Be Great. Serve.
The final day in Belize has come. What an incredible week we had. The last day started off with an early morning rise in order to see some sites before we head back to the states. We said our goodbyes to the Lewises and headed out for a bumpy ride (we counted 100 speed bumps from Punta Gorda to Belize City) to see the Mayan ruins. The Mayan ruins were breath taking. Standing on top of the ruins one could see for miles across the mountainous countries of Belize and Guatemala. How Great Thou Art came to mind as we took in the vastness of God's creation.
After the Mayan ruins and some souvenir shopping we headed to Belize City to prepare to board our flight. Our travels consisted of flights from Belize City to Houston and Houston to Chicago. Once we arrived in Chicago we drove home to Indiana and arrived at 5:40am Tuesday morning. Praise God for safety from beginning to end.
How do you put into words what God did on a short-term mission trip? How do you describe hearts of everyone on the trip who gave of themselves each day? How do you portray the Glory of God? The one thing that comes to mind is our theme verse, "but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant);" Matthew 20:26
What an awesome opportunity to see God at work around the world. Thank you to all who prayed for us and followed us along our short-term mission.
We serve an incredible God!
Words from the Grandma and Grandpa of the 2016 Belize Mission Trip...
What a special day God allowed us to have to finish our stay in Belize. I can't remember being this hot but God just continued to bless. This is the first time in my life that I enjoyed the Church service from the bathroom as it was the only seats to be had! All week my heart has been touched by the people and especially the children. It is very hard for me not to become emotional as I look into the faces of these sweet children as they clamor for our attention.
There were many reasons why we wanted to be a part of this trip, and God has met them all. The Lewis family are very special people and the Church and Village people truly love them. One little girl came up to Brenda on Saturday and told her that she loved her and that she reminded her of her great, great grandma. After laughing about this Brenda realized what a special compliment this was. I'm so very proud of our teens and there interaction with the kids. We are so blessed at Southeast Baptist Tabernacle! May God continue to bless the Lewis family and the Church.
From our Heart...Mr.Chuck and Mrs. Brenda
From Start to Finish
We can't describe a more exuberant day. From the start, ministering to the children at the St. Peters RC school, to the finish, relaxing in a cafe (waiting an hour for our drinks!), God blessed our time with each other and the people of Belize.
Our day started off with a fantastic breakfast casserole and pancakes to give us energy for the field day at St. Peters RC school. The kids had a blast playing various games from Big Ball (where Nate and Charlton might have trampled a few small children) to tug-of-war. After some sweaty games and a gourmet lunch of hot dogs and chips, Mr. Chuck presented a message about obedience and a simple Gospel message using the Wordless Book. It was a great reminder of how the Gospel is so simple that children can understand it, but yet so powerful that it washes away our sins.
After the hard few days of work, we were all looking forward to the refreshing experience of cliff jumping! Even Mr. Chuck got in on the thrills. And, we're sorry to break the news to Mr. Ruley, but Nathaniel Robert Ruley did in fact jump off the cliff... twice. The water was refreshing and it was a good way to relax before the next few eventful days.
Our day ended with a trip to a near cafe where we ordered milkshakes and frozen hot chocolate. Today was a very exciting day and we're looking forward to the days to come.
Nathan Ruley & Alex Garner
Rain and Shine! God's Design!
Our morning began with a major downpouring of rain. To some, that may seem bad, but this area of Belize has not seen any substantial rainfall since October of last year! This was a great blessing to the Belizians and the added benefit of giving us "gringos" some refreshing coolness to the air. This began a wonderful day! After breakfast we decided to use the wet, rainy time to do some much needed clean-up and prep for the 2 big, upcoming events (TNT and Race Day). Then lunch at the snack shack (the biggest and best tasting burritos you will ever see and eat) and an afternoon of shopping at downtown PG (Porto Gardo). Back to base for some frenzied last minute prep and practice for TNT. Fliers printed we canvased the entire village of Hopeville, drumming up extra racers for tomorrow.
We met at the park, just down the street from the church to hold our Teen (called Youth in Belize) Event. Our nine teens were joined by 16 others for an exciting time of games and preaching. Our teens sang "Bow the Knee" and Pastor Andrew gave a gospel presentation, using the Bay of Honduras and Guatemala as the example of the "great gulf" fixed between us and God because of our sin. Then we played games and had such a great time watching these Belizian youth play with the "big ball" and dodgeball. They are rambunctious, tough and competitive (much like our own teens) and it was a joy to watch the 2 groups meld into one common family. The Big Ball had the cover torn off and the innern bladder punctured, but it never quit, and neither did they. We were thrilled to see our youth group embrace and befriend their counterparts here.
In the End, the gospel went out to many, seed was sown and our Savior was glorified.
Start Your Engines
The big event we have been planning since last September has finally arrived - RACE DAY! The day started early at 7:00 AM with the boys loading the custom made race track into the trailer and then going to the church and loading all the chairs and tables for the race day event, which was held at the Cattle Landing Community Center just outside Hopeville (just outside means 0.5 miles away). The girls joined the boys around 8:00 to decorate the building for the race. One of the ladies from the church's husband, Chino, drove the van to pick up the children from the village park and surrounding areas. As the 40+ kids came to the center, Pastor John led the kids in many fun songs. We started with registration where each child received a Hot Wheels car followed by fun with crafts and then the races. The children were so excited they could hardly stay in their seats. After the preliminary rounds of races, we continued with more crafts where each child was able to decorate their own race car. We then ended the races with the Grand Championship race. This was all a big hit!
The biggest hit of the day was what followed with Chuck leading a devotion with Roscoe the Rooster and a wonderful gospel challenge story using stories and fun. The kids were riveted and the quietest of the entire morning. The Lord really worked through the games and message. We were even able to share the gospel with an adult setting up for a soccer game. After clean-up, we came back to the Lewis' for some barbecue chicken sandwiches. We were all exhausted.
After a few hours of break and games with the team, we went out to dinner at a restaurant by the sea owned by the mother of one of the church children - another great opportunity as mom never attends church. Tomorrow is our last full day here in Belize where Pastor Ray will deliver the sermon and the teens will sing a number of songs for the congregation.
Despite the extreme heat, our teens continue to be in great spirits. With such a large dinner party, Remington and Abby (the Lewis' daughter) didn't receive their food at dinner and ended up having to get it to go. On the way home Pastor Andrew asked everyone how the teens enjoyed dinner, and Remington was the first to say that it was great (and it really was awesome food). His comment exemplifies the spirit of this group of teens. We thank everyone for their precious prayers as we have had an amazing week and have seen the Lord work in many ways here in Belize and among ourselves.
Mr. Carl and Mrs. Sondra
With Faith Like Children
After three showers, three delicious dinners, and more than three gallons of water, our third day is coming to a close. We started the day by picking up trash around the community park and church building. On the way home, we stopped by the Bay of Honduras to take some pictures. When we got back, we helped the Lewis family do odd jobs around their house. The boys finished painting outside, set up the volleyball net, and started building the racetrack for our matchbox race on Saturday.The young girls painted more inside, washed the vehicles and windows, while Mrs. Mowrer and Mrs. Garner helped Mrs. Lewis with cleaning the house.
Before church, we spent time at the community park handing out flyers inviting the kids to our Super Saturday Race Day. We were able to bond one on one with the kids and teens of Belize for the first time. We were told that people in Belize do not enjoy their pictures being taken, but the kids were begging to have us take videos of them on the merry-go-round just to see how they looked. They also enjoyed the pretzels we had leftover from our (many) flights. We were accepted by them right away, and their smiles were contagious.
At church, many of us stood outside greeting people as they came in. It was interesting to hear their many stories and get to know them better. They have a love for singing, and listening to them praise the Lord through song was a blessing. Mr. Garner preached a wonderful message from Ephesians 5:1 about following Christ. He was able to connect with the Belizean people through jokes and basketball.
As Ephesians 5:1 says, "Be YE therefore followers of Christ as dear children." We are all our own missionary, and we all have our own mission field wherever we go. For this week, our mission field is in Belize, but our "mission field" could also be as simple as talking with the person in the drive-thru about the Gospel. Just like the Belizean children wanted to be with us, follow us, and play with us, we must also desire to follow Christ in a similar way.
Continue to pray for us as we spend more time with the children in the area and give the Gospel to them. Also pray that we have a good turnout for our raceday on Saturday. We look forward to seeing how much more God works through us, the Lewis', and the people of Belize.
Brook Altmann and Ruth Stephens
An UnBelizable Start!
It is 10:00pm in Belize and we just arrived at the Lewis household! What a day of travel, change of plans, travel, opportunities to share Christ, travel, and many new adventures.
The day did not start as planned, having to leave Alex and Carl behind until tomorrow (the wrong passport was brought to Chicago but all is well now), but we saw God work even through this "misfortune." We flew from Midway to OKC, then OKC to Houston. After a short lay over in Houston we flew to Belize City. On each flight and at every airport we were able to turn stares, from a group of 15 wearing matching shirts, to opportunities of passing out tracts and sharing Christ.
Once to Belize we met up with Troy Lewis and headed out on a four hour drive from Belize City to Punta Gorda. With a delicious stop at Pasquale's for dinner, and more opportunities to share Christ, we made it to the Lewis household.
God has already taught us many things. He has turned changed plans into ministry opportunities, matching t-shirts into witnessing opportunities, and new cultural experiences into reflecting on the great privilege of serving in Belize.
I'm reminded of Psalm 37:5 "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." This verse come alive on day one of our trip. Specific prayers have been answered. God is at work in Belize!
Thank you for your prayers.