Our final day in the Village…

Who knew 2 weeks could fly by so quickly?

Yesterday was our final day in the village, and despite the bugs, heat, and cold showers you could tell everyone was wishing for a little more time here. We all woke up sore and exhausted from 2 days of hard labor and were excited about a day that would involve a little more community outreach than chopping up trees with machetes. First, though, we had to do our third and final walk through the savanna to the lagoon. God continually tests our positive attitudes and endurance :). Once we got to the village our team broke up. Some stayed behind at the church to hang new doors/get their hair braided while a small group of us headed back up to the school for the morning. What we came to find was that our group, with our American attention to detail and perfectionist tendencies, took about 4 hours to hang 2 doors…while the local Belizeans hung 4 doors in 40 minutes. It was a good lesson that sometimes the American way isn’t always the best way ;).

After another delicious Belize lunch we had a small outreach for the women in the village. We had been planning this event a lot before we came to Belize but of course God had other plans. We had about 30 women (!) come out and absolutely none of the stuff we needed…and it was such a great time! We were able to sit and talk with the women and do their nails as well as leave them with journals and some small gifts. I was so impressed with our team’s flexibility all week and this was yet another time when they shined!

After an hour or so of hanging out with the women it was time to head back to the base. We packed all of our team into the white van and drove back, we decided we’d rather be stuffed than have to walk the savanna again haha. We were back for about an hour which gave us time to pack/clean up our rooms and slice the hot dog buns (yep…only in Belize). Then we all loaded back up in the van and the jeep with 400 hot dogs and buns and headed back to the village. We had a huge outreach for the community and cooked up hot dogs and watched Toy Story 3. We had a hundred or so people come out which was AMAZING, especially on a rainy night. The kids had so much fun as did we, and it was a great night just to rest with the villagers. They’ve had a couple hard weeks with the hurricane and we just wanted to love on them and show them how much people around the world are praying for and caring for them.

The real adventure for the day started on the ride home. The savanna road was very wet and flooded because it had been raining all day and we learned that Marty has awesome skills at off-roading in a huge van. Who knew? We all made it back to the base in one piece and found that in our absence some new friends had moved in…scorpions! In the few minutes after we got back 5 scorpions were found in various rooms and Mel and John even found a tarantula! Definitely not the most settling thing before you head to bed, but we were all so exhausted we could hardly lose sleep over it. After a week of being constantly surprised both by this country and by our God there is hardly anything that shocks our team anymore.

It is now friday morning and we are all eating breakfast and getting ready to head out to Caye Caulker for our fun excursion! How exciting it will be to have air conditioning once again :). The goodbyes here at the base are soon and they will be hard, but I cannot feel anything but blessed for the gift of being able to spend the last two weeks out here. God has challenged, encouraged, and stretched us all…it’s everything we could have asked for! See you all in a couple days.

 

-Alissa Tenorio

Bugs,Army Ants & a lonely Crocodile

Well, little time and so much to say. This is Dena writing and I honestly can’t see if I can put all emotions, blessings and stories in just a 1100 word blog. I’m asking God to enlighten me so this can be powerful. Here I go.

Yesterday was powerful. As always we started out with Breakfast the boat ride to the Village we noticed we where all a little more tired, a little more sore and could definitely feel our energy level dropping quickly. As we enjoyed the cool breeze boat ride towards the village we had a discovery.  Yes, we saw a crocodile. So, with my experience with these reptiles are thru nice barriers in zoo’s never just feet away with nothing but a small boat between you and the animal that could take you to your death. It was funny cause the comment was made by Trenton our Captain “OH this is a small one” as we all quickly pulled out our cameras to get a glimpse of the log in the water Trenton preoceeded to draw closer. In my mind I was thinking is anyone else thinking hmm, this may not be a good idea? Of course nothing happened but the though was definitely there.  It was amazing to see about a 5 – 6ft crocodile but I’m not sure if I would want to get that close to one again.  I’ll stick to the nice barriers in the zoo, thanks.

Once we got to the village the heat definitely hit us.  It was hotter today and yes we where more exhausted from previous days work.  This trip being my second I noticed that it was different. A little more labor intensive and just a little harder.  God had definitely had something different planned for us.  I was prepared for hard work but what we got was heart changes.  The first house we worked at was a man by the name of Manfield. I”m not sure how old he is but his health is not good.  He suffers from diabetes and overall you can tell not in the best of health.  As half the team chopped down the tree that was tossed like a tooth pick  the other half racked and cleaned up debris that had flow into this yard like dandelions.  The heat by now was killer. It had become hard to breath, we where going through water like oxygen and we all where being tested.  I personally found myself praying even more asking for endurance and health.  As we finished up and we found our selves under a nice big tree taking a break as we get our next assignment and more water.  Marty called us to pray for Manfield.  He slowly walked over the group stood by us clasped his hands together like a small child praying at dinner tilted his head closed his eyes and we prayed. I remeber thinking, WOW, I don’t know if he is a beleiver and he had more soverance in his prayer then I do.  I pray and pray often but just the appearnce of his prayer as we prayed hit me,  going wow. Now, I don’t know if he was prayng honestly with us or the appearnce of his prayer but it felt genuine just standing by him.  We prayed for his health his father and his home.  As we finished up and we looked up at him the smile almost brought tears to my eyes.  He literally looked like he had peace if only for a few moments. MY heart leaped with joy.  Amazing how God can do so much with so little!

As we replenshid with water and moved on to lunch.  We had lunch at Gentiles we was nothing short of fantastic. The food hear is always amazing but when you think it can’t get any better well it does. I love the surprises around every corner.

After lunch we had been given the option for some of the team to go wth Una to the school and help with the children.  Since I love children so dearly Alyssa, Megan, Ashleigh, Stacey and myself made the walk down to the school.  As we arrived at the school lunch was finishing up. Una had spoken to the principal to see what areas we could help with today.  Just as plan as day we where given  Infant 2 to teach for the next hour and half.  Just like that, like a sub walking into a class we where given a class. What was even more amazing is that the children where told to come to our class room they just didn’t come but they came carrying their desk. The entire desk. It was a site to see. These children I2 is Infant 2 they are between the ages 6-8 years of age. It was astonishing to see them carrying their desk. In the states first all they would have never just let random people walk in and teach a class and 2nd they would never allow the children to carry their own desk. It was quite a site.  As we got the children in the room and settled down we quickly realized there was no lesson plan.  I quickly found myself praying for enlightenment.  We ended up going over some basic math sang the alphabet song and attempted to go through the alphabet naming a word that starts with the letter that we where on but quickly realized I was loosing them.  Stacey came to the rescue. With her great experience of teaching pre-school she brought out two songs, the Shark song and the dinosaur song.  I was amazed that children didn’t know what a dinosaur was. We quickly started to teach the songs and the kids loved em. YOu will have to ask Stacey to sing them for you. she does hand gestures and all. It was great.  We also played outside red light/green light and red rover which the kids loved even more.

2pm came so quickly and it was time to walk back to the team. By the time we got back to the team and got settled it was time to head back to the mission.  As we arrived back to the mission My cabin quickly realized a nice littel trail of army ants heading into our cabana. OH GREAT, was my though, nice.  These are not your little nice ants you have in the states. Tehse are HUGE!  We quickly put them to their demise and ended their trail swiftly. They where all inside the cabin on walls the floor it was horrible. I was thrilled to hear they where gone.  The bug spray they used was so powerful and potent I left the area since it had started to give me a migraine.  God quickly healed me of that, praise GOD!

The night was calm as clouds rolled in and wonderful breeze and you could now hear the waves crashing on the ocean as we sat on the Veranda waiting on dinner.  Ths is my favorite time. You can really just look at the Carribean sea and see God’s finger paiting. It is just too beautiful to try to put into words. Many of us where spending time in prayer, relaxing or journaling/devotions.  This is a great time and we all love it.  Dinner came and went and evening fell. Some of the team went i nto the village again for Wednesday night bible study for the children and some stayed back to relax and just re-cop from the hard day.  Those that stayed back played some games and just fellowshiped.

I’m never surprised to what is going to do and what He is doing.  I can only pray for more adventures because God is in every corner of every pl;ance and is working amazingly here. I just love it. It’s a blessing to be on th is trip and I’m blessed to be able to serve.  It was a great day.

 

( had to type this in 30 min please forgive the grammar :-))

Good Night!

Sad News For A Teammate

We are all grieving along with our friend and team member Stacy Stewart. We were contacted last night with the news we hope we never hear. Stacy’s mother passed away sometime yesterday. Thankfully Stacy has a brother who will handle the details for the next few days until we return Saturday. She is handling all of this unexpected and tragic news well and the team is doing a great job of loving her, encouraging her and praying for her. Stacy has decided to remain in Belize with the team and worked hard side by side with us on our first really hot and humid day.

Please join us in praying for Stacy and her family in this very difficult time. We will update you on more details of our day and night tomorrow.

Thanks for caring!

A Day in the Village

Life is so different here in Belize….

I woke up this morning and went for a run on the beach.  I was able  to enjoy a the sight of a beautiful sunrise over a clear sea. At home there is always somewhere to be and something to do, but the pace of life here allows me time to think and reflect on what truly matters.  I miss my kids, but wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

On my run this morning I ran across a jellyfish on the beach and brought it back to the base (it was dead) pretty amazing the texture and intricacies of the sea animal. Later this evening as we were all bathing in the ocean we had to stay clear from the live jellyfish that we saw… Didn’t want anyone getting stung.

Marty and John both spoke this morning on on Luke 6:27 “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”  Our goal today in the village was to do just that.  To serve and give to those who are farthest from God.

We took the mile and a half walk to the village and we were all so grateful for the beautiful weather. Not so thankful for the bugs.  There are lots of them but not as bad as we have heard on past trips.  While we walked through the village we saw debris everywhere, fallen trees on the ground and houses torn apart.  Clean up from a hurricane seems endless. Most of the houses had some kind of damage to them, some totally leveled.  When houses are made of wood and tin, it doesn’t hold up well to a natural disaster.  One thing that also stood out to me was the kids wandering the streets.  Young ones.There was a little boy probably not even 2 years old walking down the road barefoot.  There is rocks, nails, glass and trash everywhere and here is this little boy unprotected with parents no where in sight.  Broke my heart and made me thankful that my little ones are home safe and supervised.

There were two families next door to each other that we spent the day cleaning the yards with fallen trees and debris. The team worked hard Marty with the chainsaw was a sight to see, and I learned to use a machete! Never thought the task would seem so appealing.  Took a little time to get the technique down but after that I didn’t want to stop.  Chopping down trees was a blast, increases my physical strength and gets out some of my frustrations too 🙂  Amanda and Mike got the bug too. The sight of them chopping away was very amusing.

As we took a break for lunch we headed down to one of the homes of the villagers who had made us lunch.  Chicken, beans, coleslaw and bread was on the menu and it was pretty tasty.  In Belize you better get used to coleslaw and KoolAid it is a staple to every meal.

As we ate lunch the elementary school across the street let out for lunch.  It was a sight to see all the kids headed home for lunch running around playing games.  I saw this little girl Courtney that I had met the other day.  She ran right up to me, gave me a hug and grabbed my hand. She had an infectious smile on her face and her and her friend taught me a few hand games and songs. In our eyes they have next to nothing and it was so sweet watching how they enjoyed the simple things and are so happy.  I did hear from John that they supplied the school with groceries to provide hot lunches for the kids and someone from the village broke in and stole all of it.

I also got a chance to spend some time with a teenage boy that chipped in to help with the cleanup.  Listening to his story broke my heart.  He right now feels no direction in life has no education and no family that supports and encourages him.  I like to think that our time pouring into him this week and what Mel and John do on a daily basis with give him strength and encouragement.

All in all the beginning of this week has been such an experience that I hope to will leave not just a mark on the village but also in my attitude and acts when I get home.

Now off to a Sambi.  A cultural experience.  A dance that the locals will be performing for us.

-Ashleigh Tarro-

Day 3 – Greetings from Belize : )

Hello Everyone!  I thought I would take a moment to share Amanda wrote last nights blog.  : )

So it is day three for our team here in Belize.  The weather has been surprisingly awesome and gorgeous, praise God for blessing us with this amazing weather.  : )  Today we spent on the base cleaning up after hurricane Richard.  As a team we achieved a lot in clearing up the trees in which fell down on the cistern/generator room, repairing the gutters in which when it rains, the rain is drained to later be used for water here on the base, and a few of us worked on staining the new doors for the church.  We achieved a lot, however God was at work in all of us, helping us to see areas in which we all need to work on, or areas in which some of us were not comfortable doing this kind of work before.  I personally am more of a girlie girl for as my family can attest I am not one to do yard work or clean up as much as I should.  However, in my defense I have always said, as long as I have the right gear I would do more work outside in the yard.  So I put on my bandanna, work gloves and sun glasses and got to work.  Today I was having a blast helping clean up the debris and trees throughout the base.  I have to say though, without God helping me to see through my old way of thinking and living I would not have gotten through the day.  See God wants to use us in such a way in which many times we do not agree with or we choose to ignore.  I know personally I have my selfish moments still to this day, as I am not perfect and I am human.  God is working on changing me in more ways than I could ever imagine and I welcome the change with open arms.  I want to live my life with a servants heart, thinking of others before myself.

Each day we have a devotion we do individually and then talk about together as a team.  Tonight as we spoke about our devotion, Marty asked us all a great question…  What do we need to do to look more like Jesus?  As a team we decided we need to fall in love all over again with God, to cut out all the distractions and things in which take our focus away from God.  I personally am into technology and other material things of which are distracting me and take me away from God who is MORE important in  my life.  Honestly, how many times do you find yourself saying oh I’m too tired and snooze the alarm a few extra times in the morning, or you may be the person who plans on spending time with God and reading your devotional in the evening, then other things come up and you end up going to bed instead of spending time with God.  STOP!  Or at least that is what God is saying to me.  I admit I do great with my daily devotions and quiet time with God for a little while and then I get “distracted” and it becomes something I will do later.  I love God more than this and he deserves my love, time, and respect more than anything else here on this earth, for when my relationship with God dwindles down to nothing so does everything else in my life.  My faith and trust are in God above anything else and I love Him more than words can say.  If you have trouble staying focused, find a mentor/accountability partner to encourage you through this time to maintain your focus and talk about the things in which you are learning and taking away from your daily devotionals.  Trust in God and He will carry you through EVERYTHING and you may be surprised and find you are able to do more things than you ever thought possible in this life.  : )

Well, I am signing off for the evening!  Thank you for following our journey and praying for us while we are here serving God and His children in Belize, we appreciate it!  Do not be surprised to meet some new people when we return, for God’s mission is to make some changes in our lives while we are here and to leave our old ways of living life at the cross here in Belize.

We love you ALL!  : )

In His Stregnth

Megan  : )

Without Further Ado…Belize Days 1 and 2 in under 1100 words!

We are finally online and able to blog! It’s Monday morning, Day 3. We arrived safely on base on Saturday evening after quite a journey. We all had experience with the stress and rush and boredom that is commercial air travel. But the norms of travel went by the wayside upon arrival in Belize. John and Mel and the girls along with Jude and Alissa greeted us at the airport, all seeming happy to see us. Not all of us could fit in the van with all our gear to head to the boat, so we split into two groups to get us all down there.

This was our first experience with “Belize time”, where 20 minutes can mean, 20 minutes, 10 minutes, or two hours. We have a lot to get done this week, but the pace and scheduling is not nearly as grueling as we get used to back home.

We loaded into a 20 foot boat piloted by a man named Trent, and headed up “the” river toward base. (another aside…everything is referred to with “the” at the beginning like we are all perfectly familiar).

We head out of Belize City and very little time goes by before there are no traces of people or civilization. The river is surrounded by dense forest (and palm trees…my favorite!). We are sitting in rows of three people and have our own conversations going. In the back row, we talked about the trip and our families and faith. Marty points out that a perfect example of true faith is getting into a boat in a foreign country with a man you’ve never met before, trusting that he will get us to our destination safely…and this is as it’s getting dark.

The river opens into a lagoon where we see the sun setting in a breathtaking swirl of gray clouds and red and orange sky fading to purple and black over the water. God continued to show us the beauty of His creation as it got darker. We spotted fireflies, a first encounter for some of the team, and every time we looked up there were more and more stars sparkling above us. Eventually the river opened up and the dark sky blended into the blackness of the sea ahead of us. We headed up the coast of the Caribbean and finally saw lights of the base. We landed on shore and unloaded; we made it!

The rest of the evening was settling in, having dinner, and getting oriented. Orientation included a rundown of all the creatures we will or may encounter.

Sunday morning we woke up early after a colder than anticipated night. We were all prepared with fans and cool clothes, and not so much with blankets and sweats. The only complaints of not sleeping well were due to the cold. We got our first glimpses of the base and the beach in daylight. The sunrise over the sea is breathtaking. There is nothing but sky and water as far as you can see.

There is debris and damage all over the base from the hurricane. Those who have been here before point out what used to be, and that the base suddenly has much more beach with all the new sand. We seem to have our work cut out for us!

We have the best tasting pancakes I’ve had in a while and head out in the boat toward Gales Point, the village with which we are to become quite familiar. We land near the church and are greeted by eager children we grab our hands and pull us into the church for Sunday school. These are some of the most joyful children we’ve seen! Many of them, mostly the girls, can’t get close enough…hugging, cuddling, holding our hands, touching our hair, and sitting in our laps.

We stay through the regular Sunday service, and Mike helps lead worship. The sermon is wonderful…and Kenny (the local pastor) is intelligent, passionate, and well spoken. The sermon goes through passages Romans and Jeremiah, and we find ties into earlier discussion with Marty about being molded as clay by God as a potter. Service ends appropriately as we take communion, and everyone hugs each other and greets with a “God Bless.” And when I say everyone, I mean *everyone*. We were so welcomed.

We had lunch in the village, a traditional Belizean meal of boiled chicken, beans and rice, and fried plantaines. And of course, Fanta!

We take a different route back to base across the lagoon and we walk about 1 1/2 miles along a sandy road. We find the mosquitoes biting the most if you slow down or stop. So we don’t…

After a rest, we work on clearing an area of the base where several trees were down and broken. The team works fast and well together, and we get it done quickly and efficiently. The piles of broken trees are burned, and we have a hilarious moment with Brian who is a “safety team leader” as his shirt claims, as he shows us how not to use gasoline and fire. No eyebrows were harmed just nerves!

Team members went to clean up after sampling fresh coconut milk, some braving the cold two minute shower and others bathing in the sea. We regroup and have dinner together and discuss the day. Mel and John share their story of becoming full time missionaries in such an isolated and exotic area. It is obvious in listening to their story that it was truly God working, and we can all relate to how much of a struggle it can be to listen and be obedient. As a personal aside, I can see learning a lot this week just from interacting with them. What a beautiful family!

The evening ends early for most of us as we’re exhausted! Most started Saturday morning at 3:30 am for our early departure and it finally caught up with us.

Today we will stay on base and concentrate on clean up. Another beautiful sunrise. It’s a little cloudy and the sun peeks through the cover and reflect off the glassy water. There is a cool breeze and we hope it lasts to give us relief from the heat and the bitey things as we work today.

We should be able to now keep up with the blog, as we have power and passwords necessary for access!

We appreciate continued prayer from back home for the team, for John and Mel, for the base and the village.

God Bless!