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Wow! It's been a whirlwind of a trip so far! We met at the airport at 3:40 am and made it to Belize City with no complications (not even an overweight bag!) and then we proceeded to make a VERY long 5 hour bus ride to Nazareth Retreat Center. We stopped to have dinner and later stopped for a little break and were accosted by swarms of bugs. We learned they are termites, which are in season right now. I've since then decided that EVERY bug is in season right now!!! Upon arrival we were greeted by the Nuns, and they were happy to see that we had arrived safely. We unloaded what seemed like a never ending stream of supplies, only to discover that one important piece of luggage was not with us. Fortunately Suzanne, Gary and Craig hunted it down and it has finally been retrieved!
After a much needed night of rest, part of our group headed to the village of Jalacte for a First Communion Mass and multiple Baptisms performed by Father Bob. It was very touching to see people with such a great respect and love of the Catholic faith! The rest of the group headed to the Mayan Ruins in Lubaatun, or "the place of fallen stones". It was amazing to know that you were stepping on the same ground where the Mayan people had erected such an architectural masterpiece! We followed along a dirt and rock road for miles and met up in the village of San Vincente, where we celebrated together a second First Communion Mass followed by a Father's Day celebration being held by the Peace Corps. We spent time visiting with the villagers, seeing their homes and being introduced to their culture. We headed from there to the remote village of Santa Teresa, where we were greeted by Delphina, a young girl that has become an All Saints favorite! We bought homemade crafts, baskets, bracelets and purses that her family made. We headed down the windy, bumpy road to the even more remote village of Mabil Ha where we were greeted by Felix and Concepcione. The family, all gathered around in their primitive hut, were gracious enough to share their fresh catch of wild hog that they were smoking between banana leaves. We all marveled at the rosewood carvings of bowls and serving pieces that the family had for sale and we made several purchases. Our last stop was San Lucas, where previous All Saints mission teams had helped to construct a playground at the school and a beautiful tile floor in the church. The children lined the streets and greeted us with welcoming smiles and hugs! As we journeyed home we were met with a deluge of rain that mage it almost impossible to see and maneuver the water covered and pot hole filled roads. By the pure grace of God we made it home in one piece! A huge thanks to Ann and Gary for their calm demeanors when we were all tired, stressed and even a little scared!!! After a much later than planned dinner prepared by the Sisters, we headed to the meeting room to gather our supplies and make our final preparations for the next day.
On Monday our team split up. Christy and Steve headed to the village of Otoxha. They are our "water team" and their focus is installing water pumps and wells to provide safe drinking water. Ann, Madison, Jenny, Don, Sarah and I headed to the village of Pueblo Viejo to work in the school directly with the students to provide lessons in art and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) and to WOW them with entertainment, drama & magic tricks! Father Bob and Kathy went to the village of San Vincente to provide lessons in religion. Suzanne and Tammy conducted a meeting with the women of the village on natural family planning and women's health issues. Craig and Gary guided a group of men from the village on installing a bathroom at the teachers quarters. It was an extremely hot and humid day!!!!! On the way home we stopped at a "cool spot", the very rare home with electricity and a refrigerator that is marked with a Coca-Cola sign, and we relished our
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