Missy here. I’m going with themes for my blog posts as there is so much to share and I’m trying to keep it focused. Still, this email has a lot of words…
Before I get to some things which have surprised me about living here… prayer requests.
1. Pray for the work we are doing. I’m beginning to get into counseling in the schools and in the community. The need is overwhelming. As I’ve spoken now with the local psychiatrist at the hospital and school administrators, I’ve learned that although there have been counselors in the district in the past, there is currently no one offering counseling services other than for those in significant crisis – and then they go to the hospital to see the psychiatrist. This week I met with 5 students in two different schools and many others are getting parental permission to speak with me. I’ve already been hearing firsthand of horrific domestic violence, child abuse, significant trauma and disrupted attachments. Many of these problems are generational and cultural as the systems in place to address them from law enforcement to social services are only able to deal with things if they are severe – like life or death. I need discernment and wisdom. Please pray also that those who will most benefit from working with me would come.
2. Annabelle has been having ups and downs with adjusting to school. She has been showing some anxiety symptoms that are not usual for her. Please pray for her little spirit to be full of joy and life and freedom and for us to help her through this transition. She is the 25th student in her class and the school work is rigorous.
Now for SURPRISING THINGS:
I had wondered many times how closely the Krio I learned in Sierra Leone would be to the Kriol spoken here. Despite the fact that I learned Krio 15 years ago and for only 4.5 months, much of it has come flooding back as I hear people speak the Belizean Kriol. There are many similarities in words, expressions, and grammar. Honestly, the Kriol here is far easier to understand and pick up as it seems more closely related to English and people often speak half a sentence in Kriol and the other half in English. But surprise, surprise, even as I study the Kriol-English dictionary I’m just amazed by this similar language half a world away and I’m surprised by my own memory 15 years on.
I have been amazed by how much Annabelle loves bucket showers. For the uninitiated – bucket showers are literally when you take a shower out of a “bucket.” For one reason or another, we have had only cold water coming out of our faucets quite a number of times since we arrived. Annabelle, who usually insists she doesn’t want a shower or bath (only to spend many long minutes playing and singing to herself once she’s in) loves bucket showers. We heat a pot of water on the stove. Then we pour pitchers of half heated, half cold water over her until she’s soaked, then shampoo and soap up, and then use the rest of the pot of water to rinse. Ironically, it’s usually warmer than even when our water heater is working. 😊 And also it conserves water.
Which leads to my next surprise – water disposal. I’ve been surprised that other than toilet water, all water from our house goes out into the street. Every dish we wash, clothing we launder, shower we take, time we brush our teeth, etc. Every last drop goes out into the ditch in front of our house. I will say that it makes me much more conscious of how much water we’re using and is good for conservation mindedness. Thankfully the toilet water goes into a septic system.
Annabelle has been surprised by some differences at school – not only are there 25 kids in Annabelle’s class but food can be shared and in fact, it seems encouraged. Annabelle was not allowed to share food at her schools in the U.S. We have also all observed that keeping one’s hands to oneself is not a thing here. All of the children at the school are quite physical with one another.
We’ve been surprised by the fact that we haven’t received any mail here yet. Not even one little piece. And I know some folks mailed us Christmas letters even before we left the U.S. I keep wondering where those pieces of mail are… perhaps they made it to the North Pole and Santa will bring them later – like next Christmas.
There have been many lovely random surprises – like how beautiful it is here. Every time I ride on the motorcycle, I kind of fall in love with this land. And we’ve had some really sweet conversations with random strangers on the bus that must be divinely appointed. On one of my trips to the capital, Belmopan, I sat next to a lovely British woman who lives in DC and was with a tour group. Our conversation was so nice in fact that she gave me a hug and a kiss when I left. I would venture to say most of our days are filled with random surprises.
Last, but certainly not least, I’ve been surprised by how much we all love the food. We don’t all love all the food but there are so many things that are delicious and fresh. If you come visit, we’ll definitely be bringing you around to try yummy things! The one that blew me away this week was coconut pie for which they use coconut flour and is full of sweet, spiced coconut. It was amazing!
*Please note there is no judgment in these “surprises.” Things here are a mix of better and worse than in the States or anywhere else.