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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Beachin' it in Belize 5 comments

Our Team:

Today was amazing. Incredible. Phenomenal.

You’re welcome for not saying “un-Belize-able” again.


First off, we got to sleep in until almost 8 which was great (“look at that rhyming kids” –Milan. “We poets” –Rick). We all came downstairs in our Sunday best… except for Darius, who neglected to pack a belt. Unfortunately, his pants remained too big, and he had to improvise. For some reason, he decided a charging cord was the next best thing. Thankfully for the rest of us, Mr. Van Eerden had an extra belt that he let Darius use. Once that fiasco was sorted out, we had breakfast, which, for those of you that understand, was basically rollkuchen (…?), which was fantastic.


Once we had finished eating, a school bus pulled up and we all filed in for the drive to church. Looking out the windows, we noticed how calm the ocean was compared to the night before. That paired with the incredible turquoise colour made the scenery striking. After about a 20 minute drive, we arrived at church to a very warm welcome. Though the sermon was in Spanish, and despite the fact that half of us were still waking up, we enjoyed both the message and the worship. And OH MY there was an adooooooooorable little girl near the front who knew every word to every song and could be heard all the way in the back, and not only was she enthusiastic, but she also hit each note perfectly (“we were all shook” –Rick).


(Okay, snazzy. What’s next? –Milan)


Lunch was a lot earlier than anticipated. As in 10:45 in the morning. Congruent with nearly all previous meals, we had chicken and rice, though to be honest we’re not complaining because it’s delicious (“I’ve never had such good chicken and I live on a chicken farm” –Milan). Sadly, due to the early time and the fact that the portions are enormous, not even one person was able to finish. Our plans for the afternoon were to head to the beach, and we had the happy surprise of 11 students from the church accompanying us.


After an extremely bumpy bus ride involving high speeds, two hand-cranked ferry boat rides, and bare skin on ripped up seats, we arrived at the most beautiful beach most of us had ever seen. The water was so blue, and the sand was so soft, and the temperature was so perfect. We wasted no time in getting to the water. Once in the water, however, we realized that the sand was squishy. Not normal squishy, like really really squishy. It felt like walking on soggy, lukewarm mashed potatoes. With algae. Dispersed among the mashed potatoes were sharp rocks and other creatures that stirred in the water (“I stepped on a fish and I knew it was a fish because it went blulbulululub” [say the last word fast and you will get the joke] –Isabelle). Although these things were concerning, Cole seemed to thoroughly enjoy his newfound ability to dig a hole in the soft sand with his feet. In fact, he dug one so deep that when he stood in it, he was the same height as the shortest of the girls. We lounged, played volleyball, and got drinks at the restaurant.


We were reluctant to leave, but when the time came, we all piled back into the stinkin’ hot bus for the ride back. Though it was a long drive back, it felt short because of all the wonderful kids we got to meet. Some of the conversations we got to have were surprisingly insightful for such young people, but some of the children were simply delighted with the little things, like stealing our hats and sunglasses, putting them on backwards, and pretending to throw them out the window to get a reaction. Needless to say we were quite sad to leave them on the bus when we arrived at our hotel.


Dinner was already waiting for us, but this time, they let us serve ourselves, which was nice because most of us have been feeling guilty about all the food we have to throw away.


All in all, today was un-BELIZE-able.


Did you really BELIZE that you could make it through an entire BELIZE blog without any BELIZE jokes? Psych, you’ve been bamboozled!!!


Would you BELIZE us if we said we tried to hold off for as long as possible? And BELIZE us, it wasn’t easy.


-Milan, Isabelle, and Rick

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Worms, dirt, and a whole lot of sweat 6 comments

Well today was another unBELIZEable day!

Started off nice and early with breakfast at 7:30 and leaving for Conception elementary school at 8:00. This was a miracle in itself considering how bad the boys are at communicating wake up calls. The first boys to come out were fifteen minutes late and decided not to wake up their 3 other roommates (???). Once everyone was ready, we hopped on a bus and took roll call. It sounded something like this (just like every other time so far) . . .

Mr VanEerden – “One!”

Everyone - *silence*

Everyone except Toby – “TOBY!!!”

Toby – “Oh… two!”

Everyone else - *proceeds to 21*

Perfect, we’re all here. Arriving at Conception Elementary, we had the opportunity to help prepare for an addition to their pre-existing cement fence. This included digging, by hand, a 100 yard (15 inches deep by 12 inches wide) long trench. We dug through dirt, clay, and limestone for about 5 hours, making us quickly realize how blessed we are with power tools back home. Whenever a worm was uncovered, we made sure to fling it at the nearest team member. Most people worked hard the whole time (especially Evan) while others made sure to grab a pick axe when the cameras came out (Steven). The other half of the team worked on tying rebar together to use for the foundation of the fence. Throughout the day, we switched from site to site, making sure to give everyone a chance at both tasks. The vice principal and two teachers from the school provided us with two local dishes for snack time as well as a massive, delicious lunch.

After receiving approval from Jose and “Nacho,” sweating so much it felt like we had showered, and pulling off our socks to reveal dirt “tan lines,” we headed for the bus. Once arriving back at Hotel Maya, we quickly changed before running to the algae covered boat ramp across the street. Upon arrival, however, we realized that we were leaderless. After being given strict instruction from the leaders NOT to go in the water without their supervision, we waited patiently for them to arrive.


we were still waiting. Finally, Evan took one for the team (literally) and ran back to see what was up. We soon learned that due to a minor miscommunication, our leaders were all relaxing in their air condition rooms while we waited, sweating even more. Finally, we got to swim and it was amazing.

After drying off, we walked to a grocery store where we bought only the essentials: 112 Oreos (for $12), a box of lucky charms, yogurt, iced coffee and some new, local snacks. We arrived back at the hotel and ate aonther, massive delicious meal. The people who feed us are so generous, always making sure that we have enough.

Soon after supper, we started our worship time. Led by Erin H. and Sarah B. (Minnie Sarah, not Mama Sarah), we sang many songs in the outdoor eating area of the hotel. Because we were visible to the on looking people passing by, we met David. Resting his 8-foot wooden cross against the hotel, he asked what we were doing and if he could join us, to which mama Sarah replied, “absolutely!” After briefly acquainting ourselves, we began worshiping again. When we were wrapping up, we finished by raising a hand and singing the Benediction. We learned that he has been traveling for 6 years after selling his possessions to follow Christ.


Recently, we witness Darius jump into the ocean due to losing “What are the Odds” and currently, Josh’s makeup is getting done…? Others are talking with David and we are sitting here writing to you.

All in all, it was a great day filled with hard work, lots of sweat, and some time to relax and see God’s creation here in Belize.

Also, please include as many exclamation marks as possible in the comments you leave below. We will explain when we get home but it will make for a good laugh when Mr. VanEerden reads this out to the rest tomorrow. Time to sign off, have a good night and BARRRUP!

The Brandsma Clan (J.B and C.B2)

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Friday, March 15, 2019

First Day Experiences 5 comments

We made it!!! It’s so unBELIZEable! So this was my first plane ride. At first, I honestly was really scared. Even when we got to the airport, literally everyone on the team asked how I was doing. If I was feeling okay. If I needed anything. This helped me so much- just knowing that everyone was looking after me and was asking how I was doing. Also, it was helpful knowing that no one thought it was weird or thought of me less. The TVs on the plane from Vancouver to Toronto were pretty cool, everyone was playing 8 ball and trivia with each other from all over the plane and most of us didn’t sleep. From Toronto to Belize City the plane was much, much smaller and a few of us felt claustrophobic. When we got off the plane in Toronto, we walked off into a tunnel that lead us into the terminal. But when we got off the plane in Belize, we got off the smaller plane down a staircase and had to walk outside to the arrival area. As soon as we got off the plane in Belize, the heat and humidity hit us all.  

 The environment in Corozal, Belize is so much different then Abbotsford and even just Canada in general. Most of the people living in Corozal are of a simpler lifestyle, but as we drove along the road, I noticed that there would be a bunch of little, run-down houses or shops and then a huge ‘fancy’ house. Another thing I noticed as soon as we got out of the airport, was all the bright coloured buildings. There were bright colours everywhere- on houses, cars, billboard signs, etc. The drivers in Belize were able to impressively maneuver around all types of cars, sometimes we didn’t think we would make it but we some how squeezed through, all without a seat belt on. As we walk down the streets around our hotels, taxis and buses will honk at us just to see if we needed a ride.

The best part of the day was getting to our hotel and finally being able to relax. As we turned the corner we saw the ocean!! We were all in awe at the beautiful view that we get to experience for the next week. Playing in the ocean this afternoon was a blast. We found a small boating dock with algae on it which made it super slippery. We spend so long trying to climb up the boat launch without falling down… but most of us failed. At the end of the night we had a little bit of a worship time and we sang songs that we are going to be singing in church on Sunday and chapel on Monday.  

Crazy to think we have done all of this in one day. Signing off now as I have only had one hour of sleep since I left home.

-          Makenna


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