Feed-a-Child

Link to the official information on the Feed-a-Child Program.

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.

Children eating lunch.  Note the mural on the back wall.
Children eating lunch. Note the mural on the back wall.

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.

Cher (far left) and Opal (next to Cher) and two young men after enjoying lunch.
Cher (far left) and Opal (next to Cher) and two young men after enjoying lunch.

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.

Lunch for the older students includes rice and beans, chicken, plantains, and cole-slaw.
Lunch for the older students includes rice and beans, chicken, plantains, and cole-slaw.

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.

Donate to help feed children.

 

Correct operation of a hand puppet

Today I helped out with the Vacation Bible School/children’s ministry.  They taught the school kids songs, gave them little gifts, and performed a puppet show.  My job for the day was to be in the puppet chorus.  The audio for the show is prerecorded so we only had to “act.”

My puppet looked a bit like Ernie from Sesame Street. I can’t remember the last time I acted with a puppet.  I didn’t have any training.  So I totally overlooked the fact that not only could I open and close the mouth, but I could also operate the arms, had I the wherewithal to stick fingers in the arm holes.

It wasn’t until after the puppet show that I realized the additional expressive abilities available through the arms.  Next time, I’ll know.

Medical Services

International Servants provides medical services (see their website) to the people of Belize.

They go to great effort in collecting much needed medicines, especially common, everyday medicines and vitimines.  Paul told us the story of a little girl who suffered brain damage because she didn’t have access to aspirin.

International Servants also provides free medical service with the help of short term mission teams. The dedicated folks that go on these missions include doctors, pharmacists, and nurses, all of whom give a week of their time and expertise to provide convenient and modern medical treatment to a country that does not have such luxury.  There are doctors in Belize, but very few, and out of reach to most Belizians because of the cost.

Videos

2014-05 Belize Medical (Long, 6:14)
2014-05 Belize Medical (Short, 3:28)

Belize Day 1

The day started with a hearty breakfast and morning worship service.  Paul asked me the night before if I would be willing to make a mission team video, which I was happy to do.  So I broke out some of the video gear that I had packed and was ready for the day.

We started by going out to the mission site.  On the site, there are two metal roofed pavilions, a grass roofed pavilion, and a well.  We took a team picture in front of the grass roofed pavilion, then went on a prayer walk around the property, ending at the well.  The local pastors then led us in a prayer in their native languages.

The official language of Belize is english, but there are also several other native languages, including Spanish and various forms of the Mayan/Indian language.

DSC08103The construction team stayed at the mission site to take on various projects while I went with the medical and VBS teams to a nearby school.  I stayed to document the setup and then tagged along with Paul, Steve, and Darwin to see the newly completed Rio Baptist Church.  I had a great time talking to and getting to know these gentlemen and also getting a first hand look at how the ministry works.

La Placentia Hotel

We arrived late the night before, so the sun had already gone down and we couldn’t see where we were staying. I shared a room with John, which resembled the quality of a business hotel. It was nice, clean, and comfortable.

The next morning, we could see how beautiful the hotel actually was. Beautiful landscaping, a great pool, and a magnificent ocean. I have to admit that I had a little bit of an issue initially with staying in such a nice place while serving people who lived on very little money per day.

However… being able to come back to the hotel, have a good meal, enjoy the pool, and get cleaned up was a great feeling and essential to being properly recharged to attack the next day.

The temperature while we were there was in the 80’s but very humid. A very different environment for Americans, so being able to rest comfortably makes a big difference.

Church Planting

International Servants spends a lot of time on church planting. Paul describes the process in 3 phases.

In the first phase, the Pioneering phase, the church is just starting and a leader/pastor that is passionate about spreading the Gospel. At this point, the church, as it grows, is funded 100%.

As the congregation develops a steady attendance, it enters the Parenting phase.  A wood/leaf hut building is built and the church is expected to fund itself 50%.  

Once the church has grown enough, moves into the Partnering phase.  The church is expected to fund 100% of it’s activities and a permanent structure is built of concrete.

Short term mission teams are involved with churches in the parenting phase and not in the pioneering or partnering stages.

Link to help International Servants fund construction.

Arriving in Belize

Sunday started like any other day, except that instead of going to church for morning service, I was meeting the mission team to head off to the country of Belize to serve with International Servants (www.iservants.org).

I had a little problem with security, which is unusual since I travel so much.  The TSA decided to check my hiking boots for explosives and then also decided to swab my back pack.  I’m not sure what made them decide to do that – there wasn’t anything that I don’t usually carry.

Then I had a problem with the gate agent for American Airlines.  I had my boarding pass at the gate and was about to get on the plane, when the lady scanning passes said that she needed to check my passport.  So I got out of line, went to the gate agent, showed her my passport and got a new boarding pass (which was identical to the former boarding pass).  Got back in line to board the plane and the same gate agent, without scanning my boarding pass said she needed to check my passport.  My response was “The gate agent just checked my passport,” and she responded with “oh, okay.”

Very odd – I”m really not sure why she needed to check my passport again.  Regardless, I was able to get on the plane.

The flight was uneventful, as was the landing.  The airport in Belize is a bit small, so once the pilot stopped the 737, he had to pivot around and taxi back up the runway to pull off at the terminal.

We exited the plane with an old fashioned staircase (not a jet bridge) and walked outside on the tarmac down to the arrival hall, so we were able to experience the Belizan climate immediately.  There was also several Cessna Caravans parked out on the tarmac, ready to whisk you off to other nearby islands or countries.

Evan and his former DART bus.We were met at the airport by Evan, our bus driver.  He actually owns the bus company with his brother and mother and doesn’t usually drive buses, but he makes an exception for International Servants teams.  His bus, in a previous life, belonged to Dallas Area Rapid Transit.  The bus ride to La Placentia took about 3 hours.  The Belizan countryside is beautiful – a lush tropical landscape.  Unfortunately, once we got to La Placentia, it was already dark.  Belize does not ‘celebrate’ daylight savings time, so the sun comes up around 5am and sets around 6pm.  By the time we arrived, it was about 7pm.  We had a really good dinner and some initial instructions before heading off to bed.  I also had the privilege of meeting Paul and his wife.