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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sunday 1 comment

Our Team:

Today we woke up to a calm sea for the first time. All week it has been very windy, which was perfect as we needed it to keep us cool while working at the school. The sea was like glass and it reminded us of Revelations where it talks about the sea of glass that the crowns were thrown upon. Since the waters were calm, we could see the bottom for the first time and the Turquoise colour of the water was really accentuated, it was truly "Unbelizeable".

Today we got to go to the Presbyterian church in Corozal. Once again we were welcomed warmly. We arrived around 10am in time for the main service to begin. The service was in both English and Spanish. We found out that this was not just for us but that there are members that only speak English (some of the kids), some only speak Spanish and then there are a mix that speak English and some other languages. They sang both familiar and unfamiliar songs, but for the 50 or so that were in attendance, they sang their hearts out. Truly heart moving. It was a very beautiful experience to see the different languages and cultures interact. The message was on the marks of the true church and we spent time on the "True and complete teaching of the word", not only the preaching of it, but the living it out in life. The people that we met in Belize are living it out, it is central to their lives. They have been such a good witness and inspiration to us to live out our faith more clearly in our lives back home.

After church we were treated to lunch at Blues by our hosts. A really nice spot on the ocean, see the one picture with the branch hanging down in front of the water.

After lunch we took a bumpy drive out to Orchid Bay to spend some time resting at the beach. Along the way, there was a road sign which read, "Difficult roads lead to beautiful places".  How true that is, not only with respect to the beach that we enjoyed, but in all walks of life.  This place was a snapshot of paradise, with the warm Turquoise water, white sand, thatch huts and beach. As soon as we got there we went into the water, and we bumped into the team from Abbotsford BC. We exchanged pleasantries and a number of us actually played volleyball together for most of the afternoon. We also bumped into the principal from the high school at the beach; we had missed her when we were doing our tour of the school. We also learned of a new serve, thanks to S. Lowry. He referred to it as the "Flying Squirrel". It’s too bad we didn't get a picture of it, as I'm sure Volleyball Canada would soon be implementing it across their teams.

The ride back and forth to Orchid Bay was only about 20km, but the road was quite rough and there were two small ferries along the route. The engines of these ferries were actually the people. They had what looked like a bicycle sprocket and chain system which pulled the craft along some cables. It worked quite well, as the spans were only about 75 meters.

After getting back, we had dinner and Devos. This time the Devos were facilitated by Kate, one of the younger team members. She did a great job. Some commented that it was the best Devos yet. We all had a good time of reflection and at the end we gathered together for a huddle prayer on the grass out front of the hotel. A few more tears were shed, but it felt good. Nathaniel is determined to come back next year, he said he just wants to work and help out the kids.

Another walk to Central Park was in the works, and there were many people mulling about.  We found out that many of the locals hang out there because of the free Wifi!  After a while, a few people started complaining about insect bites around the ankles.  The culprit ended up being huge lines of ants marching in neat formations, carrying leaves from one side of the walkway to the next.  The locals actually value these ants and take every effort to protect them.  Apparently they are the best weather forecasters in the nation, when they carry out this process, it indicates a storm is imminent.  Truly fascinating.  Most of our crew was hoping for the storm to come early - possibly allowing our flight to be delayed a few days, or maybe even cancelled all together.  We will miss this place with all our hearts, but the memories will no doubt last forever.  The Belizeans have left a lasting impact on all of us, one that teaches of the importance of faith, family, love, devotion, and peace.  We have all been blessed by their teachings, their natural natural way of living.

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Cultural Day 0 comments

Today is cultural day. We woke up to a corus of dogs, which is not uncommon. As soon as things start stirring in the morning, the dogs, which there are plenty of, like to do their protective duties of informing their masters that there are things moving around.

God's beauty has been bestoyed on us every single day.  This is evident every single morning as soon as we wake up.  A beautiful and regular sight has been the sunrise along the ocean.  The boys (and girl) especially enjoy this by sitting on the break wall, taking it all in. 

We said goodbye to the nursing team that was here. They come from Loyola University in Illinois to help provide medical services to the local health units here. They have been doing this for several years.

After breakfast we headed to Orange Walk to catch a boat to Laminai, which is the location of an ancient Mayan town. To access the Mayan ruins in Lamanai, a 24 mile boat ride was necessary.  This proved to be a highlight of the trip as we were able to observe God's creations everywhere along the natural (and narrow) canals along the way.  We were able to see bats, iguanas, lizards, crocodials and Howler monkeys!  We also saw numerous termite nests high in the trees.  These structures house thousands upon thousands of termites, and one nest lasts about 30 years.  Interestingly enough, most structures in Belize are built from concrete, not wood.  This is to resist termite infestation.  Back to the boat ride, we were all impressed that our captain found his way to and fro.  There were many 'interesections' along the way, and most of us were completely lost!  Another thing of note along the way, we came upon a Menonite community that spans 100 miles with three regions.  There are 3000 memonites with german roots residing here.  They are very industrious and extremely hard workers as they produce most of the beef, sugar, fruit and vegetable harvest.  They are also 100% self-sufficient.  These people are affectionately reffered to as the "Mechanites", as they can repair anything.  If you can't fix it, they will.  We later learned that there is another menonite community in Belize that are very good at making money, and they love to flaunt it by driving hummers and living in huge mansions.  The locals refer to this group as the "Moneynites"!

Our tour guide, Wilfredo is a local with Mayan blood.  He delivered an excellent and extremely detialed tour of the ruins.  After the first 10 minutes of the tour, we realized that Alfredo's english vocabulary may have been limited.  He opened every single sentence with either, "Now folks", or " evidence suggests".  None-the-less, he is an amazing person with vast knowledge and a huge passion for these ruins and his culture.  It is amazing to think of a civilaztion that resided in such a remote and harsh environment for such a long time.  These ruins have been dated from 600 BC to 1500 AD.  Some of these stone buildings were as high as 25 stories. Over time with hurricanes and general erosion they have been reduced considerably, but still impressive none the less.  We were able to climb the High Temple, and the views from 120 feet up were simply stunning, overlooking the entire Mayan ruins, and the New river.  Initally Lori didn't think she could make it up, however not wanting to miss the oportunity of a lifetime, she gathered her strength and with Will and Nathaniel at her side, she made the ardous trek up with ease.  It was definately worth the effort, and we all gave her a standing ovation from the bottom.

If anyone thought this trip was going to kick start a personal weight loss program, they were severly mistaken.  Were have been treated like royalty with spectacular meals and abundant meals.  Today was no exception.  We were treated to a traditional Belizian meal of chicken, rice and beans, coleslaw and potato salad.  However, there was a new twist today - the "Tummy warmer".  For those who enjoy spicy food (Kate, Tammy, William and Kent), this was a beautiful treat, a nice blend of pickled onions and habanero peppers.  For those who don't, let's just say they were adequately warned.  Joel notably got the most "kick" out it.

 The boat ride back was more like a fair ride, not a boat tour.  Our guess is that our captain must have been late for another engagement.  He hit the throttle full blast the entire way home.  It was awesome weaving in and around all the corners through the narrow channels.  Despite the boat rocking back and forth (sometimes violently), William still managed to fall asleep face down on the gunnel, arm hanging outside the boat.  The heat of the Belizian sun got the best of him.  For consideration, the boat ride to the ruins took about an hour and a half.  The boat ride back took 15 minutes!

Today's devotion was on forgiveness. We learned a few new thing about forgiveness. First that you need to understand that we are "The forgiven". Second that we must forgive ourselves before we can even think of forgiving the other person. Next we need to forgive the other party, whether they have asked for it or even deserve it. We use Christ as our lead, he has forgiven us and love us first and we definitely don't deserve it.

We went to the real Art in the park this time. Missed it by a day the night before. This time there was music, food and lots of people hanging around and having a real community moment. This was really neat to see. Some of us bought some gifts to bring home, so those at home, get ready for some traditional Belizian gifts, they are Unbelizable.

Lights out for now. Hear us later.




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Friday, March 15, 2019

Work day 4 0 comments

Hi all. Just an update on the bathroom story from the previous day. Lori didn't actully lock the student in the bathroom for disciplinary reasons, the child inadvertantly did this to themselves. So Lori and a couple of students enacted a rescue plan to save the student. The climbing over the wall part was the actual plan that unfolded.

Today was the last day on site at the school. The day started out in the usual fashion, with another great breakfast. The fruit here is so fresh and sweet.

Throughout the week we've been getting to know our drivers and fellow construction workers a little better. Riddel is a young man who has a deep passion for his country and wants to bring gameful employment to a number of Belizians. He is working on setting up an Ecological park to attract more tourism and bring more jobs to the Corozal area. Omar who is also one of our drivers, who is already working two jobs, one as a mechanic and one as a sugar cane harvester, adds extra time to his day to drive us back and forth from the hotel to the school and then back again. Today he actually dropped us off, went to pick up another team of 21 from Abbotsford BC, brought them to Corozal, then came to pick us up and bring us back to the hotel then to go home and probably do some more work. We are thankful for our drivers, they are always on time and very friendly and willing to have conversation with us. Please also pray for Nacho who is the head of the construction team that we are working with. He employees around 3 employees throughout the year and we hope that he will be able present the gospel to them while they are with him.

The team from Abbotsford BC will be finishing off the fence that the Almonte team from 3 years ago worked on. They will have their work cut out for them digging footings for the last part of the fence. This fence is very important as it keeps out animals (I was told crocodiles) and humans that could cause problems for the kids. So their work will be very worthwhile, even though digging may not seem that exciting.

As soon as we arrived at school, Daymer, the boy who some of the girls on the previous trip made a connection with, presented Tammy with a stuffed turtle to give to Lexi. I'm sure this will bring Lexi some good memories and possibly a tear or two. If you don't think we leave a lasting impression on these kids, well think again.

On the way to the school, a person wishing to remain anonymous, made a donation to us to purchase some tools for the construction workers. This came at a good time as we had abused a few of their tools.

Getting back to the work, the remaining smoothing of the concrete was completed and the parging began to fill in the space where the former roof tied into the wall. If you look close enough, you can see this along the top of the wall in the second class room in the photo with the steel trusses in the background.

Stephen, Kent and Matt spent the day on the roof, cutting and measuring and testing angles for the "Hip" roof on the side. See pic below which shows the small roof on the end which ties into the larger roof. These cuts were quite difficult with lots of angles and lips which all needed to work together to maintain strength and yet be easy enough to cut. We hoped to get both sides done today, but we only finished the one. I guess we will have to let someone else share in the fun.

Lori was back at it again in the classroom along with a number of the kids. Kate and Nathaniel were starting to build some really great relationships with the kids. Seeing that today was the last day at the school, a few tears were shed as a result.

The team was invited by the principal to a gathering of the students around noon, just before they left for the week. We did a little song, led by Joel. A doner from the Perth area gave some money to to team to purchse some soccer balls, a basketball and skipping ropes, and these were presented to the school and the kids at this time as well. Earlier at lunch we were presented with a plaque from the school showing their appreciation for our help. Each of us received a souvenier to help us remember Belize and our time here.

As usual, we got back to the hotel, slipped and wedged ourselves into our suits and headed for the ocean for a dip. This time we thought we would switch it up a bit and take a swim near the pier. We all jumped in, the kids didn't notice anything, but some of the more experienced ones wondered what the smell was and why the bottom had about 3 inches of squishy material on the bottom. As soon as we got out of the water, some of the locals, with a combined embarrased and horrific look in their eyes, approached us and told us not to swin on that side of the pier and rather to swin on the other side. It turns out that the right side of the pier, as you look out to the ocean, is where the septic waste gathers. Nice. That ended our swin quite quickly and we were extra thankful for the showers back at the hotel. No one was showing any effects from the "Septic Swim" at night, so I hope we are good.

After hitting the showers, we once again had fine diner put on the by ladies. We are so thankful for the people that go far out of their way to bring it to us each night. True servanthood on display. We feel so welcomed here.

The devos that followed were focused on the kindness of God. Kate couldn't hold back the tears as we reflected on the day where she had to say goodbye to her new found friend. The Devo leader quickly switched topics as he didn't know how to deal with the tears. Well, the people here are letting God's kindness flow unabated to us. We are humbled by it and we are seeing God more clearly through it.

We took a little walking trip back to Central Park looking for a special Art market, however, when we arrived, there were only two tables selling some food. So to make up for our lack of artistic influence, we went back to the usual store to load up on some Fantas. We are creatures of habit.

Peope were quite tired, so it wasn't long before people headed off to bed.

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Workday 3 1 comment

Back at er again. We all woke up to another beautiful morning. It seems almost everyone was partaking in the coffee libations this morning. Just when you thought they hit their culinary stride, they pulled ahead again and offered us breakfast buritoes of some form. They were quite the hit. Team leader "S" or "ole one eye" as some of us refer to him as, helped get us focused for the day. S is good at that, in a very unassuming way he brings us back to the things that matter and help us remember to focus on the right things for the day.

When we arrive at the school the kids are still very excited to see us. Kate has a whole crowd of followers, but "Lance" Nataniel "Romance" seems to have stirred a few young girls hearts. I think he is at 7 notes of affections and counting.

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