Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 2011 Mission - Day 6

None of us could believe today was our last full day here in Belize. At times, because of fatigue, the week has seemed very long. When we step back and look at it, though, the time has passed almost unbearably quickly. Our hearts will be torn to leave tomorrow, though we will definitely be glad to get home to our families.

The teams set out early again today, heading to their job sites for one more day of intense mission work. The Medical team held a clinic in the village of Salvapan, where we have held a very successful clinic before. The day was a busy one (the team saw around 130 patients) but it was a fantastic day of mission and ministry. Once again, the people of Belize captured our hearts as we spent time with them and worked to make their lives a little better with what we bring to the table.

The Construction team got an early start, too, as they worked hard to finish up their projects for the week. The first house - that was begun on Monday - is completed, and the entire Quest team came together to dedicate and bless the home. It was a sweet time of prayer with the family who will live there.

The Care and Connections team was hard at work today distributing care packages around the villages. Thirty more care packages went to families around Belmopan and the surrounding villages. The team members who were able to go on this mission were blessed by being able to personally interact with families in their homes.

We ended the week tonight with a special worship celebration together with the EQC community. This was an incredible time of rejoicing in what the Lord has done this week and openly celebrating what He will do in the future of our relationship with Evangelical Quest Church and the people of Belize.

We're getting up in the morning and heading to the airport. It will be hard to say goodbye to the friends we have made in beautiful Belize, but we're eager to get home and share our experiences with those who have supported and prayed for us as we have been gone. The calendar says that this trip is over, but the Lord is just getting started with our story. Greater things are still to be done in this city.

April 2011 Mission - Day 5

On Wednesday, we rested.

Sort of.

As has become tradition for our teams visiting Belize, we took some time off from intense mission work to do some sightseeing. We visit Xunantunich, a site of ancient Mayan ruins in southern Belize (almost in Guatemala). The grounds there are beautiful, and the view from atop the ruins are breathtaking. It is a welcome respite from the hard work of the week, and the team (despite their physical exhaustion from climbing the ruins) was refreshed in a spiritual way from the break in routine.

After the ruins and lunch at a local restaurant, the team went for a visit at a local children's home. Members of Quest had visited the home when we came to Belize in November, and it was decided months ago that we would return there and do something more in-depth with them on this trip. One of our team members had planned a special time of worship, games, storytime, and testimonies with the children in the home, and it was a blessing to everyone as the two groups came together in fellowship and friendship.

As part of the mission team was spending time with the children at the children's home, part of the team was also working with EQC to distribute food care packages to members of the community. Representatives from thirty different families came to EQC to receive packages of rice, flour, beans, and bibles. The personal time of on-on-one outreach was powerful for everyone.

Everyone, by Wednesday night, was really tired.....but we were all ready to see what else the Lord could do through us. It was a good thing, too, because Thursday was a big one!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April 2011 Mission - Day 4

Today was the most amazing day so far for our team. In all, the Quest mission team was in 5 different locations today, tackling 5 different jobs. Camalote Camp is echoing tonight with everyone's stories of their days: challenges, victories, God moments. We'll all rest well tonight!

The Construction team worked on two different jobs today, nearly finishing the house they began yesterday and making real progress on the second. For their second construction project, which they began this afternoon, they are placing stucco on the existing house of some of the members of EQC. Currently, the house is made of bamboo poles strapped together; the spaces between the poles are wide enough to see through, and for rain and wind to make their way inside. The Construction team, though, is placing stucco on the walls to seal those gaps, making the house more safe and comfortable for the family who calls it home.

The Medical team worked in 3 different locations today! This morning, a small group of Medical team members went to the nearby village of La Riverra to hold a clinic in a church there. The team saw 40 patients in just a few hours, treating conditions such as allergies, parasites, pneumonia, and diabetes. Many referrals were made to the hospital, and many of the patients seemed to feel better after just having spent some time with someone who wanted to help.

Meanwhile, a few more of the team members made a visit to a school in the Arizona village for a lice treatment and prevention clinic. Our team washed hair, applied treatments, and even gave haircuts to the children who were seen. It was a powerful - and humbling - experience for everyone.

While all of that was going on, more Medical team members were holding a clinic at the location of EQC, addressing various health needs there. When the team arrived in the morning, people were already waiting to be seen; the pace didn't slow down much for several hours. Nearly 40 patients were seen there, as well, and the team enjoyed the fast-paced environment.

Finally, members of the Care and Connection and Spiritual Support teams were bustling from village to village, distributing care packages to families in need. Each family received rice, flour, and beans, in addition to Bibles and other necessities. The team was able to pray with the families and were blessed, in particular, by the prayers of some of the families for the team. Providing such basic needs to families in need was fulfilling and humbling.

This afternoon, many members of the team went to Arizona Field to play with the children there. The children here can't seem to get enough of our team, and the feeling is mutual. We are all happy to spend as much time as we can with the beautiful children of Belize.

Tonight, the Quest team joined the members of EQC for their weekly Bible study and worship. Everyone came to Camalote Camp - it was pretty chaotic as everyone scrambled to different places with their groups, but everyone was blessed by the discussions and lessons. The evening was rounded off with worship (singing "God of This City," which is emotional every time), and the EQC bus took the church members home as the Quest team relaxed for the night.

Today was a very, very full day, and we are very, very tired tonight. While everything we have encountered thus far has been challenging and has stretched us beyond our limits, we are all confident that we are better and stronger because of what we have experienced. We are so thankful for this opportunity, and are eager to continue in the mission field tomorrow evening. Tomorrow morning, though, we get to be tourists! Expect lots of pictures tomorrow!

Monday, April 4, 2011

April 2011 Mission - Day 3

The Quest Mission Team hit the ground running this morning, beginning the day with a time of reflection and prayer before heading out to their job sites.

The Construction team was working today on building a house for a woman and her children who have had no home of their own for approximately 5 months. The team is building them a house measuring 16 x 20 feet, and it will be a home she and her children can call their own. It will be a tremendous blessing for them, and it has been an honor to be able to minister to her in such a concrete way. They are ahead of their schedule for the week, and will likely finish that project tomorrow afternoon....and will start another one!

Nearby, as the Construction team was hammering nails and putting up walls, the Medical team was checking blood sugar and administering medication. The team held a clinic today, under the supervision of the Regional Health Director, in a small church in the village of Arizona. A total of 48 patients were seen, three of which were critical enough that they were taken immediately to the hospital for further treatment. There were so many wonderful men, women, and children that came through the clinic, and it was a privilege for the team to be able to meet them and bring peace to situations that have been causing them stress and pain.

One change we made in the team as a whole for this trip has been the addition of two new work teams: Spiritual Support and Care and Connections. Those teams, as their names suggest, are responsible for the less tangible aspects of mission work. As the skilled teams (Medical and Construction) are doing their jobs for the week, Spiritual Support (SST) and Care and Connection (CCT) are working alongside them to ensure that relationships are formed in the name of the Lord and that spiritual needs are met as well. These teams are instrumental in being the hands and feet of Jesus as they reach out in whatever ways are needed to make sure that everyone experiences the love of the Lord in real, life-changing ways.

It has already been a phenomenal experience for our team. Tomorrow is another big day, and we're all looking forward to more flexibility as we make ourselves available to do what the Lord needs us to do. We don't know exactly what tomorrow will look like, but we are sure of one thing: it will be good.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April 2011 Mission - Day 2

Day two of our Belize mission was a very full - but very, very fun and fulfilling - day. After a good night's sleep, the team awoke and prepared for worship with our friends from EQC at Camalote Camp's tabernacle. As we gathered together, friends from another Belizean church in Mayapan (a neighboring village) joined us for Sunday morning worship. Our relationships with each other and with the Lord were strengthened as we worshiped together - very powerful!

Following worship, families from EQC joined us for a family reunion-style lunch of hotdogs and chips - - - and the Belizean children discovered a new love: chips and cheese dip!

Once everyone had eaten, the games began! One of our team members had planned a great afternoon of games for the children of EQC to enjoy together, and everyone had a blast playing soccer, volleyball, and other games at our camp. More time together meant relationships were solidified more and more!

It was a hot, hot afternoon, so after we finished the games, some of the team relaxed while others took a trip to the river to swim, relax, and spend more time together. This was a nice break from the organized activities of the day, but the team found plenty of ways to reach out to and love the people of Belize.

Tonight, teams are preparing for their first day of field work tomorrow. The medical and construction teams will be beginning their work, and the Spiritual Support and Care and Connection Teams will be accompanying them as they go into the villages to meet the needs they find there.

God is working - in the team and in each individual heart here - and it is more exciting than words can say to see everyone seeing Him in new ways and changing so deeply. We're already eager to share what we've experienced - and the week has just begun!