A Normal-ish Week

So I’m going to see if I can write an update here without a completely crazy story. What?! Yep, we actually have had a pretty normal week!  

Two Sundays ago was Harvest for Saint Andrew’s church and school. I have never experienced a Harvest festival before, but let me tell you, it was awesome! Over the course of three services throughout the day all the kids from Saint Andrew’s school put together baskets of fruits, vegetables, and pastries, and then come to church with their families. Even though we had three services (two more than normal!) the church was overflowing! There were kids sitting on laps, kids sitting up in the choir area, and in each service there were TONS of people outside just because we had no more seats! While it was hot and crowded, what better problem to have in a church than more people than seats?? About halfway through the service the kids processed up the aisle by grade with their decorated baskets (parents standing up to take pictures) and then gave a short presentation about thanksgiving and harvest as they presented their offerings to God. After the service all the baskets got sold as a fundraiser for the church and school. Out of all the big church services throughout the year (Christmas, Easter, etc.), Harvest is probably the biggest here for St. Andrew’s as well as St. Hilda’s and St. Barnabas’ (whose Harvests will be next week). While it was absolutely exhausting (there were almost 700 people!), each service a wonderful experience and I can’t wait for the next set of Harvest services next week!

For those of you who don’t know what an average (not crazy) week for us would look like, let me give you a quick taste. Monday is our day to do house work, catch up on emails, Spanish class for me (I just started this week! Mondays and Thursdays), and run errands all before the evening when we visit people from the parish. Tuesday through Thursday consists of chapel at the schools every other week, teacher devotions, visiting people in the evenings, either adult or youth choir practice, helping with confirmation classes, and preparing for Sunday (sermon prep and baptism classes for David, and getting the music together for me).

Let me take a quick sidebar here to tell you about our new youth choir. 

I know David already told you how great it was, but I want to say I wholeheartedly agree! When we first started putting together our idea for the youth choir we didn’t know what direction it would take. Would we have young kids or old? Would it be a traditional choir or a praise team? Would anyone come? Basically the first night was an experiment even just seeing who would show up! Well that Wednesday we had thirteen kids come! Since it was an experiment (and the majority of the kids were pretty young) we had a mixture of things that were too hard and too easy, but overall they seemed to have fun. We have our second rehearsal this Wednesday and (now that we have a better idea of what we’re doing) I’m excited to teach these kids how to lead worship and praise God through music!

Another side note real quick!

Since getting here (and particularly since starting up the youth choir) I’ve had a LOT of inquiries as to when I will be starting piano lessons. So very soon here you’re going to here about that next step in our adventure here in Belize!

Back to our typical week. 

Fridays are our day off. Now if you’ve been reading my updates you’ll have noticed that our Fridays haven’t exactly been nice relaxing getaways (flat tires, bats, rabies shots, the flu lasting for weeks, etc.). A couple months ago on our day off we drove up to the mountains to try and go to a resort that lets you hike down to a series of waterfall on their property. Now you may also remember from that trip that we didn’t’ make all the way there since we slid off the road, got a flat tire, and then got stuck in a lightning storm. Last Friday we decided to brave the long and bumpy road and to try again, and in comparison to our other “adventures”, it wasn’t so bad. We made it to the resort (even with looming rain clouds), hiked down the crazy steep mountain (all carved out stone steps) and got down to the beautiful waterfalls. Like I said, it was almost a completely uneventful trip … Well we got down to the bottom of the mountain and a man with a young boy called out to (we were the only other people there) asking if we had a radio he could use to call back up to the resort. I had my phone, but no coverage. As we got over to him we saw that his foot was pouring out blood and the boy was sobbing. The man showed us is foot and there was this huge gash all the way down to the bone! He had been playing on the waterfall with his boy and slipped, slicing his foot open. You know when people talk about God’s perfect timing? Well this was one of them. There was no way the guy could get back up the mountain by himself with that injury (and it had happened right as we were getting down to the waterfall too). David was able to run back up the trail to the resort so they could send down the tram with medical help. While the nearest hospital was almost two hours away, they staff was able to get him back up the mountain and to some medical help. David and I then spent the rest of the day relaxing and looking at the waterfalls (we weren’t really in the mood to swim anymore).

Now Saturdays are a little different. Typically it is a full workday with meetings, more Sunday prep, and then youth group in the evening. This past Saturday was a little slower since I had a migraine all day, but youth group turned out to be even more exciting than normal. Back when I was in youth group in the states, many years ago, my youth pastor Paul Gibbons had us play this game that involved making ice cream sundaes … in someone’s mouth … while standing on a chair way above them … I had told that story to David and he was all for us trying it with our youth group here! So, while David played dodge ball with the kids I secretly got all the ingredients ready (’cause it’s way funnier if they don’t know what’s coming!). And then David asked for some volunteers who were willing to get a little messy. After we had made some fashionable clothing for them out of garbage bags we revealed the game. I’ve got to say, besides being absolutely hilarious, it was a HUGE success! Many laughs, a funny video, some pretty embarrassing pictures, and a winner later (the messiest person), made for a memorable night at youth group! And don’t worry, we were nice and made regular ice cream sundaes for everyone after the game.

So that brings us back to Sunday. After at least two church services and then baptism classes we head back home and start preparing for the next week! While what we do during the week can vary, that’s what a typical week looks like in our house (now that we’ve made it through a week that didn’t have anything too crazy!).

Before I wrap up this post I want to talk a little bit about culture shock (mostly because it’s been getting to me this week). Now since we got here two months ago I’ve had moments of culture shock off and on (mostly big, easily identifiable moments). Well this week I got to experience the little ways culture shock can affect a person. As I talked about above, the past week has been pretty uneventful. As a whole I’ve started to really adjust to Belize as home, and yet out of nowhere in the middle of last week I broke down sobbing. Why, you may ask? Because we eat with spoons! Sound ridiculous? I was fully aware of how ridiculous this was (I was even laughing and sobbing at the same time!), but just the same, I hated that pretty much all the food we eat required us to use spoons! I didn’t want any of it anymore! I knew it was crazy and yet I couldn’t get my lower lip to stop popping out and quivering over and over again … Culture shock isn’t always big things that set you off. It’s not always the obvious things that are different from one culture to another. For me this week it was spoons. Next week I could love spoons! But for now spoons are awful! 

Now you know what a typical week for us looks like! But I have one last thing to update you on. When we came back to Belize in August we were not quite at full financial support. We were around 80% when we got here with the intention of continuing to raise support (just from a greater distance). For David and me to be as effective as possible in our ministries here in Belize, as well as being able to stay in the country as long as God has called us here, we are going to need to reach full financial support soon. If you feel God is calling you to partner with us financially for our ministry here in Belize please click on the Partner with Us link below.  Any amount helps!

Thank you for your continued support both financial and in prayers! We love being able to share what God is doing here in Belize with you, as well as give you a taste of our many crazy adventures!

Building Momentum in the Small Moments

Can you believe it? Practically two months have passed since Mary Beth and I returned to missionary service, and during that time my lovely wife has been fantastic at giving you the color commentary that you deserve (and I tend to forget to write about). Nevertheless, though she is showing herself to be a fantastic writer, I should also add my own thoughts and give you a rundown on how things have been going on our end over the course of this jam-packed period!

Our short-term goals have been modest during our entry back to serving at our churches and schools: to strengthen the relationships in Belize we already had before I left, to begin new relationships here as God disposes, and to work as a married couple to create our new home and life together in Belize. So far, so good … very good, in fact. With regards to our new home and life here, I have to say that Mary Beth has been incredibly brave and strong as she adjusts to a far different way of life, far from family and friends; honestly, I could not be more proud of her, or grateful to her for her own ministry to me and alongside of me. Right from the get-go, Mary Beth has had to grapple with heat and illness (both mine and hers), travel complications, insects, flat tires and hurricanes, bats and rabies vaccinations (more on that later), and so much more. But through it all, she has been patient and courageous, and I am so awed at how God is caring for her even as he is using her as a missionary. With regards to all this, however we do ask for your regular prayers for each of us as we undergo that process of transition and suffer the very real “culture shock” that inevitably emerges in these situations. It will take many months before we are both fully acculturated in Belize.

For our re-start of ministry here in San Ignacio, we have been allocating our time first and foremost towards simply being with people … a Ministry of Presence, of Showing Up. We have aimed to visit with families in their homes two or three days a week, and now that primary schools are back in session, we have begun again our biweekly cycle of chapel services for the students and devotions for the teachers. Next week we begin again our weekly services for students and staff at the University of Belize’s College of Agriculture, and despite obstacles like a nation-wide teachers’ strike, in many things are returning to “normal” for me in my pastoral ministry here.

Sometimes “normal” can be heartbreaking: last month I was asked to lead a funeral for a young man who was tragically beaten and killed when he was mistaken for someone else. Sometimes “normal” can be great but overwhelming, for instance, as we hold our Harvest celebrations at St. Andrew’s this coming Sunday. But most days “normal” consists of small moments that, taken together, build missional momentum and herald Christ’s Kingdom: praying with a family in their home, teaching God’s word to school children, encouraging a local shop owner, or giving the invocation at an Independence Day gathering. Please pray that God would continue to open these doors for the Gospel, for building relationships, for moments large and small which will have an impact on the expansion of his Kingdom.

At the same time, these last two months have also brought more surprises and changes than we were first expecting. For instance, upon my return I learned that though our ministry team on the ground had served boldly and beautifully in my absence, many of our leaders had become exhausted during my almost eight months away, and many have had for various reasons to give up their positions of responsibility. While we may have found a fantastic person to be the Local Manager of schools (think of superintendent or liaison overseeing the three schools), and also have probably found an Outreach coordinator for the parish, we are still looking for a church Treasurer and a Secretary for the Church Committee. On top of this, we have identified an immediate need to raise up new Lay Ministers, train new Sunday school teachers, recruit new volunteers, and build the team that leads God’s people at our churches and schools … and to do all of this soon!

And this need to find and train new leaders goes beyond our English-language churches and schools: this past month the priest of one of the three Hispanic missions with which we work has resigned his ministry due to health, and the other Hispanic priests and I will be working together to insure that the mission (Holy Trinity in Frank’s Eddy, a village approximately an hour away from us) continues to worship and to grow. Please pray that God calls laborers into his vineyard, that the Holy Spirit moves in the hearts of our people to give of themselves and serve in greater and greater capacities.

Mary Beth too has been experiencing faster change and development in ministry than she had initially expected. In addition to accompanying music at church and accompanying me on home visits and school services, Mary Beth has already begun developing her own ministries with children and youth. Last Saturday St. Andrew’s youth group began meeting weekly once again, and Mary Beth has already started working closely with the other two leaders to make youth group not only fun but a critical space for discipling young people in our community. The opening bash that night went really well, and we’re excited to see how God will continue working in their lives.

And in what was even more of a surprise to her, Mary Beth was encouraged to begin a children and youth choir sooner than she expected. This past Wednesday she jumpstarted a group of thirteen children and teenagers into what we are praying transforms into a regular and experienced choir. Without knowing who was going to show up, without knowing what musical experience they would bring, without knowing the size or age of the participants, she crafted an amazing hour of music with the kids and we are so excited to see how God will mold this group in the weeks and months to come.

As Mary Beth has mentioned previously, we have also been experiencing some unexpected obstacles since we arrived in Belize. We have both been sick for the last couple of weeks with a terrible flu (or something with terrible flu-like symptoms), and for the two weeks before that I was required to receive a series of five rabies vaccinations after a nocturnal encounter with a wounded bat. We have had to repair our refrigerator, perform extensive repairs on our pickup truck’s engine, breaks, and tires, and purchase a new clothes washer and dryer. On top of everything, our digital piano seems to have become damaged, and no one we have consulted here is both able and willing to repair it. Truthfully, none of these problems has been cheap to address, and almost each of them has come at the wrong time (usually our day off together to refresh) or have affected us for far too long. But God has been accompanying us through it all, and often there are great victories along the way; for example, Mary Beth received her missionary work visa this past week, and she will be able to stay in the country legally for the next year! We ask your prayers for our ministry, that we would be patient in (what is admittedly mild) affliction, protected from the enemy, and useful for the Kingdom.

We also ask that you please pray that God would meet our financial needs. The unexpected expenses that I described above will put a higher load on our support, support which would need to increase by about 25% anyway. Please keep our finances and support in your prayers, and get in touch with us if there is any way you yourself might be able to help.

As I wrap up this update, let me also let you know that you can get these updates in Apple News!, Check out our channel and subscribe.

Thank you all for your prayers and other support: it means the world to us. May God richly bless you!

Routines and Scary Things

Can you believe it’s already September?! We have now been serving here in Belize for just over a month and we’re starting to get into a pretty steady routine. The past couple of weeks have been rather crazy, but things are starting to settle back down (while at the same time getting much busier … don’t worry, I’ll explain!).

So I might as well start with the craziness that has occupied a lot of our thought and time the past couple of weeks. As many of you know from my last update David and I have been trying to get away to spend some time just the two of us on our day off. Each week we had a setback that kept us from really having that time (our fridge breaking, termite issues, and then our lovely adventure in the lightning storm when our tire blew-out). Well, two weeks ago Friday David and I decided to try again and actually spend the night somewhere nice and quiet away from home. We had actually been saving up for an “away” date since the middle of June … needless to say, we were very excited. A nearby resort was having a summer discount package for locals, so David booked us for that Friday night. We got to the resort Friday afternoon (it was so beautiful and quiet), got to our room and then spent the rest of the afternoon in a hammock as we (finally) read the final book in the Narnia series. It was such a nice afternoon!  We finished the evening with one of the best dinners we’ve had since we got married, went for a late night swim to watch the stars, and then headed to bed. It was the perfect day. Easily one of my favorite dates with my husband.  But you’re probably thinking now that none of that sounds crazy … I wish I could say it wasn’t ’til a couple days later that the craziness hit, but no.

It’s funny, you don’t always know what you’re terrified of until after you have to face it. For instance, if you had asked me before our date if I was afraid of, oh I don’t know … let’s say bats, I would have said, “no, I think they’re actually kinda cute”. Ha. You probably can see where this is heading … 11:30pm. So it was a peaceful Friday night and the happy couple easily fell asleep after having spent such a lovely day together. 1:00am. David gasps and I wake up with a start. My first thought was that David must have had a nightmare (apparently we are both known to gasp in our sleep and wake the other person up). While I was very startled from being woken so suddenly I wasn’t expecting much when I asked what was wrong.  Maybe some mumbling and then more sleep? But instead, in complete coherency, David told me to get out of bed slowly. Alright, now I’m officially freaking out. So as I get out of bed I repeatedly ask, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong??”. The light flips on and there right in-between where we had just been laying was a bat.

A BAT!  THERE WAS A BAT IN OUR BED!!!

I wish I could say that was it … While that would have been enough excitement for the night (I was completely freaking out at this point), we look up and three more bats are swooping around our heads.

THREE MORE BATS!!!

Yeah, that was enough for me. I’m half screaming, half crying, “No, no, no!” as I throw my hands over my head and run to the bathroom. David held it together really well. He even worked on comforting me while he tried to deal with our bat problem. While I hid in the bathroom, David scooped the injured bat our of our bed in a blanket and tossed it outside. He then found a video on YouTube that made sounds that are supposed to scare bats off. Then David went looking for help. Here’s the problem, we were staying in a resort that didn’t exactly have people around at night. David went and found the CB radio, but it had strict instructions to only be used for medical or security emergencies. Neither David nor I felt that our bat problem counted for either … So David came back to the room. 2:30am. By now David had been going from the regular (a.k.a. bat infested) part of the room back and forth to the bathroom to check on me. Finally, he hadn’t seen any bats for a long time (this was after I had come out a couple times and one bat would come back). Well, he called me back out to bed and held me (I’m absolutely cowering under the covers at this point … pretty much positive sleep is not going to happen). David said he would hold me and watch for the bat until I fell asleep. We did everything we could. Bat scaring noises on. Ceiling fan on high making loud noises. Lights on. About 3:30am. We’re about to turn the lights off and call it a night. Starting to finally relax.

NOPE!

Bats (plural) are back! Flying super low, landing all over the floor, almost hitting David as he got out of bed to try and get them out. Well I had had enough. Shaking and crying I said, “I’m sleeping in the bathroom!” We grabbed the blankets and pillows, ran to the bathroom and spent the rest of our night on the floor. It turns out snuggling with a toilet is not that comfy … needless to say, I did not sleep that night.

7:00am. We got up and peeked out of the room (well, David peeked and I cowered in the bathroom waiting for the news). There was another dead bat on the floor by the bed, but other than that they seemed to have gone back to their nest for the day. As can probably be imagined, neither David nor I really wanted to spend anymore time there that day (seeing as how we hadn’t slept and even hearing birds chirp behind me was enough to get me shaking and crying again).  We had breakfast, packed up, and headed home early. 

So here is what we think happened. We had gone to this resort during the low season (so not many people). We had also gone pretty soon after the hurricane. Well we think the bats must have gotten into our room (it had a thatched roof) since no one had really used the room in a while. And then that night when they came out to hunt the ceiling fan was on and must have thrown off their radar … seeing as how they kept flying into the fan … and then falling on our bed. Having bats in your room apparently NEVER happens … we just happened to get lucky … Ha!

I wish I could say that is where the craziness and excitement ended, but of course that’s not true! If you didn’t know, bats have very small teeth (scrapes and bites are sometimes not even detectable). On top of that, bats have an anesthetic in their teeth so you don’t feel the bite. Well Sunday afternoon David started to be concerned about having touched the bat. You see, the reason David had gasped and told me to get out of bed was because when the bat fell into our bed that had woken him up. Then in the dark David had reached over and felt that it was a bat (which is when he gasped and I woke up). Well, there was a raised bump on David’s hand the night that we spent in the bathroom. While we didn’t think he got bit, rabies is nothing to mess around with … so we decided the safest bet (since you don’t know if you have rabies until it’s too late) was to get David the rabies vaccine. Better safe than sorry! It turns out though that this vaccine is very hard to get a hold of here in Belize. We went to two hospitals that said they didn’t have it and then drove to Belize City the next day to see if they would be able to give him the vaccine. Thankfully the doctor at the third hospital was very nice and said they could prescribe him the five shots. Thank the Lord! So we go to the pharmacy and they give him the first one. We ask if they can give us the other four to take back to San Ignacio to give David the within the following weeks so we don’t have to drive the two our twice a week back to the city … well, they informed us that they only had the one shot … sorry. We drove to another hospital and, for twice the price, were able to pick up two more doses. David has now received three shots, and other than a sore arm, is feeling great. We are still in search of the last two (we’ll try the city again tomorrow … David has already checked in Guatemala). So, I would ask that you pray that we can get a hold of the next two shots here very soon. David needs his next one this Thursday! God is good and we know it will work out, but please pray we can find them soon, relatively close by.

That’s a long story of the crazy that’s been going on these past couple of weeks, but I had to share about our bats! What would an update from me be without a creepy bug and/or animal story be? But in other news I have lots of stray dog friends! And apparently I’m terrified of bats … just thought I’d say it again … since they’re terrifying … you’re welcome.

So bear with me because I now want to tell you about the ministry stuff we have been settling into these past few weeks. David has gotten right back into serving at the two churches each week and I’m settling into playing the piano for each service (I actually play a for-real organ at St. Hilda’s!). Three nights a week David and I go out around the parish and visit people in their homes. We get not only to build relationships, but we also pray with the sick, and take Communion to those who aren’t able to come to church. Every other week the adult choir meets to go over the music for the next two Sundays (tonight is my first time leading the adult choir!). And in a couple weeks I will be starting a youth choir on the weeks that the adult choir doesn’t meet. This week school started for the three schools that David is the priest over. So we go to the schools and lead a church services for the kids in the mornings about every other week. Yesterday was our first day back with the kids. The kids are so cute! It’s such an amazing blessing getting to work with so many kids as they learn more about the Good News! Plus, David has such a way with kids. I’m posting a video (below) of one of the songs he led during chapel. It was so much fun!  Working with the kids also gets us more connected with the community. As we walk along the street it seems like every kid looks up and says “Hi, Fadda David!” I’m so excited that I get the chance to get to know these kids too! With school starting up, new choirs about to start, youth group getting started in a couple weeks, visits, church, chapel services, teacher devotions, and finding rabies shots, plus it being Belize’s independence month, we are starting to get very busy! But we are very happy to be here (especially with the weather cooling off just a little) working with the people in Belize sharing the Gospel.

I would ask your continued prayers for our ministry here as things quickly pickup pace:

  • Please pray that we find time to do all that we need to do in our respective ministries as well as finding time to spend just the two of us.
     
  • Please pray that we can find the rest of the rabies shots very soon!
     
  • Please pray the continued adjustment of living in a new country.  While I love being here, this will be my first time away from family for the holiday season.
     
  • And please also pray that we will continue to get new financial supporters so we can continue serving here in Belize.
     
  • Thank you everyone for your prayers and support!

Until next time!

Mary Beth 

And so it begins!

And so it begins!

Well we have now been here in Belize for almost two weeks and what a time it’s been already!  

Two days after we got here hurricane Earl hit Belize.  Thank you everyone for the prayers during that time!  While we were expecting this storm, no one expected it to be as bad as it was in just the course of a few hours.  Wednesday (the day after we got here) everything closed early as people prepared for the incoming storm.  We bought water and food and then waited with the rest of Belize to see how bad it would get.  David and I had a hard time tracking the storm as our internet was out for the whole first week we were here (unless we sat in one spot on our bed down stairs, didn’t move, and practically held our breath as we tried connecting to the local internet store’s free wifi down the street).  Well, the day went by with only a few downpours so we settled in for the night.  By 11:30 that night I was woken up to the incredibly loud sounds of roaring winds, torrential rain, and tree branches banging around.  Pretty much the entire night I kept waking up as it continued to get louder and louder.  David was pretty tired (hehe) and only woke up once to shut some windows we had forgotten upstairs.  The next morning when we got up it was still raining, but quickly passed.  This storm only lasted the night.  As far as damage for us, it was very minimal.  We had a few branches down in our backyard and about three puddles in the house, but otherwise we made it through the storm safely.  Thank you for your prayers!  Belize itself was hit pretty hard.  

San Ignacio (where we live) had major flooding from the river.  The river had swollen at least forty feat higher than normal, covering a bridge (that got destroyed in the flood), and making it all the way to one street over from our house.  Many homes and shops were underwater and lots of damages occurred.  Thankfully people came together and helped one another put their lives back together.  While there are still many things being repaired throughout the country (the Cathedral in Belize City had to be hosed down on the inside by a fire truck), things are starting to get back to normal.

The rest of the past two weeks here have been pretty normal (or at least a new normal!). One thing that I haven’t quite gotten used to yet are the bugs…  I have always been a mosquito magnet, but I swear they think I’m candy.  I’d appreciate some prayers that they find other prey!  Other bugs/critters will have to become more normal, I think.  In our house we have many geckos and lizards that like to roam around (the one in our bathroom as been named Sammy) and I love them because they eat the bugs.  Well, last week when we were coming home from an evening church potluck I opened the door to our dark entryway and saw things run into hiding as I flipped on the light.  My first thought was that my lizards (yes, I’ve claimed them as my own) were just running away….well that was only half true.  Yes, one of the runners was a lizard, but the other one was a HUGE yellowish spider.  That was it for me.  After screaming and pointing to where it was hiding (since I decided there was no way I was squishing a spider, while wearing flip-flops, that I would still be able to see under my foot once it was dead!), I then resigned to live upstairs and never come down again.  Well, thankfully I have an amazing fearless husband who actually got down on the ground with a broom and dug it out from under the stairs so he could squish it.  Good news everyone: I was able to come back downstairs.  Now I realize that there will be many more spiders in the house, and I even realize that I will get to a point where I won’t think twice about just smooshing the thing myself, but until that point my husband is the official spider killer for this house!

I know I said the past two weeks have been pretty normal, but I do have to point out a couple more things that happened that weren’t quite normal (maybe).  This, David and I have both decided, is going under the caption of spiritual warfare.  We had many little things go wrong during the past week.  Our fridge started freezing things and then switched to not cooling anything, a water pipe burst in town and the water went out as I was shampooing my hair, and then we had quite the adventure yesterday… As I said, while it has been a good first two weeks here, many little things were going wrong this week (I won’t mention them all).  David and I decided we needed to get away for the day and spend time just the two of us (we tried the day before but that is when the fridge died).  Yesterday we loaded up the truck with waters, bathing suits, and Narnia books on the iPad and headed up to the mountains.  It had been looking a little cloudy, but we thought we’d chance it anyway.  As we got higher (and made it onto the dirt roads) it started to rain.  We still thought, “It’ll pass”…  We got to the top of the ridge and barely could see through all the rain, but we knew we were close to our destination and could just wait it out there (we wanted this so bad!), but that would not be the case..  As we were driving on the ridge we hit a particularly slippery mud spot and slid off the road, running into the bank.  It was at this point, unfortunately, that we blew a tire.  It was also at this point that the lightning storm started.  Bolts of lightening were striking down around us with thunder loud enough to shake the car.  Yeah…we decided this was a good place to wait out the storm…seeing as how there was no way we were getting out of the car at this point.  Two hours, and The Silver Chair finished, later we were able to get out and fix the tire (with some help from a nice man that stopped in the middle of things).  We were very wet (David, very muddy) and we were tired after a sort of failed get away/day off, but we laughed and God got us home safely.

So all in all there are the little things that go wrong, but as a whole it has been great getting (back into ministry for David) starting this new ministry for me.  I was able to to accompany for choir rehearsal last Wednesday and play for both church services today!  While I’m loving getting back into music ministry, I think my favorite part of ministry here so far has been visiting people throughout the towns and villages.  I love getting to know people and talk to kids!  I also love getting to see how well David knows these people and loves them!  Our ministry here together has just started and I’m so excited to see what God has for us in the weeks to come! (hopefully not spiders…!) 

The Beginning of a New Adventure

We’re finally here!  Exactly seven months after we got married we stepped off the plane in the beautiful country of Belize ready to start our new ministry together.  It’s a little strange sitting here on the couch in our home (something I’ve been excited about for months now!), watching the rain (it’s pouring as a potential hurricane gets closer and closer), and I think about everything that happened to get us to this point.

The first four months of our marriage consisted of a mix between David spearheading the deputation process to get us back here in Belize and me finishing my final semester at CSUF.  We actually got into a pretty good rhythm even with the unexpected mishaps (our car’s AC going out as we drove through the desert and then us breaking down right before sunset…just to name one).  Then the week after I graduated we were off to the Midwest to spend time with his parents and connect with more churches.  While travelling so much has been tiring (I don’t tend to sleep much in new places), it was a lot of fun to get to know David’s family better.  Plus, my mother-in-law and I got to make some pretty good desserts (Cake Balls!!) and watch Hogan’s Heroes….all in all our time in the Midwest was good! 

One of the highlights of our summer for me was getting to fly home and participate in the beautiful wedding of my brother and his new wife Miriam.  So much love and joy in one day!  I can’t wait to see how there new adventure together plays out.

After returning to the Midwest for another week we headed to Toronto for some cross-culture training.  I think this is where it started to hit me about the life David and I were stepping into together.  I had just spent the past two weeks packing up my life, saying goodbye to both sides of our family and friends, crying way more than I had expected (I’m telling you there was some serious bawling going on), and then heading the opposite direction of Belize to Canada.  The amount of stress was rather high, to put it lightly…  I feel like I should ask here, did you know traveling just through the airport itself could be incredibly stressful??  The night before we flew to Toronto we spent at least two hours moving around just a couple pounds between our five suitcases and carry-ons just to make sure we weren’t overweight.  We got to the airport and held our breath as they weighed our bags.  Success!  Now we were carrying around probably a hundred pounds between us in our carry-ons we waddled though the airport (well…I waddled…), but we made it on the plane.  You should have seen the size of my backpack!

Our time in Toronto was very good.  While the classes were helpful (there were a few that were outstanding!), the main thing that was nice about the trip was getting to connect with so many other missionaries that were also preparing to pack-up life and home and move to other countries around the world sharing God’s love and mercy.  The connections made there are ones that I’ll take with me everywhere we go.  Not only did we get to know people in our classes, but we were able to go with friends heading to Honduras and Canada’s First Nations to a part of the city where we had dinner in China town, walked through an area that seemed Jamaican, walked into a Jewish Synagogue at the beginning of Sabbath, went through what seemed to be the Hispanic quarter with some really good looking restaurants, and then eat some Italian gelato.  So much diversity!  The next day we went with friends that will be serving in Benin to Niagara Falls and spent one of our final days there.  By the end of that final weekend in Toronto David and I were refreshed and ready to head back to Belize that Monday…but that was not going to happen…

Do you ever have those moments when you just know Satan is doing everything he can to stop you?  That’s what happened when we got up Monday morning.  As a whole, everything that could go wrong did go wrong that day.  We got up at 2:30 in the morning to head to the airport for our 6:15 flight when I looked at my phone and saw that our plane had been delayed five hours.  Now on one hand that might not seem so bad because you would think that maybe you could go back to sleep for a few hours before the flight, but no.  We had to check in for our original flight (and we were surrounded by a bunch of grumpy people who were also missing flights).  Our hope had been to get on another flight that morning so we could make our connection to Belize (since there is only one flight from Atlanta to Belize a day), but that would not be the case.  The best they could do was get us on the same flight from Atlanta the next day and give us a hotel for the night.  While we were extremely frustrated with the delay there were little things that showed us that God was still in control (like us being the first people in line that needed our flight rescheduled and the lady being extremely nice and helpful while everything else seemed to be falling a part).  There were still so many little things that kept going wrong all day.  Do you ever get to the point where so much goes wrong that it almost becomes comical?  Don’t get me wrong, we were tired, frustrated, and really wanted to just go home, but it was still funny to see these things go wrong and know that either way we were going to end up in Belize and if God really wanted us there this couldn’t stop us.  And it didn’t.  We made it to Atlanta, had even more mishaps, and fell asleep in another hotel early that night.

When I got up Tuesday morning I was a little weary about the day, wondering if it would be as bad as the day before, but with God’s help (and David and I getting pretty good and maneuvering through airports), we made it on the plane with all bags checked (again) and headed for Belize. 

 I’m going to take a quick moment here to brag on my husband.  While I’ve mentioned only a few of the stressors of our travels (and believe me, there were WAY more), David stayed so calm and controlled and got us through everything smoothly.  I don’t know if I could have handled it without him…  I’ve got myself a keeper!

For Monday to be so awful it was quite amazing to see how smoothly Tuesday ended up going.  We got to Belize safely, made it through immigration and customs without a hassle, had wonderful friends there to pick us up, went to the diocesan office to take care of some paperwork and finally made it to our home. 

It’s a little funny being here this time.  I’ve been to Belize three times before now (two of which were exactly this time of year) and every other time I’ve had David there waiting for me, had an automatic countdown start in my head of when I would have to leave, and experienced everything from the outside.  But this time David was there from the beginning, we were starting an adventure together, and there was no countdown…we’re living here now.  I thought it would feel strange when we got here (and to some degree that’s true), but you know what? The biggest thing I felt when we got here was “finally home”.  Since we got married David and I have sort of been in transition, not really having a settled feeling, and we got to a point where we made everywhere we landed “home”.  Now that we’re here though that feeling is even stronger.  It’s been seven months since we said our “I do’s” and now were home again.

So that was a kind of long summary/reflection of the last seven months.  I could add so much more, but I’ll probably hold off for now.  Overall, looking back over everything I can see how God carefully guided us to this point.  And now I can’t wait to see what plans He has for us here in Belize.  “The Adventure Continues!”