Thursday, June 20, 2013


Hello from Punta Gorda (PG)!  Once again, sorry for the delay.  We have been very busy and have not had much time to make it in to PG to write.

Day 1 at the villages doing our education projects and construction.

Aguacate - Jane, Leah, Jim and Derlene met the students and staff at Aguacate.  They played musical chairs, simon says, did the 'duck dance' while Jane played the accordion, passed out hygiene items and taught the older children the cupid shuffle! They found out a few interesting things on the culture such as the principal and staff are selected to work at Aguacate instead of the principal interviewing and hiring staff.  Also, when women get engaged, they get a ring on their left ring finger and when they get married they put the second ring on their left middle finger.

Corazon - Nancy, Ann, Alli and Nick visited Corazon Creek village and gave out gel bracelets, coloring books and candy bracelets.  After the candy bracelets, they asked the students "what do you do after you eat candy?" and the students already knew "brush brush brush!".  The students played soccer against Nick and Alli and really enjoyed that.  Nick also dressed up in a 'cat in the hat' costume and read books to the students - they loved it!

San Lucas (Construction) - Keith, Bill, Jerry and Todd started wrapping up the construction at the new San Lucas school.  This included hanging cement boards (acting as drywall, but used cement so the walls would not mold).  It was very labor intensive as they had minimal hand tools and no power tools. They finished about 90% of the boards on day 1.  Keith also enjoyed trading jokes and riddles with the children.

Santa Theresa - Emily, Sarah, Shannon and Bob visited Santa Theresa and passed out flip flops for the kids, taught hygiene lessons after passing out candy bracelets, and played soccer.  The principal kindly invited them to their house for lunch.  They met a very interesting saleswoman (a young girl) who screamed "DO YOU WANT TO BUY MY BRACELETS??!!" and SPRINTED BAREFOOT about a mile away to get her bracelets for the team to buy.  She is now nicknamed the 'screamer'.

Day 2 at the villages doing our education projects and construction.

Aguacate - Derlene, Jim and Leah helped the children write pen pal letters back to the States and took pictures of each child so they could send a photo in their letter AND get a copy to keep. They also taught the cupid shuffle to the older kids and at the end of the day got everyone (including the principal) outside doing the dance to the actual music. They did some hand puppets and Jim dressed up as 'cat in the hat' while reading Dr. Seuss books.  The kids always say 'Sir' or 'Miss' and like to do their best job so they often ask "like this, miss??". They are all very polite and say "good morning, miss" or "good afternoon, sir" and not once have we heard "yeah" they always say "yes."

Corazon - Nancy, Alli, Nick, Ann and Jane played musical chairs while Jane played the accordion and they did the duck dance and hokey pokey too.  After lunch they did hand puppets while the older kids drew pictures for water color painting the next day.  Nancy and Nick asked two little girls to ask the Cabanaras (traveling salesmen) if they had hammocks and they each bought one.  After lunch one of the local students took them to the newly built St. Francis church in Corazon.  They also visited a craftsman home that did wood carvings and basket weaving.

San Lucas (Construction) - Bob, Todd, Keith and Bill joined in day 2 of construction by finishing the cement boards and painting the inside of the school lavender (even the ceiling!).  The kids even joined in by painting their crocs (shoes) while they were on their feet!  Bob and Todd did the fascia and soffits.  The team enjoyed a local meal of stew beans and black corn tortillas. 

Santa Theresa - Jerry, Emily, Sarah and Shannon watched Standard 6 (their elementary schools call it 'standards' instead of 'grades') graduation practice and the marching for the ceremony.  They did bubbles with the kids, read books, did water color painting, made puppets and played volleyball and soccer - it was quite an eventful day.  One interesting thing was how the children sharpened their pencils - Shannon asked the kids to go sharpen their pencils and they brought back a machette to do so!  Jerry is now a local celebrity as he was interviewed by the local radio station, 96.1 Blue Creek (Jordan).  The team also found a Minnesota sign that was left down there a few years ago from students at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Day 3 at the villages doing our education projects and construction.  The biggest thing of the day - our 17th team member arrived safely from the states - TJ!!!!

Corazon - Nancy, Nick Alli and Jerry went to Corazon for a few hours to play volleyball - even the principal joined in and she was quite good, she likes to spike the ball!  They joined the principal and all the teachers for lunch at a local's home.  The older students received their water colors to finish up their art project from Tuesday and the younger children played duck duck goose.  All the children's received poppers (a little round toy). 

Conejo - Jim, Ann and Leah visited Conejo for the first time.  The most impressive thing was a computer lab with 14 computers which was donated by an American company.  Although these kids were still in need of basic school suppliers (which we will drop off later in the week) as not all of them had extra pencils.  The female students had won several trophies for soccer over the last few years.  They passed out flip flops and did pen pal letters with pictures, as well as Dr. Seuss for the little kids.  

San Lucas - Derlene and Shannon visited San Lucas.  Since the school was under construction, they held classes in the church.  They also taught the cupid shuffle and the teacher requested that they focus on Standard 6 as they will now include the cupid shuffle in their graduation ceremony on Friday!

Santa Theresa - Emily, Sarah and Jane joined the Santa Theresa students.  Jane played the accordion while Emily and Sarah danced the polka (which may have involved the 'sprinkler' dance moves too!).  The kids were fascinated by Jane's hair - they kept patting it and touching it!

San Lucas (Construction) - Bob, Bill, Todd and Keith finished painting the outside of the building by lunch time.  It is a dark grey color.  For lunch, they had the most delicious meal of curry chicken and cabbage rice.  After that, they played soccer with the students until the rest of the teams arrived.

At the end of the day, all of us (including TJ!) went in to PG for the Social Economic Organization's event held by the director, Miss Dorla where we enjoyed some local beer, wine (made by the nuns) and homemade salsa and chips.  We were able to shop for local handmade items such as baskets, seasonings and coffee.  Then the team had dinner at a local restaurant which was delicious.

Phew....write more later this week when we have time!  Miss and love you all!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday June 16th

Hello from Punta Gorda!

We are one day late on Sunday's update due to internet troubles, but we are now in an internet cafe in Punta Gorda.

Yesterday was quite eventful!  We started the day with a delicious breakfast at Tranquility Lodge; french toast, sausage, papaya, watermelon, banana, pineapple.  Then we headed over to Corazon Creek Technical High School for their first graduation ever.  The motto for the graduation was "Together we have experienced our lives, separately we will pursue our dreams and forever our memories will remain."  The graduates sang "Unwritten", "The Climb" and "We are the World".  All graduates received a $1000 scholarship to attend the local University in Punta Gorda. 

The speeches were fantastic.  Ofelia Tush, the Valedictorian, had a very memorable speech; it was so touching it brought tears to our eyes.  As was the guest speaker's speech.  Some quotes that stuck with our team were "Live in poverty, but do not let poverty live in you" and "be a producer, not a consumer".  We also witnessed four of the All Saints scholarship recipients graduate and following the graduation we went to Amalia Caal's house (one of the recipients) to help celebrate.  We enjoyed some tasty food comprised of "Calda" (chicken and broth) and "Poch" (hand ground corn wrapped in a palm leaf).  While eating, a chicken walked in to Allison's juice!  That was so funny, you had to be there.  We wrapped up the celebration with some photos and dancing performed by Sarah, Emily, Shannon and Allison. 

Part of the team moved on to Aguacate to enjoy a church celebration (under the new roof that All Saints helped to pay for) and more local cuisine comprised of chicken and tortillas.  In talking to a local, he was very excited about the new solar power project coming to San Lucas.  Each family will get their own solar panel.

We also found out the hard way that this was one of the first real rains of the season; Todd and Jim were able to show off their swimming skills!

We miss you all and will try to update as soon as possible.  Everyone is having a great time and we are safe. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Day one we are here!

The team arrived safely and enjoyed a nice local dinner after the long drive to Tranquility Lodge. More to come tomorrow.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"All our bags are packed, we're ready to go..."

Yet another team is heading to Belize for the June 2013 trip!

We have a team of 17 unique and passionate individuals, bringing 30 suitcases (full of donations thanks to many of you!) visiting 5 villages, 5 schools and 1 construction site over the course of 9 days.

Our team is looking forward to this experience and will be updating families and friends through this blog over the course of the trip as often as possible.  We have heard from prior trips that it's not likely we will have access to the internet until a day or two after we arrive, so do not panic!  We will let you know we arrived as soon as we can.

Thanks for your support and stay tuned for details of this amazing journey ahead.

Attempting to attach some pictures from our packing session...

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