Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Very Successful Game Night!

Family Night this month was an assortment of games
We had a record 45 adults and children.  The games included relays, speed and creative games.  One game ran the whole night.  It was a clothes pin game  Each person gets one clothes pin at the start of the night.   If you catch someone crossing their legs or their feet you can "steal" their clothes pin.  The person who has the most pins at the end of the night gets a Snickers bar.   So through out the pictures you will see people wearing colorful clothes pins :-)

We ate the usual: Belize cheese dip with chips and veggies and brownies for a sweet desert.  It was a blessing to have Carol Rhodes here for the game night.  Many of the children and adults remember her fondly.  I appreciated her help !!!

This is the shoestring licorice game. Without using your hands, you have to nibble on the licorice to be the first to gobble up the lifesaver in the middle.

Several people didn't play games...they just had fun hanging out and talking.

This is the large t-shirt relay.  

 A marshmallow construction where each participant is given 10 marshmallows and raw spaghetti.  The winner creates a tower that is the tallest and remains standing.

and more marshmallow construction

A potato relay (You have to carry the potato under your chin without using your hands.)

Ginelli and Kristel are posing for the picture.  (Note Juan and Angelica cleaning up in the background!!! Hooray for cleaner-uppers.  Kristel and Gineli probably helped before or after the "photo shoot" ;-)

Morine and her hearing sister Adrienne make me smile. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

God Is Blessing Our Bible Study!

Whoo-Hoo!  Go God!
Last night we had a full house!  For about a month now we have combined "Girl's Night" and "Boyz Bible Study" because no one was coming to the Boyz Bible Study.  I'd make an annoucement, I suggested other times to meet, and asked "why?" but the young men were not showing up...week after week for about a year.  Then Juan said, "Can I come to the Women's Night?"

Hmmmm.  I thought about that.  Do we really want men at our women's Bible study?  At least one woman is nursing.  I asked the women what they thought.  They said, "Sure."  I prayed about it and beginning with September 5, men and teen boys were invited.  At first only Juan came.  One time Manuel showed up. Then this week Kristel invited Jaheed, Raheem, and Misael!  We had a full house of 16 adults and six little children.  

Kristel and Lupita volunteer to help take care of the children in the apartment.  Because most (if not all) of them have not eaten the evening light meal at home, their time together begins with a sandwich and some apple slices and a cookie.  When they are done eating, they play.  The apartment provides a great setting for them.  I am so thankful for Lupita's and Kristel's help.

The verse we studied tonight was Jeremiah 29:11
"I know the plans I have for you," announces the Lord.
"I want you to enjoy success. I don't plan to harm you.
I will give you hope for the future."

When we trust God's plans for our lives, we know that God will take care of us and make His plans fruitful. God is faithful.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What Do I Do All Day?

I have at least three hats that I wear here: the pastor of our Deaf Church, Sulmi's mother, and Morine's teacher.

I wish I was running from 5;00-6:00 AM but I can't seem to get up.  (Someone can pray about that for me :-). By 6:00 I'm in the shower.  Sulmi is up and ironing her uniform then a shower and we eat breakfast. Sulmi leaves at the house at 7:15 on a bike for a little over a mile ride to school.  I do devotions until about 8:00 when I leave for school in the van.

My classroom is in the library,  It's great to be in the library.  It's airy and clean.  I like being surrounded by books.  Because I am in the library I open it about 8:05 and let the children come in to browse.  This year we are not loaning out books yet.  We lost about 200 books last year that were borrowed and never returned so we have to develop a policy that's stricter than "You can't borrow any more books until you bring back the last one" because that basically lets about 200 books disappear. I love having the socialization with the students first thing in the morning.  It means lots of hugs and smiles and I can take an interest in them and show them they are important.  Some drop in just to chat.  It's a good part of the day.

At 8:30 the bell rings and I teach Morine Ayuso until 11:30.  She is a deaf 7 year old.  Last year she was in the class where Chelsea interpreted. Unfortunately she failed.  Her sister is in the same class and passed. Ouch!  That is a difficult situation.  I asked Mrs. Briceno, our principal, if I could teach Morine 1:1 and try to bring her up to the level of the other children who were promoted.  Also I want to teach her to read the deaf way through sight words and repetition vs. a phonetic approach. So Morine and I spend the morning reading High Frequency word books and practicing spelling, writing stories with the words she knows, learning to add, subtract and tell time (and other basic first -second grade math skills), and I read/sign lots of books to her, trying to increase her signed vocabulary.  She likes to take the books home and retell them (explaining the story but not reading the words) to her family.  By doing that her parents and her grandma and aunt also learn the ASL vocabulary that Morine is learning.  She also takes the High Frequency word books home and practices the words she is learning to read.  She's doing fabulously and it's so crucially helpful that her family is practicing ASL with her. 

In the afternoons Morine goes to the mainstream Infant 2 (Second grade) class with her sister.  There she learns PE, social studies and science.  She doesn't have an interpreter.  It would be nice to have one, but we don't have one.  So she tries to learn what the other children are learning and the teacher tries to explain and include her with visuals.  I will be giving Morine her Social Studies and Science tests so I will see what she needs to learn and try to fit that into our morning as needed.

My afternoons are free until 3:15 when Sulmi comes home from school.  I do lots of different things with the afternoon...catch up on paperwork, go food shopping, help someone from church.  Yesterday I helped Veronica work on her application for Belizean nationality and took her to the Social Security office to learn what she needs to do to get a Belizean social security card since she is a Guatemalan national but married to a Belizean (Mario).  I also do various tasks in order to satisfy what is needed to adopt Sulmi.  I think we are on the homestretch.  All of the court papers have been signed.  Now I am praying the court accepts our request. Thursday afternoons I spend preparing for Friday evening Bible study.

When Sulmi gets home from school we chat a bit and then start on her homework.  She continues working while I cook dinner.  Some nights she is done before dinner and some nights we work until 9 PM.  Why am I helping her with her homework?  Sometimes she did not understand the explanation in class.   Sometimes it's just nice for her to have the support.  Most of the time, reading the text book is very, very hard.  So I try to provide the vocabulary that she does not understand and then re-explain it in ASL until I see the lights in her eyes showing understanding.

In the evening we usually relax with TV or facebook or a book....sometimes doing our own thing.

We both are in bed by 9:00 and sometimes earlier to read and unwind.

God Does It Again!

     It's time to update you again regarding who is interpreting for Sulmi.  We had two interpreters lined up to come through VMM but God had other plans.  Both interpreters backed out in June.

     By Mid July, I still dd not know who would be interpreting but had a promise from the Ministry of Education that they would have someone for Sulmi.  Who?  They didn't know.  They knew all of the interpreters (all 2 of them) in Belize were assigned to a placement in Belize City.  In my desperate prayers I thought I heard God say, "I have someone for Sulmi."  That gave me some peace that I could not account for otherwise.
Kathy Miller interpreting for Sulmi at St Peter's.
     During that time Kathy Miller was interpreting for Sulmi while she attended the mandatory summer school for new Freshman.  The classes were three weeks long.  In the middle of the second week Kathy developed a problem with intestinal worms.  It's pretty uncomfortable: indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea. The easily available de-worming med was not working.  Afraid that Kathy would become dehydrated, I took her to the clinic and they diagnosed her with worms.   They kept her in the hospital for about 24 hours with an electrolyte drip and other meds.  Fortunately she recovered by the weekend.

    When Kathy first became sick, she still went to school to interpret, but on Tuesday night I told her to stay home.  Who would interpret for Sulmi?  My first thought was to call Miss Mesh.  She is the woman who used to interpret for Manuel.   We agreed to meet at the bus stop and then I would drive her to school.  The next morning as I waited at the bus stop I got a text. "Im sorry but my brother was in an accident I need to be with him,"
Sulmi in her Bishop Martin uniform on the first day of High School.

    Now what would I do?  School would start in 5 minutes and Sulmi did not have anyone to interpret for her,  The only other people I knew who could hear and sign were the Jehovah's Witnesses.  So I drove to a house where I knew some of the American JW missionaries lived. That woman said she could not sign well enough but suggested Cathlene Wallace, a Belizean, who happened to live near the school.  After calling Cathlene and getting a "yes", I drove to pick her up and drop her at school.  She interpreted for Sulmi the rest of the week.  Sulmi liked her and understood her signs.

     The next week I asked Cathlene if she would be interested in applying for the job through Ministry of Ed.  So we did all of the paperwork and got the necessary documents copied and sent off to Belmopan and they said "a definite maybe".   Throughout August we waited for a yes. A few days before school started they called Cathlene and asked her what pay she wanted?  She replied but then they did not respond.  School started.  When the orientation began, there was no interpreter.  I called Cathlene and asked her to please come.  She said she didn't have a contract yet.  I assured her that I would pay for her to interpret if the Ministry of Ed did not come through. (!!!???)  She came right away.  Two weeks into school she still did not have a contract.  Finally someone from NaRCIE (special ed. office) kindly made a trip up to Orange Walk with the contract in hand and Cathlene was employed.
Praise God!  

Cathllene is 27 and has been signing for eleven years.  I love her big smile.
    Now a month into school, she hasn't been paid, but, this whole experience has taught us to trust God and know that somehow He will work it all out.  God's plans are always better than our own.  Hiring a Belizean is better than my plan to bring in an American for 10 months. Why?
     * I want to help Belizean signers improve their skills
     * It's never a good idea to have an American take the job of someone who can do it here.
     * More experienced Belizean interpreters means people who are here for the long haul who will help train the future interpreters here.
     *Sulmi is confident enough in her faith so that neither the Catholicism that she is learning in school or the influence of a JW will shake her,  But it is good to be in dialog with both...rather than project fear or hate.

It's a good thing, a God thing.

    This was clearly a lesson in learning to trust Him.  We got confirmation not at the last minute but two weeks into the school year!  God wanted to know if I would trust his promise that he had someone.  If God considers that we passed this test, I wonder with a bit of fear and trembling what the next challenge will be.