Sunday, December 28, 2014

All Packed and Ready!

It's hard to believe we have another team ready to head down to Belize in less than a week! All twenty team members made it to 12:00 Mass at All Saints today for a special blessing from the parishioners.  We really do bring you ALL with us in spirit.

As usual, we have a great team. Thirteen returning members, seven new faces. One high school senior, two college students, a couple of teachers, both working and retired, nurses, business owners and every occupation in between. The common thread is a desire to serve the people of southern Belize.

We will be returning to work with children and families in the villages of San Lucas, Corazon Creek and Otoxha. We are looking forward to visiting old friends and making new ones.

Our teachers have packed supplies for health/ hygiene lessons as well as many hands on activities for math and science and some fun art projects. We are all looking forward to building solar ovens (out of pizza boxes!) and then cooking s'mores! Sweet treats are fun in any language.

Our construction team has been invited to go into the rainforest with the men of Corazon Creek to learn how to cut the palm branches to make a thatch roof! They will then use that thatch to construct a roof on a new outdoor classroom.  The team is pretty excited about this adventure.  We will be sure to photograph the process.

Thanks, in advance, for your prayers while we are gone. Watch for updates during the week.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 20th 2014

It was a bittersweet day for us in Pueblo Viejo! Although it was full of celebration we are sad to be leaving our new friends. The painting project was finished in time for our departure from this beautiful place. The school threw us a going away party that was very moving. Thomas donated his guitar and Stephen, the principal, immediately sang us a song he wrote. Thanks were given and the people were truly thankful to have us be with them. Many tears were shed while the staff presented us with music and traditional dance and a wonderful barbecue meal. They even led us to their waterfall where we joined the children swimming. It was a great way to end the week; while also celebrating the beginning of a new friendship.

Santa Cruz - what a beautiful morning to end our week!  The children sang for us and we gave out flip flops to many of the children.  We were surprised by a presentation and luncheon by the children and principal, Ms. Zita. Each of us received a token of appreciation and a note of thanks. So many beautiful memories and plans to make for the future!  We are already planning future visits and look forward to our collaboration with our new friends!  Never good-bye; just 'until next time'. 

It's been a wonderful week here in Belize, new friendships have been made and many memories have been shared. As a side note, the women were ready and waiting for dinner before the gentlemen. Life is good here in Belize. It's hard to describe, in words, the impact this journey has had. We are truly blessed!

- The June 2014 Belize Team

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 19 2014

It was an artistic day in Pueblo Viejo. Sam and Lindsey were o-fish-ally excited to be teaching art together. We made fish, puppets, pinwheels, an painted! Jim, Bob, Ben, and Kathy got a lot of painting done and we are close to finishing our beautifying process.

Derlene, Thomas, and Madison enjoyed a day full of music. The students at Santa Cruz were delighted to learn of the many instruments that bring music to life.   Lets just say the students now know the Beatles' song 'Hey Jude' as performed by Thomas and Derlene.  The Standard 6 (grade 8) sang their graduation song, "We Are The World" for the team. It was awesome to witness to the excitement the students have to complete their primary education. 

Ann started her morning going to the education office to arrange storage and distribution of (at least) 80 boxes for the libraries that All Saints has donated! They should arrive here next week. Ann also met with Dorla, the Socio-economic outreach founder. Together they met with representatives of the village of San Marcos to discuss future plans to install a playground for the village children.  They then met with the principal of the village of San Pedro with the hopes of working together in the near future.  

The quote of the day goes to the Coffin Shop whose sign read, "they look so good u wish u were dead." 

Blessings from Belize,
The June 2014 Mission Team

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 18 2014

Hello from Belize! We had a long and productive day here full of progress, friendships, and philanthropy. 

Pueblo Viejo is still being painted and currently has more windows and doors thanks to our construction crew- Ben, Thomas, Jim, Bob, and Kathy worked hard today to beautify the school. Derlene and Lindsey shared Language Arts lessons with students;  including an inspiring Readers Theater that Standard 3 excelled with! We have been truly blessed to work with such great students and staff.

In Santa Cruz- Madison, Danielle (our new Canadian friend), Sam, and Ann incorporated art and music, made pinwheels, created fish out of compact discs, and made canvas tote bags. The principal said she really enjoys having us and would like to establish a relationship in which we would come back every year! The PTA chairman is hoping we may help him purchase a new ladder for their school.

We just returned from an evening of fun including a visit to the Socio Economic Outreach office where we heard news on their progress. We then shared a wonderful dinner with Dorla at Mangrove restaurant, overlooking the Gulf of Honduras. With us also were recent high school graduates, Matilda and Candelaria, sponsored by the All Saints Belize Scholarship Fund. 

Our quote of the day goes to Ben who when working said we were going to do things, "the same but different." 

-The June 2014 Belize Team

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 17 2014

June 17 2014

Today was a wet, wonderful day in Pueblo Viejo. Ben and Lindsey worked together as a team to install new windows in the new 'Feeding Program' kitchen. Bob and Jim painted the outside of the school with students and people from the town. Thomas, Ann, and Kathy led the children in song all day- soon the entire school had maracas and balloons and were making music. 

Derlene, Sam, and Madison spent the  day back in Santa Cruz. The youngest students were excited to play the jelly bean game. Of course it ended in jelly beans for all!  Madison enjoyed being with the kids more than painting. Go figure!  Sam and Derlene watched the standard 6 I.e. 8th grade practice for graduation. Their somebody 'We Are The World'. The students are excited about the prospect of high school. Watching the excitement on the faces of all the students was very rewarding. 

The quote of the day goes to Lindsey,"don't look at me like i'm stupid!" Tomorrow promises to be another day of amazing possibilities for our friendships with our friends here in Belize!


Sent from my iPod

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 16 2014

Santa Cruz was full of life and joy today. Jim, Derlene, and Sam enjoyed working with students who were playful and kind. They played Simon Says, distributed donated hygiene materials, and played educational games as well. Overall students were active and eager to see us. Standards 4, 5, and 6 were extremely intelligent and had a firm grasp of their alphabet and phonetics. We are looking forward to bringing dictionaries and school supplies to them tomorrow. We are truly blessed and enjoying ourselves.

Today was a productive and exciting day at Pueblo Viejo. Ben, Bob, Madison, and Thomas worked diligently to paint two rooms a vibrant blue and pink. Throughout the week we will be painting and making repairs to their campus. Ann, Kathy, and Lindsey taught hygiene and got to share the letters from All Saints students and were even able to watch the students respond to their letters. They were so inquisitive and kind! We were invited to lunch by our principal and had plantains, chicken, and rice and beans -not beans and rice. We are blessed to work with such an organized and caring group of educators.

On the way home we packed our van full to accommodate teachers traveling long distances home. The quote of the night goes to Thomas! When sitting on a tool box, in the back of the van with Lindsey, he said, "one more speed bump and i'll have to change my name to Stanley, because I'll have Stanley permanently imprinted on my butt from the tool box."

We are now back and working hard to prepare for tomorrow. We are planning lessons, printing pictures, packing supplies, and cutting laminate. Until we write again...

-The Belize Team June 2014

June 15th 2014

Happy Fathers Day!

We began our morning with gathering as a group and preparing for our day visiting villages. Madison and Sam, our college girls, have been pleasantly surprised by our living arrangements. They thought we were headed for huts with no running water! They are enjoying themselves and are eager to help.

We were blessed to celebrate mass in the village of Aquacate. The liturgical music and the Ketchi language were very unique. Afterwards, Jim delivered the donated baseball equipment to the principal, Mr. Louis. We are certainly surrounded by talented individuals. The young men, playing volleyball, finished fourth in district. Whereas the baseball team went to nationals twice with both young men and young women. This amazing feat was accomplished while only sharing five baseball gloves- imagine what they'll accomplish now!

We were also fortunate enough to visit our friends in San Lucas today. It was so great to introduce the newbies to places we've been and see our efforts at work. Miss Ann enjoyed catching up with all of the families- stopping frequently along the rode to greet friends by name. Derlene enjoyed catching up with all of her young friends- can you say bracelets?!

After a lovely dinner with visiting friends, Nestor and Marcelia Assi and their son Ezner, we are winding down and preparing for tomorrow. They boys are currently competing on the shuffleboard. Ben and Bob took the cake tonight, before the week is over I have a feeling we will be crowning a champion.

The June 2014 Belize Team

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday- June 15th 2014

Good Morning from Belize-


We have arrived safely and fully intact after a long day of travel. Thomas has already fallen in love with the countryside; so much so he even left a piece of his wardrobe at Cheers- a restaurant we stopped at alongside the highway. Everyone signed his All Saints anniversary shirt and it now graces the ceilings at Cheers, alongside another shirt of ours from a pervious trip.


After a ride through the hills it was nice to be greeted by our lovely hosts. We spent the night catching up with each other and sharing memories.  The men played shuffleboard- with Thomas and Jim defeating the defending champion, Bob- with ease. One of our hostesses, Danielle, offered to run us through a yoga sequence- we're excited!


It is certainly the rainy season. The ladies slept in Casitas with "princess mosquito nets" surrounding us. Yet, we are ready for our day! We are planning on visiting Aquacate for mass this morning if the weather allows.  We have friends visiting us today as well, Mr. Vernon and teachers from San Lucas will be visiting shortly. We are certainly blessed to be here and look forward to the adventures to come!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Friday (catching up!)

Friday was a long and wonderful day.  Father Don and Rose were able to stop in at Hillside Clinic to show the director the prosthetic hand they had gotten from the Rotary Club in Kirkwood. These devices are donated and could be life changing for a farmer or other people who have lost a hand. The director at Hillside was excited and knows of a farmer who will benefit from it.
The San Lucas crew, Mary, Father Don, Jill and Donna had the children participate in a living rosary led by Father Don. They were treated to a lunch of chile mole, a black soup. After lunch the children changed into their beautiful traditional Mayan clothing and performed some Mayan dancing.  Jill led the kids in a parade outside with the children playing the musical instruments we brought.  Several dogs joined in by singing along!  
In Corazon Creek, Rose, Carolyn, Roberta and Christy also led the children in a living rosary prayer.  The children practiced their ABC exercises. For lunch they were invited to the home of the catechism for Chut, a tortilla filled with smashed beans, a sweet corn tortilla for dessert and a cacao drink.  They were treated to traditional dancing after lunch, as well as a more modern dance called the Tornado.  
The construction crew in Corazon, Vernon, Don M, Gordon and Dennis, fixed up the library (to keep out the bats!), built some bookcases and built some new benches for the library porch.
In Otoxha, Chris, Rick and Roy, along with some help from two local men, got the library painted.
The teachers in Otoxha, Anita, Jody, Annette, Denise and Ann, completed four art projects before lunch, that might be a new record! Paper bag puppets, pinwheels, a rainbow fish and foil crosses were a big hit at every school this week.  At recess the kids begged for another chance to dance the Cupid Shuffle.  The entire group was invited to lunch at Mr Ac's house, he is the principal. Imagine his poor wife having to cook for eight extra people!  They had caldo with cabbage and rice.  The school hosted an assembly to thank our team. The Alcalde (mayor) and village chairman offered their thanks as well.
We all met in Corazon to visit several of our scholarship students and present them with solar lamps to help them study in the evening. A big thanks to Gary and Suzanne for donating them.
We headed up the road towards San Lucas. The nice thing about working in the same villages every year is that we know everybody along the road, that is also the bad thing!  We have to stop at MANY houses to visit and shop for handicrafts.  As we drive down the road we laugh at the people who see Ann and run up to the van yelling, "Miss Ann, Miss Ann!"
One van gave some teachers a ride home into Punta Gorda. It's kind of funny that we NEVER got stuck all week while driving through the muddy roads in the villages, but they got stuck trying to get out of his driveway!  Needless to say dinner was a little late!
After dinner we had a relaxing evening visiting with the sisters at the retreat center.
Wow, what a day!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

In Placencia

We are in Placencia, relaxing after a long week. Will post details about Friday in the villages tomorrow.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


It was another beautiful day in Belize, a little cool for the locals, but perfect for us!  The construction crew finished siding the library in Otoxha and was able to build several bookcases with wood that was reclaimed from the library.  They joined the teachers for lunch in the home of Olario Ical. The spicy chicken caldo and tortillas were delicious.
The teachers handed out "slippers" in Otoxha.  For those of you who donate flip flops, we wish you could see how happy the children are to receive them. 
The pen pal letters were finished, some math activities were done and the students learned about skeletons.   The highlight of the day was handing out rosaries and then praying a decade of the rosary with all of the students in the church after lunch.  
In Corazon Creek the students had an anatomy lesson on bones and worked on writing from prompts. They had fun doing math with playing cards and completed several art projects.
Ann  met with the high school principal in Corazon to discuss several of our scholarship students and also met with Mr Ac, the principal in Otoxha to talkabout some future projects there.
In San Lucas the students planted seeds in seed cups and used machetes and hoes to prepare the garden for planting. The had to block holes in the fence around the garden with rocks so the pigs will not get in. They had fun making pipe cleaner mice with the students. One of the teachers made tamales and sent them home for the rest of us to enjoy with our dinner.  They also taught the students to play the African game of Mancala.
Father Don was able to meet with three of our Microloan recipients.One of them is a widow who has a guest house in Punta Gorda.   She was a first loan recipient and has done so well that she has gotten a second loan to expand  the guest house.  Another loan recipient, from San Marcos, has seven children and supports her family buying local produce and then selling it at the market for retail price.   A third woman, from San Miguel, bought a pregnant sow who had 10 piglets! The sow was sold before Christmas and five of the male pigs will be sold in the spring.  
Don M got a tour of the hospital today and was able to show one of the doctors how to use the donated Doppler machine he brought down here.
All in all, it was a solid day and we are a little sad that we only have one more day in the villages.


We had a long day followed by shopping for handcrafted items made by local women and dinner in town,  so no chance to catch up until tonight (Thursday).  The best story of the day involves a baby in the village of Otoxha.  A student   from a college group asked us if we could look at a one week old baby who was sick with a rash.  Apparently Gordon thought that wearing scrubs made him a doctor, because he was the first one to take a look at the little one. He determined that she did not have a fever and then Don M. took a look at the rash. He took a picture of the rash and then drove down the road to Corazon Creek so that Rose could make a diagnosis. Her diagnosis was that the baby needed to see a doctor.  The baby was put in the bus with the college group heading into town.  When we checked today the baby was doing fine.  Gordon is considering a new career.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Just q quick update as we are due to take medical supplies and get a tour of the hospital in Punta Gorda at 5:30.
The construction crew finally got to do some  construction today! The supplies they ordered yesterday arrived by truck in Otoxha right after lunch and they already have two sides of the library finished.
The teaching group at Otoxha worked on dictionary skills and started on the pen pal letters. Denise worked with the littlest students forming letters and words from PlayDoh.  This was interesting to say the least, and an exercise in patience. Their next activity involved tossing a beach ball around, lots of fun for sure.  During morning recess we busted a move teaching the kids the Cupid Shuffle!  We hope tomorrow the kids will spend more time dancing and less time laughing at our sweet moves.  The highlight for the whole group at Otoxha was not one,but two homemade lunches! First we were treated to Caldo (a soup), made with gibnut meat.  A gibnut is a delicacy here, it looks like a giant gineau pig!  Apparently the father in the family shot two last night while out hunting. We had homemade tortillas to go with it. Then at the second house we were treated to tortillas stuffed with beans and steamed in a banana leaf, yummy.
In Corazon Creek the students also worked on dictionary skills and map skills. They made Fruit Loop necklaces today.  They were also served Caldo for lunch in a home, but their version had casava in it.  
In San Lucas they finished the PenPal letters and played math games with dice.  While the older students were studying insects, the younger students recited poems about insects to them. The older kids loved making their coffee filter butterflies.  They did a lot of singing today,which the children loved.  The teachers here were treated to casava for lunch.  Casava grows underground and tastes like a potato.  They got to taste two versions, one of which was sweetened. They brought some back to the retreat center for the rest of us to taste.  We loved it.
Ann worked on the plans for the trip next June and was able to schedule visits to some schools up north that will not involve crossing a river!  After all of the flooding last year she doesn't want to take a chance on not being able to get to a village because of high water.  Ann was able to purchase a keyboard for the new Catholic church in Corazon.
Rainy and cooler here today, but we are not complaining!  More tomorrow, stay warm!

Monday, January 6, 2014


We all started the day by driving together to Corazon Creek. The construction crew expected to begin work on the renovation and expansion of a classroom, but in typical Belize fashion, the supplies had not been delivered.  On to Plan B!
Part of the construction crew drove back into Punta Gorda to figure out what the story was on the supplies.  They were able to purchase the materials to work on the library on Otoxha, on to Plan C!
The teaching team in Corazon Creek, Rose, Ann, Christy, Carolyn, and Roberta had a great day.  Ann did art projects with the kids, making pinwheel and a colorful fish using an old CD.  They reviewed the health and hygiene lessons. When discussing teeth, Rose asked what happens when the children lose a tooth. Instead of the tooth fairy, they throw the teeth up into the thatch roof and hope that a rat takes it! The more teeth the rat takes, the better your new teeth will be!  The group was able to walk into the village and see the new Catholic church. The church was started by four or five families in the village and people from the surrounding villages helped to build it.

Mary, Jill, Father Don and Donna worked in San Lucas. They put the new dictionaries, donated by Dictionary, to good use, looking up words and many  interesting facts. Who knew the population of Belize is 330,000? [for reference,  the population of Missouri is five million!] They also worked on map skills and did Fruit Loop math.  The students practiced spelling out their names in sign language [another great feature in the dictionaries}  Over the lunch hour they took a stroll down to the river and certainly thought about all of you at home who were looking out your window at a pile of snow!

Annette, Denise, Jody and Anita were the teachers at Otoxha.  Because of the crazy construction situation, Rick was able to join them for the day.  They were pretty happy to have him along when there was a stubborn horse blocking the road and someone needed to coax him  to get out of the way.  They also taught the health and hygiene lessons and tried out the Fruit Loop math project. They discovered that even big kids like a project that you can eat when you are finished. The group was invited to the home of Santiago for a home cooked lunch! They got to try their hand at making tortillas, which is much harder than it looks!  The kids could not stop laughing at their attempts. Anita didn't take a turn at tortilla making as she was busy holding a three week old baby boy, Kenny Renaldo.  Rick even got a turn holding the little cutie.

Speaking of babies, we stopped along the road to pick up some ladies who needed a ride to the health clinic.  As one woman was getting in the van she handed a parcel to Annette to hold while she climbed in. Much to Annette's surprise, it was  a baby!  Needless to say, she was delighted.

So it's been a crazy, unpredictable, wonderful day.  And by the way, it was 85 and SUNNY all day!  We miss you all, but we are NOT missing the weather.


Arrived safely, on time flights and no lost luggage!  We were sweating in the 80 degree heat, while you were all shoveling snow!  the sisters had a lovely snack waiting for us, we unpacked a bit and headed to bed in anticipation of an early morning.

Sunday:  Part of the group got up super early and headed out at 6:30 am to drive down to Otoxha in time for an 8:00 prayer service.  Mr Manuel Ac, the principal there, has organized a youth choir and wanted us to have a chance to hear them practice.  the service was almost three hours long and entirely in the Ketchi language. 
The rest of the group went to 9:30 mass in the village of Midway. All Saints Parish supplied shutters for the church several years ago.  The mass was said by Father Frank Schmitt who is from Washington, MO.
We all met up in San Lucas to enjoy our sack lunches in the newly remodeled community center.  We were pleased to see the work that the June team did replacing the siding on the school, it looks great!  We visited a number of old friends, and one girl, Elvia, gave us some bracelets she had made for the teachers who were there. She had put their names on the bracelets, but because of the flooding was not able to deliver them. 
We had a delicious dinner and then spent several hours organizing supplies and getting lessons organized for Monday.