Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Upcoming Trip 2013

Another wonderful group from All Saints Parish is planning, and preparing for our January 2013 trip.  Tojo-kre  (Thank You) to all of our parishioners who have donated school supplies; personal hygiene items; books and money to aid our sister parishes in Belize. It is in your name that we happily share these items with the villagers.  Our January trip will include health and science lessons in 4 villages:  San Lucas, Corazon, Otaxha and Forest Home. We are looking forward to a church blessing on Dec. 30th and then a safe trip beginning Jan. 5, 2013. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sunday, the rest of the story

We are all home, SAFE and SOUND, so now I can tell you the rest of the story of our weekend at Tranquility Lodge.

Saturday was a relaxing a fun day. We drove in Punta Gorda in the morning to shop and experience Market Day.  Many of the people from the remote villages leave their homes as early as 4:30 am to take the bus to PG to shop for produce and other supplies. Trying to maneuver our big van through the crowded streets is quite a challenge, Ann is an excellent driver!

We bid farewell to the sisters at the Nazareth Retreat Center and headed over to Tranquility Lodge.  We were in for quite a treat! The Lodge is set way back in the rain forest and is lovely. There are four rooms in the air conditioned main lodge and three thatch casitas. We pull keys out of a basket to decide who gets each room.  Marilyn/Emily, Anita/Sam and Nick were the lucky ones (haha) who got the thatch huts. The owner told us to be sure to pull the mosquito nets over the beds, not for mosquito protection, but to keep off the iguana poop that might fall from the ceiling.

The new owners of Tranquility Lodge, Lee and Suzanne, are amazing people who made us feel right at home. They cooked a delicious lunch of chicken wings, nachos and salad. After having no salad all week, I know most of us were pretty excited to see lettuce.  After lunch we headed to Cyrila's Chocolates.  This is one of the projects from the Micro-loan program.  We learned all about the cacao plant and how it is grown and harvested in the rain forest, and well as the ecology of organic farming.  We got to try our hand at shelling the roasted cacao beans, which is much harder than it looks! We then made chocolate by hand, using the ancient method of grinding the beans on specially shaped stones.  We even got to sample our hand made chocolates.  Cyrila's makes several kinds of chocolates, all of which have a high percentage of cacao and ad are delicious.  We purchased some to bring home, we'll see who of you are lucky enough to get some.

Dinner was at a the Mangrove, a seaside restaurant in PG.  After dinner and a few loud games of table top shuffleboard, it was off to bed. It turns out that it is VERY dark and VERY loud in the rain forest at night, especially when a huge rainstorm comes in at 3 am!  Nick slept through it, but Marilyn and Emily discovered that there is not much sleeping done in a leaky thatch hut in a huge thunderstorm (Sam and Anita wimped out and bunked in extra beds in the AC rooms!)   Some of the group had planned to head to the ruins on Sunday morning, but after the bad storm were worried about the condition of the roads an decided to cancel that plan.  This turned out to be a good idea.  Lee, the owner, reported to us that the young woman who was supposed to come in from Jacintoville to help cook had called to report that the road to Tranquility Lodge was completely under water and impassible! This meant that we were all stuck there until the water receded!!!!  No panic yet!  Several people went down to check the water and it looked to be about five feet deep and completely covering the only entrance to the Lodge.

We had planned to leave around 11:00 to head out to San Lucas for mass at 1:30, and visiting with our friends in the village. We had a number of pictures, school supplies and other things to deliver there and in Santa Teresa.  We kept ourselves busy all day with a shuffleboard tournament, complete with Olympic music and team photos. Lee checked the water every hour or so and it was slowly going down.  By 2 pm the road was open, but with over an hour ride each way out to San Lucas, the unknown height of other river crossing and the threat of more rain, we made the hard decision to fore go the trip.  This was a really tough decision as we were all looking forward to a proper goodbye to our friends in San Lucas and Santa Teresa  :(   

We packed up the supplies and drove into town to leave them with Dorla Bowman to deliver later this week.  We were all more than a little concerned about the threat of more rain and the possibility that we would have to wade out of the Lodge! So we had Frances, the owner of the bus company, drive in on Saturday evening and we loaded up all of the big suitcases for him to lock in the bus overnight (on high ground!)
Headed in to dinner at Asha's by the Sea, a restaurant literally built on a dock, we could see the bay through he slats in the boards under our feet!  In the typical small world fashion we have come to expect, we discovered that Asha's wife (a marine biologist who helps out at the restaurant) was actually from St Peters, MO!  A huge storm blew in while we finished dinner which made the drive back to the lodge really interesting. Again, we are all amazed by Ann's fine driving skills.  The highlight (or perhaps lowlight for Judy) was when a large lizard fell from the thatch ceiling right on her shoulder! She was much calmer than Anita, who ran, screaming, in the opposite direction!  We like to think the lizard was more traumatized than we were, but I doubt it!

We managed to squeeze everybody in the AC rooms and got a few hours sleep before our 4:30 am departure time!  We all went to bed praying that we would not be wading out to the road to meet the bus!  Our hosts, Lee and Suzanne, had hot coffee and cold water bottles to send with us, the rain held off, we had an uneventful ride to Belize City, no problems going through Customs, and on time flights all around. Whew, that is the most stressful part of the trip!

It was hard to say goodbye to this great bunch of people.  Everyone was so flexible and so willing to jump in and adapt to the ever changing plans.  We have so many reasons to say BANTIOX (thank you!)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Construction Picture

We have wifi today at Tranquility Lodge, so I thought I would share a quick picture from the construction site on Friday. That's Sam in the red hat, Donna in the yellow tee shirt, Randy in the dirty scrubs and white (well formerly white hat!), and Bob at the bottom left. Somehow this seems like it would NOT meet any safety standards in the USA!

Saturday morning

We had a hot and busy day yesterday and didn't get into town to update.  I wrote "Move my picture, Miss" and forgot to explain!  When the children in San Lucas want us to take their picture they say, "Move my picture!"  I have never heard that expression before in any other village. Of course, after we take their picture they have to check it out on the camera and many of the kids have had fun getting to take pictures with our cameras, I know those pictures are my favorites.
Friday was a busy day. The construction crew was working at the Hope Center in PG. I wish I could post pictures now to try and show how rough the work was for them.  They were pouring a concrete roof on a building. This meant that the concrete had to be passed up some makeshift scaffolding by the five gallon bucket full, then dumped into a wheelbarrow and rolled across the roof to be emptied.  All this out in the extreme heat, humidity and sun.  Rough work to say the least!  Our guys plus Donna and Sam were troopers.  Donna and Randy were on the bucket brigade passing concrete up to the roof and Sam was the master of the wheelbarrow.  The local guys were impressed by how hard Donna and Sam were working, women do not usually work on construction in Belize. We think Sam may have a marriage proposal in the works from Samuel Ack who worked with her all day on the site.
The teachers were told that there would be about 20 kids each in two sessions of Art Camp. Imagine our surprise when only five kids showed up!  When we asked one of the girls why her friends weren't there she looked at us like we were crazy and said, "It's summer!"  Despite the small crowd, we had lots of fun.We made beaded crossed, cookie color wheels, pipe cleaner animals and did some water color painting.  It was a great day. In the afternoon a few more kids showed up, thirteen all together.  We had lots of goodies to hand out and there were hugs all around at the end of the day.
Last night we were treated to a party at Dorla's house in honor of Donisio's graduation.  Dorla has a fabulous rooftop party deck and it was a beautiful evening to sit outside.
Right now we are hanging out in PG for a couple of hours to shop at the Farmer's Market.  We check into Tranquility Lodge this afternoon and will be taking a chocolate tour (seeing the process of making chocolate from the Cacao plant to the candy bar!)
The week has gone too fast, I am looking forward to these last days in Belize with this amazing group of people.  The word of the week is Bantiox (thank you in Kekchi). We have so many reasons to say BANTIOX!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Move my picture Miss! 

This morning we finally dropped off the infamous blue paint at Santa Teresa! From there we drove on to San Lucas for a school mass and the graduation ceremony for the three students graduating from Standard 6 and moving on to high school. The mass was lovely, with all of the songs and prayers in the native Kekchi. It is interesting that many of the people from the village make a point to give the sign of peace to every visitor in the church.  Miss Dorla Bowman gave the graduation speech and the while village celebrated by cooking and sharing a delicious lunch with us. We had caldo and potch (a cornmeal type loaf wrapped in banana leaves, delicious!)
After lunch we visited a number of homes and purchased wooden bowls, bracelets and other crafts.  Then we drove to Santa Teresa and were treated to another lunch!! This time we were served rice and beans, it was spicy and very good.  The head of the Parent Association treated us to lunch in his home and a few of the teachers tried to teach us the Punta dance moves popular here. Sam entertained us all with her dance moves, we are not sure exactly where those are popular!
We were surprised when we arrived in San Lucas and found that the men had painted the entire outside of the school building this morning! The light blue looks great with the dark green shutters and doors.
Tomorrow is Art Camp at St Peter Claver in Punta Gorda and working on the Hope Center.  It is hard to believe that we only have one more day to work with our friends here :(

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Did I say Plan B?  By today I think we are up to at least Plan S or T!  One of the items on the packing list is a flexible attitude, good thing we all packed one.

Started the day back at the hardware store hoping to pick up the paint that had been ordered on Monday.  All we knew is that the paint was, supposedly, on the bus.  After standing around for an hour, we found out that the paint was, in fact, put on a bus in Belize City yesterday. That was the good news. The bad news was that the bus was still sitting in Belize City along with our paint.  So after a very late start, we arrived in Santa Teresa.  We worked on Pen Pal letters with all of the students and had all of the kids "shop" for new flip flops. They call them "slippers."  It is interesting that the boys are fine with pink slippers or glittery ones.
While we were working on that, the construction crew was busy repairing some doors and shutters.  The guys were amazed that the shutters on the school are made of MAHOGANY!  This is a local wood and is plentiful. The men started with a big chunk of wood and used a chain saw to cut it down into boards.  Quite a sight to see.  Meanwhile, Ann, Nick, Emily and Kris headed down to San Lucas.  They were only a few minutes down the road when a can of paint that was in the van rolled, hit the door and exploded!  Of course this was the oil based paint that was actually going to be returned to the hardware store.  Our ever resourceful team member, Kris, had the brilliant idea to cut off the bottom pant legs of her scrubs to use to clean up the mess!  Between that, baby wipes and some used lunch bags, they were back on their way in no time! In San Lucas they read a story, worked with wooden block letters and built construction paper roller coasters. The biggest hit of the day was the parachute activities.  Thanks to donations from the students at St Dominic, we were able to get a LARGE parachute.  The entire school was able to play with it at the same time. The kids had a great time and the teachers were exhausted!
After lunch at Santa Teresa Donna and Randy helped the little kids make Play Doh shapes and decorate paper dolls to look like the children.  Anita, Judy and Donna worked with the older children on two Readers Theater presentations.  The Standard 3 students practiced and presented The Giving Tree and the older children presented an Asian Folktale called The Deer Mouse.
It was a full day!
On the way home, we took a detour to the village of Aquacate to check out the roof of the church there. In January one of the men from the village made a request that we help the village repair the roof.  The road to Aquacate makes most of the other roads in the country look like city streets!
Sam was able to spend the day with a Physical Therapist from the Hillside Clinic. They visited an 8 year old patient in his home in Laguna, made another home visit in Punta Gorda and stopped in at the clinic in San Pedro Columbia.  Many women here wind up needing PT for their necks and backs since they carry their babies in a sling balanced on their head. 
The highlight of the day might have been the cold bottles of Coke on the way home, might not have been the coldest bottle ever, but might have been one of the best!
Tomorrow is Mass/graduation at San Lucas followed by lunch and then an invitation for a second lunch at Santa Teresa!  We are so blessed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


To say today was an adventure is an understatement!  We headed out right on time this morning, drove for about an hour to discover that the bridge at Blue Creek was under water and impassible!  We had a lot of rain last night and it is a very low bridge.  This meant that we had to turn around and drive back to where we started to take the alternate route, a mere two hour ride down some of the worst roads in the country.  The good news was that this meant we had to travel through the village of Corazon Creek, where Ann had planned to make a stop later in the day to speak with the principal about some potential scholarship students. Good thing our Plan B always seems to work out!

So we continued on to San Lucas, arriving just about 20 minutes before their lunch break.  Dropped off Anita, Ann, Kathy and Judy, the rest of the crew drove on to Santa Teresa.  When they arrived in Santa Teresa, Bill, Bob, Nick and Randy were excited to discover that the men in the village had completed all of the indoor painting except for two rooms (they ran out of paint), and also about half of the outdoor trim.  The teaching group, Sam, Donna, Marilyn, Emily and Kris were not so happy to discover that there were NO students at school. They had been dismissed at noon for Report Card Day.  Good thing we always have a Plan C!

The whole group wound up back in San Lucas, thirteen team members in a school of about 60 kids!  We made sock puppets with the little kids and then enjoyed some singing led by Kris. We all enjoy the Hokey Pokey!  The older kids did a great job on their beaded crosses and then got to put together small solar powered motors.  The rest of the afternoon was absolute playtime and it was wonderful!  There was some wicked volleyball and the sound of children yelling "Whoop Whoop" when they scored could probably be heard three villages away (thanks Sam!)  The construction guys chased kids and played soccer and probably sweat more than they ever have in their lives.  It was hot and steamy and quite possibly one of the most disorganized days ever, but also one of the BEST!!!

Monday, June 25, 2012


We met at the airport at 4:15 am on Saturday morning to begin our adventure!  After a stop in Houston to catch up with our teammates from San Francisco and Seattle, we were on our way to Belize!  June must be a big month for groups traveling to Belize, we have never seen the airport so crowded.  Our bags all arrived promptly, and, as usual, Ann charmed the Customs folks into only charging us $15 total for the 23 bags we brought into the country,
We made a stop at Amigos Restaurant on our way down to Punta Gorda, and despite hitting some pretty heavy rain, still made it to the Nazareth Retreat Center in just about five hours.  Since most of the drive was in daylight, we were able to enjoy the beautiful countryside.
On Sunday morning we headed to Mass at St Joseph church in the village of Jacintoville. Father Frank Schmidt said Mass, he is originally from Washington, MO.  Most of the prayers and songs were in the Mayan language of Kekchi.  The gospel was the story of St John the Baptist, and Father Schmidt's advice to us ws to go out and make a difference! Perfect words to start the week.  After Mass, one of the men from Jacintoville invited all 13 of us home with him to share dinner.  We hope that he asked his wife first since she was making chicken caldo and homemade tortillas.  The dinner was delicious. We then headed up to the Lodge at Big Falls to check it out for future trips. The little cabanas are hidden back in the forest and it would be a great place to stay.  Our next stop was back in Punta Gorda at the graduation ceremony for the University of Belize.  Donnisio Sho, an assistant to Dorla Bowman at Socio-economic Outreach was getting his Associate Degree in Agriculture. Some of us have worked with Donnision various projects.  The ceremony was nice and we were happy to share in Donnisio's big day. He will be continuing his education in Taiwan! He earned a scholarship to pursue his education.
First thing Monday morning we headed into town to pick up some paint for the school in Santa Teresa.  In typical Belize fashion, this involved stopping at three hardware stores, two of which were not yet open, and then winding up back at the first store!  We hit the road for Santa Teresa and were thrilled to discover that a large part of the road had been paved since the last time most of us were here.  The men of the village were working hard, along with the older students, to get all of the walls scrubbed and ready for paint.  Children are the same everywhere, kids, water, what  mess! 
We broke out the hand puppets and led the children in a rousing rendition of Old McDonald had a Farm!  For some reason, Farmer McDonald has a frog on his farm, but the kids didn't seem to question that.  Kathy and Judy helped the little kids make their own sock puppets, complete with bow ties and flower accents.  The bigger kids made beaded crosses, despite a few false starts (by the adults, the kids did great!)  At lunch time, we were invited to lunch at the home of Ofelia Sam.  Ofelia is one of our scholarship students and has just completed her third year of high school.  She showed us her report card and was proud to report that she is ranked fourth in a class of 20 students. Her mother cooked us a delicious lunch of chicken caldo and tortillas. 
Meanwhile the guys made a trip back into PG to get more paint and some wood to repair the outer doors of the school.  In the afternoon all of the students in Santa Teresa had their health and hygiene lessons and practiced their tooth brushing.  Sam, Donna and Ann went down to San Lucas and spent the afternoon playing badminton, volleyball and soccer with the kids.  They caught a ride with Mauricio and while they were getting ready to go, a woman was walking up the road carrying a tiny little baby and asking for a ride to the doctor. We came to discover that the baby was only a week old (delivered by C Section!) and she had walked over five miles to the health clinic only to find out that the doctor was not available. Talk about one tough lady!
All in all, a fabulous and exhausting day!  It is HOT and humid, but we are happy and having a ball. More tomorrow!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Mission Continues!

We are excited about expanding the All Saints Belize Mission project to include a new trip this month! A group of thirteen volunteers (seven returning teammates and six newbies), from as far away as Seattle and San Francisco, head to Belize on Saturday, June 23.

We will be working mostly in the village of Santa Teresa. It will be the last week of school for the children before their summer break, so we have lots of fun activities including some hands on science lessons and lots of arts and crafts. Of course we will be reviewing hand washing and tooth-brushing as well. We had a generous donation of a volleyball net, balls, and a parachute, so we will incorporate plenty of PE time into each day. We may spend an afternoon or two in the nearby village of San Lucas, the principal there heard we were coming and requested that we spend a little time with his students.

Our construction crew will be painting the school, inside and out, at Santa Teresa. They will also have the opportunity to do some work on the Senior Center in Punta Gorda that is being built by the Pallotine Sisters (they run the retreat center where we stay).  There is also the possibility of building some pig pens to help support the Socio-Economic Outreach Program.

We planned our activities for the week and then recently found out that school will not be in session in Santa Teresa on Friday because of an end of the year teacher meeting.  Daily change of plans are pretty much typical on a trip to Belize!  So on Friday we will be running an Arts and Crafts Camp for 50 or so children at St. Peter Claver School in Punta Gorda.

Take a look at the map below.  If you find Punta Gorda, that is the main town near where we will be.  Go a little north and west to find Forest Home.  The Nazareth Retreat Center is in Forest Home.  The dark red road is the paved road, the smaller roads are dirt.  Follow the main road NW to Dump (yes that is the name of the town!) and continue towards San Antonio.  Head SW through Blue Creek, then through Jordan to get to Santa Teresa.  This ride will take around 90 minutes each day. 

We hope to update this blog each day while we are in Belize.  So keep checking back to hear about our adventure! 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Time to Awaken

Mayan leader speaks about 2012:

"We need to work together for peace, and balance with the other side. We need to take care of the Earth that feeds and shelters us. We need to put our entire mind and heart into pursuing unity and unity now, to confront the other side and preserve life...Now is the time to awaken and take action. Everyone is needed. You are not here for no reason. Everyone who is here now has an important purpose. This is a hard but a special time. We have the opportunity for growth, but we must be ready for this moment in history."

Friday, January 27, 2012

27 pictures for you

Hopefully these pictures will speak volumes of our trip to Belize.
We all were touched by the love, compassion and energy the Mayan
villages shared with us and each other.

You have been sent 27 pictures.


These pictures were sent with Picasa, from Google.
Try it out here:

Monday, January 16, 2012

You better Belize It

Ann had asked everyone to pack their sense of humor in addition to teamwork skills and lots of supplies. This group certainly used all of the above!

A story to sample some of the humor experienced:

Trying to visit the Directer of Human Health Services, Mr. Vernon:

In the villages dogs were everywhere, roaming in and out of schools, in everyone's homes and even at church. So we became very used to dogs around.
As Ann, Jill and Rose walked on to Mr. Vernon's walled porch in the city they paid no attention to a sleeping, chained pit bull dog at the opening. Unfortunately Mr. Vernon's sister had died that morning and there were black ribbons on the front door. Though they had been assured by a neighbor he was home no one answered, so the ladies prepared to leave the porch. Jill stepped right over the Dog's chain and Ann looked at the dog as she passed him and said "oh I think that is a guard dog" - she must have reminded him of his job because on cue the dog stood up, started barked and growling and leaping toward them. Ann and Jill made it safely through the gate but Rose was now stuck on the porch. If one knows Rose one knows that our little, short, spunky Sicilian does not climb walls since she entered her 7th decade. Thank goodness there was a plastic chair on the porch. As Jill 'distracted' the dog Rose climbed the chair and Ann carried her over the wall to safety.
You better Belize it!

Sent from my iPhone

Be the Heart and Hands of God

Being on the beach of the Caribbean Sea allowed all of us time to rest, relax and process our thoughts and feelings.
Mass on the beach Sat. evening was a great culminating celebration. Dorla- the leader of the Socio Economic Group and Mario a villager from Santa Theresa joined us.
'Here I am Lord' as a responsorial psalm connected our experience to the readings of the day.
As Judy traveled from village to village with her instruments she taught all the children the song "Be the Heart and Hands of God" which we used as our recessional song. San Lucas made a paper quilt to hang in the classroom with each child's hand outline and their name. Corazon students adopted the 'keep a pinch and pass it on' philosophy by holding their thumb and forefinger together and touching Carolyn's arm each day. Otaxha put the philosophy into action as Karen brought supplies to an elderly man who lived next to the school. Our construction team used their hands to build the bookshelves at Corazon's library as well as helped Punta Gorda's Pallontine Sisters continue their dream of building a community center for the elderly.

Sunday was a day to create our own experiences. Some chose a day in the hammocks and lounge chairs on the beach, others continued their shopping therapy, a group took a tour in the jungle on Monkey River to see and hear the holler monkeys, and our fearless organizer Ann set up a time for sailing and snorkeling.

An early wake up call on Monday will bring us back to all of our loved ones by Monday evening.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A day to rest and relax

This morning we had a more leisurely time to share breakfast and thank the Pallotine sisters for their hospitality. After a group picture we loaded onto the bus for a one hour ride to the Hokey Pokey Water Taxi which took us to the beautiful beach front motel on Placencia

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mission Trip says Good Bye or Xik Kue

Friday is always a most special day.   The teachers and students in each village want to thank us and we feel so indebted to the gifts of sharing and growing from our experience.
Meals at lunch prepared by the teachers were shared in each village.  The traditional lunch of a Mayan village is CALDA, a broth and herb soup with a meat (chicken or gibnut).  This new experience warmed our hearts as well as added new flavors to our palates.
In San Lucas the principal and teacher traveled to the next village last night to get a village chicken for our meal. He would settle for nothing but a village chicken for his guests.
 The El Caldo or mayor of the village in Corazon invited all of our volunteers for CALDA and tortillas.  Our construction crew left the house by 6am (yeah VERN!) and traveled the 2.5 hours into Corazon today to make book shelves for the library that they helped build last year.  It was amazing to witness the successes of the day, especially because the building project was not even on our original plan! The middle grade teacher, Martin was so passionate about the shelves and so confident in our teenage volunteers' skills that he left them in charge of class to help the construction workers. Bobby and Matt worked well with the children and then enjoyed the children's performance of singing Happy Birthday to Bobby.
Bobby turned 18 years old today!  There is no one that could ever compare their birthday celebration to the love that was truly felt through the songs that were sung to him. He has it on video on his phone. 
Otaxha is such a distant village that our friends have not yet returned for us to hear about their day's adventures.
Each village met with the local artisans to check out their crafts, hand woven bracelets and purses.  Carvings of  wooden bowls, forks and spoons, cups or even Mayan writings; Baskets woven from plant strands into beautiful baskets and purses are wonderfully intricate. Several people were presented with gifts from the locals who were especially touched by our visit.  The most humbling gift came from Santiago-keyboard player at Mass-who presented Father Don with a hand carved wooden tear shaped bowl made from Hoobio wood with an inscription about his love of our mission and connection with his village.  He asks that it be used for the Body of Christ.   We are all looking forward to celebrating Mass on the beach in Placencia this weekend with this precious gift.
I can not wait to add photos to this blog site--- but that will come with a high speed connection. I know it will end with a photo of one of our vans where the children wrote with their fingers on the dirt of the van door:
                                                           THANK YOU SIRS 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday in Belize

One of the most memorable experiences we have had was meeting with the scholarship recipients at the Corazon High School.  The children were introduced to our team. Ann took pictures of them in their uniforms with their new back packs filled with supplies.
They were so excited to recieve the gifts.  As the bell rang they all left to go back to class and we were saying good bye to the principal.  One young man tapped Ann on the shoulder and said "Miss, Miss" "I need to tell you thank you again for everything you are doing for us. It means so much."  As Judy watched this scene she was reminded of the parable of the 10 lepers. She put on her sunglasses so no one could see her cry. We have been so blessed to touch the lives of these young people.
Fourth day on the job  site and the teenagers (Bobby and Matt) were working with us (Jay, Bill, Vernon, Gordon and Belizian crew of Alberto and Pedro.) We were finishing up the cap on the middle wall of HOPE community center. That involved four courses of brick about 8 feet high.  Our scaffolding has been jerry-rigged at best. We continue to use it to add 50 lb. blocks to the wall, and no one has been hurt yet! Praise God.
Tomorrow we will travel to Corazon to build and put in shelves in the library that we built last year on the trip. The principal, Shantall, was elated to know she was finally going to use the library.
In Otaxha the students received pen pal letter from St. Louis students.  They were excited to see the photos and read the letters.  Mike, Karen,Laurie and Beth were challenged to work with the littlest students in pen pal drawings because so many of them do not yet speak, or read English.  They speak only Q'Etchi and are just learning a little bit of English.
The school in Corazon also completed pen pal letters. Rose, Derlene, Carolyn and Ann also challenged the students to an Egg Drop Challenge.  Students and teachers had a great time and we are happy to report there was one successful, intact egg.  Kathy and Colleen spent time in each classroom discussing penning the pigs.  It would be much healthier for the children who wear flip flops, or no  shoes at all to walk in the grass without manure.
Play Doh was a new experience for the Infant class (K-2nd grade) in San Lucas. The children were so adept in rolling the doh because of all their experience in grinding corn, and rolling balls of dough which they flatten in a circle and cook on the fire to make tortillas.  They were great at creating shapes and letters with their colorful play doh. And no one ate it !   Jill and Judy taught them how to use the parachute on the field.  They enjoyed pulling and bouncing the balls high in the sky.
In San Lucas the older students enjoyed music with Miss Judy and Father Don. They sang songs and played instruments.  So many of them are interested in string instruments because of the guitars at Mass.  However, they have had very little exposure to cymbals, tamborines, triangles, recorders, and the like. They laughed when Father Don pretended to cry so that Judy could talk about caring for our friends who are sad. They especially enjoyed when their teacher and Father Don acted like they were fighting so Judy could try to get them to be friends again. Every group of student in all schools have been enjoying singing "Be the Hands and Heart of God" with hand motions.
The vinegar and egg experiment is almost finished.  Mary and Father Don have been using the scientific process as they guide the children in grades 4 - 8 through observations and recording data.  Tomorrow we will see the final results.  Playing Bananagrams with the students allowed Mary to share with them a donated dictionary and increase their vocabulary.
Already we are thinking about the sadness we are going to feel as we say Good Bye tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mission trip update

Hello parishoners and family,
We are doing well and certainly getting soaking up the sun.
Saturday was a full day of travel by car, plane, and bus.
Sunday we shared Mass in San Lucas with the Mayan citizens. It was a wonderful blend of the cultures and the "new roman missal" additions.
Monday our construction workers (Bill, Vernon, Gordon, Jay and Laurie) gained muscles by building a wall of 50 pound concrete blocks.
Each village had a group of teachers who worked in classrooms of various ages.
At Otaxha (Karen, Mike, Judy, and Beth) the classrooms have been upgraded and the teacher even has a few donated computers.
Open air classroom in Corazon was quite an experience for Matt and Bobby, Rose, Carolyn and Ann. They worked with students while the pigs and dogs walked through the classrooms.
In San Lucas Don, Mary, Jill and Derlene met the new teacher and principal.  They are a husband and wife team who work with 42 students.  Derelene shared wonderful books and activities on prayer.
Our day on Tuesday was the warmest yet with quite a bit of humidity, but we are all still enjoying our work and each other.
Judy shared her music instruments, songs and dances with Corazon and was a big hit!
Rosaries, flip flops and personal hygiene filled the day at San Lucas. Otaxha teachers had another exciting day with the overlooking scenery, lunch at the teacher's house and wonderful students.
We are enjoying our stay each evening at Nazareth Center.  Especially, since the showers have added hot water from last year.
More to come as we share our faith, our hopes, and our lives.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Meet our third blogger...Mary DiMercurio

We were fortunate that our first attempt at blogging about our mission trips to Belize in 2009 was so well received that we have been asked to continue it for the past few years. We are also fortunate to have several contributing bloggers. This year, for the 2012 January trip, I would like to introduce our newest blogger, Mary DiMercurio:

I am Mary DiMercurio, a retired teacher after 33 years in Missouri. This January I am excited to be teaching in a different environment and getting to know some Mayan families. We will be based out of Punta Gorda, where Bill Kren and I will try to update these wonderful
experiences every other day.

All Saints Parish is traveling again to Belize to share Christ's love and learning with our sister villages. In January 2012 we will be going to: San Lucas, Corazon and Otoxha, where we will build, paint, teach and share medical care with the villagers.

God Bless You for your prayers as we begin our journey.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Leaving the country

Made it through one flight and our construction workers are ready to go international.

Jan 2012 on our way

Just a few confused but excited parishioners on our way to Belize