Row, row, row your boat

At 1:30 am it began.  Thunder in the distance, then lightening, then pouring rain for hours.  About 5:30 we all realized we were all awake and had been since it began.  We had originally planned to leave at 6:30 but it was decided the 4 wheel drive would go ahead and see if the road was passable.  It was determined likely but no guarantee.  Again, a boat was chosen.  After it was prepped, our luggage was put in and we all piled into the boat with our rain gear on.  Again, we were blessed as it only sprinkled on and off as we headed to Belize City.  We had a fantastic ride through mangrove forests, lagoons with water so clear you could see the fish below, beautiful birds overhead and crocodiles on the shore. 

Once we reached Belize City we boarded a boat to Caye Caulker – an island about 45 minutes away.  The weather was perfect!  It had been raining there but had ended for the time being. We checked into our hotel, most of us napped a bit then in the late afternoon walked along the beach enjoyng the stiff breeze, the view and some dinner.

The next morning was clear and breezy.  We spent part of the morning snorkeling and part talking about our week.  Our individual experiences in the village and things we had learned about and from the villagers and what the Lord had shown us about ourselves during the week.  Soon we headed back to Belize City and back to the airport and home.

 

Rain rain go away

Thursday morning dawned with more rain. Although it’s the rainy season, the amount of rain is unusually high.  It was decided trying to head through the savannah would be out that day.  The van could get stuck and the 4 wheel drive truck which would be able to pull the van out was in Belize City for the day.  

We worked around the base helping get it ready for a group scheduled to arrive in a few weeks.  We also packed and cleaned our cabins preparing for our departure from the base on Friday.  The rain let up in the early afternoon so it was decided we would head into the village for dinner at Mel and John’s home and youth night at the church by boat.  Thanks to assistant pastor Shannon and his boat we had a good evening in the village.  As we headed off to bed we wondered if more rain might be on it’s way.

Ditto

Other than the rain, which raised the humidity level,  the weather was great during our trip, not too hot or cold.  Another bonus was we didn’t encounter any critters (scorpions, spiders or army ants) in our cabins.  The sand flys were busy though – having  been forewarned, we all were well armed with our cans of Deep Woods Off 🙂

Tuesday and Wednesday had a similar schedule to Monday.  Wednesday night is usually a night to head back to the village for kid’s church – but the rain was heavy, so we all stayed back at the base and decided to turn in early.

Jesus take the wheel….

Monday 1/30 started with another rainshower prior to us heading into the village.  Each day we have about a 30 minute drive from the base to the village through the jungle and onto the savannah (yes, just like Africa but without the lions, rhinos and giraffe). We made it through the ever deepening mud with Basil’s super driving skills (dubbed Razzle Dazzle Basil from the start due to his expertise!) and onto the main “road” (hard dirt).

About a 1/2 mile down the road we hit a large pothole, heard a “knocking” noise and knew something wasn’t right. Fortunately it wasn’t raining at that point as it had the day before but we were still over a mile from the village.  Basil stopped, Mike jumped out and discovered all 8 lugnuts had come off the back left wheel (see picture below.)  Within a minute of this the base handyman, Popsie, happened by on his way to the base on his ATV (gun slung across his back) and one of the villagers, Brandon, on his bicycle.   Popsie combed the road with his ATV searching for the lost lugnuts – finding 5 of the 8.  Brandon jacked up the van, took one lugnut from each of the other tires, and along with the 5 found, put the wheel back on the van. 

The rest of us started walking towards the village since we didn’t know how long the van would be hung up there – marveling at, and thanking Jesus that it happened AFTER we were off the squeeshy savannah (try using a jack there), that it wasn’t raining right then AND that Popsie and Brandon just “happened” to come by then. The van caught up to us about 20 minutes later and we proceeded to the church.  

Those not working on the church ceiling headed to John and Mel Bjorgen’s home in the village (missionaries sent out from Cornerstone).  They recently moved from the base to the village and we helped with unpacking and getting settled in until lunch.

After lunch we headed to the community center to set up for the bible study.  About 2 we drove up the road to pick up any women wanting to come. Our turnout the first day was about 15 women and half a dozen children.  Each day it grew by a few as word spread.   We brought with us hygiene items and school supplies that usually can’t often be afforded as unemployment in the village  is at about 90 percent. It was such a treat to see the joy these items brought, and being reminded how much we as Americans take things like this for granted.

About 3:30 we headed back to the base with Razzle Dazzle at the wheel.  A quick dip in the Carribean right outside our cabins, a delicious dinner and a rousing game of Phase 10.  We all fell into bed to the pitter patter of rain on our cabin roofs.

Our Team

This year’s team is unique in the fact it includes 2 teenagers and their moms.  This becomes a special connection with the village women as almost all the mothers in the village are single moms as well. We’re excited that we’ll have a couple hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday which will include sharing our testimonies, bible study and a craft time.  On those days the guys will be working with some of the village men replacing the ceiling in the church.

Days 1 & 2

From the get go the team has jumped some interesting hurdles.  Who knew you could lose bag BEFORE you even check in.  It was found so we were on our way.  Our flight to Houston and then onto Belize City went without a hitch.

We were met at the airport by Basil DeKlerk, he and his wife Vera founded Turtles Shores Retreat, and had a beautiful drive back to “The Base.”  We had dinner, got settled in with our mosquito netting and off to sleep with the sound of rain on the roof.

Sunday was church where we had fun with Sunday School and a great message from Pastor Kenny.  We had lunch at Miss Alice’s and had a relaxing “day of rest” – a few more rain storms, time getting to know one another, doing some exploring on the beach and visiting with the base staff.

Monday started off with a lot of excitement….more to come!!