Greetings from always-beautiful Belize! Our group began the day by saying farewell to our pastor and spiritual leader John Kenney. John returned to Augusta this morning in order to preach the Easter service at Quest Church on Sunday. We will truly miss his presence among our group.
The kids' team conducted another fun-tastic day of Camp God Rocks: Belize. Vickie and her team welcomed a record number of kids to Camalote Camp. They participated in singing songs, playing games and making crafts.
Later in the afternoon, camp leaders surprised the kids with a water balloon fight. This brought huge smiles to many little faces and was a much needed escape from the April heat.
Today's activities were both exciting and emotional, as this was our last day to have camp with the children of our sister church. These kids are so energetic, so alive, so responsive. We are sad to be leaving them - just as we have begun to love them. But we look forward to continuing our relationship with each of them this fall.
The Medical Team spent the day conducting a clinic at The Evangelical Quest Church (EQC). They treated about 45 people who presented with a variety of conditions. Having clinic at our sister church allows our team to offer a special day just for those who attend EQC. Several medical team members also spent time caring for the cuts and bruises of our camp kids, as well as offering assistance to those in the neighborhood surrounding the construction team.
Over in the community of Maya Mopan, our Construction Team wrapped up their work on two houses for the Canti and Pop families - Mopan Maya Indians who are in great need of better living conditions. Five courses of cement blocks were laid on the foundation today, along with
grading the soil both in and around the houses.
This project will be completed by several members of EQC in the next few weeks and we are all looking forward to further updates from German.
After a long, final day of work, we had dinner and entered a time of group testimonies. This was a very powerful culmination of the week - with everyone sharing how God had revealed himself to them through different ministries and people here in Belize. As we ended our evening, missionaries took turns washing each others feet - much the same way Christ washed the feet of His disciples. This was definitely one of the most spiritual experiences of our time here.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Our fourth day was the half-way point for the week. Most of the team spent the morning shopping or relaxing at Camalote Camp, while the Construction Team continued on with their project.
After lunch, our entire team headed out to a local river spot with the kids of Evangelical Quest Church. It has been extremely hot here, so this was very welcome break in the middle of the week. The water was cool, and everyone seemed to really enjoy their time there.
We concluded our 4th day by taking all the Evangelical Quest Church volunteers to dinner. This was just a way for Quest to thank the members of our host church in Belize for their incredible hospitality and generosity toward us. They are amazing hosts, and we really enjoyed the opportunity to tell them that and thank them with this dinner.
Day 5 began with breakfast, and then some planning for an outreach for the afternoon. All of our teams worked together to get out into local villages and deliver soap and other items to the people we visited. Additionally - about 50 kids from our host church were involved with this outreach effort. Our goal was to help them to see that they, too, could be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world they live in. Additionally - we stopped by the construction crew's sight for a dedication of the new homes they had built.
After a long afternoon, we headed back to camp for a bit of rest, and then dinner. Following that over 100 people gathered for Good Friday worship at Camalote Camp. The night began with kids re-connecting with us, then a powerful combined worship experience (where we and our Belizean sister-church came together as One for worship).
At the close of the service, Pastor German Gallardo called for anyone who wanted to give their lives to Jesus Christ to come forward. A couple dozen did. It was powerful as the Quest Team came up front to stand with and pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
We concluded the night with hanging out and getting a quick pic of our entire team....
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The Quest Belize Team is in full swing. We've been here just over 2 days, but it really feels like we've been here much longer. It seems things just happen quicker here for some reason - relationships are formed and solidified quickly, the team bonds together because of a common mission, etc.
All teams were engaged in ministry today.
The Medical Team spent the day in Maya Mopan, a village on the other side of Belmopan. The team saw over 60 people, treating them and praying with them when requested. One of the difficult, but very real stories from their day, was when a 15 year old girl showed up and told us her mother had kidney failure and was dying. Without a father, and as the only child, this young girl wants to donate a kidney to her mother - but was turned down. A couple folks from the team prayed with her, asking God for healing and strength. Stories like this abound here. Our reaction is usually uniquely "American" --- just go to the hospital and get it "fixed." But it's just not that simple here. There is limited care and extremely limited financial resources for much of the population.
A Village Outreach team headed out to Maya Mopan this morning as well. They took the bags of rice, beans, and flour that had been packaged yesterday to families in need. It was an incredible time as the team would visit from home to home, learning about each family and spending time praying for them and their needs. Families are always extremely friendly and welcome the care and prayer provided.
The Construction Team continued work on the 2 homes they are building. It was an extremely hot day, but they marched on and are just hours away from completing the entire project. More pics from their work coming tomorrow....
The Kids Team ministry grew as about 20% more kids showed up today than were here the first day of camp. They sang songs, did more crafts, played games, and learned more about Jesus. Kids were really bonding with our team and relationships with them have gone deep quickly. Bonds have been made that will never fade away.
The church we work with here, Evangelical Quest Church, had a friend of the church pass away late Monday night. So though it was unplanned, many of our team participated in a Wake (Tuesday night) and a second funeral service and graveside service today. We gathered at the deceased's home, had a short service there, then walked about 1.5 miles behind a small truck carrying the casket. About 50 people followed the truck singing songs about life and resurrection. Once at the graveside, John Kenney shared some words and then the casket was buried, while everyone watched. Though very different than most American funerals, it was a truly beautiful experience of love and community gathering together to mourn the loss of a loved one.
Tomorrow we're spending the morning at the river with kids from Evangelical Quest Church, then the afternoon will be spent relaxing or shopping.
Thanks for letting us continue to share our experiences with you. Though we came to give of ourselves in Belize, we are finding that Belize is truly giving more to us...
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Our second day in Belize began by waking up to a beautiful sunrise after a great night's sleep at Camalote Camp, our "home away from home" for the week. It truly is an oasis in the middle of this country. Incredible grounds and foliage, hammocks everywhere, and the sounds of birds and even silence.
We ate a big breakfast of "fry-jacks" (think elephant ears from carnivals in the USA ... but without the powdered sugar), fried beans, eggs, bacon, and fresh fruit. There was plenty of coffee consumed as well! After breakfast teams packed sack lunches and headed out or stayed back to prepare for different missions/ministries for the day.
Around noon kids started arriving at Camalote Camp for the first day of our "Camp God Rocks BELIZE." There were over 60 kids. Many new relationships were forged, as well as old relationships rekindled.
During this time a few of us and a few Belizeans also began packing "care packages" - of rice, beans, and flour - that will be taken to local villages for distribution during the week.
The Kids Team had an amazing day! The kids absolutely loved "Camp God Rocks BELIZE." There was singing, games, crafts, Bible teaching, sports, and just hanging out together. The kids here quickly attach to our team members, and so there were hugs and high-fives going on all day. Day 2 of kids camp is tomorrow, and our Kids Team can't wait to see these beautiful kids again. Just a note - most of the kids at camp this week are from the Evangelical Quest Church that we work with - coming from two local villages.
While the Kids Team was doing their thing back at Camalote Camp, the Medical Team was out at a local village seeing people with medical needs. It was a good first day, and tomorrow will prove to likely be their busiest day of the week as they move over to another village. Flyers have been distributed and the Medical Team will see dozens of people at a local church.
I'm always amazed at what the Construction Team is able to accomplish in such a short time. This week they are building two small homes for a large family. As of today one of the home has the roof trusses up, and the second home will have trusses by tomorrow. The team may be able to attach the metal roofing tomorrow as well. Amazing. These guys are extremely hard workers - leaving early and returning late in order to get the job done.
As all the teams arrived back to Camp in the late afternoon, we learned that because of the death of a local woman connected to the church down here, there would need to be a funeral tonight (or "wake" as they call it). Tonight was planned as "Bible Study Night" where members of Evangelical Quest Church would come and share with us as one church through worship and Bible study. So because of the funeral service involving pastor German Gallardo, part of our team went to support him and the family in mourning, and the other half stayed back to run the worship and Bible study time - which included kids ministries.
After everything concluded tonight, team members could be seen all over the Camp talking and laughing - the sign of a great first day.
Tomorrow is coming, and we're not sure what it will bring - but we look forward to what God has planned.
Continue checking the blog and sharing it with others this week. Thanks for letting us share the stories of our week with you!