Saturday, June 20, 2015

Some photos from the celebration on June 19th

Friday June 19th

Friday June 19th

We were awakened by some fierce thunderstorms! We lost power for a few hours but we were all fine and still made it to the work site only a few minutes late. However, we were too dedicated - even the construction workers slept in because it was too much rain to work ;)

So we came back to Tranquility Lodge for a bit until the rain slowed down - which allowed us to do some more shopping for local crafts- and then headed back to San Marcos. We passed out the final flip flops, did storytelling drawings, made pipe cleaner monkeys and played with homemade bubbles. The rest of the afternoon everyone spent their time finishing up the playground.

Right before school let out, all of the children and teachers came outside where we wrapped a huge ribbon all around the playground and had an amazing ceremony. They did a playground blessing in Quechi, the San Marcos city council rep gave a speech, Sarah and Elaine gave another blessing and then the lead contractor cut the ribbon - with a machete :) We then welcomed all of the kids on to the playground for juice and cookies called "hard time" cookies.

After the work day we got cleaned up and all headed back to San Marcos for a celebration with the local teachers and construction crew. They made delicious cheese dip, BBQ chicken, baked beans, slaw and FLOUR tortillas. We added to the menu by bringing the cake we ordered the day previously- everything was fantastic!! There was live music by Jose and his family including a harp, guitar and violin. So of course we had to dance and were lucky enough to have traditional lessons from Jose's Godmother. We even got to wear the local Mayan traditional skirt to help with the dancing. One final note from the evening was how unbelievably clear the sky was when we left the celebration that night- it was magical.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Thursday June 18th

Thursday June 18th

The whole group was together for the first time at San Marcos! But first Ann, Scott, Rachael and Hannah went into Punta Gorda for a breakfast meeting with the Punta Gorda Rotary where we agreed to partner with the St. Louis Rotary. We then joined the rest of the group at San Marcos to continue to work on the playground and teach in the schools.

We passed out flip flops, made bracelets with UV beads that change color in the sun, and played with the parachutes. We also gave them the three water filters to use at the school.

The playground crew sifted sand for plaster, plastered two of the three benches, mixed our last batch of concrete and made the third bench. We also tasted (which means gnawed on!) fresh sugar cane from one of the locals, Nacho.

We all enjoyed lunch at the Mayor of San Marcos's house, Vincento. It was stew chicken (it reminded us all of smoked chicken back home) and squash juice. We also ordered a cake as Vincento's wife is a baker, and we can't wait to try it. A few highlights over lunch was seeing their turkeys being called in for food, the cat "marking its territory" and holding three day old kittens.

We ended the day with a delicious fish dinner from the Sisters of Nazareth and were joined by Marcelia and Nestor.

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Wednesday June 17th

Wednesday June 17th

We kicked off the day with a delicious breakfast at Tranquility Lodge as we have every day with fresh fruit and fresh fruit juice. We continued to split up in to three groups for the last time as Thursday and Friday we will all go to San Marcos as one group.

Santa Cruz R.C. School - Carolyn, Kim, Liz, Sandip, Sarah, Hannah and Rachael- Hannah and Rachael brought two water filters and showed the teachers how to use them. The water at the school is not clean for drinking so these filters will allow everyone at the school to have clean drinking water. The rest of the crew focused on passing out flip flops for all students, edible art and making solar UV bracelets (which we called magic beads that change color in the sunlight!). The bracelets came with a nice lesson from Sandip about the effects of UV light. The kids also played with the parachutes we brought and they LOVED it.

Pueblo Viejo School - Hannah, Rachael, Carolyn, Ann, Sandip- flip flop day!! The kids were so excited for new flip flops. We also met with the principal and teachers and they presented Ann with a certificate and Hannah, Carolyn and Rachael with baskets as "thank you's" in hopes to continue the partnership and relationships. The kids ended the day with a traditional Mopan dance- it was really cute.

Both teams at the schools met for lunch together at Santa Cruz. They hosted a lovely lunch comprised of rice and beans, and chicken. After we finished eating they presented us with some certificates- specifically for Ann and Rachael as a thank you for their help in the community and an invitation to return- and homemade jewelry for everyone.

San Marcos Playground- Elaine, Erika, Scott and Leah. We dug our last holes today! ... Or so we think. We filled the second bench mold with concrete to set and also built the swing set mold and filled that with concrete as well. Belizeans don't skimp on their quality - these benches aren't going anywhere (see the photo). We enjoyed a lovely lunch with Jose Mas where he showed us local fruits and spices around his property, and ended the day back at his house to enjoy fresh coconut.

We all ended the day with a trip to the House of Weavers to purchase some local Belize goodies followed by dinner with Dorla back at the lodge. The new joiners to the trip received their "ring" as part of the All Saints Belize trip which was special for all of us.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tuesday June 16th

Tuesday June 16th

We split into 3 groups again for work day 2.

Group 1- Liz, Kim, Sarah and Christian- Santa Cruz R.C. School. Today we focused on art lessons. We had a Henri Matisse painting activity, we made Jack and Jill dolls, and we taught the Infant 1 (kindergarteners) how to do the alphabet in sign language. We also "exercised" the alphabet! I.e., arm circles for "A" and dancing for "D". All of the hands on activities really allowed us to bond with the kids.

Group 2- Hannah, Rachael, Ann and Carolyn- one of the Pueblo Viejo schools. We focused on several crafts with the kids. We did the edible color wheel - the kids thought the icing was paint so once we told them to eat it they paused and didn't believe us! So the teacher had to tell them in Quechi that it was icing and THEN it was gone in 5 seconds :) The preschoolers were also practicing graduation which was a highlight of the day for many of us. They practiced their procession, and song and dance. They also met Juan Pedro :)

Group 3- Elaine, Sandip, Erika, Scott, Leah - the San Marcos playground. Today the weather was much more favorable! Mostly cloudy and a few showers to cool us off. We built the mold for concrete benches, dug bigger holes for the swing set, and started the teeter totter base. The teeter totter base hooks were not very strong so the locals quickly crafted new hooks out of rebar. A few highlights include a serious run-in with fire ants, Mr. Spinach showing us how to really use the water pump, and refreshing coca colas to end the day.

We wrapped the day with a group debrief including personal highlights for each of us so far. And we enjoyed another delicious dinner from the Sisters of Nazareth.

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Hello families and friends!

Hello families and friends! We arrived safe and sound Saturday (after some passport excitement). We had a lovely dinner at cheers restaurant outside of Belize city - a ton of hummingbirds! - and made the 4+ hour drive to tranquility lodge. A few memorable moments from the day were stopping at the grocery store and everyone going to the "refreshments" section right away.... Seeing multiple rainbows from the plane ... And fitbits counting steps while we were sitting in the van because the roads are that bumpy!

Sunday we split up in to two groups...

Group 1- Ann, Scott, Rachael, Hannah, Elaine, Kim, Erika, Leah- we went to the Corazon Creek Technical High School graduation and saw the All Saints scholarship recipient Arnaldo Quib. He was so well spoken and had really grown compared to four years ago. We stopped at two graduation parties filled with Caldo, dancing, and mahmmy (spelling?) fruit. We saw the newly built church at Corazon Creek and delivered the altar cloths that Sister Rose's friend made, saw Concepcione's new baby, and also saw our favorite sales woman - Delfina!

Group 2- Christian, Sarah, Carolyn, Liz, Sandip - we visited some local spots including some Mayan ruins, the earth ship (a house made of all recyclables), went swimming (and diving!) in the swimming hole at Tranquility Lodge, and may or may not have had a special moment in the mud... Just a couple of pushes and we were free!

Monday we split in to three groups...

Group 1- Kim, Liz, Hannah and Rachael at Santa Cruz R.C. School - we focused on water lessons! We introduced the kids to Juan Pedro (a puppet!) that showed them proper hand washing techniques, we had the kids draw village maps to understand their village's source of water, and we learned the local term for using the restroom (imagine a room full of 6 year olds saying "sh*tting"!).

Group 2- Erika, Ann, Elaine and Carolyn at one of Pueblo Viejo's schools- we focused on art lessons- mainly edible art, yum!! We helped them learn their primary and secondary colors with an icing and cookie color wheel. We also helped them learn shapes with marshmallows and toothpicks. Infant 2 (6 and 7 year olds) sang us songs at the end of the day while the principal played the guitar - the principal wrote all of the songs and the words were all about the school.

Group 3- Christian, Sarah, Sandip, Scott and Leah - we dug holes. Oh and mixed some concrete. In 100 degree heat. And we survived. :) In all seriousness, we started the day with a wonderful welcoming from the San Marcos city council rep. We started building the playground from scratch which consisted of the locals weed eating the area, digging holes for three benches, filling them with concrete and cutting/tying rebar.

We ended with a nice dinner from the sisters of Nazareth and preparing for work day 2.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

March 22nd
And the adventure continues…….I just pulled a tick out of my leg in the lavatory on a flight to Phoenix! American Airlines oversold our flight from Miami to St. Louis. We should have seen this coming when the agent in Belize could not assign us seats on the second flight.If all goes well, we should be in St. Louis by 5am.
Saturday (yesterday)in Belize was productive and enjoyable. After breakfast, we stopped by a coffee shop in Punta Gorda to meet with the Health Chair of the Toledo District. Health officials are well aware that many communities need lasting solutions to the water crisis and they are continually prioritizing future projects. Mr. Vernon said that the government of Belize would welcome any assistance provided by Solea Water. While strolling through the market in search of hammocks for Rachael and Roy, we met up with Shantell and her cousins.
Missionaries from Colorado had scheduled a sports day at San Francisco De Jeronimo school in Pueblo Viejo. I didn't think that we'd get a chance to see any of our little friends, but they were all at the school when we arrived. Mr. Sho, the principal, invited us to have lunch at his home. It was nice to see his wife Marta again and meet their newest addition, two-month-old Stephen Jr. We discussed possible solutions to the village's water crisis and how our mission team might begin to address solutions when we return in June. Rachael measured elevations for a possible well and tested water from the pump from which the children were drinking. A small crowd of curious kids gathered around to watch and ask questions, giving Rachael an opportunity to remind them of the importance of drinking clean water. Joshua was intrigued by the water testing. I think we have found our future "Community Water Committee"! After meeting with Mr. Sho again to discuss his many ideas for improving the school and community, we returned to the lodge. Marcelia and Nestor Assi invited some of our close friends to their home for dinner. Nestor had asked Marcelia to prepare a very special caldo dinner for Mr. Roy. It was so nice to catch up with, Nestor, Marcelia, Dorla, Shantell, Romana and Oscar. Back at the lodge, we enjoyed some refreshments with Lee and Suzanne before calling it a night.
Francis and Elliot arrived at 7am to take us to the airport. I really don't mind the four hour drive to Belize City rolling through the scenic Maya Mountains dotted with thatch homes and hillside crops of bananas, corn and oranges. It's nice to kick back and reflect on the success of another unforgettable trip to Belize. We usually progress far beyond plan A, B, or C on most trips. I'd say flying to Phoenix instead of St. Louis qualifies as "plan X", but Racheal and I are making the best of it. Roy was smart. He flew to Dallas today to visit his family.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday, March 20
Last night after dinner Rachael, Roy and I had planned to prepare the buckets for today's visit to Machakil ha. Within seconds Lee, Rick, Lester and Ingrid joined us to drill and file holes and remove the edging from the lids. With their help, we had thirty buckets ready and loaded in less then 30 minutes! It's a beautiful thing when Midwesterners, Belizeans, and Canadians join forces to help others!
Lee was kind enough to prepare a delicious breakfast for us before we hit the road at 6am. After picking up Manuel in Otoxha, we drove to Dolores to load up the horses for our ride. Our guides bagged stacks of 30 buckets and lids and then strapped them to a disgruntled horse. We had heard that the trail was passable during the dry season, but I think most Americans would disagree. Marcos and the other guides had to coax the horses through hilly, horse-belly deep mud, over fallen trees, and over extremely narrow wooden bridges. Without stirrups, we just had to hold on with our legs and hope for the best!The teacher, Mr. Rash, had to abandon his dirt bike in the mud about ten minutes into the ride. We strapped the 50lb suitcase of hygiene care bags to the back of Rachael's horse.Mine already carried assembled buckets and filters on each hip. Roy had a large duffle bag in his lap.Poor horses! The 6+ KM ride lead us Machakil ha where we waited for men from each household to join us in the village's Catholic Church for a bucket filter purification system workshop. We felt like a well-oiled machine just two days in. Roy provided most of the step-by-step instructions while Rachael and I chimed in helping students requiring further assistance. Manuel translated and answered questions.The men seemed pleased with their handiwork and thanked us several times. After some water testing and a meeting with Guillermo, the village health worker, we were invented to Mr. Pukul's home for lunch with his family. Thomasa Pukul prepared eggs, stew beans and tortillas.Finally, we rode the horses back to Dolores, and drove Manuel home to Otoxha. After a quick shower and refreshments back at the lodge we drove to Punta Gorda for dinner at Emery's. Now we are all happy to be sitting on cushy couches at the lodge. This will be an early night. Roy just commented that if anyone complains to him about having a big but he is going to tell them it's an ASSet for riding horses through the muddy rainforest

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday, March 19th
Our flight arrived in Belize City at approx 1:20 pm yesterday. After negotiating with customs officers, we agreed upon a "reasonable" duty for the water filters. We stopped in Belmopan, the capitol city of Belize, for provisions, linner(lunch+dinner), and the 60 five-gallon buckets that we had ordered from Javier. Finally at around 8pm we arrived at Tranquility Lodge. After enjoying refreshments with Lodge owners/great friends Lee and Suzy and company we returned to our rooms for a much- needed good night's sleep.
We just arrived back at the lodge after a productive first day. During the dry season, March- May, the roads aren't so bad, but I learned to hang back behind other vehicles stirring up clouds of dirt. We stopped to say hello to Shantell and Juio and "our" students at Corazon Creek school. They have a beautiful new building, courtesy of a Canadian Rotary Club. The school looks better than ever with a fresh coat of paint and thatched roof that we helped to build in January, along with new sidewalks. Next, we drove to Mabil ha to see if that village had bucket water filter systems. Our friends Candelaria, Concepcione, and Ruda were doing laundry in a creek near the road. We told them to hop in the van, drove them home, set up water filter systems in their homes, tested the water at their village water pump, and finally drove them back to the creek. We stopped to visit Santiago and Margartia, who have a bucket filter system that has not been working. Rachael replaced the filter and reminded them to backwash it more often.
We had a little time to visit with the students in San Lucas and their teachers/our friends Phillip and Romana. Then, as promised, families came to the church at noon. A couple of weeks ago, they built beautiful new lavender and blue pews, using paint remaining after we renovated the school n 2013! Today we provided thirty bucket filters for the school and homes in San Lucas!!! Roy drilled holes in the buckets for the hose fittings and Rachael explained how to assemble and maintain the bucket filter systems. We all had a hand in helping with assembly and I collected $5 Belize from each family, which we donated to their Catholic Church at the end of the day.
Students at Corazon Creek and San Lucas were surprised to see only three of us in the van. They asked for other members of our mission team by name. Projects presented by January's awesome education team still decorated classroom walls,reminding me how blessed I am to be one of thee representing so many who give so much for the people of Belize!
On our way home we made a couple of stops to greet friends along the way. The principal of the school in Blue Creek,Mr. Chee, and Mr. chub would like for us to include a visit to their school in our itinerary for January, 2016. We drove to Punta Gorda to drop off San Lucas' health worker, Mr. Bo and returned to the lodge.
Rachael, Roy and I are very happy with today's accomplishments and we can't wait for tomorrow's big adventure, riding horses to deliver 30 purification systems to families in Macahkil ha village.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Almost all packed and ready for tomorrow’s trip to Belize! All Saints Parish is partnering with Solea Water to provide clean, safe drinking water for two villages in the southernmost district of Belize. Every family in both villages will receive a bucket purification system which filters out bacteria and viruses responsible for causing waterborne diseases. We plan to hold training sessions helping adults assemble, use and maintain the systems. Because our mission team travels to Belize twice each year, we can check in to make sure the filters are working and fix any problems. That should not be a monumental task as these Sawyer filters maintain the highest level of filtration available and provide one million gallons of clean water! Stay tuned……




Saturday, January 10, 2015


It's Saturday night and the rain has continued all day.  Our Mass on the beach was moved to the balcony of the hotel where it was dry. The Mass was a special treat for all. We all shared special memories from the week. The "bread" for Eucharist was a flour tortilla which was the perfect end to the week.  We were all happy to give thanks (BANTIOX!) for this wonderful shared experience.


Friday was a bittersweet day for all, joy at end of the week celebrations and a little sadness that we have to leave our friends.

In San Lucas the students worked on a beautiful activity to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, made word puzzles and completed paper globes. The students surprised our team with a beautiful banner signed by all of the children. The banner will certainly find a special home at All Saints.  

In Otoxha it was a fast last morning. As soon as we got into the villages the kids begged us to "dance with us, Miss!" so we lined up and made a total spectacle dancing the Cupid Shuffle in yet another village.  We did an activity with each class including making Fruit Loop necklaces and mini marshmallow/toothpick structures.    We were invited to two different homes and served the Royal Rat (gibnut) in one of them. This is an animal that looks like a giant (up to 25 pounds) guinea pig.  After lunch we were treated to a lovely presentation by the students and teachers. They sang their national anthem and gave gifts and lovely speeches to al of our volunteers.  Father Don was able to drive over to Otoxha and join in the celebration.

The day in Corazon Creek was full of celebrations.  Our teachers and construction crew were invited to lunch at the home of Sebastian. He serves as both the Alcalde (mayor) and the Catechist.  From there they moved to the new Catholic Church where they presented a chalice and paten to the church. They were gifts from the wife of a member of the Knights of Columbus who passed away.  Sebastian was surprised and pleased.
After lunch the group moved to the community center for a presentation by the children. Almost every family showed up as well. They performed their native dances and invited Rose to join in! One of the families let her borrow a native blouse and skirt and helped her get dressed to dance. It was a sight to see!  After the dancing, lovely speeches were made as gifts were presented to all the team members.  
The day there was not yet over. Each family was presented a solar lamp and given instructions on how to use them.  In a village with no electricity this is huge! We heard that one of our scholarship students who received a lamp last year sat up reading until 2 am, just because she could.
Saying goodbye to our friends in Corazon was not easy, but we know we will be back again next year.
Father Derrick Vo and Dorla joined us for dinner back at the retreat center and it was nice to visit. In the small world way that is Belize, Father Vo was in the seminary with the nephew of our teammate Linda.
We had another wonderful moment involving Linda. Her family donated some money "for a special need."  Ann asked the Sisters if they had a special need and they told her about a man in a remote village (Dolores) who needs to travel to Belize City for a colon operation.  He does not have the money for the cost of travel and medical care and the Sisters were looking for a way to assist him. Once again, the hand of God was with us as the cost of the operation was the exact amount that was collected by Linda's family :)

There are so many other wonderful stories about the week that we will share with you when we get back home.
We are hoping for a sunny day tomorrow, or at least a dry day!



We've made it to the beach where it is rainy and gloomy, but still 80 degrees warmer than home!  Internet is sketchy, so we'll post more about Friday when we get a better connection.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


We are all a little sad that it is already Thursday :(  The week has gone by so fast.  Today was a crazy and wonderful day.

We took the long route to our villages, stopping to shop for carved wooded items from our old friends in Mabilha Village.  We have had a lot of rain and the roads today would make a great new ride at Six Flags!

At San Lucas, Don, Jill, Mary, Ann and Allie worked on art projects, pen pal letters, made fruit loop necklaces and formed letters out of pipe cleaners.
The most special moment of the day was when the group was asked by a family to bless their grandmother who is very ill. They were honored to pray together with the family.

In Otoxha Rick gave a first aid presentation not only to the children, but to several adults in the village as well. There is a new Peace Corps worker and a new Health Care Volunteer in the village and they were excited to learn from Rick and promised to put the first aid kits to good use.
Hans, Jen, Jody and Linda finished the Pen Pal letters with the students and sang This Little Light of Mine while the kids each got a small little battery operated tealight. They were invited to lunch in two homes where Hans took one for the team by eating BOTH his and Jen's bowls of caldo!

Corazon Creek was a busy place today.  The construction crew was pleased to see that the men of the village had already poured the new concrete floor for the outdoor classroom by the time we arrived this morning.  Ther rest of the day was spent painting the school both inside and out.
The teachers in Corazon, Mary Pat, Cathy, Mike and Rose made bracelets with solar beads, made Fruit Loop necklaces and TRIED to bake s'mores in the pizza box solar ovens.  Of course right after the s'mores were placed in the ovens the rain started!  This did not dampen their enthusiam one bit.
There were several amusing moments in Corazon today. After all of the s'mores were "baked" there was about a half bag of marhsmallows left over. We offered them to a few of the local men who were doing construction and the next thing we knew all of the guys came running over, just like little kids, to get their marshmallow!!  It was a highlight of the week to see their joy at getting such a simple treat.
We broke out the iPod and introduced Corazon to the Cupid Shuffle.  We definitely provided the comic releif as we had most of the village lined up watching us dance!  Nick was a good sport, telling one of the men that if he would get up and dance that he would join him and sure enough, they both did. 
Our new friend, Molly, a Peace Corp volunteer in Corazon, drove back to join us for dinner at the Retreat Center.  It was hard to tell if she was more excited about the delicious dinner or the chance to take a REAL shower!  We're pretty sure it was a shower!  We loaded her up with lots of supplies to take back to the village tomorrow. It made our day when she told us that we already feel like her family :)

The quote of the day was from Rose.  She was walking to the home of a family for lunch when the father picked her up on his motorcycle!   When she got back to school she was happy to report: "I just had my first motorcycle ride!"


Sorry,this one will be short and sweet.  We got back from the villages just in time to shower and head over to visit Dorla at the House of Weavers. This is a shop at the Socio Econmic Outreach office that sells crafts made by local women. The profits help support their families.
After shopping, we were treated to a delicious dinner at the Mangrove restaurant in Punta Gorda.

Lots of rain today in Otoxha, which was a problem as this was the day we were teaching about solar energy and attempting to cook s'mores in solar ovens.  We learned that children everywhere love marshmallows, even if they are not cooked!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


First we would like to point out that it was sunny and in the 80s today. We heard that it is just a bit chillier back home!

We all had a great day today.  The construction crew scrubbed walls and sealed up the roof in Corazon Creek in an effort to keep rat bats out of the new ceiling that will be installed.  They got a first coat of paint on the outside of the school building.  The roof looks finished on the outdoor classroom.

The students in Corazon got their flip flops today, finished their art projects and did a lot of math games with dice and playing cards.  Rick and Mary Pat presented first aid lessons to all of the children.  The children learned about the Heimlich manuever and got to practice on each other.  All of the volunteers were treated to delicious homemade lunches.

In Otoxha, the children got their pen pal letters from students at All Saints, this is always a highlight for them.  They love looking at the pictures and traded letters so they could learn about other new friends.  The oldest students made 3D paper globes, the project took a long time, but the result was worth the effort.  The Standard 3 and 4 students made beautiful projects honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The teachers were also treated to lunches in two homes.  One home served black beans with a fried egg. It was spicy and delicious.  In the other home we were served beans and rice with stew chicken, also delicious.  Anita visited with her "sister" Anita and was allowed to carry her two month old baby in the traditional Mayan way, in a cloth papoose strapped on her head!

In San Lucas the lesson of the day was solar energy.  The students successfully baked s'mores in solar ovens created from pizza boxes.  The kids all got solar beads and were totally excited when they changed color in the sunshine.  The teachers were treated to lunch and had cahoune cabbage.

On the way home we stopped for a "Chocolate Tour."  We learned all about the process of making chocolate and saw how it was made by the ancient Mayans.  We got to try our hand at shelling the cacao beans, and most of us were very bad at it!  The IxCacao chocolate tour was one of our first microloan recipients and have done so well that the loan has been repaid.  We were able to purchase freshly made chocolate bars, we can't promise that they will make it home.

Ann and Don had a busy day, they ran errands in town dropping off donations in town at the hospital and education office. They met with Socio Economic Outreach regarding the partnership with All Saints Parish. In San Marcos village they checked out the Qoi Hotel for piglets that need a home.  Improvements here were funded by All Saints. Then they traveled to the villages that will be visited in June, Santa Cruz and Pueblo Viejo where they met with teachers and dropped off donations.

The quote of the day came from Jen. As we were driving along the road we saw a little boy ,maybe four years old running with a small machete in his hand and she yelled, "Don't run with machetes!"

Monday, January 5, 2015


It has been an amazing day! Our construction crew had the experience of a lifetime going into the rain forest in Corazon Creek to chop down the palm branches to build a thatch roof.
Be assured our team(Hans,Nick, Chris, Dominic, Mike, Rick,Jen and Vernon) were NOT swinging machetes, they left that to the experienced men of the village!) Our team did get to haul the branches out of the forest-the children found this terribly amusing as this job is usually done by horses!
The progress on the new outdoor classroom was fast. By lunchtime the posts were up as well as the support structure for the thatch.When we left at the end of the school day the roof was almost finished. Each of the 32 families in the village were asked to chop 25 palm fronds for the roof.  The pictures of the entire process are something to see.

The teachers in Corazon, Ann, Allie, Rose and Cathy had a crazy day as the students had been moved out of the school and into three different buildings because of the construction.They presented health and hygiene lessons and  worked on several art projects.  All of the volunteers in Corazon were treated to a homemade lunch. They split up and went to three homes were they were served cahoune cabbage or chicken caldo.  It was all delicious.

Anita, Nichole, Jody and Linda spent the day teaching in Otoxha. We had some significant rain overnight and this morning, which made the questionable roads even more questionable!  They also did the health and hygiene lessons as well as lessons on tangrams with the older students. The littlest students had fun with flannel shapes and the middle group did a very special religion project.
Apparently there are more families in Otoxha who want to feed us than we have teachers, so  we went to two different homes for lunch.  Nichole and Linda enjoyed their first authentic Mayan lunch, chicken caldo and homemade tortillas.

Mary Pat ,Mary, Don and Jill spent the day in San Lucas.  Not only was it the first day back to school after the Christmas break,but it was the first day of class for a new principal!  They presented the health lessons, worked on tangrams and made puppets with buttons. A solid day with old and new friends.

We have a presentation tonight from Dorla with updates about the Socio Economic Outreach program and then more planning for tomorrow's lessons.  We don't think it will be a late night for any of the construction crew.

Mary seemed to have the best quote of the day when she saw our dessert and proclaimed, "There is always room for jello!"


We arrived at the Retreat Center about  10 pm last night after a long day of traveling.The sisters welcomed us with a nice snack and hugs all around.

Sunday morning found us split into two groups for the morning. The first group went to visit the ruins at Lubantun.  There were no tour guides available that early on a Sunday morning, but Chris and Mary were happy to step in.  There was some speculation that they were embellishing their facts, but everyone learned something about the ancient Mayans.
The rest of the group headed straight down to San Lucas for Mass.  We arrived about 11 am (for noon Mass) and most of the villagers were already in the church singing hymns in their beautiful Ketchi language.  The priest who said Mass is newly ordained ordained and from St Louis!  In typical Belize fashion, noon Mass did not start until about 12:20, mostly due to the fact that it was the third Mass that Father Derrick had said that day with many miles between each  village.  The hymns, prayers and readings were all in Ketchi, it was an amazing experience for all. At the end of the Mass,Father asked us all to come forward and be blessed by the parishioners. Powerful moment indeed.
The rest of the day we spent visiting old friends in several villages.
We came back to a delicious chicken dinners which energized us for an evening of organizing supplies and planning lessons for Monday.

Best quote of the day: Cathy when asked how the ruins were: "They were gray, they were rocks."