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Daily Narrative from the Belize Mission Group

Date and Time Posted: Saturday August 22, 2009 - 12:13:20 am

It's Friday night as I'm composing this message, and most of the Team have went to sleep for the night. It's been a long, and exhausting, week for the Team, but one filled with laughter, blessing, and the promise of God's blessings on the fruits of the Team's labor. Hope! The human spirit is divinely created by God, and is different from the animals in many ways, but a primary difference is that we can dream of what might be....to have hope for tomorrow. Friday morning began with a day of partly cloudy skies. Children, and hopeful mothers and fathers,began arriving at the compound by 4:00 a.m., and by 6:00, an estimated 200 children and parents were standing outside the Uriah compound. As you walked down the fence, the kids crowded to the fence, looking through the cracks with expectant faces and eager faces. Mothers were crying for help to anyone that will listen to their stories. The Team had another great breakfast before going into the building to get ready for the books. By 8:00, we were ready to start with the "sponsored" kids. For over two hours, we processed these kids, as well as the preparing for the other "nonsponsored" kids. For the sponsored kids, the backpacks had been prepared-in-advance to speed-up the distribution. All of the Team members were involved in that we had to fill over 400 book bags with materials (pencils, paper, notebook). By 1100, we started distribution to the nonsponsored kids. For an hour groups were sent in for what we could give them; we stopped for a short lunch of sandwiches at 1200, before resuming distribution. By around 2:00 we had finished distributing all of the material that we had to give out, and there were still a few kids left that didn't get anything. Over the week we had distribued materials to over 900 kids, and still, there was more to do. As indicated, we had hundreds of kids without sponsors - these kids will have limited, or no, education without additional support from their familes or others in their community. As discussed earlier in the week, God doesn't mean for this treatment to occur to children, but it is a consequence of sin. As Christians, we look forward to the day when such disparities are ended. The afternoon ended with a few sponsored students trickling-in. Brother Frank took some of the team to the Art Box for gifts, and more importantly, to purchase rice, beans, and necessities for a family whose son had aided in the construction of the Spanish church (and the additional work done this week). After returning to the compound, some Team members went out with Damarius to distribute some sponsor gifts that had not been given out. Needless to say, this went well, and God blessed us with more blessings as we saw more children given gifts from their sponsors. As a final point, this Team has taken on an additional project. A young lady, Kaylee, so touched the Team with her story that we can't but want to provide her additional assistance. Young Kaylee, a 12-old girl, now lives with her grandmother. Kaylee lost the sight of one of her eyes due to her mother - in a fit of rage she struck her child in the eye, blinding her in that eye. The pictures don't do her justice - the eye was damaged so that it is protruding. Needless to say, she has a low self esteem. The Team has decided that we are going to help her get to the U. S. for eye surgery in Knoxville. Arrangements have been made for Delta to provide airfare, but we have other expenses in the States that have to be covered, as well as the Visa costs ($200 U. S.). Please pray for this little girl, as well as Body and Soul Ministries, as we continue to support and work for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him Be The Glory Forever And Ever.

Posted By:Jerry McMurray

Date and Time Posted: Friday August 21, 2009 - 8:53:46 am

As the week progresses, the sight and presence of the suffering children has not been without impact on the hearts and minds of the Team. Thursday began as the other days, but there was no doubt about last night’s weather – by early morning, the compound had been drenched by a heavy rainfall. God blessed the day with partly cloudy skies and sunshine, but that was accompanied by high humidity; thus, the heat index on Thursday reached at least 101 degrees F - an familiar inconvenience for the Teams that work in Uriah. After a breakfast of eggs, biscuits, sawmill gravy, and pineapple, the Team was treated to devotions by Terry Stinson. Terry read from 3 Scriptures concerning the concept of stewardship and conviction. He stated that the Team members should be challenged and convicted concerning their spending this week, for he surely had been. The Apostle Paul had lived in Rome for several years, daily chained to his adversaries, and yet he did not have fear of his adversaries, but preached the Gospel to them. Reportedly, over 4000 soldiers had been chained to Paul, and that they had to rotate the soldiers due to Paul's "influence" on them. Indeed, the Team members want to be like Paul, and influence those with us with the love of Christ. We, as Christians, are not to leave in fear of men, but in fear of God and in service to Him. During the week, the Team had been given the opportunity to talke to the kids about their church attendance, and to show the love of Christ that we had for them as the reason for our presence here in Belize. Just before mid-day, a young lady showed up with her five children. This woman had lost her husband two years ago, and was currently without a house, living with a fellow church member. She had three school-age children, all in the lower grades, without sponsors. At the time, we could not confirm that we had a sponsor for the kids. Hope Guy was so impressed with the little girl that she gave her a Barbie that she had brought to distribute to the kids. The happiness on the child’s face was exciting for her smile radiated the joy that she had. Her mother gasped in surprise as she could not comprehend that we would giver her daughter suc a gift. However, lacking confirmed sponsors, we had to give the children what we could in the hopes that by Friday’s end they would have confirmed sponsors. The mid-day meal was pizza and pineapple and Koolaide, a good combination for the hot weather. The afternoon was slow for the Book Distribution as only a handful of children arrived for supplies. An African Missionary for Nigeria had walked from his mission site to the Body and Soul site after talking to Joel. Mr. David Adegbami was from Kenya, and had arrived in Belize after fling from Kenya to Atlanta to Houston to Belize. We were impressed by his dedication and forthrightness. As the evening winded down, there were still many more children that we hadn't seen that had sponsors; thus, we will have a busy Friday. The "construction" crew finished the electrical for parsonage, as well as cleaned up for the night service. The evening meal was beef stew and "johnnie cakes" and Koolaide. Some of the Team members then loaded into the vans to go to Uriah, the Spanish church, for their evening service. Frank Waldo was given the opportunity to talk about the mission work on the parsonage and church building, as well as future planned work. As Frank stated, the true "church" were the people of Uriah. Brother Samuel brought the message focused on the "only message," and that is Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us. Following the service, the Team and Uriah member were treated to cake and punch in celebration of Pastor Samuel's birthday. After a long day, the Team retired early, exhausted and expecting God to give us emotional and spiritual strength to stand Friday's onslaught of kids. Please pray for the Team and we continue to shine with the love of Christ to those we meet in Belize. Amen.

Posted By:Jerry McMurray

Date and Time Posted: Thursday August 20, 2009 - 12:00:47 am

In most of the world, the last few months have been a period of concern due to the failure of the stock market; the failure of retirement accounts; the loss of jobs. In Central America, the socioeconomic structure of the countries are such that the citizens are either the "haves" or the "have nots," with most of the people being in the latter. In the world, there are those that know Jesus Christ as their Savior, and are rich beyond compare; and there are the rest, those that are lost and have an eternal place of torment awaiting them if they do not come to accept Christ. In the mission field, those who serve are to have "hearts of service," for that is what we are doing - it's not what we do, but just that we are willing to do whatever needs to be done in His name, and that we don't let our pride or our desires getting in the way of seeing that the mission is accomplished for His glory. Last night it.....didn't rain, or at least not enough to have any puddles. The team awoke to another partly cloudy day, and enjoyed another wonderful breakfast of eggs, bacon, avocado, and toast, before beginning our respective tasks. God's blessings had been evident during the week as we saw the children's needs being met by sponsors,sponsored, as well as their hearts being touched by the selfless gifts they received. The Book Distribution group opened the building around 8:15 to a smaller, but just as enthusiastic, crowd of children wanting to obtain their supplies. For a short time, things progressed well, with the eager responses of the children lifting our spirits. And then, it happened........first there was a college student who had to be told that he had lost his sponsor, followed by a mother with her child. The child had to be told he had no sponsor; a second child had a sponsor. Because of a mother's love, or maybe it was just in desperation, she had to mention a third child that did not have a sponsor; had to let us see him; and to hear about him. All we could do is to tell her to come back on Thursday, and that we would try to find her sponsors. Hearts were heavy as we let her leave with her children, allowing the one child to obtain his supplies. What happens next depends on the love of those that read this message, or read the emails from the past few days, and are touched by God to share their blessings with a child they haven't met. By mid-day, the flow of children had stopped, allowing a long lunch break for the Team. Meanwhile, the construction group had been working diligently at the Spanish church. They came back to the compound for lunch, and then returned to work on the parsonage and church. The put the glass in the parsonage windows; they installed the two exterior doors in the parsonage; they framed the overhead for sheetrock in the parsonage; they installed almost all finshed electrical in the church; and they roughed-in the electrical in the parsonage. God has indeed blessed this group with hearts of service; they have been ready to go even before their rides were ready! The afternoon was slow for the Book Distribution, as the number of children showing up slowed. The main focus of the team was to update the databases to show who had actually showed up for their supplies so that we could determine who was still to come. As the afternoon ended, the Team called Teresa Haydon to inform them of some of the changs, and to confirm assignments for some new sponsors that had been identified. After a delicious dinner of "cheesy taters," chicken, peas, and chocolate cake, the Team members prepared to go to Faith for the night service. After congregational singing lead by Joel Richardson, Brother Frank Waldo brought the message. His text was taken from Genesis concerning God's promise as indicated by the rainbow, and how God's promises are always true. Various Scriptures were used to illustrate how we can rely on Christ, for He fulfilled the promise of God in the Old Testament concerning a Savior, and that we make the choice of who we are to serve. As the service ended, some went forward for prayer for a variety of issues. As the church attendees filed out, they were treated to gifts of crosses and candy from the Mission Team. The Team members again met the young lady who had been saved Sunday night, as well as her grandmother. She asked for prayer for her as she has poor eyesight and diabetes. It is planned that we will try to find her assistance to read the Scriptures (large text Bible or glasses), as well as to see if we can get her a glucose monitor. As the evening ended, we thank God for all of the blessings that we have been given, but mostly for the love of God that saved the sinners that we were to become the sons of the living God. May God bless the Team as we continue to serve, and may God bless those who respond to His call.

Posted By:Jerry McMurray

Date and Time Posted: Tuesday August 18, 2009 - 10:44:32 pm

Outside the "lodge" this morning there were puddles of water, but not large pools; so, it rained again last night, but the skies were partly cloudy as the sun rose. The Team arose looking forward to serving our Lord and Savior once again at the Uriah Compound. The children were arriving when the Team had our breakfast of french toast, sausage, and fried breadfruit (it tastes like french fries, especially with some catsup!). After checking emails and web postings, the Team again separated to perform their assigned tasks. The "construction team" members were driven by Frank to the church to begin installation of the doors and windows of the parsonage. The Book Distribution Team opened the doors to the building a little after 8:00 a.m. to an awaiting crowd of children and parents. The children were processed in a more-efficient manner, and by mid-day 95 children had been processed. One young lady had been brought in just to be told that she had lost her sponsor. Through tear-filled eyes, she was told to come back Thursday to find out if anyone was found that would be her sponsor. The events in our lives are colored by our individual backgrounds and perceptions; to her, it was a remorseful time as she wondered if she would be able to go to school and learn with her friends, though in God's eyes, it's just one of the valleys her her life. It's hard for us to see what's just ahead because we see through a glass darkly. As the Team was eating lunch, one of our members, after hearing her story, stated that he was going to be her sponsor, and two members challenged their Church Sunday School classes to sponsor their own children. Indeed, it was another example of how God leads and guides us to serve Him, and to challenge our fellow servants on how they can serve even from afar. The afternoon "construction group" went back to the parsonage, and worked diligently throughout the evening. By the end of the workday, they had installed all ten windows in the parsonage by mounting the mechanical louvers and framing the spaces above and below the windows, leaving only the glass to be installed (a minor task for tomorrow). The group also installed the six overhead fans in the church, and then proceeded to frame the exterior doors, which they will install tomorrow. God has blessed this group with a professional carpenter, just like the June team was so blessed, and is blessing their service. As the day ended, the total number of children processed today reached 150 children,for a total of 295 for the two days. After a delicious meal of rice and meatballs, plantain, cole slaw, and cake, the Team was lead in devotions by Jerry McMurray. The text was from Psalms 90, and dealt with perceptions of life. We are individually biased by the events of our lives, and the knowledge that we have concerning things in life; however, God's perception of us and the events of our lives is different. God is eternal - from everlasting to everlasting, and He knows us even better than we know ourselves. The valleys of our lives are not to be compared with His eternal rewards. Our lives are like grass that appeared for a time, and then withers. Indeed, the economic events of recent days have caused men's hearts to fail them - to commit suicide - to give up hope, but we who are washed in the blood know the True Hope Everlasting, and that is in our Savior. As we strive this week to help the children of Belize, let us keep in mind that He reigns Surpreme, and help us to be reminded to "number our days" so that they be in service to Him!!

Posted By:Jerry McMurray

Date and Time Posted: Monday August 17, 2009 - 11:31:08 pm

Like a light shining in the darkness is the face of a child when he/she receives their supplies from a sponsor living in a strange land; from someone they haven't even met, but that is showing the love of Christ by sponsoring them in their lives. Equally, but opposite, in effect is the disappointment in the face of a child that has lost hix/her sponsor; a face of fear and potential loss of what might be. Today the Team saw both faces - of joy and of pain, and it's only the first day of the Book Distribution. It rained last night...not a surprise in the rainy season, but the day began with the hope of what was to come. After an early breakfast of pancakes, sausage, and fruit, the Team separated - some for the Book Distribution, and some to make minor repairs on the compound facilities. The Team members working on the book distribution assumed assigned roles to start the distribution, but were made quickly aware of the creed that we must be flexible, flexible, and most of all, flexible. Some children showed up without the required cards; others showed up without sponsors; and a variety of other problems. God didn't make us to surrender to difficulties, but to be overcomers, and that happened several times. By day's end 143 children had been processed, and had received their supplies. So precious is the smile of a child, and many times our hearts were touched by the smiles of the children. Frank took the "construction group" to the Spanish church to observe the parsonage status, and to make of list of required material and tools to continue the work. After lunch, the group then went to Spanish Lookout to purchase the windows and glass in preparation for installation starting tomorrow. Before leaving the town, the group went to the dairy to purchase ice cream, for immediate consumption, and in preparation for a celebration this evening. The Book Distribution finished the day around 630 p.m., leaving a tired group to finish the letters, badges, etc. from the day's work, tasks that were taken several more hours. Paster Delbert and his family arrived to celebrate Penny Digman's birthday, complete with three cakes (one was a 21-year old cake) and two gallons of ice cream!!! A wonderous and blessed day ended with Ron Sexton, who quoted a number of Scriptures to point out that our "service," whatever it is to be, is for God's glory and not our own. As he pointed out, we may not choose to do a particular job during a mission trip, but we enjoy what we do because we know it is what God wants us to do, and we are surrendering to His will. As night grew, we wearily retired knowing that God has blessed this group in His service!!

Posted By:Jerry McMurray

Date and Time Posted: Sunday August 16, 2009 - 11:21:46 pm

What an amazing, awesome God we serve!!! This evening was the "high" (thus far, but I'm expecting even greater blessings this week) as we saw two more give their hearts to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Somtimes it seems that Satan is stronger than usual, and today was no exception, but for the Team, we place our faith in Jesus Christ, who is and will be Victorious. The rainy season was evident last night as it rained, but when we awoke, the skies were partly cloudy. After another great breakfast, the Team split, with some accompanying Damarius to Guatemala with the objective of crossing the border to purchase supplies. On the way, we had to pull off the road for a short time due to a bike race. After the bikes had passed, we assumed the drive to our destination. At the border, we found that there were an estimated 300+ people waiting to cross, which would result in a 3-4 hour wait. We turned back, and returned to the compound after first stopping to shop for native crafts. The balance of the Team attended Sunday School at the compound, with the lesson being lead by the Pastor Delbert's wife. The team rested this afternoon, with a few minor activities being finished before the evening meal. As we began to prepare for the evening service, the power for the entire compound went out due to an apparent transformer failure. The Team assembled on the front porch of the new "lodge" (as we are calling the four-room building) to hold our own service under the belief that the members of Faith Baptist would not have a service that evening. In the dark, using a flash light to allow him to read the Bible, Ron Gilbert spoke to us about Paul's conviction and confidence in his future in heaven. Ron spoke of the example that Paul set as an evangelist to the world, as well as a Chrisian living his faith. After our "Team service," we went into Faith Baptist and found that they were holding a service. After Pastor Delbert gave the attendees the invitation, two came forward to be saved, including one (Terisha Lino) who came to Team members to pray with her and help lead her to Christ!!! Our evening ended with us giving God praise for His blessings for a wonderful day, and allowing us to see new children enter His Kingdom!!! Tomorrow we begin the book distribution, and the opportunity to see and talk to others about our Lord and Savior.

Posted By:Jerry McMurray

Date and Time Posted: Saturday August 15, 2009 - 10:31:30 pm

Greetings to all those in East Tennesssee, Southwest Virginia, and elsewhere, from those who have been blessed by God to have been chosen to serve the Lord in this current mission effort. It is an honor to be in Belize again at Body and Soul Ministries in Roaring Creek, Cayo District. The team is excited about the potential opportunity to show and tell of God's love during the coming week to, not only the children of Belize, but all who will listen. This mission team has two focus areas: to complete the school supply distribution to over 500 children throughout the week, as well as to continue construction activities at the parsonage and minor construction activities at the Uriah compound. With God's blessing, we arrived at the airport by 6:00 a.m on Friday for a 7:55 flight, but were unable to leave the Tri-Cities until nearly and hour later due to a low cloud ceiling in the Atlanta area. The flight to Atlanta was uneventful, and the team had sufficient time during a lay-over to get to the correct terminal, as well as to get some breakfast. Shortly after 11:00, the team left the States on the way to Belize. Due to minor storms in the Gulf area, as well as restrictions on the airspace in the Gulf, the plane flew more eastward along the western coast of Florida; then along the northern coast of Cuba; and finally south along the Yucatan Peninsula. After arrival in Belize, God blessed the team by allowing the members to go through Customs without any delays or hestitations. Due to Penny's later arrival, Joel drove the team out to "Old Belize" for lunch at a restaurant located on the coast. While dining we were given a great view of the ocean. After picking Penny up, we headed to the compound, stopping at "Cheers" to have lime juice and/or ice cream bars. The evening ended with unpacking, a light snack, and devotions lead by Ron Gilbert. Saturday proved to be a typical hot, partly cloudy day - of routine high humidity as is normal during the rainy season. After an excellent breakfast, many of the team members loaded into the van for the ride to Mayan ruins at Lamanai. God blessed the team with good weather, a breathtaking view of the river, good food, and enjoyment of a life-time opportunity for all. Among the many sights were a variety of wildlife - including several monkeys and birds. Meanwhile, Hope, Jane, and Penny began preparations for book distribution, while Frank and Joel worked on the repairs to the main gate. After returning to the compound, several team members assisted in the separation of shoes for the distribution. The evening ended with another good meal, and devotions from Psalm 96 and 95. As we progress though the week, we ask that you continue to pray for us as we serve to the best of our abilities as we give praise and glory to Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Posted By:Jerry McMurray

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