Sunday, April 20, 2014

Belize: Part Two

Ok, so in Part One I only made it through the day of arrival and our first day out ministering to the people. On to Day 2 Sunday morning. I woke up to that lovely rooster singing his song nice and early. So it became routine to take a walk with Nicole. On this particular morning it was very foggy but it made for beautiful scenery that just can't be captured.

 We saw lots of chickens wherever we walked. It took us more than a few moments to figure out what the local people were calling the chickens when they were talking about setting up the coops. Some are called layers and some are called fryers. I am sure you can figure it out from there :)
 Lots of baby chicks!
 We were walking along a path when I turned to Nicole, "I wonder what this fence is holding behind it!?" and at that exact moment we heard a very low and very deep MOOOOOO! Can you spot the fella?

Back at Camp we had my favorite breakfast by far....flap jacks! It was a fried tortilla folded over. No one is surprised that it's my favorite because it tastes like one of those elephant ears at the carnival. I definitely helped myself to seconds or thirds that morning.

We headed back to Shawville for a morning of worship with the children. They were able to use our bus to drive around and pick up the children rather than use their family truck for multiple trips.
We all started to gather together outside the church since there was a bee's nest that had to be taken care of first inside.
 This church was given to the Salazar family just days before our arrival. Talk about a God thing. To have a building to worship in for these children, under the roof, away from the hot hot sun. Praise God for those who were willing to hand over the keys to those who needed it most.

We sang songs and danced our hearts out. There is nothing you can say to describe how it felt to sing at the top of your lungs and to dance freely with the children. It's only something to experience.
After worship, we put on a skit for the children. This was the story of how Jesus asked his disciples to get him a donkey to ride into town. Jason or on this trip, they called him John Cena (professional wrestler) was involuntarily offered to be Jesus. The seniors on the trip were all about seeing him dress up and ride the "donkey".
Here is our resident donkey
This is the crew of disciples, townsmen, and Jesus. Not to be confused with a frat toga party.
This is the part where I about peed my pants. Jeremy (playing the part of 1/2 the donkey) was begging for Jason to actually ride on him. He was sure to make the story as literal as possible. No Jesus was going to walk next to the donkey. So of course Jason hopped on and the kids LOVED it!
After our hilarious skit, we were able to feed everyone rice and a cup of juice. It wasn't a lot but it was something. Hard to post these pictures and not get that feeling in your stomach. The one that tells you that back here in our home, we waste too much food. We let our children get by with not eating everything on their plate. We fix them 5 meals in one sitting just so that they will eat something because they are such picky eaters. Nothing else to say except .....ugh!
We ate another amazing lunch prepared by Pastora Salazar and got ready for our first medical clinic right there within the church. We probably saw about 150 people within a few hours. We had Dr. Mike as we called him and myself set up at each station with translators and nurses to help triage. We saw hypertension, diabetes, anemia, malnutrition, ear aches, stress, headaches, and much more.

 Our goals were to help those get medication that needed it, along with education on health and hygiene and how to manage these diagnosis without many resources.
We hurried back to camp after clinic to take a quick cold shower and change for church service that night. Pastor Tom from Dexter spoke followed by a few testimonies from the high schoolers. Pastora then spoke. Although she spoke Spanish and her daughter translated, we all talked about how you almost didn't need the translation. Her passion for Christ and spreading His Love is so large that you could feel it pouring out of her as she preached the roof off that place. Many people that night rose their hands to ask for us to pray with them so they could invite Jesus into their hearts. I just got goose bumps typing that. It's not everyday you watch people get moved through the Word of God right before your eyes. It was moving to say the least.

How did I only make it through ONE more day!? More to come....stay tuned!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Belize: Part 1

I have no idea how many 'parts' there will be to this series but my guess is that you might get sick of hearing about the trip, but I am mainly writing this for my own memory. I doubt I can remember all the details but I can remember feeling the presence of God more than I ever have in my entire life. What an amazing experience Praying Pelicans gave us and I highly recommend at some point in your life that you go on a mission trip. I hope this is the first of many for Jason and I, and even someday our kids.

The first question many people ask is how did you guys decide on a mission trip? And then, how did you choose Praying Pelicans? I always wanted to go on a mission trip and it burned in me badly during college but I just never got the chance. I received brochures and pamphlets from Praying Pelicans since before I was married. It was ironic that I happened to receive another piece of mail from them just at the same time our church Kentwood Community dedicated a Sunday service to talk mainly about missions. I tell people that that's when I was pushed over the edge that I was teetering on.

Jason and I were going and not going on the mission trip about 15 times before we actually booked it. He was supposed to do some training right at that time for the army and eventually, we pushed that back so we could take the opportunity. This happened to be a medical trip to Belize and we were intrigued by both!

We landed in Belize City Friday afternoon. We met up with a bunch of seniors (spring break for them) from Dexter Church on the East side of Michigan, along with their Pastor Tom and some chaperones. There was also a nurse Nicole and her 81 turning 82 year old Grandma. Little did I know that this group was the most welcoming and amazing group of people that we could have been blessed to serve with.
We drove about 2 hours West to San Ignacio which is just a few short miles away from the border of Guatemala. We spent the week staying at Camp Nazarene. Here is a picture of the girls sleeping quarters.
We slept on bunk beds with what was accurately described as a thin foam mattress.
The first 3-4 days was hotter than hot. Temps in the high 80s with high humidity. You'd think we'd appreciate that since we still had snow on the ground at home with temps in the 20s.
We took cold showers and this may gross you out but here's a pic of the showers.

Do you appreciate your shower at home anymore!? I sure do!
Saturday morning we were awoken by a rooster that I think belonged in the rooster psych ward. He wouldn't stop with the cocka-doodle-dooing from 5am until well past noon. I secretly wanted to hunt him down since ear plugs didn't even help me. Needless to say, I was up early every morning and Nicole just happened to be as well. So, thankfully I had a early riser to go on walks with. Here is the view from outside the sleeping quarters.
We ate eggs, biscuits and bananas and headed out to meet the Pastor (The Salazar Family) we would be working with from the small area called Shawville. We took our bus everywhere which we quickly learned was such a blessing to the church when missionaries were there because when they are not, they have to pick up the children in their personal truck in multiple trips to bring them to church for worship. Just one detail that shows you this family is beyond dedicated.
 Here's Nicole and her amazing Grandma Bonnie.
We hiked up a good sized hill to see the land that the local Pastor had designated for a future building and where they brought a big trailor that housed sewing classes. Here's also a good view of Shawville.
 Here is Pastora Eugenia. There are many words to describe her but for the sake of space, we'll say she is one passionate, amazing, selfless, and giving individual. Her love for God and living a life for Him just pours out of her.
She told us all about a very recent miracle where she was given the keys to a building that was not in use. It was truly a God thing. To have been given a building for her church just before we came, there is nothing to describe the amazing gift. This is that very building which is just below that hill we hiked up.

Pastura fed us many times throughout our trip. You wouldn't believe the amount of food she made in her small kitchen. She is one amazing cook! For some reason I was very scared for what we would be eating. I knew there would be a lot of rice and beans but I had no clue we'd be eating so well!!
An example meal from Pastura. Jason had me to take a picture to show my mom since she loves 'pretty' meals.
We then went off to play sports with all the kids in the surrounding area. We met them for the first time and immediately they opened up and were incredibly loving. From then on when we got off the bus, we would be rushed with hugs! Excuse the wind!
 The kids were up for anything. Even friendly races!
 But there was no doubt that they would be better at soccer and sure enough, they were pros at a young age!
I am trying to cut back on posting everything, so here's one more favorite with the little ones!
Oh and here's Pastor Mark. He works with Praying Pelicans, lives in Belize and also has his own church there as well.
I know, this post is already long but I am not even through this first day yet!! Bare with me.
We took a break from sports and worshipped with all the children. Two of these guys are Pastora's children. Every one of her children shine the light of God as they continue to work with the community with all of their many talents.
Many people from our group shared their testimonies to the people and we continued to worship.

Jason and I were able to run into town with Pastor Mark to buy some vitamins with our donated money. We had no clue what our first medical clinic would be like, but we anticipated the needs of children being vitamins. We ran into a slight problem. The pharmacies didn't carry many children's vitamins and they were expensive. We got about 500 chewable vitamins and had to divide them into 50 packages of ten. Doesn't sound like much but it was something.

We walked through the local market to get to as many as 4-5 small pharmacies looking for vitamins.
After getting vitamins we said good bye to the kids for now and went back to camp exhausted. We still had to split our supplies into 3 since we had known about 3 which turned into 4 medical clinics at the surrounding areas. This is just one of three tables we had filled with donated supplies!
 We had so much stuff and yet we continued to learn after each clinic that our needs were beyond what we had brought. But this was also a learning experience and this trip was meant to figure those needs out ahead of time for the medical team coming down in November.
We crashed that night after an amazing sunset!
So I only made it through our arrival and one day. We have 6 more days to our trip but we were very busy so I don't think there will be 6 parts to this series but, you never know! Hang in there, I have so much to tell!!