Saturday, July 13, 2013

Camp "Shine" in Camalote, Belize!

Well, here are the much-anticipated first images from The Evangelical Quest Church's "Shine" camp at Blue Thumb Missions.  I have combined Day 4 and 5 highlights to give everyone at home a detailed account of what your missionaries are doing.

As I stated yesterday, campers arrived Thursday around noon and were checked in by Quest Church Missionaries.  Boys and girls were separated into different groups and were given corresponding team color wrist bands.

We began camp by playing games that would allow us to learn each others names.  Everyone also participated in team building exercises - used to draw us together as campers and counselors. 

The young people were amazingly respectful and attentive, listening to counselors explain the dos and dont's of the weekend.

Within a few hours, the entire camp was completely alive with games and crafts and group meetings.

The staff has been very blessed to have several local Belizean women to cook our meals.  Many past missionaries will remember Elvira Pop.  (Wife of Victor in Arizona Village)

During the course of the day, our counselors take time-out to associate the activities with scriptural lessons from the Bible. 

 Both boy and girl teams have enjoyed craft projects - like bracelet making.

One of the most rewarding aspects of this camp is the one-on-one interaction between the youth and adults.  Spending intimate time together builds both trust and a sense of belonging.  Our counselors are eating, sleeping, playing and praying with these kids around the clock.

When two cultural worlds collide, differences can often result in a difficult "getting-to-know-you" stage.  But I must say that we have been blessed with a great bunch of kids who are willing to communicate and participate with Quest and EQC leaders.

I had to take this picture on the soccer - or futball - field yesterday.  Talk about differences.  Corey oversees an organized soccer game and takes a moment to pose with little Sergio - one of our smallest 14 year old campers.  Six foot, five inches meets about forty four inches.

As I type, I can not express enough about how much fun these kids are having.  I just want to take pictures of every moment -  as their faces are just so illuminated.  For a few days, they are truly free to be carefree children of God.  No cares, no worries.  Despite the emotional baggage they may have carried into this camp we continue to lift them up and allow them to shine.

We have included a canteen for the kids so that they can have treats throughout the day.  This gives them time to relax and provides our leaders some time to just hang out with them.

Friday was fairly hot and humid so we incorporated some cool water fun into the schedule.  We filled up water balloons and had relay races and balloon tossing games.  And as with any water sport and kids, pranks were in short supply. (more to come about this later today)

And what trip would be complete without enjoying the local tropical produce.  And German has been doing a great job of supplying plenty of mangos.

As evening draws near, we shower, eat and prepare for worship in the chapel.  I promise to blog about our first two worship experiences later today.  But words are hard to come by right now.  The Holy Spirit has been so very powerful and present that descriptions are tough, at best.  But, again, I will make the attempt.

Well, gotta run.  Breakfast is over and I hear the business of little feet.  Until later today.......  Peace from your missionaries in Belize.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Campers Arrived Ready to SHINE

Hola, from Blue Thumb and the new home of Camp SHINE.  Wow, just Wow.  Oh, and can I add another Wow!  Our Belizean campers arrived yesterday and this mission week just went into 5th gear. (to quote Austin Lopez) 

Forty six youth, ranging in ages from thirteen to seventeen, began a four day journey with our Quest and EQC mission counselors that promises to be a physically and spiritually powerful time.  Trust me when I say that last night was one of the most extraordinary worship experiences we have EVER had while on mission.  This group of people, American and Belizean, is charting new territory for continued relationships among our two cultures and have quickly become ONE body under their Christ.

Forgive the lack of pictures right now but we are collecting enough for two days of blogging to come. We were all so very "spent" yesterday that everyone, even the young people, was in bed and asleep by about 10pm.

Check back in later - and be prepared for what is to come.  Peace.

(on behalf of all Quest Missionaries) 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Puddles, Power and Last Preparations

This may very well be one of the shortest blogs while in Belize.  Yesterday was a very challenging day.  We woke up to a drizzling rain and cloudy skies during breakfast.  Not long afterward, the camp lost power for nearly half the day.  Belize is widening the Western Highway just in front of Blue Thumb and a power pole was having to be moved.  Ahhh, the flexibility begins. :)


Determined to not let progress slow down, our team began practicing team-building games for the youth camp that begins tomorrow. (between rains)

I have to admit, this particular activity was one of the most hilarious attempts at working together I have ever seen.  Even though this exercise only consists of string and boards, the work involved makes "walking the trolley" very complex.

Other games involve using a defined set of materials to complete a simple task, like picking up a bucket without touching it or reaching into the space it sits in.  We can't wait to see the Belizean kids work together to accomplish some of these activities.

Taking a few minutes off, a group walked to the back of the camp property that borders the Belize river.  We could hear howler monkeys crying loudly in the distance.

The afternoon brought a huge rain storm, so some people loaded in the van to ride toward San Ignacio for sightseeing. (if only through the windows) and a group traveled over to the ArtBox for a last chance to grab some souvenirs.

My last photo is not much to look at, really.  It is the camp chapel where we will receive the campers and where we will complete crafts and worship.  Right now the chairs are empty and the walls echo.  But soon, bodies will fill the chairs and laughter, cries, joys and pains will inhabit the space.  Pray that the beautiful blessings of God will transform this simple space into something divine.

Blessings to all,


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

 A Life-Giving Well, Wildlife and Worship

The sun rose about 5:20 this morning to find several missionaries nursing their first cup of camp coffee and working through the day's devotional.  The gardens here at Blue Thumb are amazingly well groomed and we are have enjoyed our quiet time throughout the grounds.

Our first Belizean breakfast seemed as much like Cracker Barrel as it did Camalote.  Scrambled eggs, Journey cakes, country ham, fresh fruit (including pineapple and watermelon) and juice.

Our meals are eaten under a large tin-roofed porch lined with huge picnic tables. (Rhinehart's patrons would be right at home) 

After breakfast, our missionaries divided into two teams - some would travel with German to the villages of Arizona and Teakettle to recruit teenagers for this week's youth camp. Alice led others into Belmopan to purchase fruits, vegetables and dry goods for the week's use.

QUICK-QUEST-MISSION-OFFERING-UPDATE: Our July 2013 missionaries were the first members of our church to visit the newly constructed well in Maya Mopan.  To be honest, seeing this well and personally knowing the families it serves is one of the most beautiful expressions of Christ's love I have ever encountered.  It represents the sacrificial relationship between Quest and our sister church of EQC. 

James Thomas took a moment to prime the pump and, soon, life-giving water gently flowed over the concrete slab.

The day continued in other areas of camp as Matt and Brandon worked to develop more youth camp games and activities.  

We are all so very excited to begin camp that we have been playing games like ladder ball and ping pong during our down-time.

As most past missionaries know, the wildlife in Belize can be diverse.  And the "tame" wildlife at Blue Thumb Missions Camp is no exception. The Hensley family have several breed of dogs, a very friendly cat and one special green parrot.


Elise took time out to scratch the belly of one of the Blue Healer puppies that call this place home.  And Kirby shows off her new friend Chloe, a native green parrot.

As nightfall arrived, we all ate, showered and loaded into the van - bound for EQC's Tuesday night worship service.  When the bus pulled in, many familiar and smiling faces surrounded our team for a much needed reunion.  We had an awesome time together - Alice opened the service, Melvin led our singing and praise and Pastor German delivered the message.

All total, we had about 100 people packed into EQC!  When service was dismissed, we all spent time in fellowship - catching up on recent events.  * A note to all previous Quest missionaries - everyone of you are talked about and missed.  The impact that our church has had on our friends at EQC continues to resonate throughout these communities.

Melvin continued to play his guitar after the service ended and so several of us joined in for a sing-along.

 As usual, kids were running everywhere as they waited to load the bus.

The Canti family from Maya Mopan were all in attendance.  Ida is growing up so fast and we all got to meet Herman, Anselma's new husband. 

And last, but not least, little Erwin made his debut with grandmother Christina.  He has been sick for several weeks so Dr. Billingsley suggested that he visit the hospital yesterday.  As is customary, our team loaded into the van and headed straight to the Belmopan hospital. (turns out he was dehydrated, with and upset stomach)
Day 3 is here and it is rainy.... but our spirits are high.  And we looked forward to our campers arriving at lunch tomorrow.  Well, until I blog again - gotta run.  I smell the Fry Jacks!  Oh, and apologies for the late post but we have been without power since 7:30 a.m.  Ahhhhh Belize!  Peace, Joey