At the airport 

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Tuesday in Belize

Today, we spent the day at the elementary school helping again with some classes as well as leading games and crafts with the pre-school.  We showed them how to make snowflakes too as you can see by the photo!

snowflake

We wrapped up with a final evening session with Lazarus and Alicia, as they shared some of their God story with us all.  It is almost impossible to describe the blessings we have received through their hospitality and generosity.  They are such an amazing family, and clearly demonstrate how to love God and love others!

Finally, we leave you all tonight with some stories about the people we have met.  Everyone was asked to describe a person they met in Belize.  Their stories are below:

(Jess) At Marla’s House of Hope, I had a lovely conversation with a young woman named Kendy. She is a teenager who has been living at the home for the past three years with her three younger sisters. When I asked her about what she liked most about living at Marla’s, a large smile spread across her face as she described with delight the daily group devotions. I asked her what she was reading in the Bible lately, and she answered “I always go back to Job. It amazes me that he was able to get through so many trials because of his faith in God. The book of Job encourages me and gives me hope.” I don’t know what life situations led Kendy and her three sisters to Marla’s, but I was moved by Kendy’s deep faith in the God that sustains and protects, the source of her joy and strength.

(Grace) Since this is my first time in Belize, I had no expectations besides the few obscure stories I heard. The second I arrived at the Loforna base, I was greeted by the Pop family. One of them stood out the most for me and his name is Devon. He is the most energetic kid I’ve ever met. He’s always climbing around the base and playing, but he remains one of the sweetest people I’ve met here in Belize. Last night while we were cleaning the dishes, Devon was running around while keeping us entertained and it was honestly one of my fondest memories because we had so much fun. Needless to say, he will be missed by the whole group.

(Nate) The first night in Belize, we went to eat out in the village. We were welcomed to this cute little restaurant in Armenia by a nice family. One of the kids was called Olvin. There was an instant connection between our entire group and Olvin. He was a funny ball of fun, and I took an instant liking to him. What’s more, when we went to help out at the school, Olvin happened to be in the class to which I was assigned. For the next few days, we were constantly seen together, playing games and talking. He has such a pure heart and such an honest desire for learning and helping others that I couldn’t help but instantly be attached to him. I’m definitely going to miss him when I leave.

(Zosia) Two years ago I got to meet the Pop family. Allicia is the mother of the Pop clan. She is so sweet and welcoming. She’s really funny and I don’t think anyone else has mastered the art of Belizean food like she has. She is such a good mom. I see her with Jaylen (the youngest child) and it makes me want to have kids too. I’m so glad I got to stay with them this week and I’ll miss them a lot.

(Sonya) I have met many new people this year, but the one person that stands out the most would be Miss Stacy. I helped her teach for two days in her kindergarten class. She is a strong woman, I could not stand a day in that class without her. Miss Stacy has shown me what it takes to be a teacher, no matter where you are from. I am glad I spent some time with her even if it was just two days. PS: At the Monday assembly, she got the teacher of the month award.

(Anthony) A man so welcoming, kind, humble, strong in faith, an amazing cook and an amazing friend. With his welcoming heart and similar interests, delving in conversement (totally a word) was a pleasure. lazaarus (and his wife) have always been so kind and hospitable toward us and we are all ever so grateful for that. I cannot thank him more for all he’s done for us and hope to one day repay him.

(David) Ms. Romero is the school principal who welcomed us into her world for the past week.  As we arrived, and reaffirmed that we were here to help in any way we possibly could, she put us to work!  We were all dispatched individually to classrooms to be teacher assistants.  Several teachers were missing, and they are understaffed for the number of classes they have.  Jessica ended up teaching several classes, and others teamed up to manage some of the classes.  All of this to underline the level of trust we have with Ms. Romero, and that her confidence grew each day as she invited us back into these classroom settings.  We tried very hard to follow, and have intentionally been seeking to serve in any and all situations.  This attitude was present in all of our students as they rose to the occasion and were extremely responsible and trustworthy with what they were asked to do.  As we left, Ms. Romero was very pleased with how we had helped and I was honoured to be part of this group of students, who really clearly served with hearts close to Jesus!  (so, this is kind of a story about Ms. Romero, but it’s also about our students!).

 

Sunday & Monday in Belize…

Today’s question:

What have I seen, heard, tasted, smelled or touched while here in Belize?

I have seen beautiful mountains, even just short rides on the bus I have seen God’s amazing creation spread out before my eyes. It is beautiful, I will never get tired of seeing it. (Sonya)

I have tasted so much delicious food! Lazarus and Alecia keep surprising us with great food. Just this morning we had a bunch of delicious fruit and some pancakes. I’ve also had some jungle specialties like sugar cane. It’s pretty great. (Zos)

What I hear in Belize is very different than the sounds of city life in Montreal. I love waking up to jungle music- the birds singing, soft winds blowing through the palm trees, frogs croaking and grasshoppers creaking. Sometimes, we can hear in the distance the howling of the monkeys… not the usual Montreal noise! (Jess)

In Belize, I’ve smelled a multitude of smells ranging from pleasant to ok. We’ve smelled the of fresh Belizean air as it’s dry, during the rain, after a rainy day as the base turns to a “pond”. We’ve smelled the sweet and wonderful smell of the outhouse, the scent as you approach certain flowers and plants, as well as the smell of Lazarus and Alicia’s cooking. (Anthony)

Belize is rich in unique surfaces which one can touch, ranging from the feel of the bark on the thick, tall jungle trees and sugar canes to the varying textures of leaves and plants. The mud soaking through your boots and into your socks and the rough palm leaves of your palm-tree raft (long story), among many others, will always be unique to Belize. (Nate)

While travelling in the back of a pickup truck on an empty highway, I gaze onto the glorious mountains with a seemingly never-ending jungle. I can hear the sound of the people we pass speaking in their foreign tongues. I can smell the firewood sifting through the air and that ever-present smokiness everywhere I go. (Grace)

As for me (David), I will share in the logistics of the past two days…

We had such a great Sunday, worshipping with 2 community churches, one in Roaring Creek, about 30 minutes away. This church partners with Global Outreach, a school that is dedicated to helping to grow boys into men. It is a three-year program. Jason Pop, attends here and is in his second year. Lazarus studied at Global 20 years ago. We had lunch with the 41 boys at the school and chatted with some of the directors of the school.

We spent the afternoon at Marla’s, where some pretty serious beading and jewelry making took place! We had an opportunity to connect through some games as well.

In the evening, we attended a church in Armenia, and we were blessed to worship together with them. It was so awesome to see many of the students from the Elementary school at the church, and our students were able to talk and encourage them at church. They were happy to receive us and the pastor really made us feel welcome! We all worship the same God, and it is a blessing to be able to experience a tiny piece of the Kingdom here!

On Monday, we spent the day at the Pre-school and at the Elementary school.  We have really been trusted with much as we connect in with students in the classrooms.  Again, many of them we connected with at church and now again back at school, so it is encouraging to be within the community as we are. We also helped with Erminda Pop at the preschool, and I am amazed at how much energy these kids have!  We shared some songs, crafts and did some beading as well

One quote to share is indicative of God at work here.  We sang the song ‘Our God is an Awesome God’ with one class.  One of the students in the class said this was one of their favourite songs.  When asked why, the student replied, “because…God!”

We will be meeting with Mr. Rosado, the vice-principal of the school who is connected in with Lazarus at IHF this evening.  We look forward to learning more about the impact this ministry is having in the community.

Tomorrow we will be back at the school and pre-school!

Blessings to all of you who are reading (and commenting).  We read out all the comments together each morning.

 

Saturday in Belize…

Below are excerpts of our time on Saturday…we are off to church in 3 minutes, so I will update and we will try to be back on tonight or tomorrow morning…

Grace: Saturday in Belize started with a bang! We went to Hopkins Beach an hour away with the amazing Pop family who graciously host us at Loforna. The view was amazing and the food was amazing (as usual). The water was absolutely stunning and warm, plus the company was great too. I definitely got a lot of photos out of today J

Nate: Hopkins Beach was absolutely gorgeous! The sand, water and sky were so perfect and relaxing, nothing could have been better. We had so much fun relaxing in the sun and heat and enjoying some time with the Pop family. Afterwards, we went back to the base and had an awesome time together chilling and talking about plans for the morrow. It feels good to laugh with friends in the middle of the jungle at 11:00 PM. Though I miss everyone back home, Belize is exactly where I want to be!

Sonya:  I had an amazing time yesterday, we did a fun team building activity for the entire morning. Then in the afternoon we went to the beach, the water was so warm and the sun was high. I did not get a sun burn this year! But over all I had an amazing time, it is nice to get a day of relaxation after being in the hot sun for a long time. Since the river we normally bathe in was dirty, we went to a small pond and quickly washed there because it was getting dark. We are getting ready for church at the moment. I’m excited to see what it will be like.

Jess:  I really enjoyed our day of Sabbath. It was such a good reminder to “be still, and know that I am God”. Belize is a beautiful, beautiful country and I found myself being in awe of God’s creation as we drove to Hopkins beach and once we got to the ocean. I am so thankful for the rest we had yesterday, and the reminder that busyness and running around doing things doesn’t change God’s abundant love for us. He is a good, good Father!

Anthony: So far, amazing trip. We’re going to church today and I’m really excited to see Jason Pop again at lunch. We might also stop at Marla’s again and I’m looking forward to it. Our Sabbath was really nice. We went to the beach and in all honesty, it’s the best I’ve been to and was practically empty. Overall, it’s awesome.

Zosia: I’m having the best time here. Contemplating not coming back home. Honestly though, It’s great weather, great people, great food, and a great place. I wake up happy and go to bed happy. Love it here. But I still love you guys too 😉

 

Friday’s update…

Sonya:  Today was just as amazing as yesterday, the kids were just as welcoming as the teachers. I feel like we did more in these few days than we did last time I came here. I am excited to go to the orphanage and make more connections. At the school, we saw another mission’s team, they handed out candies that is exactly what we wanted to avoid on this trip. Not to give stuff to people and leave, but to build relationships with the people around us. I am not enjoying the rain much, sitting in the back of a pickup truck during that rain is not that fun either. Over all I am still having fun.

Anthony: Today, like Sonya said, was just as amazing as yesterday. We had gone again to the school today and were very amused. At the school, we met another group of “Gringos” who were working at the medical clinic near the school area. We’re about to go to the orphanage and watch a movie with them and I’m pretty psyched to see them again. There wasn’t much of a need to go to the river today since the rain took care of that. Overall, an awesome day.

Jess: What an awesome day that the Lord has made! We went back into the classrooms and it was a joy getting to know the students better. Armenia Government School has about 17 teachers for 420 students. As you can imagine, these instructors have an immense amount of work to do every day, so helping out with tasks like correcting quizzes lessened their burden and was greatly appreciated. In the evening, we had the opportunity to spend time with girls at Marla’s House of Hope, a foster home in Belmopan. It was a delight to get to know them and this ministry that In His Footsteps partners with!

 Zos: I had a pretty great day. I’m currently playing cards outside while listening to these cool toads and different creatures un the jungle. It’s awesome! I wish I could stay here longer. We just got back from Marla’s house of hope. The girls there are really cool. We connected with them really easily and spent a fun evening chilling with them. I really hope we get to go back and see them. Miss you guys back home.

Grace: Today was so much fun. We helped out at the school where my team and I had to teach an entire class all by ourselves! Afterwards, we went to Marla’s House of Hope which absolutely amazing. The girls were so nice and so much fun to talk to! Well now I’m back at the base writing this message listening to the most bizarre noises ever and all I can say is that this is awesome. By the way, Happy Birthday Andrew! ❤

Nate: This day was simply amazing! The kids at the school were so happy to see us, that alone made my day! They were so cheerful and eager to learn, and I’ve grown really attached to them. Afterwards, we went to Marla’s House of Hope where we met a dozen girls who were living there. They were honestly so cool and fun with us that I can’t wait to go back. Today was such a blessing, and I thank God for every opportunity He gives us to interact with the people of Belize and not only help them, but learn and grow ourselves.

David: What can I add to these stories…the students are all doing extremely well, they are flexible, serving, loving and committed.  It is a blessing to be able to connect so easily in with all of them, as they learn and grow in their understanding of missions and how to love God and love others.  They are all mature and able to adapt well to each situation.

Health wise, everyone is doing well, the food has been great, and everyone is participating well.  Lazarus and Alicia are amazing hosts for all of us, and look after us in all aspects. The heat is not too intense and we have got to experience the rain here as well!

We are helping the local ministry here by connecting into the school and the school administration.  Many students and teachers are not aware of the work Lazarus and Alicia do here, and being in the school, with teachers and students, allows us to share the IHF ministry with them through our support at the school.  There is a high level of trust that I am so astounded to witness at the school.  Ms. Romero, the school principal, met us the first day and had each of the students go into different classes.  We were each able to help with the daily lessons and get to know the students and staff.  We have shared bible stories and songs as well.  Our students have lots of energy and it is so great to see them working and sharing well!

The other connection piece is into Marla’s, which is a home for girls in Belmopan.  We had a great movie night and time of sharing with them as well.  There are so many terrible stories of how these girls arrived here at the home, to have them connect in with another group of young people for healthy fun and sharing is important.  We will try to connect again with them later as well.

We also have regular devotional and sharing times on the base, and have been learning and hearing from God throughout our time here.

We are looking forward to our day on Saturday with the Pop family.  We are heading off to a local beach, south of here for the day.  We will try to check in later tonight, but it will depend on what time we get back!

 

Blessings to all back home!  We miss you all!

More Thursday…

Sonya

I had an awesome day with kids at the school. Even if I only listened and watched most of the time I still helped the kids do their work and played with them. The river swim was so refreshing after a long day. I cannot wait to go back to the school tomorrow and see the kids again. Having an amazing time, don’t want to come back.

 

Grace 😉

Today was absolutely magnificent. There are honestly no words that describe what this trip has been to me. Going into the school was definitely an experience I won’t forget mostly because of the mixed emotions going through my head, but it was definitely an amazing experience. The kids were so kind and energetic (something I was definitely lacking). I can’t wait to go back tomorrow!

P.S. Yes mom, I’m still alive (believe it or not).

 

Zosia

Yoo so today was pretty awesome. I love waking up here, it’s beautiful! Mom you would be so proud of me, I conducted a class of 5 year olds because their teacher was sick. It was Sunday school with so many more kids! Haha it was fun!! Washing in the river was so refreshing and amazing! Bathing in the middle of a jungle river is so cool… I wish we had a jungle. I guess I’ll just have to come back here again!

LOL (lots of love)

 

Nate

I’m still trying to process the fact that we’re actually here. I’ve missed this place for what seemed like so long and I’m thrilled to be back. Today, we plunged headfirst into a world of excitement and terror. Of course, I am referring to teaching toddlers. In all seriousness, it was amazing! The kids were so eager and happy to meet and interact with us, and we were so blessed to have this opportunity. We had so much fun working with them and with the teachers, and I can’t wait to go back tomorrow.

 

Anthony

Truly, thy quest hath a magnificent gift and giveth thy heart blessings great in number. Ye feeble minded saith thanks with all thy heart, mind, and soul. In all seriousness, so far, it’s truly amazing. The kids in the school were great, luckily, I wasn’t alone in the class (props to the rest of you for doing it alone) thanks to Grace’s child whisperer skill (she practically rallied her own army of Belizean kids near the end). The river’s really nice (prefer it over a shower if it did the same job). That’s about it.

 

Jess

I have been so encouraged by this team from Emmanuel. These teens are filled with humility, curiosity, flexibility and a willingness to learn about sustainable service and missions (I certainly was not as open minded at their age!). We are slowly uncovering together God’s heart and vision for international work, and His mission of reconciliation. My prayer is that He would keep guiding us in building partnership with the community of Armenia and that, ultimately, He would be glorified. Thank you for praying for us!

 

Thursday…

We woke to a beautiful sunrise over the jungle after a great night of sleep! Pancakes and fresh scrambled eggs started our day today as we headed to the elementary school to help in the classrooms.

We were so well received in the school and all of us were welcomed into the classes to help with many lessons!

I will have the students post some of their thoughts tonight and tomorrow.  We just got back from a refreshing river swim and are about to eat supper…vegetable rice and baked chicken!  Everyone is doing extremely well!  More later….