April 15, 2012

Fifty Percent Done

Bramalea HANDS Team:

"Dios es buenos. Todo el tiempo!" English may be the official language of Belize, but there is plenty of Spanish spoken here too. Emmanuel is the local contractor that we are working with putting down the concrete floor in the auditorium and a wonderful Christian brother. The joy of the Lord is clearly evident in his ready laugh and ever-present smile. After he shared it with us as part of telling us his story, I had him repeat the phrase over and over again so that I could memorize it. I've almost got it down pat now, but I used Google Translate to make sure I got the spelling correct!
A few years ago, John Attrell and I were at an overnight prayer vigil at Bramalea Baptist Church where the church was covering a 12-hour, through the night prayer session for revival and our pastoral search team. A dear sister "Sophie" was there for the entire 12 hours. John arrived at around 3 in the morning and I came at 4. There were just a few of us there and as we talked and prayed, Sophie became very passionate as she shared her heart that God's timing is perfect. Then she added the phrase that John and I have repeated many times since, " . . . and He is never late!"
So we jump forward a few years to arrive here in Belize under the banner of Edu-Deo Ministries to help do some work at New Life Christian School. Ruth is the Principal of the school and her husband Mario is in training as a pastor. They have been the most wonderful hosts for us organizing all our transportation and feeding us regularly at their home. Ruth shared about the struggles that they have had here in the local church and in the school. Satan is always looking to steal, kill and destroy and this is as true in Belize as it is anywhere else. Divisions within the church and the school caused splits in the congregation and the running of the school. At it's lowest point about 4 years ago, Ruth, agreed to take on the role of principal of the school. With it's reputation in tatters in the community and only about 76 students still enrolled, they prayerfully continued the job of providing a quality education with a biblical basis for the children of Orange Walk relying on God to make it happen. Today, there are about 235 students enrolled, and projections have them at over 320 in a few years based on current growth, but will probably have to top out at about 275.
John, Ed, Brian and I are working with Emmanuel on laying the finish layer of concrete flooring in the 3rd floor auditorium so that they can have a place where they can bring all the children together in one place indoors. There is also room for a kitchen to be built there which they will use to help feed the children too. This area has been sitting unfinished and unused for 10 years. Now, with the support of EduDeo and our team, the materials and assistance with the labour is getting it closer to completion. It has been a lot of heavy lifting, mixing and sweating for the four of us along with Emmanual and his co-working Jamie. It's great to think that we are having a small part in meeting this need that has been 10 years in waiting. But God had even more immediate needs that He was planning to meet while we were here.
Our team mate Beverly Johnston is Children's Pastor at BBC and she felt lead of God to start the "Pencil Case" drive. The idea was that we would distribute empty pencil cases at BBC and ask families to fill them with things that the children here could use. We received an enthusiastic response to this request not only from BBC, but even outside the church as people mentioned it in their workplaces and people we don't even know responded. We brought about 170 pencil cases plus many additional supplies with us.
One Monday, an official from the Ministry of Education will be coming to the school for an inspection but primarily to make an assessment about providing funding for another teacher. This will significantly ease the financial burden on the school that currently funds two of it's teachers. Ruth knows that in order for this to be successful, they need to show that they are ready to to show that they deserve this funding by having space and supplies to justify the cost of this additional resource. Ruth had no idea how they would ever come up with the funding to get these supplies. Like the story of the loaves and fishes, as Bev and Michelle worked with Ruth to divide up all the supplies that had been donated, they were able to make a package of pens, pencils,erasers, crayons, colour pencils, rulers, etc. for each child in the school! With the Ministry of Education representative on site, we'll be presenting these supplies to the children tomorrow as they return from their 2-week Easter Break. Along with the work in the auditorium, the Ministry Rep will also be shown a new pre-school class room that we helped to complete last week which is now fully wired with functional lighting thanks to the hard work of our ace electrician, Wilson who in his late 60's has been putting the rest of us to shame as he tirelessly climbs up and down the ladder and works overhead stringing conduit and wire to literally bring "power and light" to this place!
So, please pray with us that the inspection tomorrow will go well. Without our even knowing it, God has been putting the pieces in place and is once again demonstrating that His timing is perfect and He is never late. We are 50% of the way through our time here, but already we are clearly able to see that "God is good. All the time!"

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