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.