Wow! It is hard to do a summary of such an awesome mission with such a great team! But, here is an attempt at least. This was the first year to do a family mission to San Pedro for the Dwelling Place, the sponsoring church, or any of the partners we know of at Partners for Belize.
We traveled as 16 from the US (Cincinnati and Winston Salem) from July 29th to August 5th as two teams; one medical and one church/children’s. We were joined in Belize by Felicia, a second year medical student at Wake Forest in North Carolina. She lives in Belize City and read about the group in the Winston Salem Journal.
Darlene and her daughter Courtney joined us for two days from the International Hospital for Children, an organization that helps groups like ours bring care for children in Belize and tabulates and tracks needs for children.
The medical team was comprised of one doctor (with her daughter) , three nurses, a second year medical student, a pharmacist and others who helped on both teams. They spent Friday organizing for the clinic and offered the clinic for four days, Saturday through Tuesday. They saw 150 patients, and built some great bridges with the clinic staff that will be the foundation for future years.
The church/children’s team had six youth ages 10 to 20 and four adults. They spent Friday and Saturday painting the multipurpose building used for Sunday School of The Living Word Church. Sunday was a day to go to worship and take over the Sunday School during the message time. All stayed for a dinner in honor of the mission teams. The medical team came over from the hospital for worship and lunch as well.
This church is a growing and vital church two blocks off the beach of San Pedro. The church started 12 years ago in a tent and now has over a hundred people on an average Sunday, great music, inspiring sermons, and about 40 children/youth.
On Monday and Tuesday the team held a VBS with the church. The VBS attracted both the church kids and kids that had been brought by neighborhood visits we made and posters placed up in local shops. It was very gratifying to see new kids come.
Wednesday was a fun day for everyone to go snorkeling, fishing and the like. Several families stayed an extra day or two to catch some more of the sites of beautiful Belize.
We stayed at the Corona Del Mar Hotel, a nice facility right on the beach and a few blocks walk from the clinic and the church. The church was near the clinic. The tourist town of San Pedro was a 10 minute walk up the beach or the main drag. The little airport for the island was close too. The terminal building was just before you reached town. The air strip faced the clinic and also the back of the church.
Saturday was the first day of the clinic. We did not have as many clinic guests the first day, even though it was in the paper and on the radio, so we did some quick walks into some of the poor sections of the city to get the word out. We found one section of town where all the residents were living just above the ocean waters in houses made of left over wood, tin, and accessible only be plank walkways in a network of sidewalks a foot about the water.
These are called “London bridges,” by the locals and can be found in other parts of Belize as well. People choose to live in this setting when they could live elsewhere in Belize. While not ideal, the opportunities for employment in San Victor is so much greater than most other places in Belize. Twenty thousand people live on this island in Belize. Very few live in the nicer areas, that tourists might see. We made several trips to invite kids, give away Bibles and just find ways to love on these folks.
We ended the trip glad to have new partners for next year. The Living Word Church was great to work with and the clinic would welcome us back as well. We will have a better idea of the type of projects we can do with the church and the needs we can help with for supplies and doctors to bring next summer.
San Pedro has proven to offer a safe place for families to come and a place that has plenty of needs and an openess to share the Love of Christ. Our overall goal was to be the body of Christ for a week. We wanted to let people know we were there for Christ. We partnered with a local church that could disciple and benefit the local people so much more than what we could ever do in one week. See the following blogs from individual days for more pictures and details.