Belize is in a tropical climate and has a very interesting and wide variety of plants and trees. One that I thought was very interesting is the Mimosa pudica, otherwise known as the “Touch-Me-Not.” This plant is found in many locations in Central America as well as Southern Texas. When the leaves of this plant are touched, they fold up against the stalk.
Leaf Cutter Ants
Leaf Cutter Ants are also found mainly in Central America and other tropical locations. This ant comes in a variety of sizes in the same ant hill and serves two very important and surprising purposes.
1. The large ant can be used to suture a wound. Take the large ant, place it across the wound and let it bit down, then break off the body.
2. The dirt from the ant hill can be mixed with water which, upon drying, is very much like cement.
The typical house in Belize is a single room ‘hut.’ The walls are made either with wood boards, if available. Otherwise, they are several straight polls placed next to each other. The roofs are made of palm leaves interwoven and tied to the roof frame.
Ninja and Simba were clearly upset that I had left them alone for a week with a kitty sitter. They decided to practice Al-feline law and sacrifice a roll of toilet paper each.
This is the fourth mission trip that I’ve been on. Each trip has been quite different – each with it’s own challenges and blessings. The first trip I went on was to Florence, Italy. First world countries present the greatest challenge to spreading the gospel. After all, if you don’t need anything – if you’re not desperate – why would you need God? The level of indifference was astounding. The second trip was to Zambia. Such an amazing experience to see belief in it’s purest form among people who have nothing to lose, because they have nothing to begin with! A great lesson for first world believers. Then last year I went to Albi, France. On that trip, I got to see how true belief in Christ flourished in another community as we helped build a house for a small church’s new pastor.
Belize was much more like Zambia. This country has such a rich history and the people here have almost nothing as far as wealth or assets. What made this trip different from other trips was the depth of relationships the missionary, Paul, had in this country. He has a very long and rich history with the Belizians that you can see the appreciation in the people that call him friend.
I would love to go back and see how Belize changes over the next several years. While I was there, it was apparent that the country is beginning to grow, perhaps due to in influx of financial support from the first world. Their highway was recently (4-5 years ago) was built by the US. There are several buildings and water towers reminding to be grateful to the EU.
Belize is going to grow pretty quickly over the next few years. I would like to see the churches there grow even faster than the economic infrastructure, but it’s going to take a lot of people to make that happen.
A few of us decided to go scuba diving – I’ve never done this before and thought it would be fun to give it a try.
The day started with about 30 minutes of classroom discussion on the basics of scuba diving. We didn’t need full certification since we would be with a certified divemaster. After the classroom instruction, we went out to get fitted with our equipment and then out to the boat to the island, who’s name I’ve totally forgotten, where we would be diving.
For the first dive, we would start by practicing some basic underwater skills (in order):
- Remove the regulator, breath out slowly, and put the regulator back in (if you’re not familiar, the regulator is the mouthpiece you breath through).
- Allow water to enter your face mask and then clear it out by tilting your head back and blowing water out through your nose, pushing all the water out.
- Toss the regulator behind your back and recover it by sweeping your arm back and around and then reinsert the regulator in your mouth.
We stood in the shallow water on the beach and put our gear on and then waded to a slightly deeper area to practice the skills. I found skills 1 and 3 to be pretty easy, but had a hard time with the second one. Finally got it and then it was time to do some actual diving.
Breathing underwater was really challenging. I can’t describe what it was like, but it was definitely very different. You have to breath a little harder to get the regulator to work. The air is also compressed in the tank and is, therefore, dryer than normal. My mouth and throat were starting to get itchy from the dry air. It took a little time for me to get used to all of this for the first dive.
I did have a lot of fun on the first dive, despite the challenges. After the dive, we all climbed into the boat, which was following us, and went back to the beach and had lunch.
After lunch, we all got in the boat for the second dive. The boat went around to the other side of the island, where the water was a little choppy. We put on our gear while in the boat, and got in the water Navy Seal style (sit on the edge of the boat and roll back into the water.
Unfortunately, I was not able to complete the second dive. I simply could not calm down and breath normally. I went back up to the boat and laid down – it took about 20 minutes before I was breathing normally again. Marlaina said she had the same problem at first but it subsided later.
I will try diving again – maybe next year!
Here is a list of miscellaneous pieces of information that don’t relate to a story or particular event… just little things I picked up that I thought were interesting.
- The grass roof hut is still a very common structure for Belizians to live in, especially outside of the major cities – in the jungle areas.
- Typical meals include rice, beans, and chicken. Iguana is considered a delicacy.
- To get around, people most often walk or take the bus. Bicycles are also an option.
- Many of the staff at our hotel actually live onside for several months and then will go home for a few weeks. One person said they live about 4 hours away by bus towards the west, near the border between Belize and Guatemala
- When a group of us went snorkeling or scuba diving, we talked to the park rangers a little bit. There are 3 rangers for this beautiful little island. The rangers work shifts of 2 weeks on and 1 week off, taking different weeks off so that there is always coverage on the island.
- Many people in the town of La Placentia are from the same family, which makes dating and relationships difficult.
Here is a link to the official blog post about the fifth day of the Belize Mission trip!
Summary: Quick set up at the clinic, lunch at Crisantos’ house, the medical team sees 362 patients to date, construction team completes various tasks, and the VBS team sees 700 kids to date.
One day, Iggy the Iguana was walking through jungle, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the humidity. She started to grow tired and stopped for a moment to bask in the sunlight.
While Iggy was relaxing, Steve happenned by and noticed Iggy sitting in the sun. Steve yelled over to Iggy, “Hello there!”
“Hello!” replyed Iggy, “How are you this fine day?”
“Wonderful! Say, you are such a fine looking iguana! I’ve never seen such lustrous green skin. Do you use a moisturizer?”
Iggy was flattered – If she could turn red, she would have. “Oh, no. I am just naturally green. I do like to sit out in the sun, though.”
Steve says to Iggy, “You are so lovely, I would love to have you for dinner so my whole family and meet you and see your delicious… I mean, beautiful skin.
Iggy is quite proud and accepts the offer and goes to visit Steve’s family. All of Steve’s friend and family were quite impressed with Iggy’s lovely green skin. They thought she was so lovely, in fact, that they were all drooling. Iggy thought this was a little odd, but humans do odd things.
Then, all of a sudden, Iggy found herself tied up with her legs behind her back and completely unable to move. She couldn’t even whip her tail around and cause some cuts.
Iggy wasn’t a guest for dinner, she was dinner.
International Servants has a program called “Feed-a-Child” where you can help pay for a young Belizians lunch for about $12 a month. The lunch is served on school days at one of many centers. The center we went to was attached to one of the local church buildings.
We arrived at the center before the kiddos did and congregated in the church sanctuary. When the kids arrived, they sat in the pews and waited for the director of the center to lead them in a worship service. Before worship service, they were all told to make sure they washed their hands before lunch. Everyone who works at the center is a Belizian volunteer. All the money that is designated for this program goes towards food – there is no administrative overhead.
After worship time, the children are moved into the dining room. You’ll notice in the above picture, that there is a mural on the wall. That mural is brand new. It was painted just the day before by two delightful young ladies: Cher and Opal. After completing this mural, they moved over to the sanctuary to paint a second mural.
The meals are pretty substantial. I ate with the older kids, who got a bowl of food. In the bowl was rice with beans, a piece of chicken, a couple of slices of plantains, and some coleslaw. It was actually quite good also. They also get a glass of juice.