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Things here are getting started. Our kids are adjusting really well to school here and, with them out of the house, it frees up our time to start getting more involved.

Eddie still meets weekly with the mayor's office and is excited to learn so much about the inner workings of the capitol. We don't know what opportunities will come out of those connections, but we feel this is a season to watch and learn so we can better strategize later how we can be of value.

As for me, I've been asked to start an English class at a local Spanish church. I've been friends with the pastors for many years. We originally knew each other in the village, but they moved to the capitol just over 2 years ago to pastor a church. A major need for their congregation is to learn English, which is the official language of Belize. So, starting tonight I will teach a weekly ELL class there. I'm happy to be able to help a friend in this way and I always love to spend time with Latino brothers and sisters. For now the commitment is until the summer break, then I'll reevaluate if I will continue.

Another opportunity came up for Eddie and I both. Our local church (EBC) asked if we would spend March through June discipling some of the youth. The church puts on a yearly Vacation Bible School during the summer and the youth are the camp counselors. If you know Eddie at all, you're probably aware that he has trained camp counselors for over 15 years. The church wasn't fully aware of that when they approached us. Imagine their excitement! After meeting with the pastors and VBS team, we readily accepted the role.

Related to that new project, we will also be starting to work with the young adults of our local church. Eddie and I vividly remember the adults who poured into our lives during our college years and consider it a privilege to give back in that way. We are still figuring out what that will look like, but we are excited to get started.

With several irons now in the fire, I'm reflecting on what we felt called down here to do. Seat at the Table was founded on two core tenets: relationship and discipleship. While we didn't anticipate our initial work to look like this, it does fit with what we believe are our strengths and passions. I believe this is just the beginning and it's okay that it's small as we begin.

Ezekiel 17:8 says, "It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine."

The young people at our church are good soil and we believe good fruit will come out of our investment in them. Whatever other projects or opportunities come our way, we'll be sure to line them up against what we feel called to do, so as not to get carried off-track.

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Surprise! We put our kids in public school!

If you've been following this blog, you're probably wondering, "When did they decide not to homeschool? What happened?" Nothing dramatic happened with homeschooling, except that our 12 year old extrovert was miserable spending his days without a social group to interact with. We didn't want to "give up" on homeschooling; we wanted to stick to our guns. We wanted to protect the kids from more upheaval, but the alternative ended up being worse.

So, we set about getting our paperwork together, meeting with the principal, taking assessments and buying a boat-load of school supplies and uniforms. That was last week. Eddie and I were busy, worried, stressed and spending more money that we had anticipated. Brooklyn was anxious and AJ was relieved to finally be going back in school.

There's tons here that we are still learning. While the kids will now get the majority of their lessons in class, Eddie and I are also being schooled. Those lessons come from sitting in rooms where we are the minority, from conversations with locals about culture, politics, religion and where to buy certain items. Lessons simply from shutting up and observing those around us and taking it all in.

It's common practice for "expats" (aka immigrants from more developed countries) to band-together when they move to majority-world countries. Their introduction to the country is often via someone with a similar worldview. They are told where (and where not) to shop, eat, go after dark. They are warned not to trust the locals, not to let their guards down, which neighborhoods are safe and which churches are most appetizing to their more discerning palate.

I'll be honest, having moved to a new country with only a few suitcases and the daunting task of building a life here, the "expat" community is a tempting siren calling my name. The thing that holds me back from running to that community for comfort is the knowledge that "expats" are just immigrants by another, more privileged name.

Why would I move thousands of miles away to immerse myself in another culture and then immediately nestle into a foreign immigrant community there? I'm not here to set up my own comfortable little bubble. I am here to live alongside those who are proudly Belizean. I am here to sweat (and boy, do I!). I'm here to be vulnerable. I'm here to learn.

I am not trying to throw shade at any of my fellow immigrants for the choices they make in shaping their lives here to be more familiar. I get it.

Proverbs 2 talks about the Moral Benefits of Wisdom, some of which include safety, discernment and success. I don't have to lean on the wisdom of fellow Americans/Canadians?Brits etc to build a safe and successful life here. God promises to guide and protect those who seek His wisdom.

I am grateful to those friends (Belizean and otherwise) who are teaching us the ropes and answering our many questions. Before we can hope to have an impact here, we must first be willing to sit in the student's position and learn.

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I was talking with someone here the other day and explaining that I am waiting to get really involved in things (volunteering etc) until I'm sure which direction to go in. There are just so many needs and I don't want to get pulled in several directions or commit to something and then pull-out.

My motive was to be intentional with how and where I invest my time, treasure and talents. The result was an increasingly isolated and insular lifestyle; not at all congruent with how I choose to live.

I heard myself giving explanation for my lack of involvement and the Spirit of God tugged my heart. Something was off and I needed to figure it out.

I took an afternoon last week to go to my old village and visit friends. I needed a break from homeschooling and the four walls of our rental home. I needed to connect with the people I love and to remember who I am.

That afternoon I went from house to house, visiting with old friends and new ones. One friend asked if I could teach her English and I readily agreed. It felt great to work with someone on a skill that will help elevate their life. I'm excited to visit weekly and invest in their family. The husband, who has been a friend for 16 years, is not a Christian and doesn't attend church with his wife. What an honor to bless their family in a practical way and show him (again) the servant heart of Jesus.

Another close friend's daughter is living near us in Belmopan and I got the impression that she is struggling. I connected with her last week on her birthday and had her over for dinner and ice cream. I reached out again this weekend and she confessed that she has been struggling with depression for months and could really use some support. She and I are now going to meet weekly. I will pray for her and do my best to shine a light in this dark place she is in.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells the Parable of the Talents. In the story, a wealthy landowner is leaving to travel for an extended period of time and leaves his servants with talents (money) to invest for him until his return. Two of the servants invest and grow their master's money, while the third is too afraid to lose the money and so buries it instead of investing. When the landowner returns, he praises the obedient servants and punishes the third.

I realize I have been acting out of fear; or more accurately, I have not been acting out of fear. Like the third servant, I have been afraid of investing my talents in the wrong place, afraid of not getting a return, worried that I'll mess up my master's business. At first I didn't recognize what was going on because my perception was clouded by false logic and excuses. But now I see it clearly.

Thank God He didn't let me stay self deceived and get more and more wrapped up in my head. Instead, He put a finger on it and helped me see the truth. The truth is I have been given a lot and I am asked to invest it for Him. Mentoring a young woman and teaching a few English classes will not change the world. Soon enough we'll discover what the "PLAN" is for us being here and my time and talents will probably be used much differently. But in the meantime, I will dig up those buried talents and use them, not only for others and myself, but as a worship to my God.

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