Day 4 - August 19, 2017 (Saturday)
As I ended with the blog yesterday, this was by far the best morning because of where we were waking up. We were able to enjoy the beauty all around us, hike up Prayer Mountain, and take in all that God had prepared for us.
We had breakfast with Ms Lee and the Jones' while also meeting a new Missionary to Belmopan, Alicia, who works with Camalote Camp. She had heard about Harvest Aviation and has referred others to use Harvest when packages were needed. It was so exciting to randomly meet people that have been blessed by Harvest from previous cargo deliveries.
It was time to leave and head off for another adventurous day in Belize!!! So off to Spanish Lookout we went. As we arrived to our "destination" it became quite obvious that where Anna had taken us was in fact not the next missionaries house. But because we had no minutes, we could not call him. So off to the store we went to buy more minutes. Only to find out that we still couldn't figure out how to dial a US # in Belize. So we decided we would drive to the area that he lived, and see if we could find him.
Spanish Lookout is where the Mennonites have settled and so this area of the country is developed with a Mennonite twist. It's not uncommon to see them riding in horse & buggy, while others have decided to go ahead and purchase a vehicle. So you have a little bit of both.
On the way to Iguana Creek Subdivision, we actually saw an Iguana. That is how we knew we were headed in the right direction! We pulled in to the gate where the first ministry building was, but no one was home. So we decided to drive to see if anyone would come out of their homes so we could ask them if they knew, Dave.
And we kept driving, and driving. There were dogs, there were cars, but no people. Until we reached one house and we saw a man looking out the window. So we waved in hopes he would come out. And he did! William was his name, his home was unique (similar to the other style of most of the homes in this subdivision) and his tiny trailer he had built was even more unique. He invited us in to see it and shared with us about the different ways he kept tarantulas out of the upstairs, and termites out of the wood (by treating it with kerosene), and showed us all his plants that he used for day-to-day living.
And guess what, William knew where Dave lived... just across the road. He also told us how to dial a US # with our local phone. Score!!! (God is so good with directions isn't he?!?!)
We called Dave and guess where he was waiting for us, within a few hundred yards of where we had first stopped when we made it in to Spanish Lookout. Coincidence?!? I think not!
We ate at Sister's Diner where the food was delicious and the burgers were BIG! Dave's church from the states is in the process of finishing up a home in Spanish Lookout for different people from their church to come and stay in as they transition down south to work with a group of Indians.
We had about 2 hours to spare so we decided to check out one of the Mayan Ruins. We headed into Santa Elena. And just past the roundabout, and up the mountain, we were "there" (according to Anna's maps) except we were staring at a dead end road with jungle in front of us, and no Myan Ruins. But luckily the car we passed as we headed up the mountain oh so quickly to see the Ruins, had now caught up with us and was smiling VERY big at us. So why not ask them where to go?! And who better to do this than Brian, our outgoing Pilot that says, "Hola" to everyone (including the most white pale person on the earth - because who doesn't speak Spanish, right?!)
Speaking of language, the primary language spoken is English, as Belize used to be a British colony. But Spanish, Creole (the Caribbean style not the French Haitian style), German and some tribal languages are also spoken amongst the different people groups.
Back to our new friends at the side of the mountain. Brian got some fantastic directions and down the mountain we went to head back up another road and... we made it! We acted like tourists and took lots of pictures. Unfortunately our newest Photographer didn't pass his test, and at this point in the trip, Mike will have to just stay as our Pilot. (We plan to continue to work with him in hopes he can one day soon be able to check this off as one of his skills set for future trips.)
And now it was time to rush off to the Duncan's. Again, with no directions and no #, and now Anna's phone was dead too. We called Marc at Hopewell to get the directions and we made it just in time. Belizian time is a little different than American time. In American you set a time to meet, and you typically arrive within 5-10 minutes of that set time. In Belize, ehhh, give or take an hour or so.
We got a tour of Jim & Jenny Duncan's place. It is here that they've taught school for many years. They've lived in Belize the longest (compared to any of the American Missionaries we've met.) They are also knowledgeable of the cultural & political differences in the country. They kind of do it all, teach school, run a radio station (that reaches the German mennonites), have church, employee teachers, make hot sauce... you name it, they've done it!
They also have Crocodiles in the riverbank near their house. Speaking of gators, they've had some Florida Crackers & UF Gators come and help out at their property before with projects.
There is a library on site that has many books that need to be gone through (wink wink Idsardi's, Dee Shackelford, Friends of the Library).
They invited some of their church members and families to join us for dinner, which was a typical Belizian style meal of white rice, red beans, and chicken. Brian gave another Harvest presentation which incorporates the kids and taking a "flight" to Belize from Wauchula. We can't wait to share this same presentation with you all when we get back to Hardee County at the Hanger. (Day & time to be announced soon)
Speaking of Hardee County, our families have been oh so worried about us flying back on Monday and a storm that's on its way to Belize, meanwhile tornados are touching ground, trees are getting hit by lightning, and power poles are blowing up in Wauchula. Thanks guys for your sincere concerns while your experiencing a mini hurricane yourself! We feel special. And were glad to hear that you all decided to live like us for a few hours and live life without AC in the middle of the day and night and still continue to function. How exciting it is to be reminded of our Brothers and Sisters in Christ joining in on our experience even in Wauchula. (As you can see, no one is safe from making the blog these days), but seriously, we're glad to know... 2 days later... that you are all ok.
Jim Duncan treated us to some music and poems before heading back to Hopewell. Driving in the evening is a little tricky around here. No lights, no street signs, surprise speed bumps, people on bikes, people on bikes drinking, people on bikes drinking with no lights. And yet again we missed our turn. But thankfully, some of our new friends, Joseph & his family were close behind and helped us get back. They even showed us where they lived. Joseph is the one who completed the new bathroom here at Hopewell Children’s Home and can do all kinds of construction.
It was off to bed, late again but ready for some sleep before our last day of ministry in Belize.
Day 5 - August 20, 2017 (Sunday)
Our final day of ministry & meetings had finally arrived. Our schedule seemed to pose a bit of a difficulty when we realized although we had been staying at Hopewell almost every night (but one) we were rolling in every night very late and we weren't getting to spend much time with Marc & Dail, and zero time with the kids they minister to at the Children's Home.
So we quickly devised a plan. Two of us would attend Sharon Arthur's church, and then two of us would attend Joyce Street's church so that we could spend our entire evening at Hopewell. Both were located in the District of Belize (there are 6 districts in Belize, we visited 3 of the 6, 2 cities in Belize, visiting both of them - Belize City & Belmopan, then the rest were either towns or villages). Both churches were also located on the South Side of this district which is where the most violence takes place and gangs are present.
In order to not scare anyone away from joining us on future trips, I want to also add that while on this mission trip I have never once felt unsafe. Between the relationship of the missionaries, the kindness of the people & basic awareness (anytime you're oversees) it has made for an incredible experience!
If you haven't guessed it already, we had a bit of trouble locating the churches. And I think for the first time we had to just let our contact person come find us. In all honesty, she may be doing this every single time, for quite some time, until we can figure out all the one way streets.
Because both of the churches are located in the South-Side, the congregations are unique. For Sharon, Sunday School is for the children from 11am - 1pm. The children come from broken homes and she is providing a light, a hope that can radically change their lives and the future of generations to come. She is passionate about the gospel and the children, and when the two collide it's a beautiful thing to watch. After they finish Sunday School the kids get a snack, some juice and sometimes clothes. This is where Mike & I had our first "popsicle" (frozen flavored water in a square bag).
Another interesting thing I learned about their culture had to do with tattoos. While sitting with one of the older youth, she asked what one of my tattoos meant. After sharing, I told her I hadn't seen many people with tattoos. She confirmed that there were people with them, but I had probably not seen them. She then proceeded to say the reason I hadn't seen them was because we hadn't been to the ghetto.
Meanwhile, Brian & Anna were at Joyce Street's church worshiping at her morning service which was from 11:30am - 2pm. They had the opportunity again to share with the church the importance of Harvest Aviation and how packages were being delivered to support their church & ministry.
It was now 2:30pm, and we were ready for lunch. Brian & I overheard Joyce say we were going to a Lebanese place. While I'm all about trying new things, I was a bit concerned about what this would consist of and all I could think about was our plane ride home the next day that had no bathroom facilities. I thought to myself, this could be real interesting. Because as you know, whatever is served to you, it's rude to not eat it all. As we stood around waiting to leave, I thought it might be best if I ask Sharon what Lebanese food consisted of, I just wanted to mentally prepare myself. But when she responded with, "I don't know, I've never eaten it," I thought, we could be in real trouble if even a Belizean hasn't tried this.
After a quick drive through Belize City looking at some of the historical buildings, we arrived at our destination for lunch. But to our surprise, it was Celebrities not Lebanese! Brian and I had both misunderstood and our lunch meeting with them (in AC) was delightful!
We then headed back to Alexander's to drop off the car he had loaned us and to get some Harvest for Kids rice (we can't wait to tell you more about the rice). Then Marc came to pick us up and take us back to Hopewell.
It was already 6pm and getting dark so we weren't sure if the kids would still be out playing. But they were! And so we quickly split into teams and played some games of volleyball. We were sweating like hogs, getting eaten by misquotes, and looking like crazy Americans trying to keep up with these kids. Although the kids were a little competitive, they were having a blast and so were we!
We at dinner and then the time had come... Bible Quizzing Time. Two of the Interns, Carrisa & Ellen, are from Wisconsin and they were part of Teens for Christ's Bible Quiz Fellowship. They've competed in competitions for a long time, winning nationals in 2012, 2015 & 2016. I couldn't wait to see how this worked because I'm in hopes to get it started in Hardee County. Participants have to be in 6th - 12th grade, memorize verses (in a systematic way) and then compete by answering questions at competitions. A team consists of 4-7 students, with 3 teams of 5 competing at one time. The Quiz Master asks questions and the first to stand up is awarded the opportunity to answer correctly and win points. All team members are sitting on an electronic device that recognizes the first person that stands up to answer. Not only is this a great game of competition, it provides a learning experience for kids no matter their race, gender, or economic status (have you seen the movie Queen of Katwe? If not, you should - same concept). The kids had just competed in a nearby town and were really gaining knowledge of the Bible and getting better and better each day.
As Interns at Hopewell, this was their primary focus and skill they were bringing to the table to teach the kids. Speaking of Interns, Hopewell is looking for an intern beginning in January 2018. If this is something you are interested in, please let me know! (Must be 18 or older to apply) (http://www.hopewellchildrenshome.org/interns.html)
It was now time for our final missionary meeting of the trip. And who better to have it with than Marc & Dail. They shared with us their hearts, their passion, their love for the kids but most importantly their desire to raise children that love the Lord, serve him with their whole heart and will be World Changers.
Although it will take some time to go through all the assessments from the missionaries & pastors, we can tell you this much, Hopewell will be in our plans for future trips. And this won't be the last time you hear of them.
The Pilots were off to bed to get ready for a full day of flying tomorrow. So Anna & I stayed up preparing for the biggest day of our life, The Eclipse! We wanted to make sure that we were fully prepared for this day and since we couldn't find any eclipse glasses in Belize, we decided to make some. A little bit of cardboard goes a long way!
Since we'll be traveling most of the day tomorrow and we're unsure of the effects of the eclipse at this point, stay safe my American friends and we hope to "see" you when we get back. If for some reason we all go blind from being up in the sky with the eclipse, crash and burn, it's been real and we look forward to seeing you all again in Glory!
Day 6 - August 21, 2017 (Monday aka The day of the Eclipse)
No alarm clock is really needed in Belize for a few reasons:
1- As I mentioned in a previous post, there is American time & Belizian time. One example of this is that every Missionary that saw our schedule for this trip said, "Wow! You have a very busy schedule." One even indicated that they just knew an American put it together (sorry Jennifer, you've had the pleasure of not being mentioned or making it on the blog for most of the trip, but today is your day to shine!!!). Even though our trip was planned out perfect, one thing we know in missions is that sooner or later, those plans get redirected by God quite often.
Jennifer McConkey volunteers for Harvest Aviation. She is the Logistics Coordinator. She coordinates the trips, helps the Pilots with communication, communicates with the Belizian missionaries, oversees deliveries and helped us get our itinerary for this trip. This trip would not have been possible without her. THANK YOU Jennifer!!! (PS - we can't wait for you to get your passport & join us in the air one day soon)
2 - Belize is 2 hours behind Florida. So we all typically find ourselves getting up a tad bit early, which helps make sure we aren't late (at least for departing each day).
Back to our morning... The Interns, Carrisa Leonard Leddia, Lydia & Ellen Christine Weir were so sweet and made us banana muffins for breakfast, and during our travel. And as always, they were delicious. I plan to visit again before they leave in Nov/Dec, but I thought to myself, it just won't be the same when they aren't here. They have really spoiled us with all the delicious meals they made.
It was 6:30am, right on the dot, and we headed out towards the Airport. Brian went in and started with his process of getting all required forms stamped. The plane was refueled and by 9am we made it in the air.
The flight plan included leaving Belize City to Cozumel, Cozumel to Key West, and Key West to Wauchula where the Harvest Aviation hangar is located.
This trip has by far been one of my favorite, if not the best!!!! Every trip has taught me something different, things I never knew about myself or others. Every trip has shown me more about God & his people, and how much he loves them. Every trip I see poverty, but authentic relationships with God too. BUT every single trip & day of my life, God calls me to honor & praise him in ALL that I do. Because without him, we are broken sinful individuals, in need of a Savior that will provide us a way to Heaven and to have an eternal relationship with him. And Jesus Christ did just that on the cross with his blood being shed, so that I can be his child, an heir of his Kingdom. So that you can also be his child, and heir of the Kingdom.
Let the Nations Be Glad, by John Piper, focuses in on this concept. "Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions."
I'm so proud of our team and for being fluid every step along the way. (fluid is our word instead of flexible... flexibility can sometimes break. Whereas fluidity constantly moves around no matter the unexpected obstacles & challenges.)
Our goal for this trip was to meet up with as many missionaries & pastors that Harvest Aviation has been serving through cargo deliveries in order for SMM to determine if taking teams of 2-4 people would be needed and effective. It was to determine what the needs were through the eyes of Belizians (not Americans) and see if we can support their efforts in any way by helping not hurting (if you haven't read When Helping Hurts or Toxic Charity, I encourage you to add it to your reading list and do so if you plan to serve locally or globally).
We're all leaving with a fire in our hearts, a desire to return, a passion to purse, through the leading of the Holy Spirit. We hope that you will join with us on this amazing journey that God has us on in our temporary home on this earth.
Well, all good things must come to an end eventually. It's been real, real fun! Maps (Anna Braddock Dickey), Camera (Michael Burch) & Hola (Brian)... Until next time, this is Ghetto (Jamie Davis-Samuels) signing off.
For more information about:
Harvest Aviation www.harvestaviation.org
Harvest Aviation www.harvestaviation.org
Follow us on social media for updates, details on our share time service that will take place soon, and needs that you might can help meet for the Missionaries in Belize.