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