 1 to 58. We started at 8 PM with a snack of Belize cheese dip, tortilla chips, and vegetables (carrots, broccoli, sweet pepper, cucumber) and soft drinks.  Then we played Minute-to-Win-It games.  These are games that use common household items and take about a minute to play.  Instead of timing it, we set up competitions to see who finished first.  There were no prizes. I was hoping the fun of playing was enough...and it was. Sometimes we played each game a few times until everyone who wanted to play got a chance.

Here are some pictures of the games:
Face the cookie

Skittle sort (one handed)

Balance the Snickers

Going up!

Mummy (First team to wrap an entire toilet paper roll around their partner wins)

A Bit Dicey (Stack 5 dice on a tongue depressor.  Use one hand.)

After the games we had pizza and a devotion.  They shared their "highlight" from 2013 and we claimed the verse from Jeremiah 29:11 "I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future." for 2014. We closed with prayer.

At 11:15 Marc and Kathy graciously offered to stay home and clean up while I took everyone to Orange Walk Town to watch the count down and see fireworks.  It was a nice, starlit night....until 11:55 when the sky opened up with little warning and poured down rain.  Everyone dashed for cover.  Surprisingly there were still fireworks around the edges of town that we could see from the overhang of a shop.  Many families had bought 2 or 3 professional type fireworks that blast into the sky in bright colors.  We could see them all around us.

it was a wonderful testimony to God at work that the young adults spent the evening alcohol free.  It was good to see everyone happy and getting along.  There were no cat fights or angry eruptions.   It gave me some hope that maybe we are making progress.  I was thankful for Marc and Kathy's help, holding toddlers and baking pizza.