Sunday, July 3, 2016

July 2, 2016 - We are Belize bound...

Greetings from your Missionaries in Camalote, Belize.  Our first day, while long, has come to a close without any issues.  Today was our travel day down to Belize and it began with the team meeting at Augusta Regional Airport – Bush Field at 04:00 a.m. which was quite early most, if not all of us.  Many of us were up sometime between 03:00 a.m. and 03:30 a.m. which has made today an incredibly long one.  After meeting at the airport, snack bags were distributed to the team so that we would have something for the plane rides ahead of us.  Thank you Heather Thomas for taking care of these bags for us.  The team has much appreciated the items you packed.

Next it was off to the Delta counter where we would begin the check-in process for the team.  This usually has some challenges associated with it due to the size of the team and we expected some complications with check-in today.  Expectations were correct since the Delta computer system in Augusta was not working properly and this extended our time there in line while they worked around the problem.  The staff with Delta was great and they worked diligently to resolve the issue.  Thank you Delta for your effort!

We boarded our flight in Augusta shortly thereafter and were on our way.  This was a quiet flight all in all since it was still early, but God spoke volumes to the team by displaying an incredible sunshine in the morning sky that worked to clear out some of the clouds in the sky. It was an incredible sight.  We landed in Atlanta and made our way to various establishments for breakfast before heading to our departure gate.  There we boarded our flight and we were on our way.

The flight to Belize from Atlanta was uneventful and many of us took the opportunity to catch up on some much needed rest.  When we landed in Belize, we were greeted with a mild 89 degree temperature and would soon face what we thought would be a large hurdle.  We had to get our 17 team bags (not including book bags and carry-ons) through customs.  We were concerned about some of the contents being taxed at a higher rate since we were delivering supplies to “A Better Belize” which was founded by Joey and Heather Barrs from the Quest Church.  (You can find out more about their ministry by clicking on the link.)  Anyways, our concerns were pointless as we breezed through customs with one the lowest taxes paid yet.  Of course, our friend Ernesto was waiting to pick up the bags once they cleared the customs counter.

Upon our exit from the airport, we were reunited with the Barrs family.  Joey, Heather and Sophia were there with smiling faces to greet our team and drive us to camp.  Once the luggage was loaded into the trailer, we climbed into the vans and headed out towards camp, but first we had to take care of a minor detail called lunch.  Ms. Ethel, who cooks at Camalote Camp, prepared a lunch for us consisting of homemade tortillas, shredded chicken, lettuce, tomato and cheese that we would combine as we wished to make a burrito of sorts.  It would be our first taste of Belize and it was delicious.  Joey took us to an area park in Belize City where we could sit down and eat with views of the ocean as our backdrop.  While there, we took advantage of a sign that was erected and used it as a backdrop for a group photo.

After lunch, it was back to the vans and on the road to Camalote Camp.  If you are not familiar with where Camalote is located, we are just a few miles outside the capital city of Belmopan.  We are located about an hour and 15 minutes inland from Belize City.   Once we arrived at camp, we unloaded the vehicles and met the rest of the camp staff and heard the story about how and why A Better Belize was founded.  Next, we received a tour of the camp.  As a person who has been to Camalote a number of times over the past four years, it was amazing to see some of the improvements that have been made here.  There are upgrades to the bunkrooms, the dining facility has been renovated completely and can now seat 80 people, a new and improved kitchen was built, a soccer field was established, a concrete pad was poured for a basketball court and even a new bunk room was constructed.  It was great to see the improvements that have been done in the past year.

Near the end of the tour, we met two additional members of the staff, Andre and Dragon.  Andre has been on staff at Camalote for a couple of years and he handles the maintenance, construction and grounds keeping here just to name a few things.  Dragon just started recently, but has earned his keep through his hard work according to Joey.  Andre and Dragon were not scheduled to be working at this time, but they did come by to meet the team and of course, cut down a few fresh coconuts and mangos for the team to share.  So refreshing.

The team then worked to unpack the many bags that we had brought in preparation for our upcoming camp.  The new dishes and towels that we were able to bring for use at the camp pleasantly surprised Joey and Heather.  Though, I think Ms. Ethel was most excited about the new dishes that would be used in the dining facility.  Ms. Ethel and her husband prepared dinner for us consisting of stewed beef, rice, beans, coleslaw and fried plantains.  Then she surprised us with cheesecake flavored ice cream from Western Dairies.  Everything was delicious!

We finished our night with circle time to discuss today’s events and go over what the week ahead would look like.  During this time, Pastor German arrived after a long day of working and we were able to introduce him to the team members that he did not yet know.  It was about 7:30 PM Belize time when we concluded and we were now ready to start winding down for the night.  After a long day of traveling and unpacking, we found the hammocks to be most comfortable.

Your missionaries are all doing well and we cannot wait for what the Lord has in store for us this week.  We have a great team and it is important to note that two of our team members come from Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church in Augusta.  They are serving with us on this trip while also looking into how Trinity might be able to get involved here in Belize.  We are happy to have them.  We also have the Director of Family Promise of Augusta serving on our team and we are glad to have her as well.  Thank you to all of our missionaries and to those who support us back home.

Until next time…

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