Wednesday, November 30, 2011

thought for today...

The unity of Spirit at this conference was sweet!
  May we experience unity in our homes and places of worship at all times.

joy, peace and blessings,

linking up with:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

tasty tuesday

It is getting cooler here...not cold but a little chilly.  Our fans are turned off and we are actually sleeping under a blanket.  I could be making soup but am thinking of one of these meals instead...

Keeping it simple sounds good to me.

Click on the link under each photo for the recipe.

What's cooking at your house?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday morning...and 1000 gifts

It is a dreary rainy Monday morning here in Belize.  But, even so we have much to be grateful today.  

On Wednesday:
The memory card on my camera is faulty so I had to use Tom's cell phone to take these pictures.  He is seated next to Rev Canon Flowers, the head of the Council of Churches, and to the far left is Rev Crawford, the head of the Evangelical Association.  They were speaking at another Family Focus Forum this one was held in Belize City at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.  

On Friday:
We enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner with about 80 people...not all are pictured.  Some are missionaries, some are locals, some are Americans who have retired here in Belize and a few who work at the American Embassy.  It was an evening of great food, great fellowship and great fun!

On Sunday:
We attended a Harvest celebration at Bethel Disciples Church.  It is a multi-ethnic church and I think every ethnic group found here in Belize was represented.  For those Chinese speakers in the audience there was translation provided.  I kept trying to understand the translation and had to remind myself several times that she was speaking Chinese and not Russian!

as I reflect this morning on all that last week held I am grateful for:
415.  health
416.  meeting new people
417.  visiting a new church
418.  trying new foods....there were a few dishes at both celebrations that were new to me!
419.  traditional Thanksgiving food.  Both Tom and I were grateful for dishes that reminded us of our childhood Thanksgivings.  A taste of home away from home.
420.  the opportunity to be involved in the community and the people we have worked with along the way.
421.  those who support us in prayer and with finances...we could not do anything without them!
422.  the pain and joys that the past year here in Belize have brought us.
423.  the counseling clients who trust us.
424.  the people who refer us to those in need.
425.  our dvd player that allows us to watch Christmas movies.
426.  experiencing a slice of heaven with seeing so many different people groups worshiping together.
427.  Chinese print on worship slides along with the English words
428.  children of all shapes, sizes, and colors running around playing together before and after the service.
429.  noticing that siblings treat each other the same no matter what ethnic group they belong to!

Each  moment, each breath, each daily event, be it large or small, 
 yields precious gifts for which we can give thanks.  
May we remember thanksgiving as an action...
and not just as a noun.

joy & blessings,

joining Ann Voskamp and the gratitude community:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving in Belize

Yesterday we took the day off from the counseling office and had a quiet day at home.  
We ate at The Wing Stop just like last year.

Spencer and Tom had the Spicy Mango wings and I feasted on Lemon Pepper flavored wings.

We also watched Source Code and Red Riding Hood to keep up our movie watching tradition on holidays.  

Today we are sharing a traditional Thanksgiving meal out at the Baptist Training Center in Camolote with other expats and missionaries in the area.  Since Thanksgiving is not a holiday here in Belize many people had to work yesterday and children had to attend school.  A Friday dinner just seemed to be the best time to get everyone together.

Enjoy your holiday weekend...I know we plan to enjoy ours!!

1 Chronicles 16:34

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

thought for today...

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I am grateful to everyone who takes the time to read this blog. 
 My prayer is that you have a blessed holiday... and may every day be an occasion for giving thanks.

joy & blessings to you,

linking up with:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesday

Last night we were discussing what type of salads to make for a Thanksgiving potluck on Friday.
I was thinking of doing something Russian and found a few recipes on line.  This cole slaw sounds yummy. 
 Although I would probably use red cabbage for color.
Creamy Apple Cole Slaw

Spencer wants a traditional Russian favorite that we had on every holiday...
we may do this one on Thanksgiving day for us.
Olivier Salad

Tom put in his request for one of his favorites as well....
Crab Salad

It may come down to what ingredients we find in the market this week.  
Something simple sounds good to me.
Carrot Salad

It has been at least seven years since our last Thanksgiving in the states.
  So we have gotten away from a traditional menu.  
What about you?  What side dishes are you planning to go with your turkey?

Monday, November 21, 2011

One thousand gifts...

Looking forward to Thanksgiving and continuing to count the gifts from Him...

401. our special day is fast approaching

402.  attending the Legacy Youth Conference with 200 youth...

402.  that He watches over us (Psalm 121)
403.  the opportunity to teach at a Bible study for expat women.
404.  a reliable vehicle allowing to provide transport for others when needed.
405.  encouraging text messages from a friend.
406.  being asked to record a video message for a friend in Russia to celebrate her 50th birthday.
407.  lemon cake.
408.  time to crochet.
409.  seeing the youth so energized at the Legacy Conference.

410.  the spirit of unity among the youth and the leaders.

411.  feeling relaxed and not harried and weary after a long busy weekend.
412.  learning the back way to the YWAM base instead of  leaving the car outside the campus and having to walk across the bridge.
413.  spending time with Andrea, Dion and their kids this weekend and getting to know them better.
414.  a quiet morning in the office before appointments begin in the afternoon.

May we remind ourselves each day that every breath is a gift from God.
 Every bite of food, every friendship, the laughter of our children,
 all of the beauty around us is a treasure entrusted to us by God. 
When we heighten our sensitivity to God’s love and grace,
 which is constantly all around us, touching us,
 we will begin to recognize gift after gift from Him.
~Alida Sharp

joining Ann Voskamp and the gratitude community:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Counting the days until our 30th...

"Coming together is a beginning,

 staying together is progress, 

and working together is success."

 ~Henry Ford Ticker Ticker

As our 30th wedding anniversary draws closer we are looking at different ways to commemorate the day.  I even started a board on Pinterest to keep track of some of the craft ideas and places to go that I have found.

And here is my favorite craft idea:

We are thinking of incorporating Wichita,Kansas, Costa Mesa, California, Krasnodar, Russia and Belmopan, Belize into our love map.  I have been looking for different maps online and my favorite for Wichita (which is where we met, married and had our first child) is this one:

Every love story is beautiful...but ours is my favorite!

So, tell me, where have you gone?
 And what special craft projects have you done to celebrate a special occasion?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Artisan Fair...

The American Embassy is hosting an Artisan Fair today...
Hopefully we will get a few minutes to check it out before heading into work...and maybe next year Tom will be entered in it!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

thought for today...

 As we drove down this road in Spanish Lookout, Belize 
I could not help but think of how orderly and well planned out the community is.  

Our journey in life has taken many twists and turns over the past 6 years...
we rest assured that our pathway will be made straight
 as we seek to acknowledge Him in every area of life.

linking up with:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday

On Sunday we reached 29 years and 11 months of married life...and we celebrated with these!

So yummy!!  

1 package (16 to 22 oz.) chocolate brownie mix 
2 (2.1 ounces each) NESTLÉ BUTTERFINGER Candy Bars, chopped

PREHEAT oven according to package directions. Grease baking pan according to package directions.
PREPARE brownie batter according to package directions; stir in chopped Butterfinger. Spoon into prepared pan.
BAKE according to package directions. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into pieces using wet knife.  Makes 16 to 20 brownies.

I made two changes:  I bought a package of fudge brownie mix and the instructions said for cake like brownies to add an additional egg.  I chose to do that plus I added a half cup of peanut butter. 

 These Butterfinger Brownies were good to eat right out of the oven but even better the next day!!  

Linking up with For the Love of Blogs

Monday, November 14, 2011

November Newsletter and more gifts...

I don't think I have done this before but here is a copy of our most recent newsletter for those of you not on our mailing list.  If you would like to be on our list just leave a comment with your email address and I will add you to the list.

Coconut Wire Jungle News - Tom & Alida Sharp - November 2011
Belize, Central America

Greetings!  We pray that all is well in your life & you are in good health.  Hopefully you’ve enjoyed Veteran’s Day & are already getting your Thankful Groove on in preparation of the next US holiday.  Our weather is cooler & overcast but still a very pleasant 80 degrees daily!  Our lives & service in Belize are going smoothly.  Here’s the latest:

Tom IS the 1%! - No, certainly not a reference to the ‘Occupy’ movements that are happening in various places, but the 2010 Belize National Census is out.  In this country of 312, 971 people, Tom is part of the 1% of white people living in Belize!  The racial breakdown is 50% Hispanic; 21% Creole; 10% Mayan; 6% Mixed Race; 4.5% Garifuna & 3.6% Mennonite.  Average age is 22, with 56% of the population under the age of 24.  There is a 23% unemployment rate.  31% use an outhouse & 65% have a flush toilet.  33% own a private vehicle & 23% have Internet access. This truly is a very young, developing country with many needs, which covets your on-going prayer & support!  Alida posted additional facts on her blog at:  2010 Census Overview For Belize

Spencer arrived from his stint at YWAM Kona.  He is resting, enjoying Alida’s cooking & praying about the various serving opportunities here in Belize.  He met the YWAM base director in nearby Banana Bank last week & is trying to hear from God if he is to stay here & serve or go somewhere else.  It’s been a great two months having Spencer with us!

Sixteen ‘Intro to Christian Counseling’ students completed the 1st semester of classes!  I (Tom) designed a 2 year college course - the first of it’s kind here in the country - & we are thrilled that 16 students passed the initial semester course.  Counselors are practically non-existent here, & even more rare are Christian counselors.  We’ve had people from various cultures, back grounds & parts of the country in the training!  Please pray for these students to impact their cultures, communities & churches as we wait for the second semester starting in January 2012!

Our serving focus solidifies.  Weekly we are hearing reports of physical & sexual abuse in the Belizean media, as more people are being educated about what abuse is, that it’s vital to report it, & there is help available. Tom appeared on a local tv show discussing child sexual abuse & the following week Alida took her turn on the one hour follow up program to talk about good touches, bad touches and unwanted touches along with how to keep children safe online.
At the Child Development Foundation Alida & I primarily counsel abuse victims.  It is difficult yet rewarding work.  We are seeing young girls make remarkable progress in dealing with their traumas & horrific abuse.  God is at work!   Our clients seem to get younger & younger in age every month.  We are using Play Therapy theory & techniques, plus a Play Therapy kit donated by supporters in New York.  It’s ironic that Tom started in the counseling field learning & doing play therapy twenty three years ago, & is now coming full circle!

Met with the UN High Commission for Human Refugees. Several representatives from NGO’s here in the area were invited to a meeting to discuss the status of refugees here in Belize.  This is connected to those we see who are rescued from trafficking as many victims of trafficking have had their documents taken from them as they are moved from one country to the next and they qualify for refugee status because in some cases it would be dangerous for them to return to their country of origin.  Tom and Alida were able to give input as to what types of training should be made available to the NGO’s to help them be better equipped to work with those seeking refugees status in Belize.  

Tom speaks at University of Belize.  A televised Family Focus Forum was held at the U of Belize recently, for Christians to address the efforts by some to decriminalize the sodomy laws in Belize & throughout the Caribbean.  At this point, the law is being challenged in court by a homosexual advocacy group, but that law is the only legal protection minor males have when they’ve been violated sexually.  I spoke about the need to protect children by closing the many loopholes in Belize law, which don’t even provide basic protection to boys from molestation by adults.  I will speak again at the next Forum in Belize City later this month.  You can see the news coverage of the Forum here in it’s entirety or my part starts after the six minute mark. Clink on the link to check it out:

For a few months we had been helping a young pastor at a small church in Roaring Creek.  Tragically he recently pled guilty to charges of molesting  a young teen in the church.  The church has now been closed but there is so much pain in the community regarding this awful situation & such hideous behavior by a Christian leader.  The court ordered the former pastor to pay a fine within six weeks or face prison.  This was the only punishment required by law.  Now he has relocated to another part of Belize, possibly putting other young people at risk.  There is a sex offenders registry in the country but no money to hire a registrar, so offenders whereabouts are not tracked.  These are other areas that we are advocating changes for in the laws by the Government.

In spite of such tragic news, we are very grateful for your prayers & financial support!  God knew what He was doing when He called us here & we are thrilled about equipping the Christian community to better address abuse issues & provide hope & healing to young victims.  May God continue to bless you as much as your help has blessed others!

and continuing to count to 1000 and beyond...

After all the busyness it feels good to slow down for a bit to acknowledge the blessings amid the hectic days.

391.  visiting LifeNet Church and seeing all that they are doing with the young people there.
392.  finishing up the first semester of the Christian Counseling course at Belize Bible Center.
393.  Spencer and I both getting A's in the course.
394.  the camaraderie among the students as we feasted together after class was over.
395.  seeing Jonathan and Jehieli.
396.  watching The Amazing Race with Tom and Spencer and getting excited when we see somewhere one of us has been even if it is just an airport.
398.  Butterfinger Brownies.
399.  God's faithfulness and the peace He provides.
400.  29 years, 11 months and 1 day of marriage...counting the days until our 30th wedding anniversary!!

joining Ann Voskamp and the gratitude community:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hiking in Belize

We went for a short hike on Wednesday through Guanacaste Park.  
The trees provide an awesome canopy as you walk along the trails.  This park is listed in Frommers Best Hikes in Belize.  So far we have only done one of the time we will take the longer route.

After our hike we drove Spencer over to the YWAM Banana Bank base in Roaring Creek to meet the base director, Santee and his wife Liliana

To get out to the base you have to cross this hammock style bridge that is suspended over the river...

it was definitely a walk of faith for me as it began to sway with the weight of our steps!