So today we started off with doing our daily devotions in our book about Joseph. Today's devotion was about favoritism When we insult people we are really insulting how God made them. After that we had some magnificent muffins, fresh pineapple, and eggs from Mrs. Suzannah for breakfast. After breakfast 6 of the guys went to the dump to get rid of all the trash from the truck. Elijah and Alex said "Nah" and stayed to help Mrs. Suzannah with dishes and cleaning...which was the wise choice as some of the guys came back smelling like a dead body. Once we all rejoined, we headed over to the church to dig the foundation for a fence.
We started to dig the Mariana Trench. Well, it might have come short a few feet, but details, details. Meanwhile, we cycled out Trey, Andrew, and Elijah to clean the upstairs of the church, which happened to be infested by city birds that migrated because... season reasons. The rest of us were digging. Once we dug out the path for the foundation, we headed off to eat lunch. For lunch we had cheese sandwiches and the watermelon we had bought at the market yesterday. After that we continued digging our trench for a few hours. The digging was really hard work. Lots of rock and roots got in our way. NOT to mention all the blisters we obtained from the digging. After all the hard work, we were really proud of what we had accomplished! Even though it was hard, we all learned valuable life lessons about working together.
After all the hard work, we took cool showers to relax us. For dinner we had some palatable spaghetti made by the world famous Mrs. Suzannah (P.S she is an amazing cook). We then all got ready for our last church service here in Belize. Alex did a great job playing the sax and the quartet did a superior job on their song. Pastor Andrew preached on laying aside all weights that hinder your walk with God. To conclude it was a hard but good day.
Elijah Thomas and Andrew James
WOWZA! I am finally a man! Today marks my 18th year of being on this planet. and let me tell you... its had its ups and downs. But today, was a good day. We woke up at 5am to see the sunrise on the bay. It was absolutely breathtaking! Breakfast was amazing! ( as expected) We went to chocolate factory after breakfast. Its so crazy to see how chocolate is made in Belize. Afterwards, we went to the market to buy groceries for Ms. Suzannah. the market is exactly how you would expect a market in Belize. we went to a couple of stores in downtown Punta Gorda. It was cool. I went on my final college visit before I make my decision, The University of Belize. The good thing is they have a civil engineering degree, so my decision is easy! UB has everything to offer so I grabbed an application to fill out, but apparently I need parental permission...and funding. For lunch, we had loaded nachos! I love loaded nachos! It was super awesomely good. We went to the waterfalls after lunch! The falls are so beautiful. Elijah peed his pants (figuratively not literally) trying to work up the courage to jump off the cliff into the water. It was actually hilarious! David was being a lil baby about it too! Pasta Troy lost his sunglasses in the water but luckily scuba diver Andrew James was able to find them with ease. They made me go on the swinging bridge again... that bridge over the creek that leads to the falls is way to sketchy for me. I'm shocked we all didn't fall through! Dinner was awesome! We went to a restaurant with a pool table, hammocks, and checkers! To eat, we all had different burgers and fries. The burgers, however, were made with chicken instead of beef. It sounds gross but it was really tasty. when we returned back to house, there was a birthday surprise for me: cake and ice cream! how did they know I love cake and ice cream? The rest of the night was chill as we went to bed. This is definitely the best Birthday I've ever had! God is Great! I guess I'll just have to come to Belize again next year!
Falling Into a Great Birthday
The one Sunday for our group in Belize was a big day on the trip itinerary. We had practiced several specials to sing for the worship service at New Hope Baptist Church, and Pastor Troy was excited for us to meet the beautiful people of Belize that God was bringing together and forming into New Hope Baptist Church.
We ate a quick breakfast and headed out for the building, and helped get doors and windows opened and curtains opened. (The church, as per cultural norms for the area, does not have any climate control, so opening doors and windows to get air flowing is a top priority.)
The church family started to arrive. Sheldon, a garifuna man well over six feet tall, brought in his adorable little boy and his half gallon jug of Crystal water. George and Laurita, the Spanish/East Indian couple who are to be married at the church in a couple weeks, arrived, Laurita with her earnest good nature and George with his smiling chill. A Mayan mother and her children came through the doors, and the little ones headed straight to the room where they would sing and hear their gospel lesson. And Dave, the American citizen who has lived in Belize for over forty years, carried in the arrangement of flowers from his backyard that his wife had brought every week before losing her battle with cancer just two weeks prior.
Pastor Troy told us that the norm in this area has been for neighborhoods to be inhabited by one ethnic group, and for churches to be attended only by inhabitants of the neighborhood in which it is located. New Hope Baptist Church has been a beautiful example of breaking out of this mold, and as we sat among creoles and mestizos and sang in the choir with anglos and mayans, this beautiful Gospel mold-breaking was on full display.
Our group provided several songs of special music, with all of us participating in some singing and Alex, David, and Andrew contributing instrumental pieces. Our songs were situated between memory verse quoting, taking up the offering (featuring new giving envelopes we brought with us), and testimonies from the church members.
One testimony was shared by Hamlet, a man who helps Pastor Troy out with a great deal of manual labor around the church facility and the Lewis home and grounds. Hamlet shared with us that he had made a decision to obey Christ by regularly contributing his tithe to the church offering. In the week after that decision, he had, for the first time in his life, caught an iguana while he was doing work on Pastor Troy's home grounds. The iguana had provided 38 eggs and, between the meat and the eggs, three meals for his family. (Iguana and guana eggs are a real thing here, and considered a delicacy.)
Pastor Troy preached a great message out of Psalm 63, and after the service, he dealt with a twenty-year-old young man by the name of Martin, which resulted in Martin trusting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior! Due to many cultural factors, many of the conversions and discipleship progress that has happened at the church have come only after many months, and sometimes years, of conversations and untangling of some difficult religious histories. It was beautiful, on this day, to be present as God gave the increase.
I had actually come to know of Martin earlier in the morning. I had selected my seat for the service, which involved setting my water bottle under a seat, double-stacking the plastic chair in my spot (this is encouraged for, um, larger people, to avoid breakage), and setting my Bible on the seat. After fifteen minutes of greeting people as they came in, I came back to my saved seat to find Martin in my seat and thumbing through my Bible. This made me like him immediately, and we hit it off - he told me he wants to be like me and marry a white woman and have good kids, and I taught him how to dap, before the service started.
After the service, we were treated to lunch at Coleman's Cafe, which is a highlight of the trip for those who have been. They have a great buffet lunch with local delicacies, and Alex told us he was eating for himself and his parents, who came on the last trip and were partial to the restaurant.
After a short rest at the Lewis home, we made it back to the church building for a Sunday evening teen outreach event. We did a photo scavenger hunt in the neighborhood, and when the neighborhood is bounded on one side by the Caribbean, you know it's going to be fun. Our guys had a blast mixing with the local church teenagers running up and down local streets getting pictures. The evening continued with skits by our guys and a short challenge by Pastor Andrew, which was well-received.
This Sunday gave us a full glimpse of the heart of 'Pastah Troy' (the creole-influenced pronunciation everyone seems to use, including us now), and, honestly, the heart of God: from many peoples, a people coming together as one under the Lordship of Jesus Christ to advance God's kingdom in this corner of the world.
Today we started off with a Belizean breakfast- fry jack, beans, and canned ham.
After breakfast, Elijah gave us some thoughts in Ephesians 4:22, speaking about putting off the old man, and putting on the new man. Once we finished up, we all loaded up to head off to the church to lay out new concrete.
Once there, we unloaded the truck, and the real work began. It was so hot that Trey has turned into a lobster (figuratively) from the sunburn. We started off by... going back to the house for a sieve while Pastor Troy and George, a member of the church, started measuring out the area for the concrete.
Now with the sieve, we started getting all the rocks out of the dirt to mix the concrete. The concrete was going to fix a small lip in front of the doors, as well as expand the front porch.
We had a bit of a slow start, but we got a good amount of dirt sifted and the area measured out and ready for pouring, but first; lunch.
Lunch was from the rainbow cafe, with pork, rice, and beans. They had a habanero pepper on part of the rice, which is a little more than some of us can handle, and we felt some burn even after taking them out. Zach also caught a wild lizard, which was very cool to see!
Once we all finished lunch we went back out to pour the first batch of concrete.
We started out by mixing the cement with the water and dirt, and pouring it out onto the porch. Once we had the second batch poured we realized that Pastor Troy was the only one smoothing it out, and couldn't do so at the rate we were going. Unfortunately, we had to wait for Chino, another member, to help Pastor Troy smooth and flatten it. We also changed the mixture a little, and it helped a lot. Once finished, we had some extra, so Pastor Troy and Pastor Andrew made a step for the back door.
We headed back to the house and had dinner, made up of enchiladas, rice, and green beans- all of which were amazing. Thank you Mrs. Suzannah for dinner!
Thank you for your support and prayers. Please continue to pray that God will continue to work in our team.
Signing off for today,
Andrew and Trey.
Today marks the fourth day of being trapped in Belize! Food rations are low… Charlton and Alex have eaten all others. Morale is low…. We have been surrounded by geckos. The house is infested with scorpions! There is a strange family called the Lewis’s that live here as well.
But for real,
Today we held an event at church for the local kids: Race Day! Kids would come to the church, pick out a Hotwheels car, and race against each other on Carl Garner Memorial Raceway. This vigorous 5 ft. track is ruthless! After the first round, the kids would try their hand at aeronautics by making paper airplanes. They enjoyed their homemade snack while the Americans desperately tried to make them laugh with skits. The kids only laughed at poor Andrew James getting smacked in the head by Charlton Seitz. After the skits, the kids finished the races with Carlita ending up on top. Knowing this would only be the beginning of our work. Once the festivities of race day ended, the kids ran rampant in the church, attacking Charlton. We came home, relaxed for a hot minute, and went back to the church for choir practice. After that, we all unanimously decided to hate ourselves by playing 5v5 basketball at the park around 3:00. With the sun tirelessly beating down, only the natives (Zach and Hamlet) survived. After everyone was brought back to life with showers, we feasted on Iguana! Yes Iguana! There is about 30 eggs in 1 iguana. They are eaten by biting a hole in it and squeezing the yolk in your mouth. It was an experience everyone will remember forever. The Rest of the night was really chill. We went to the store for Belizean junk food and hung out with pasta Troy’s better half and kids.
Love, Alex and Charlton
So today we started off with some bomb pancakes from Mrs. Lewis. In our devotion we studied Joseph's mother Rachel about being content with what we have. After that we prepared for field day at the nearby school, while David prepared a lesson for the kids because he left his lesson plans in the States...way to go David.
Field day started off with splitting the kids into two teams, Team Tiger and Team Cheetah. The first game we played was some simple relay races to get the kids warmed up. We then moved on to play 3 ball, which the kids did not really care for that much. We then rebounded to some big ball games, which the kids loved. After that we started on the kid's favorite part of their day, water games. We had water balloon toss, water balloon fights, and fill-the-bottle relay races. We probably played water games for 2/3 of the game time, because the kids loved it so much. After all the games, we settled down to sing some songs led by Trey. We all learned a new song called "One Two Tree, Jesus Loves Me." We all found it interesting how they say "tree" instead of "three." We then listen to David give a little lesson about not being afraid. Finally, the kids had hot dogs for lunch and wore Charlton, Reverend Andrew, and David out playing tag just before we had left.
For lunch we had a typical Belizean meal, rice and beans. They put extremely hot habanero peppers on the food, which Charlton had a surprisingly high tolerance for and Andrew James had a much lower tolerance for than he had expected. We then had a couple hours of free time to rest and clean up to get ready to go on visitation to the nearby village of Indianville. The church had never been on visitation to this village before so this was a new experience for all of us.
Once we got back to the house a friend of Pasta Troy brought us some fresh coconuts. After that we went out to Hopeville to invite the kids to the biggest event of the week, Race Day. After getting rained on and barked at we came back to the house and had one the best dinners of our lives. We then went to the church to make final preparations for Race day. We practiced our extremely cheesy skits and practiced our origami skills...Alex can't fold paper...poor guy. On the way home the one and only Mike Rowell bought us all ice cream from the local ice cream place.
Overall today was a very fun and productive day ministering here in Belize.
- Elijah Thomas and David Clingaman
Today was Day 2 of our trip, but it was our first full day that we weren't traveling, so it was nice to get our bearings in the place where we will be serving. Belize time is two hours behind Indy time, so even though we were exhausted, most of us were up by 6:30, exploring the grounds around the Lewis family compound.
During and after breakfast, we shared some things w're learning from the devotional journey we're taking through the life of Joseph. We're taking turns sharing a devotional thought during this time, and Charlton led us off with some reassurance as someone who's on his second tour with the SBT group in Belize.
We then left the Lewis compound and headed toward town and the church facility. Two things happened during this drive: first, we drove over a rise and around the corner, and it turns out we'd been 400 yards from the Caribbean Ocean the whole time, and second, the church facility was new to even those of us who had been here previously.
The two-story building is mostly finished on the first level, and they're just getting started on the second. The excitement with which Pastor Troy told us about all the ways they will be able to serve more people and gather more to worship God was infectious!
We took the Race Day decorations we'd brought, and got many of them up on the ceiling and walls, so that those who attended the midweek service in the evening would get excited. We also helped with cleaning inside the facility, as well as some cleanup in the area around the outside.
We headed back to the Lewis compound for lunch, and then we took some time to enjoy the weather and each other. Pastor Troy has been great about explaining the rhythms of missionary life here, and today was a day of lighter manual work, because we needed to recover from the travel and because we have intense periods of ministry and manual labor ahead of us.
Some of us shot some basketball or played carpet ball, and some of us got Pastor Troy's guided tour of the grounds. There are trees that are called 'tourist trees' because the trunk goes from green to bright red and then peels, not unlike we will soon. There are also fire ants. I know this because I stood on a nest without knowing it, and before I could figure out why my socks were so itchy, I was getting bitten all the way up to my stomach. But, thankfully, no harm done.
We also took a quick trip through some of the neighborhoods where we will be canvassing while we're here. Pastor Troy pointed out people whose lives have been changed by the gospel, and gave a lot of great insight into the everyday lives of the people God's called him to reach.
After supper and making sure Michigan's rout of Texas A&M was in hand, we headed back to the church facility for their midweek service. Some of our guys played instrumentals and sang specials, and Pastor Andrew preached a great sermon on prayer. We found the church members to be warm and friendly, and it was beautiful to watch that warmth play out in conversations with Pastor Troy and each other.
All in all, today was a great day of introduction to the rhythms, people, and places where God will be using us over the next several days. Tomorrow starts our ministry events in earnest, and we couldn't be more excited!
We made it! After a long day of 2 flights and 4 hours of driving, we made it to Pastor Troy and Suzannah's house.
The day started off at 4:30am, loading up at Southeast in 3 inches of snow. Our first flight left Indy around 7:30am and arrived in Ft. Lauderdale around 10:15am. With a short layover, we boarded another flight and arrived in Belize City at 12:25pm (mountain time). God gave us some great opportunities to share our trip and our Savior to many people, wearing matching shirts makes this easy!
The first stop, after feeding hungry teenage boys, was the Belize Zoo. All the animals at the zoo were indigenous to Belize. We were able to see animals up close that we had never seen before. The final trek was the drive down south to Punta Gorda. We arrived a little after 7pm and enjoyed a delicious meal from Suzannah (Charlton may have eaten enough food for 10 people).
God has given us a safe and blessed day. We are looking forward to a great night of sleep and exciting ministry ahead.
We are excited to head back to Belize on Wednesday, March 21st. Nine members from our church (Pastor John, Pastor Andrew, Trey, Mike, Charlton, Alex, David, Elijah, Andrew) will be helping Troy & Suzannah Lewis, in Punta Gorda Belize for 10 days. Some of the areas of ministry will be hosting a race day for the children, singing and preaching at New Hope Baptist Church in Hopeville, Belize, working on finishing the new church building, and serving in the community.
Our goals for the trip are to grow in our relationship with Jesus, be an encouragement and help to the Lewis', and make much of Jesus in Belize. We are not necessarily going on this short-term missions to change Belize (God is and will do that), but for Belize to change us!
Please join us on this journey. This blog will give you a glimpse into our short-term mission. Updates will be posted daily starting on Wednesday, March 21st.
Will you pray for us?
"He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease." - John 3:30
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!