Thursday, July 09, 2009

lazy blogger. :/ plus belize. :)

i have been remiss in posting and updating this blog.
my initial purpose for this blog was to document things as they happened, so i could go back, look on it later and remember.
as you can, that has not been done very well.
so, as a way of reintroducing myself to the blogging process, i am going to be lazy and post the contents of an e-mail i sent about a missions trip i went on to belize.
my hope is that this baby step (finally posting!!!) will motivate me to fill in the gaps from february to now. :)
for now, enjoy reading about belize...and there will be more to come.


I hope this e-mail finds you all well and enjoying your summer. It's hard to believe I've been home from Belize for almost a week and even harder to believe that just two weeks ago we were finally on our way to Crooked Tree! I just wanted to take an opportunity to share with you all about our whirlwind week where we were kept busy with opportunities to serve and show God's love to the community of Crooked Tree.
First of all, I wanted to thank you for all of your prayers – they were absolutely heard and felt. Our flights and all traveling went smoothly, our health was good (except for a case of mild dehydration and one puffy mosquito-bitten eyelid), our students stepped up and became leaders and our team worked hard all week long (despite tired and overheated bodies). It was a truly pleasure to serve and have some fun with this group of people.
Before I dive in, you all need to know that Belize is an absolutely beautiful country. We were lucky to be able to experience some of the different parts of Belize – the busy-ness of Belize City, the slower pace of Crooked Tree, the quiet calm of the jungle surrounding the Mayan ruins and the relaxed pace of island life. This country is full of such natural beauty – fruit trees everywhere, green plants, blue skies, clear waters – and I feel so blessed that I was able to see a little bit of it all.
Amidst the natural beauty and the crazy heat, we were given so many wonderful opportunities to serve and love the people of Crooked Tree. Since I don't want to write huge run-on sentences about our experience, here is a bulleted version of how we lived down in Crooked Tree. During our week-long stay, our team:
met and developed friendships with the Praying Pelican staff (Amy, Joy, Jesse and Mike) and Churchill (the elder at the Church of the Nazarene)

*slept on air mattresses (and in some cases, the floor!) in buildings on the church grounds
*ate the most fresh and delicious food prepared for us by the wonderful Carrie (chicken, rice, beef, potatoes, beans, fresh fruit, fresh fruit juice – all of it amazing)
*took cold 5-minute showers and enjoyed every single minute of it
*applied layer upon layer of sunblock and bug repellent (with DEET, of course)
*experienced nature, including cows/horses roaming the dirt roads, bats in our bedrooms, fire ants at the dinner table and frogs hiding in strange places
*drank bottle after bottle of purified water, which was necessary because...
*Belize is extremely hot and humid for us Californians and we were, to put it gently, glowing all week

Finally, and most importantly, our team was so blessed by all of the wonderful opportunities to serve and love the people of Crooked Tree in the name of Jesus. We went down there to serve them, but we all came back with stories of how the people, especially the adorable children, touched our lives as well. While we were down there, our team:
*played with children at an orphanage in Belize City (A funny story from our visit to the orphanage - for all the High School Musical fans out there, Cory (a boy on our team) reminded the little girls of Troy from the movies and they followed him around asking him about Gabrielle and asking him to sing for them. For the rest of the week, Cory was either called Troy or Zac. Funny that kids everywhere love that stuff. :))
*primed and painted the Crooked Tree Church of the Nazarene
*attended and helped lead church services with the congregation of the Nazarene Church
*cleaned up the homes and yards of elderly church members
*talked with village residents (and enjoyed the delicious goodies they shared with us – fresh mango and coconut, homemade lime juice, and lots of cashews, which are grown all over Crooked Tree)
*painted the house of an elder from a neighboring church
*led sports ministry for the children of Crooked Tree (we taught them ultimate frisbee and they taught us cricket)
*shared our personal testimonies in front of the church congregation (a BIG deal for our eighth graders, but they did an amazing job)
*helped a team from Tennessee with Vacation Bible School
*developed relationships with the adults and children of Crooked Tree (so much so that we're already considering next year's trip!)

After a busy week of hard work in the community, we were lucky enough to conclude the trip with an overnight stay on Caye (pronounced Key) Caulker, an island off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Sea. During our brief trip, we snorkeled, saw the second largest barrier reef in the world and swam above sting rays. Some of my braver travel companions reached down and touched them. I did not, but giggled and shrieked nervously as they swam around me. Our island trip also included driving golf carts around the island, some requisite souvenir shopping, more delicious Belizean food and the luxury of air-conditioned accommodations.
Again, I want to thank you all for your support and prayers as we journeyed down to Belize. God provided for us and took care of us, so I know your faithful prayers were heard. It was an amazing trip and I will never forget the people we met, the things we did and the way of life down in Belize. I'd love to go back again, maybe next year. :)

Love, Jill

P.S. Since I was a big worrywart and didn't want to lose/break/damage my little digital camera, I brought down some disposable cameras. I was promptly made fun of by my team members (who did not worry like I did and brought their nice digital cameras) and they have promised to get pictures to me ASAP. Once I have them on a CD, I'll post them online somewhere so you can all see what we saw. :)


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