Sunday, December 6, 2009

More pics for Day 4 and 5

Day 4 and 5, Jan. 6-7

Day 4 and 5 were days spent in the villages. We worked with the children on arts and crafts projects...making "googly people" and had them draw and color their favorite things about Belize, and we had the older kids write letters to the students back in St. Louis telling them about life in Belize. We also brought them sidewalk chalk and bubbles and they had a great time playing with them. We also took pictures of each kid with our digital cameras and printed the pictures so each child could keep a photo of themselves...this is the first time many of the children have ever seen a picture of themselves....some don't even have mirrors and had no idea what they looked like!

The kids in our village loved to pick us flowers (which are gorgeous there)...they made me a "wedding bouquet" and asked that I come back to Belize and get married in the sweet!

At lunch, Joanne and I visited one of the homes of the villagers, and the mother invited us over for lunch the next day (quite an honor) we were accepting the invite...her young son came into the house carrying a dead bird of some sorts and his mom took the bird and put it on the table. Later, one of the teachers told us it was a pigeon...and likely our lunch the next day! They boys of the village will set up traps to catch birds for meals.

The Doherty family made the very long trek to the villages of Delores and Oxtahas, which we spent time in last year. Delores had started an organic garden and the kids maintained the garden and did much of the farming. In Oxtahas....the school children were still using the rain gauge we had brought them last year....we were impressed.

The construction team worked on the foundation of the church, and poured concrete and added two layers of cinder block to the foundation.

Anne Schappe, a nurse, and Rebecca, a doctor, spent some time at the Health was only four rooms, and the most high tech machine they had there was an EKG machine. They seen 35 patients in 6 hours. The doctors at the clinic are from the US and are on a rotation program.

In our village, we visited a house with a corn mill where members of the village ground fresh boiled corn to make massa for their tortillas.
On Wednesday evening, we were invited to Dorla's home. Dorla runs the socio-economic group in Belize. She made us a lovely meal of fish balls, Kahune stew, tamales, fresh tortillas and split pea tortilla was a feast. We also had cashew wine...and even the wine drinkers of the group (Carol!) were not big had a strange taste, but we tried it!

When returning the the convent, we noticed another unexpected visitor on the front steps of the convent...this time it was a snake, not a tarantula...and yes, I screamed again! It was black with yellow stripes and scary!

Also on Wednesday, Fr. Dick presented us with solidarity rings...they are made from the kahune nut and are worn on the ring finger on the right hand as a sign of compassion for the poor.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More pics from Day 3

Day 3 of 2009 Trip

Monday, January 5 was day 3 of our trip and our first day to visit the villages where we would spend our week.

The day started on an interesting note for my roommate Joanne and me...we were getting ready that morning and had a surprise guest outside of our window in our room...a tarantula the size of a hand (not kidding!). We did what most girls would do...we screamed, then we took our camera and took photos of the furry little thing. Then, Dave, another team member came to the rescue and tapped on the window until the tarantula fell to the ground. The rest of the trip Joanne and I checked every nook of our room for spiders!

I was still feeling quite sick on Monday, so I stayed behind at the convent while the rest of the group headed out...but they came back with some great are a few:

  • The corn crops are planted in the shape of a cross, so that God will bless the crops...pretty good planning!
  • The construction team who worked to build a church in one of the villages had some pretty strong rain showers and had to wear their ponchos and even wait out the rain in the van. Then had to dig a trench to drain water the foundation of the church.

  • Several of our team members visited villages to vaccinate pigs to de-worm them...some of these pigs weighed 250-400 lbs!

  • And much of the team spent time at schools in the villages meeting and working with the children. Some of our team went to a village called Blue Creek where they are lucky enough to have minimal electricity and two computers...this is a larger village and not so remote. Other team members visited San Lucas, where our team has been several times. A funny story about some of the children here...when they learned Fr. Don was a priest...they were very amazed and impressed and asked him if he knows how to sing the "Holy, Holy, Holy"...very cute. And, the last village we worked with was Santa Teresa, another village we have previously worked of the students quickly took to Joanne and brought her tropical flowers from the village.

The drive to the villages can be pretty bumpy because the roads are not Mike got a little creative and used a volleyball we brought for the kids to keep his head from hitting the ceiling of the van. As you drive through the villages, you will often see women doing their laundry, dishes and even bathing in a nearby river or stream.

I stayed at the convent and stuffed hygiene bags all day to bring to the schools later in the week. The bags were stuffed with the items many of you donated. A big huge THANKS!

Later that evening, we went into Punta Gorda to make a few phone calls and update the blog....and I finally got to call and talk to my Doug.

Later in the evening, we packed suitcases full of supplies to take to the villages.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More Pics From Day 2

More pictures from Day 2...for a recap of Day 2...please read the next post!

Day 2 of 2009 Trip

Sunday, Jan. 4, two of our trip.

After breakfast (at 8am), we started our day with Mass in a village called San Antonio. San Antonio is a larger village, so the church was bigger and made of concrete looked like a cathedral compared to some of the churches in the villages. The church was decorated for Christmas...they even hung garland on the crucifix that made us laugh. Fr. Murray, a missionary priests said Mass (he is also from St. Louis). Although this is a larger village and a nicer church, there was still only an outhouse as a bathroom.

After Mass, we drove to a nearby village called Crique Jute...All Saints had raised money for the metal blinds that were being used at the village church through the Shopping As Jesus Would program.

Then we headed to the visit some of the Mayan ruins. This particular one has a legend of a crystal skull buried there. I had to take pics, as my beloved Doug is a big Indiana Jones fan. The young girls of the village were set up selling their items. They will say things like "Please miss, buy from me, I need money for my family." You want to buy from each of them, because they are so sweet. We started splitting up so we could each buy from each one of the girls...however, Ann Lacker and I seem to be the biggest suckers and can't seem to say no to any of many bracelets later...

One particular lady had her baby wrapped in a swing hanging from a stick that was stuck in the ground...we are asked to take a picture of the baby, and the mother said yes...but for a tip! Smart business woman,

After the Mayan Ruins, we headed to a local tiki bar to visit our friend who runs the bar...we met her last year. Then it was back to the convent for dinner. After dinner, we headed to Punta Gorda to enjoy an evening of culture to celebrate the Garifuna culture and dance. Local Belizeans of Garifuna descent (Carib and West Africa descent) put on a show of traditional dance using drums and maracas. Very nice evening and they had many of our team members up dancing along with them.

A few additional notes from the day...Fr. Don was sporting his Bob Marley t-shirt! And, the church at the convent was celebrating the Epiphany and we could hear the kids in the choir singing Little Drummer Boy...which was interesting to hear considering it was 90-degrees outside!

Monday, November 16, 2009

First Day of 2009 Trip - Travel Day

The first day of our 2009 most of the first days of the mission trips is a travel day. We are quite a site at the airports...20 of us loaded down with 40 pieces of 60 pieces of luggage and backpacks...trying to get checked in, show our passports, make it through security and lastly get on the plane.

Once we finally arrived in Belize, we boarded a bus and made the 5 hour trip to the Toldeo district. We stopped along the way and had lunch at a restaurant called Amigos...and then we were on our way.

Once we arrived at the convent where we were staying, it was time to unload, unpack and settle into our rooms. It is quite an exhausting day of travel, but one filled with lots of anticipation for the week ahead.

Almost that time!

Hello friends of All Saints & Belize,

It is almost that time again...our next team will be leaving for Belize in a few months...January 2010. We have some team members returning, and some new people as well. Probably about now they are collecting supplies, making their list of items they'll need to pack and getting all of their vaccinations. Exciting stuff!

I will not be joining the group for 2010...and I am both sad and happy about it. sad, because I have gone for the past two years and it is such an amazing experience and I'd love to see all of my Belize friends. But, I am happy because the reason I am not attending is that I am getting married in 2010! beloved proposed over Labor Day weekend, and we are very, very excited. I didnt think I could swing both a 10-day trek to Belize, while planning a wedding...on top of a new I freed my spot up for another lucky person to enjoy the trip.

So, since I wont be making the trip...I still wanted to be able to share the experience through the blog. I an going to recap last year's trip...complete with photos...and hopefully work with someone on the new team to maintain the blog while they are there in January.

So, please continue to follow the blog and enjoy the experience.

Prayers to all,

Monday, January 12, 2009

We are back...almost!

We are in Houston and getting ready to head to St Louis. It has been another long travel day. We left Belize at 5 am this morning and will arrive in St Louis after 9 pm. We have been on a boat, a bus, a plane, train at the airport and now another plane just to get home. Quite the travel day for all of us. We had such a great week and sad to leave Belize, but we are also missing our families and friends and all of you!  We have so much to share with all of you, so even though we are almost home, we will have many more updates on our trip posted on the blog in the next week, so keep checking to hear more about the mission trip.
We tried to bring back the warm weather, but they made us leave it at customs in Belize!  :)
See everyone very soon. They are boarding our plane back to St Louis! 
Love, Jaime

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

What A Week

Hello all our friends and family!!! What a week it has been, an incredible week that each of us has enjoyed and received so much from our experience. We are in Placencia now. And I have to send a message to all of you from our entire team....It is cold and snowy there in St. Louis and it is beatiful, sunny, warm and an ocean breeze while we have been sitting on the beach today....sorry, we had to rub it in!

Thank you all for your comments, I have read them back to everyone and we have all enjoyed them. Can someone please call Ann Lacker's husband and give him the link to the blog...with all her busyness before the trip, she forgot to give him the address.

We have so much to share with all of you from this is a quick update on each project:

Mike Schappe and Conde Candey spent a day at the convent where we stayed helping the sisters with small handyman projects...they were so grateful to have new shelves built in their storage room.

Anne Schappe and REbecca Mueller spent two days in the health clinic and PG Hospital assisting with medical care, seeing patients and really getting a better understanding of the diseases and illnesses facing the people in BElize and in the Toldeo District.

The construction team - Bob Mueller (who has some bruised up knees), Chris Scmid, Mike Schappe, Jack Deveney, CArol Deveney, Conde Canedy and JAy Couch finished their week by laying more brick on the foundation of the church....they worked with Frankie the Foreman in Belize who oversees the church construction. Let me tell you how kind and generous this group is....Frankie who needed some repairs done to his work truck and has been saving up money to get that to happen was quite surprised and touched when the construction team presented him with a donation to make that happen...such a true spirit of giving and helping someone who really needed it.

KAthy KAne and Colleen Doherty continued with the work on vaccinating the pigs in various villages, working closely with the socio-economic group of Belize.

And the School Teams - Ann and Shannon Lakcer, Fr. Don, Joanne Turek, Anne Candey, Anne Schappe, Mike Doherty, Bridget Doherty, Dave, and me...finished our weeks in teh schools...each school prepared a special lunch for us and put on a presentation with their culutural song and dance. It was so emotional to say goodbye to the kids and teachers. We were there to teach them, but each of them left an impression on us that we will forever hold onto.

I will have lots of toucjing and funny stories to share with you when I get back and can post updates on my own laptop without a dial up connection!

We are now heading to Mass on the beach with Fr. Don at wonderful is that!

Much more to come as we share our exciting adventure.

Doug - I was so glad to talk to you today! Miss you lots! Will you call my mom and tell her you heard from me, I forgot to mention that on the phone??? Love ya!

Give Griffey a kiss for me...I miss my dog!

Love to everyone!

Jaime and teh team

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

All Is Going Well In Belize

Hello all our friends and family. All is going well here in BElize. We had another great day in our villages. But, boy is it HOT was the hottest day so far. We have met many people in our villages and it is amazing to see how hospitable, friendly and happy they are to see us. The children especially!

Today, our construction team finished the outer concrete of the church floor and laid two levels of cinder blocks...that is such great progress for three days. They are hard workers and apparently Jay Couch has a new nickname...Sledgehammer!

Anne Schappe and Rebecca Mueller visited a health clinic today and seen over 34 patients in about 5 hours....everything from scabbies to burns to coughs and diabetes, but they both enjoyed putting their medical skills to work by asssiting at the clinic.

Our team members that worked in the schools also had a great day...we continued to do an arts and crafts project of making little boy and girl figures out of pipe cleaners and gluing on googly eyes, we also gave them crayons and sidewalk chalk...they were so excited to play with these. We also had them write letters to the school children back in St. Louis. The kids are very curious of our lives and families back in the US. We are teaching them and they are also teaching us.

Some of us had the opportunity to visit the homes of some of the village people...what an incredible expereince, you feel like you are in a history museum. We even tasted some local etnic foods. Very yummy.

Fr. Dick, a missionary priest here came by today and presented us each with a solidarity ring made out of kahune nut (a local nut tree). It is worn on your right ring finger to show compassion for the poor. It was a very special gift for us.

Well, that sums up our day...we are back to it tomorrow.

Fr. Don says to send a thank you to everyone who helped us make thsi trip possible. All the supplies we bring are so useful here...and he also said to be preapred for when we return, beacsue we will be back at it for next year! I think we have him hooked!!!

All for now. We hope you all are doing well.

Love, Jaime

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hello from Punta Gorda

Hello all....we are here and safe!!  Sorry it has taken a few days.  We traveled all day on Sat. and then Sunday almost everything is closed...they still honor Sundays here!  And yesterday we were busy in the villages.  We are having a great time and great experience.
I will write as much as I can now, and keep adding updates...and I am finally feeling better (I was sick the past three days) no worries now Mom!
Like I said Sat was our travel day, it takes a 5 hour flight and 5 hour bus ride and we arrived at the convent at 730 and we were exhausted.  But so glad to be in this beatiful country.  It is WARM....85-degrees at least with humidity!  HOT.
Sunday, we went to Mass in a village called San Antonio - it was the epiphany celebration and the church was decorated so lovely for to come on that.  Then we went to visit some Mayan ruins, and then in the evening we went to a culture night with local dance and music from some of our Belizian locals.  It was so much fun.  Fr. Don wore his Bob Marley t-shirt!!
Monday and Tuesday we were in the villages.  Today at the schools we taught the kids about bruching their teeth and handed out the flip flops...they loved them.  We did an arts and crafts project and taught them Red Rover.  The Mayan children are very sweet and are having so much fun with us.
The construction team is working hard, hard, hard.  They are working on the foundation of the church...pouring concrete (by hand) today. 
We also have a few team members going along with a local group to vaccinate pigs to prevent worms...these are 250-pound pigs!
Tomorrow we are back in the villages and construction site after we check out a local farmers market in the morning.  Tomorrow night we have dinner at the home of one of the friends we have made here in Punta Gorda.  We are excited about this too.
Everyone says to tell their families hello and they miss everyone.  We are all helathy and safe. 
Joanne and I did have an extra guest drop by our window...a trantula the size of a hand....we screamed to say the least. Thankgoodness it never made it in.
Sorry for any typos, I had to type fast. 
More to come.
PS - Love ya Doug!!!  :)

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

On our way

We made it to Houston and are now on the plane to Belize...everything is going just fine except yours truly has a stomach virus.  Yes I am sick, it hit me on the plane. Yuck...but after a pretty terrible flight I am feeling a little better. Now I know why they put those little blue bags in the seat pockets. Ugh.

Anyway - more when we get there. We are happy we are this far and we had no problems checking in our luggage and all our supplies.

More soon.

Sent from my BlackBerry...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Less than 12 hours

Less than 12 hours and we will be at the airport.

We arrive at Lambert at 4 am then we head to Houston to catch our flight to Belize City. Then we have a 5 hour drive to Punta Gorda. We are in the air a total of 5 our total travel time tomorrow is 10 hours!!!

But we make the most of it and it gives our team a lot of time to get to know each other.

I am all packed and amazingly enough it all fits in my carry-on and backpack! That is a relief!!!

So... I am off to spend my last evening with Doug and Griffey before I leave them for the next 10 days. I am so excited to go, but I will miss them both LOTS along with my family, my nephews, my niece, my friends and all of you!

More to come. Keep us all in your thoughts and prayers. And keep our families that we leave behind for the next 10 days in your prayers too and that God keeps them safe while we are away! And please say a prayer that our blog works while we are there! LOL.

Love ya all!

Sent from my BlackBerry...

About Belize and PG

I thought I would give you some background information on the country of Belize and specifically the area where we will visit:

Belize is in Central America, bordering Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean Sea It has a population of 275,000 – about the size of Massachusetts. About half of the Country is Catholic, and English is the primary language. We fly into Belize City (popular for tourists) then we drive about 5 hours to a town called Punta Gorda (also called PG) in the Toledo District of Belize. PG has about 5,000 people and the Toledo District is the poorest and most isolated district…often called “The Forgotten District”.

PG is an ethnic mix of people with Garifuna, Creole, East Indian, Mayan and Mestizo (Spanish-speaking natives). The villages we visit are almost all Mayan and they speak in two different dialects…Kekchi and Mopan. There are 32 villages in this region of Belize, this year we will visit four villages. The villages are very conservative, so we will wear scrubs mostly during our trip – this shows we are there to work and serve, and part of a group – not rich tourists. Scrubs also are comfortable, lightweight and pack well.

We will work on the construction of a new church in Midway Village. And we will also work at schools in three villages names Blue Creek, Santa Teresa and San Lucas. I will personally be working at Santa Teresa. We have a few medical professionals on our team and they will work for a few days in the Hillside Health Clinic in PG.

We will be staying with the Pallotien sisters at the Nazareth Convent, and Fr. Dick Perl, a mission priest (from Missouri) who has been serving in Belize for the past 15 years will assist our team while we are there.

I checked the weather in Belize this morning and it is suppossed to be 85-degrees tomorrow when we arrive! We will try and bring back the warm weather with us!