Friday, November 26, 2010

Day SEVEN in Belize - Friday, Nov. 26

Friday. Our final full day in Belize. Tomorrow morning we rise early, have one last incredible breakfast (props to our amazing cooks Austin and Deli this week), have a quick devotional, and then jump on the bus to get to the airport to head back to the U.S.

It's a mixture of feelings for everyone. We're so tired. It's been a very full week. I told one guy tonight that it feels like we packed two mission trips into one. But it's been so good. And while we don't want to leave these new relationships we've formed with the people of Belize, we're ready to get home to our friends and families that we've missed so much. It's hard to believe that in less than 24 hours (I'm blogging at midnight) we'll all be home in our own beds. Wow.

So -- just a few more words and pictures about our final day. It began with a "suprise" unveiling for German and his wife, Alice, who basically runs their kids ministries. Our team spent time this week renovating their kids facilities. New tables and chairs, toys, crafts, and freshly painted walls. We all stood in the room as they entered to see it for the first time this week. They were so happy with it and we're so glad it will enhance their already incredible ministry to kids. Here are a couple pics from this event....

After the kids room was unveiled we moved into a cross "dedication" service in their sanctuary. As I blogged about earlier in the week - Ron Hartshorn and a young man named Noah built the cross that we gave to German and his church this morning. It is a stunning piece of work. The most incredible thing happened in the service. The young man who helped Ron build the cross walked up front, shared his story, and told us how he gave his life to Christ this week. We all burst into applause. He then walked right over to Ron and gave him a hug. Everyone cried. It was one of the most amazing moments of my ministry...

Following this cross dedication service, we packed onto the bus and headed out to visit and pray with Ms. Rush - who owns the small home the construction team helped to double in size this week. She is a beautiful woman with an amazing spirit, and it was a real joy to see her new home and pray with her and the rest of our team.

Following this time, most of us headed back to camp. The construction team had a little work left on the house, so they stayed to finish.

About mid-afternoon most our team headed out to "Arizona Field" for our second night of revival services. Before the service our kids team put on a high-energy carnival for the children. Over 150 kids showed up. It was awesome!

The revival began at 7:00 and lasted a couple hours. Over 250 people came. Like the night before, it was in an open field in the middle of a village. We stood on the back of a flatbed truck. It was really amazing.

Immediately following the service, we served hotdogs and drinks to hundreds of people.

As I sit here and reflect on the day, and the entire week, I cannot help but be moved by what I've experienced. This has been a life-changing experience. And not only for me, but for the other 31 on this trip as well. A door has opened that cannot now be closed. We've begun a new journey with the people of Belize. And I can't wait to see where the journey takes us!

This is my final blog for the week ... I'm signing off ... but look forward to blogging again upon my return to Belize...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day SIX in Belize - Thursday, Nov 25

Today is Thanksgiving. Gotta admit - really doesn't feel like it down here in Belize. Belize doesn't celebrate this American holiday. Though it doesn't feel like Thanksgiving in the traditional sense, though, the Quest Mission Team has so much to be thankful for. We've had an absolutely incredible experience this week, and we've met and become life-long friends with some amazing people ... for which we are all very grateful.

Our week is winding down. Today most of our team wrapped up their week-long missions, and we've turned our focus to a two night "revival" that's being held in a huge field in the middle of a Belizian village. It is an extremely poverty-stricken area where people live in tiny homes - many with thatched roofs.

In the morning, several people went to this village to deliver food and clothing to individual homes/families in the community and to invite them to the Revival. Here is an example of one of these visits where our team would pray with the household after delivering the food and clothing.

Tonight at the Revival, I personally prayed with the woman pictured in the hammock above. Our team's generosity compelled her to come. She needs surgery but cannot afford it. I prayed for God's healing in her life.

The following picture demonstrates the irony that you will sometimes see here. German Gallardo talking to a couple teenage boys who live in a small thatch-roofed hut. Yet they were watching movies on laptops.

The Revival tonight started at 4 pm with kids activities. About 150 young children from the Arizona community came out. Our team did an awesome job of teaching them about God and scriptural principles. At 7 pm we began a worship service. Over 100 people from the community showed up. Our "stage" was a semi-rig trailer. We collected benches from around the community for people to sit. There was alot of set-up for this event, but it was so well worth it. I prayed with a couple who want to walk with Jesus, and another woman came forward to dedicate her life to Christ for the first time.

Here are a few pictures from the Revival....


Tomorrow we're headed to German Gallardo's church after breakfast (his church is his place of business that he converted to a church facility). We'll be surprising him with a redesigned kids space and also presenting him with an 8 ft beautiful cross that Ron Hartshorn and a Belizian teen named Noah built together this week. Pictures of that tomorrow.... After that we're headed out to see the work the construction team has been a part of and to pray with the family they have become close to through building an addition on their home. After that, it's back to camp for some preliminary packing. Then we're back out to Arizona Field for kids ministries and night two of the Revival. Will be a late night since we have to tear down and get everything back to town. Then we'll pack more and head out the next morning.

It's been a good week. We're tired. But we're so THANKFUL for all that we've experienced!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day FIVE in Belize - Wednesday, Nov 24

Today was a day of "rest" for most of our team. A time of Sabbath and renewal. We took the opportunity today to head an hour west toward the border between Belize and Guatemala to visit a famous Mayan ruins site called "Xunantunech." Words cannot even describe the beauty of this area and what we saw today.

Here are some pics from our day....


Our pictures on the blog have been really amazing. On this trip we invited a gifted photographer, Chris Thelen, to travel with us and to chronicle this story in images/pictures. We're so glad to have him along and to share his work with you. You'll be seeing a lot more of his work on this trip in the days ahead...

(Photographer Chris Thelen)

Belize Update from Vickie Veatch, Quest Kids Minister

Hey Kids! I am missing you and wish you were here today. I have met some many kids that would like to write you and have many pictures of all your new friends. We are putting the hand-prints that you made in the kids room at church. They were so excited and will be making some prints for you. We went to visit some Mayan Ruins today. Above is a picture of my experience! Yes, I had to climb up a huge Mayan Ruin and you will be proud to know that I made it. I hope you can tell in the picture that I am trying so hard to get back to you as soon as possible. Well, have to go but will talk again to you real soon. Please continue to pray for all of us and all the kids that we will be spending time with tomorrow.

Love ya!

Miss Vickie

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day FOUR in Belize - Tuesday, Nov 23

Tuesday. We're well into this mission now. All teams headed back out onto their locations for various outreach ministries today.

Last night our Kids and Women's Teams informed German Gallardo that they would be doing some renovations to his church facility - especially the kids area. German and his wife, Alice, were very moved by this. I saw some of the progress today - and it's beautiful. Pictures to come later in the week of the big "reveal."

Folks from several team spent some time in "Arizona" today as well - a very poor local community here. We delivered flour, rice, and beans, as well as clothing to these families. We prayed with each family and invited them to our Revival - which will be held in their community on Thursday and Friday night this week. Please pray for this Revival and all who attend.

A couple of other teams went out today to do medical work and construction work in the various parts of the community. The medical team spent time at "Salvapan," a small village near Belmopan. The saw 118 people today - men, women, and children - ministering to various needs. Our team would assess people's health/medical needs, address them, and even pray with them before they left. Here are a few pictures from their time today....

Our construction team has been tremendous this week. They have been doubling the size of an elderly woman's home, who takes care of a couple of her grandchildren. This has been a big project, but the team has come together and is accomplishing the task before them. Here a few pictures from their day.... (the woman you see in one of the pics is Ms. Rash - this is her home)

The construction team has met several families around Ms. Rash's home with various needs. One need is a medical issue with a neighbor. Because the area where Ms. Rash and her neighbors live is so muddy right now, our team volunteered to take them to visit with our medical team that was nearby. Joey Barrs had to get them into a 4 wheel drive truck and take them there. See picture below....

I continue to be utterly amazed at God and His work here. And at my own worldview - the things I think I need, my lack of concern for others, etc. I'm praying for myself and all my friends with me on this trip and back home --- that we'll be completely changed by God's incredible love and generosity towards us in His Son Jesus, and that we'll become His servants - sacrificing our lives in service to our King.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day THREE in Belize - Monday, Nov 22

Day three has been an unforgettable day. After a day and a half of worshiping with our sister church - The Evangelical Quest Church - today we launched out into various ministry/mission teams in the local community.

As we concluded the day just an hour or so ago, we gathered for a time of worship and reflection. Members of our team recounted stories from the last two days in Belize. It became very apparent that every member of our team has a story to tell. Here are just a few of them ...

One member of our team, Cindy Keszler, is working with the Women's Ministry. Every day a busload of women and their young children arrive at the camp where we are staying. The Women's Team from Quest has been teaching these women to sew dresses. Yesterday, Cindy met a woman who needs a new Bible. Cindy gave this woman her own Bible that belonged to her late mother. The woman was very moved by this act of generosity and continues coming to the camp daily. She brings the Bible with her every time she is here.

Another member our team, Ron Hartshorn, is building a cross for our sister church while he is here. The cross will be "commissioned" later in the week. Ron thought he'd be working on this cross alone, but as you can see from the picture above .... Ron has a partner in this endeavor. Noah is a local 17 year old with a very rough past. Without a father, he is the man of his house earning money for his mom and siblings. We're not sure about Noah's faith, because the first day he kept his distance. But he keeps showing up for worship and other events. He met Ron, and a friendship was struck. Ron asked him to help him build the cross this week. Noah immediately agreed and the two spent today gathering the wood and beginning to work on this project. As they gathered the wood, Ron was explaining to Noah how they would take the old, blackened wood ... and scrape away the rough exterior to reveal the beauty inside. He then explained how this is what Jesus does in us when we give ourselves to Him. Noah has taken to Ron in an amazing way and a beautiful friendship is emerging. Can't wait to see what the remained of the week will be like as this one story continues to unfold....

Our medical team headed out to a remote area of town to hold a medical clinic. They shared amazing stories tonight of the people who came to them with unbelievable medical needs. Linda Smith (pictured above) described how these people with such intense medical needs were coming to to them ... instead of a hospital. Our team is all that is available to them. They also discussed how we really can't understand poverty and struggle until we see it in this new way. Wow. Again - another amazing story. Our medical team has done outstanding work in just one day, and are ready to take on the rest of the week.


Several other teams and events happened today as well, but let me conclude with just one more quick story. Just before dinner, we gathered up around 20 of us and headed to a local orphanage where 38 kids of all ages are living. As we got off the bus at this orphanage we were immediately struck by the condition of the orphanage. Old, decaying, dimly lit. This was their home. As we walked in, though, the darkness became brighter by the smiles and lives of these beautiful children. They immediately began jumping into our arms and hanging out with us. They LOVED that we came by for an hour or so. We played guitar, blew bubbles, played on the playground, and just hung out and talked. Getting back bus afterward was a pretty somber experience. We'll never see those kids again. There are still without moms and dads. They are still going to be living in these conditions. And in just a few days, we'll be going home.

But we won't go home the same. We're going home changed. How can we not? We have seen God and His people in the beautiful country of Belize. We must bring this home with us.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day TWO in Belize - Sunday, Nov 21

Sunday morning in Belize. Our team awoke, had personal devotion times, and then headed to breakfast. Following breakfast we gathered again with our sister church here in Belize - The Evangelical Quest Church (EQC, as they are calling themselves). One note - most of the people from this new church are picked up for worship services by the pastor, German Gallardo. He drives around town in a 60 passenger bus picking them up, and then bringing them for worship. It's incredible, really. We had a great worship service this morning - focusing on the mission Jesus Christ calls His followers to - speaking and living out the Good News of the Gospel. The following are a couple pictures from worship this morning.

Following worship we had a quick lunch, then packed out a 60 passenger bus and headed to the river for the baptisms of 4 teenagers - who made commitments to follow Jesus in the past couple of days. Several of the kids team leaders stayed back at the camp and did some amazing kids ministry with about 55 young children. In addition, our women's ministry spent time teaching several local women how to sew and make dresses, etc. Incredible. The river baptisms were a personal highlight for me. An amazing experience.

Here are a couple of pictures from the kids ministries today...

Our construction crew headed out today to check out the project that they will begin tomorrow. The only vehicle that will reach the house they are working on is a 4 wheel drive. Ms. Rash is an elderly woman living in a 128 square ft house with 3 or 4 grandchildren. Most of our bedrooms are larger than her whole house. The team will be doubling the size of her house this week.

Our day ended back at Camalote Camp with dinner and one more evening worship service with The Quest Evangelical Church....

Tomorrow our medical and construction teams head out early. They'll be out in the community doing their work. Kids and women's ministries will be spending most of the day at the camp. More to come tomorrow.....

Hello from Miss Vickie!

Hey Kid Venture kids!!!!

I sure missed seeing you this morning at church... but I sure thought about you! I am having a great time with the kids in Belize. I gave them the banner you made for them and they are excited about making one for you. We are teaching them about The Armor of God and doing a lot of crafts. We are teaching them the song "Jesus the Soccer Star," but have to say "Jesus the Football Player" because that is what they call it. I am getting to know them and they are getting excited about writing you letters. I have a great new hairdo! Can't wait to show you a picture of it later! Well gotta go... and I will write more later. I love ya'll and will see ya soon!

---Miss Vickie

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day ONE in Belize!

4 am. 32 of us arrived at The Quest Church in Martinez, GA. 12 hours later, at 4 pm, the same 32 arrived at Camalote Camp in Belmopan, Belize. Our sister church in Belize, The Evangelical Quest Church (EQC), is hosting us for the week as we are the hands and feet of Jesus in this beautiful country and among these amazing people.

Today has been an a long day of travel, but concluded with a beautiful time of worship and communion with our sister church here.

Here are a few pictures and descriptions of our day....

This is a picture of our team right after arriving in Belize. German Gallardo, pastor of The Evangelical Quest Church picked us up in a used 60 passenger bus his church recently acquired. From there we grabbed lunch locally, and then headed on to Belmopan and our lodging at Camalote Camp.

After arriving at camp, we settled in and then had a quick dinner - locally prepared tamales and nachos! Then is was on to our first worship time together with our new friends from The Evangelical Quest Church. The above picture is from some of the worship time together. John leading on guitar, and German Gallardo singing.

Here are a few more pics from worship tonight ....

John preaching with German Gallardo interpreting into Spanish.

John and German serving communion together to The Quest Church and The Evangelical Quest Church of Belize.

Youth from The Evangelical Quest Church leading a song.

Jessica Bolyard closing tonight's worship service in prayer.

Hanging with the kids following the worship service.

Another pic of some of our team hanging with the kids.


Tomorrow we will gather in the morning for worship with our sister church again, then lunch, then we head to the river to baptize 6 or 7 young boys who recently decided to follow Jesus. I will assist German in baptizing these boys. Our teams will begin their work in various ministry areas as well ---- medical, construction, women's and children's ministries, etc.

God is moving. We're already experiencing it. Pray for our week as we step out and serve God this week!