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.

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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!

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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!