October 16, 2015

Sometimes it IS about the Destination and NOT the journey!

Bramalea 2015 HANDS Team:

NOTE: We have had internet connectivity problems here - sorry for the delay in getting the Blogs started. We are back on line now and will bring you up to speed as quickly as possible.


Day One of our mission trip to Belize has finally arrived. It was a long day, and accordingly this is a long blog, so grab a coffee and get comfortable - or just skip to the pictures!  

With an 06:35 flight from Toronto Pearson Airport, assembly time was 04:00 at the home of Paul and Mary Ella Davidson. Nobody had really slept in the past 24 hours. John and Phil arrived together (courtesy of John's brother David who helped transport us to the airport), Joel arrived with Peter and Wilson was also dropped off and we were ready to leave. With the Davidson van loaded up and Mary Ella at the wheel, we headed over to pick up Bob and by 04:30 we were at the Pearson T3 to begin the boarding process for the first leg of the trip to Miami. 

Air travel truly is no longer the luxurious experience it once was. Inside Terminal 3 we were greeted by a lot of construction hoarding that made for narrow, congested aisles as many, many early travelers lined up for "the process".

First, we had to use a machine to check-in, pay for checked baggage (no more freebies) only to have the machine just print out some of the boarding passes. Next we saw a person to weigh our baggage, try to explain why only some of you have boarding passes (ask the machine!) and dragged our bags to the next station. Here another machine scaned our passports, took your picture (?) and printed out a "receipt". If you had a big "X" through it, you got into one line, if not, you got into another. This process took more than an hour and while most ended up in the express line, Paul (who is always late) of course had the pleasure of 25 minutes longer getting through US Customs and Boarder Protections pre-screening because of the big "X" on his receipt (random screening? Beady eyes? Who knows?).  Fortunatley "secondary screening" was not necessary. Finally we were all back together again.

Now checked baggage can finally be dropped off and then we proceeded to security. Again, in a "divide and conquer" approach best understood only by Pearson T3 staff, different team members ended up in different lines and while some whisked through, others were again delayed (but this time Paul is the first one through!). By the time everyone had shoes, belts and wallets/passports/boarding passes all properly returned to their appropriate locations, it was time to head for the gate and grab a quick snack to take on the plane (no more food service). By the time we arrived at the gate, there was only about 2 minutes to doors closing and we are told our bags were almost removed from the plane! We were told that WE should have hurried up and not stopped for something to eat. Uh-huh.  

The flight to Miami was packed, and while we were delayed waiting for other passengers, plane maintenance and baggage loading, the flight to Miami was uneventful and we arrived about ten minutes behind schedule to a very dark, dreary and wet Miami. This weather will be a foretaste of things to come.  

Moving from Gate 12 to Gate 32 at Miami International for the next leg of the journey to Belize City could almost be considered a separate leg of the journey in itself. We choose the option of walking over taking the automated shuttle in order to make a bathroom stop and stretch our legs. With only a quick stop to pick up a few more snacks we again arrived at the gate as boarding had already begun. With only a few minutes to spare, we got settled into our seats and were on our way to Belize City. Dios es bueno, todo el tiempo! (try Google Translate if you don't know any Spanish!) 

As we landed in Belize City, it was more dark, and more wet. Our merry band of "7 dwarves" headed to baggage carousel to collect our bags. Bag #1, a guitar then bag #2, then #3, #4, #5, #6 . . . . . . #6 . . . . . . . . #6 . . . . . .#6 . . . . . . . . and then the carousel stoprf moving. Several people including Joel lined up at baggage claim to find out their bags were on the next flight from Miami which would arrive in about an hour. Uh-huh. 

As we stepped outside the terminal, we were greeted by the warm and smiling faces of our dear brother Mario Ku and his son Azeel who hadcome to pick us up. We explained about the delay and used the next 90 minutes to catch up on news from Belize while we waited. The delay turns out to be a wonderful blessing as we have time to renew friendships and introduce our newest team members Joel and Phil. Phil and Azeel immediately struck up a relationship while Joel was able to hear all about the latest goings-on in Belize from Mario. We learned more about Ruth's surgery and about Mario contracting Tuberculosis in 2014 and come to understand why our return that year was never meant to be. Finally, the baggage arrived, and a little battered and banged up, Joel's suitcase was finally in our posession and we were ready to leave.  

After a quick lunch break just outside of Belize City, we headed for Orange Walk, and in what seemed like a much shorter time than expected, we arrived in town and headed to our hotel. This trip we are staying at a new location and the Hotel de la Fuente was ready to welcome us and we got settled into our rooms and had a chance to relax for a short time before Mario was back to pick us up for dinner. Ruth and their daughter Rumari were there to greet us and we had a wonderful reunion with them and again, a chance to introduce Phil and Joel to the rest of the family. We spent a very enjoyable evening hearing from Ruth about the work at the school and the need for the work that we were there to complete so that they could continue to keep up with the growing demands to accept more students into the school. We also learned about their own personal ministry - converting the home were Ruth grew up into a shelter for women/families in crisis. When we were last here, Ruth had told us of the vision God had given her to do this - even though for years she had been praying the a storm would destroy the house so that they could collect the small insurance claim. However, trusting in God who had given her the vision, they forged ahead as a family and used their own resources to turn this old house into a comfortable place where one or two families at a time could take short term shelter when needed. There is no other place like this in Orange Walk, so this ministry by the Ku family is of infinite value here in Orange Walk.  Also, we learned that Mario had just passed his exams and on the previous weekend had been accepted by the Presbytery of Belize to be the pastor of the New Life Church in Orange Walk where he had been working for the past several years under the supervision of Pastor Leogardo.

The other main focus of our discussion was the weather. While it was the end of the rainy season, a very large storm had stalled over Belize and while earlier in the year, there had been a drought, now the rain was falling steadily and the threat of flooding was becoming very real. It turned out that weather was going to have a major influence on our time in Belize,. but more on that in future blogs.  

We ended our day back at the Hotel gathering together for a short time of worship and prayer, thankful that we had arrived safely. We reflected on how the day had unfolded and looked for those "God" moments. There were many, even though this was only the first day. What looked like a major challenge - the missing suitcase - turned into a blessing as we had a long time to visit with Mario and Azeel at the airport.

As it turned out, changes in plans were going to play a role in our stay in Belize as well.  



Oct 23, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Good to hear from you guys! I'm sorry to hear about all that rain. Hoping that there has been some sunshine so far.

We are continuing to pray for everyone as plans and schedules change due to unforeseen circumstances. I know that God has you all in the palm of His hands and has been and will be with you every step of the way!

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