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The Belize Christmas Shoebox Mission Team

This page is dedicated to the Belize Christmas Shoebox mission team.






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Daily Narrative from the Mission Group


Date and Time Posted: Friday December 13, 2013 - 10:01:56 pm


Thursday, December 12, 2013 “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.’ – Psalm 126:2 David had written the psalms, some of which are songs of rejoicing, triumph, and joy. This verse in Psalm 126 is one concerning the joy of the freedom of release from captivity. This verse brings to mind the joy in celebrating our release from the captivity of sin because of Jesus’ sacrifice, and the joy that fills our souls when we worship Him. This Team was in Belize this week to show the people that there is joy in salvation for we have been set free! It was another rainy day in Belize as the Team awoke to the “usual” sound of falling rain. The Team enjoyed a good breakfast from the Compound’s cooks before splitting into groups, and going in different directions. One group loaded the van in order to deliver boxes in the afternoon to a church and hospital in Western Belize, while another group went to schools to deliver the final sponsor shoeboxes. The final two schools to be visited were Evergreen and Belmopan Baptist, with this group returning to the compound by midday for lunch. The other group had to take one of the vehicles to Belmopan’s Caribbean Tire store to have a flat tire fixed. This group also returned to the compound to enjoy a quick lunch before departing west. The van was loaded with boxes and Team members as we proceeded west on Western Highway through Teakettle, Ontario, and other small towns to arrive at our destination, a small church in Santa Elena. This small church was located on the right hand side of Western Highway before you arrived at San Ignacio. The Team met a couple of young ladies of the church who unlocked and opened the building before we unladed the boxes. The church had requested 63 boxes; upon completion of their unloading, there the Team left approximately 20 more boxes for the children of the church. The next stop was La Loma Luz Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, a hospital, clinic, and emergency room located on a hillside overlooking the small town of Santa Ellena. The Team had 21 boxes to deliver for the children of the hospital and the nearby community. Recent floods had destroyed many homes in the area, and there were many families who had lost their homes and all of their possessions. The Team members unloaded the vehicle, and carried the boxes into the emergency room building, up the stairs, and to a storage room on the second floor of the building. Upon returning down the stairs, we were given an abbreviated visit of the imaging center of the hospital. Three of the team were students of radiology at East Tennessee University, and enjoyed seeing the equipment that they have in the facility. Upon boarding the vehicle, the group next went east on the highway, back to the cutoff to Spanish Lookout. This was blocked by the high waters of the river, for the waters were flowing over the bridge, blocking the path to Spanish Lookout. There was a boat offering rides across the river, but it was of no value for the Team as the location was miles from the down. The Team had to turn around, and return to Western Highway to head east toward the compound. A stop was made to drop some members off at the compound, and then another group boarded the vehicle to go to Belmopan to purchase ice cream for the church service tonight. After visiting two stores, 10 gallons of ice cream were acquired (six one-gallon containers, eight half-gallon containers, of varying flavors, such as rum raisin, chocolate, Oreo, strawberry, and chocolate chip). The group returned to the compound for dinner before boarding the bus to travel to Mayo Mopan Baptist Church for tonight’s service. The church was located east of Belmopan, whose attendees spoke Cechen, a local dialect translated by the pastors and others in the church. The service was started by the pastor, who thanked Pastor Layton for his testimony and preaching in advance. He also thanked the Team for their work on behalf o the children, both this year and in years past. The leader of the church singing group then began several songs, with the church attendees clapping to the tempo of the songs. Pastor Layton then introduced Herb Ladlee, who gave his testimony. Herb stated that this was his first time in Belize, and that the love and acceptance of the people of Belize had impressed him. Next was Jerry McMurray, who stated that he had been coming to Belize for seven years, and that he was also impressed by the honesty, acceptance, and love of the people. The main point made was that we were here to serve Christ, and that if there were any who did not know Christ as Savior, then today was the day of salvation. Pastor Freddie Robinette gave his testimony, and stated that we were here to give out “Jesus Boxes” for the kids for each box had been blessed and dedicated to the cause of giving glory to Christ. He stated that it was nearing the Christmas season, the time of celebration that Jesus was born; Jesus is love, and we are here because we love the people of Belize, and want to show them the love that Jesus has shown us. Freddie stated that the Team’s work was not about Americans or Belizeans, it was about Jesus, and he thanked the congregation for the opportunity to worship Jesus with them. After a song and collection of an offering, Pastor Layton then brought the message to the congregation, and thanked the pastor and the congregation for making us feel welcomed. The message was focused on the most important fact of the Bible and the Christian message – John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever will believeth in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” This verse contains the main concept of Christianity – that God, some 2000 years ago, gave the greatest gift of all to mankind, and that is the gift of salvation by paying our sin debt. Pastor Layton then prayed after the Scripture reading that his “lips be guarded so that his words only bring glory to Jesus. Layton then described the different kinds of love: between husband and wife, between parents and kids; between brothers and sisters; between friends – these are special kinds of love. The greatest love, however, is that between God and mankind. While we were yet sinners, God loved us even in our rebellion. God sent his Son, his only Son, to earth to die in our place for our sins. Sin could not be described as “sin” until God sent his Son to be God in the flesh and in his short ministry on the earth, God explained the need that we must be born again, and accept his Son. God had sent his Son to die on Mount Calvary; He was placed in a borrowed grave, and on the third day, God raised Him form the dead to take a seat at His right hand. We must be born again – we cannot find or work our way to heaven; there is only way, and that way is Jesus for he is truth and life. No man comes to the Father God but by Jesus for he is the only way to salvation. Jesus has promised that He will return some day for those who know Him; He will come in the clouds after Christians. Again, Layton reiterated that we must be born again, and this leads to the principal question of life – are you ready and do you know Him as your Savior? What are you doing with this man called Jesus? You can be ready, for salvation is only a heartbeat away; it is a simple process, for you just have to pray the “sinners prayer” and, by faith, accept Jesus as your Savior. Layton implored that the congregants should not “turn Him away” for we need Jesus in our life. If anyone needed healing in our lives, God can show what He can do for you if you let God’s healing touch on you know. Layton ended by an invitation to the crowd to come forward with their needs so that he, the pastor, and others can pray for them. A number of the crowd came forward to receive blessings and prayer. Upon the completion of this part of the service, members of the Mission Team came forward to hand out the shoeboxes. The church had taken the shoeboxes, and had, based on the age and sex of the child, had assigned a name to each child. Kelly Haden handed each child candy canes as the Team members handed the boxes to the children after their names had been called. The Team members were greeted by smiles and “thank yous” from the children as they received their presents. Upon completion of this task, members went outside where a tent had been set up to distribute the ice cream that had been purchased earlier. Over 400 ice cream cones were handed to the children, with many pictures taken. The most precious pictures were of the “milk mustaches” of the children as they were enjoying their cold, sweet treats. All of the cones were distributed to the children and parents, and when this was done, the Team cleaned up the residuals, and loaded into the bus for the ride back to the Compound. What a joy it was to see the completion of the work started many months ago in the churches and homes of the States!!! All who have labored to see the boxes were prepared, sealed, transferred to be packed into the crates, and then shipped to the Compound can rejoice that they have been received by needy kids in this country, and that this Team has witnessed , and participated, in the distribution to the receiving children. We can hope that the pamphlet contained in each box, with the Scripture message in Spanish and English, will bear fruit to the glory of God. It is our prayer that the seeds being planted in the work this week will bear fruit to God’s glory in the future!


Posted By:Jerry McMurray


Date and Time Posted: Friday December 13, 2013 - 10:00:59 pm


Wednesday, December 11, 2013 “For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forth days and forty nights, and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” – Genesis 7:4 Rain……rain……rain. Rain was the word of the day as the “heavens” opened in a variable flow of precipitation, ranging from a torrential downpour to a slight shower or mist. Water flowed down through the streets of Roaring Creek, flooding low-lying fields and depressions, and making the roads and fields muddy for travel. The Western Highway closer to the Guatemalan border was completely underwater at one point during the day. The central courtyard of the Compound had standing water in many places; yet, despite of the discomfort of the rain, the Team had jobs to accomplish, and the work continued on. Though the rains created some issues with the activities, we know that the earth won’t be destroyed by floods again, and these minor discomforts are little compared to those that most of the Belizeans have to cope with each and every day. We can rejoice of the promise in Revelation 4:3, which depict the one that “sat on the throne in heaven” as having a rainbow around him; for the believers there is coming a day where all calamity will cease, as the rainbow was a promise that destruction of God would not come again, and we can rejoice in that day is coming soon! Breakfast consisted of biscuits, jam, scrambled eggs (one container with eggs alone, and one mixed with spices and onions), and fruit. As in previous days, the Team members again split into different groups going in different directions to accomplish the tasks that were before us. One group had prepared several more shipments of boxes to churches for distribution, one of which will occur on Thursday night when the Team arrives to distribute the boxes and feed the congregants ice cream. A second delivery was made to Uriah, the Spanish church constructed with the assistance of a Body and Soul Team a few years ago. Upon return to the Compound, this group was met by the pastor of Belmopan Baptist, who personally arrived at the compound to pick up the shoeboxes for his congregation. David, the pastor, said that the church had received shoeboxes last year, and did not know (at the time) who had supplied them. He had since discovered that Body and Soul Ministries had given them last year’s boxes, and wanted to thank the ministry for their previous donations. The Team prepared them a shipment for this year, and then helped load the boxes into the pastor’s vehicle. Members of the Team joined the pastor in praying for God’s blessings on the boxes, on his congregation, and on Body and Soul for their efforts in spreading the Word of God by showing the love of Jesus to this community. As he stated, it is obvious that, though there may be racial and social differences between the congregations in the United States and the people of Belize, we serve the same God, and we are showing His love by the actions of the Team and those who donated for this mission. This Team used the afternoon to deliver boxes to St. Martins school east of Belmopan, but was unable to deliver other boxes because they had closed due to the heavy rains in the area. A second group continued to make deliveries of food and shoeboxes to sponsored children throughout the area. The evening meal consisted of scalloped potatoes, beef, salad, and cookies, and was enjoyed by the Team after their day’s labors. The evening was spent relaxing, and planning for Thursday’s events. Many of the members enjoyed more of the chocolate and strawberry ice cream remaining from last night’s activities at Biblical Road. The rain ceased after nightfall, and the team retired for a night of rest. Continue to pray for this Team as they continue their labors in Belize. Help us to show the love of God which is “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5). Pray that we have a good weather on Friday as we have beans, rice, and powdered milk that we have prepared for a village feeding for it is an opportunity to bring the message of salvation to an impoverished community in Belize.


Posted By:Jerry McMurray


Date and Time Posted: Wednesday December 11, 2013 - 11:03:29 pm


Tuesday, December 10, 2013 “And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.” – Ezekiel 34:26 Ezekiel had prophesized that God would send, in contrast to the evil leaders of his time, a perfect Shepherd, the Messiah, who would take care of every need of his people, and set up a Kingdom of perfect peace and justice. We are servants of that Most High Shepherd, using our resources and bodies to serve him in this world. Those that are on this mission trip to Belize are praying that our efforts will bless the people of this country and region, so that they might know that Jesus, the Shepherd lives, because He lives in us. Greetings to all from the Body and Soul Ministries of Belize compound in Roaring Creek, Belize, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Tuesday morning started as a beautiful morning – nice warm day with partly cloudy skies, accompanied by a weather forecast of a sixty percent chance of rain today. The Teams are prepared for another great day of service to God, with two main groups going in different directions today, ending with a service at the Spanish church (Biblical Road) tonight to distribute shoeboxes and ice cream. I apologize, in advance, to our team membes as I am unable to capture all of the events of the day as the Team goes different ways to serve the people of Belize, not all of which was reported to me. One group prepared, and left early, to go to the island of Crooked Tree in Northern Belize. Crooked Tree is a village of approximately 800 people living on an island located in the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. This region is known for its diversity of wildlife, and was declared a protected wetland in 1998. It is of international significance due to the many migratory birds, as well as non-migratory wetland species, that live in the region. In particular, large numbers of wading birds flock to the lagoons during the dry season in Belize (February through May). Among the bird species are Kingfishers, Kites, Herons, Storks, and Yellow-headed parrots. This settlement was established on the island in the center of the wetlands, and was only accessible by boats for many years until the government constructed a causeway that allowed vehicles to go back-and-forth to the village. Due to recent heavy rains in Belize, the causeway was flooded, and people could not get to the village except by boat. A shoebox delivery was planned for the church on the island; however, conditions had changed, with the delivery having to be made now by boat instead of one of the camp’s vehicles. In addition, due to the limited access, the Team agreed to take some of the beans and rice to the church to allow them to feed members of the community. Thus, the Team loaded the boxes and food into the van for the drive to a dock to catch the boat to the island. It was a short boat ride, with the group arriving near the church. The boxes and the foodstuffs were unloaded from the boat and stored in the church building. The Team enjoyed the trip, and returned to the compound early after stopping and having lunch. A second Team, led by Teresa Hayden, left to go to the schools to deliver sponsors’ gifts to the schools. This team started with Armenia, a school with over 400 students, located south of Belmopan. The school’s principal had arranged for the students to write their sponsors appreciation letters. He had been a missionary to the country years ago, but had decided not to leave Belize, and has been in the country as an educator for several years. He arranged for the “sponsored children” that had gifts to arrive at principal’s office to see that they had gifts, which were then left in his office until the end of the school day. The team went to a second school in Belmopan to distribute gifts there, and then to a third school located on Western Highway, St. Michaels. After distributing gifts at St. Michaels, the team returned to Belmopan to have lunch. After lunch, we traveled west again to visit other schools, including Cayo Christian Academy and Ontario. The final stop was Western Dairy in Spanish Lookout to purchase ice cream for distribution at the Spanish church. We returned to the compound for dinner, and then boarded the bus for the short ride to the church. A second, smaller group went to another local church to witness a Christmas program, missing the distribution, but enjoying the efforts of another church to bring glory and rejoicing at the blessing of the Savior’s birth. The pastor of the church started the service by opening with prayer and singing before turning the service over to the Team to distribute the shoeboxes. Those members of the Team that had not been on a shoebox distribution trip were invited to go to the front of the church to hand the boxes to the children as their names were called. One by one, starting with the youngest first, came forward to receive their gifts. The cameras flashed taking one picture after another of the smiling faces. Over 130 boxes were handed out to the kids that were on the list prepared by the church. It was a joy to see the smiles on the faces of the children as they received their Christmas gifts, to the repeated phrase “Merry Christmas.” Upon completion of the list, those children who had not received a gift came forward, and boxes were distributed until the point was reached that there were too few boxes for distribution, at which point the remaining boxes were opened, and the materials distributed to the last children present. Indeed, it was such a blessing to see the joy of the kids as the efforts of the many that had prepared and worked so diligently in the churches and homes of the sponsors and churches were fulfilled for this group of kids. Some of the Team had prepared a table, and brought the ice cream out for distribution to the service attendees. Five team members filled cones to handout from five containers, each containing three gallons of ice cream, until no more cones remained, at which time the remaining ice cream was loaded onto the vehicles and taken back to the compound. Cameras flashed as kids, many with “milk mustaches,” ate the infrequently consumed cold, sweet treat. Adults and kids alike enjoyed the fellowship of the fellow attendees and the Team members. After arriving at the compound, the Team members also enjoyed a serving of the remaining ice cream before retiring. A group enjoyed meeting at “Hope’s Haven,” the breezeway between two of the structures, and enjoyed singing a variety of songs, including some Christmas carols. It was reported, on Wednesday morning, that one team member had a dream that there was a group of howler monkeys playing a guitar and singing songs outside the rooms, no howler monkeys were reported to have been seen Tuesday night!!! As previously said, the joy of the children on this night at the little Spanish church is a result of the hard work, dedication, and giving of many people in the States. More importantly, it is the result of the love of Jesus in the hearts of His servants who are willing to give of their time and resources to give to the less fortunate. As servants of Christ, we are commanded to live and act, in “all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience…..in labours, in watchings, in fastings, by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned....,” and it was indeed love unfeigned that caused us to help those less fortunate than us. It is with gratitude that they accepted the gifts of those fellow Christians who, in their efforts, have showed love unfeigned, meaning genuine, heartfelt, sincere love. Such love was shown by Christ to us long ago in His birth, death, and resurrection; all glory and honor belongs and is due to Him for he has given us this opportunity to declare His name among the people of Belize this week. Continue to pray for this Team as they continue to share the love of Jesus to a lost and dying world.!


Posted By:Jerry McMurray


Date and Time Posted: Wednesday December 11, 2013 - 11:32:55 am


Monday, December 09, 2013 “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” – 2 Timothy 1:6 “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name.” – Romans 1:5 This Monday morning in Belize was one of partially cloudy skies, high humidity, but one with anticipation as today was the first day of distribution of the shoe boxes. Several of the Team, Freddie Robinette and Teresa Hayden, drove to Belmopan television station in order to discuss this week’s activities. They had to leave the compound just after 6 a.m. as the television show was to start at 0630. They enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the pending work with Fem, and to let the people know that the Team is here to show the love of Jesus by our actions. The members of the churches that have prepared the shoeboxes freely have given of their time and resources, not to get any glory of their own from their work, but to show that Jesus has blessed them to be able to donate gifts to the children of Belize, and to tell them that Jesus loves them and died on a cross for each and every one of them. This Team is in Belize to bring remembrance of the gift of God given to the world 2000 years ago! After a breakfast of jacks, eggs, bacon, and fruit, the Team split into different groups so as to maximize our work this week. With more than 1390 boxes to be distributed this week, work started quickly on the separation of the boxes to the different churches for distribution. Some of the churches wanted to distribute them on their own; others, such as Biblical Road, would be distributed at the church by Team members. Each of the churches had submitted a request for a given number of boxes per age category, and by this list the shipments were prepared. One key action was to obtain the numbers of requested boxes for two of the known destination churches, and to add the numbers for the 10 locations to assure that we know what the counts are (age group, and boy/girl). A small group worked to prepare the grouping of boxes for two church deliveries on Monday – to a church in Armenia (which is located south of Belmopan just off the Hummingbird Highway), and to Lagoon Road Baptist Church, farther south on the same road. In addition, boxes were separated for the Spanish Church Service to be held on Tuesday night. A third delivery of shoeboxes was made to the new orphanage building (King’s Children’s Home). The children are residing still at the old orphanage, but they will be moved to their new home later this month. Teresa Hayden led a second group in the delivery of sponsor-prepared shoeboxes to children at Belmopan Comprehensive and Nazarene schools. Two vehicles were used to take the shoeboxes and Team members to the new Orphanage, which is located on the Western Highway east of Belmopan. We were given a tour of the new Orphanage complex, an impressive structure that is far better than the current facility where the children are living. The complex has a center courtyard which has playground equipment for the children. There is a wing for the housing of the boys, and a wing for the girls. The entranceway has a glass walls with an arched entranceway. The floors of the buildings are tiled, and the dining room is a large, expansive area with overhead fans. The kitchen has stainless steel countertops, an 8-eye gas stove, dishwasher, and large stainless refrigeration areas. Adjacent to that is a large pantry area and a large laundry room. The Team unloaded the boxes, and then carried them into one of the storage rooms near the entranceway. The director of the orphanage was present to greet us, as well as a number of construction workers who were diligently working to complete the construction activities, and to prepare for the children’s relocation to the facility in the coming weeks. The entire facility was paid for by donation of sponsors; for example, the new bunk beds for the facility had just arrived on Monday morning, and had been unloaded into one room-these had been sent to the facility by an individual in Texas who had built them and shipped them to Belize. Some of the Team members stayed at the facility to continue touring it, while others loaded back into the van for the trip to Armenia. After a short drive to Armenia, we arrived at the church to unload the boxes. This church had informed us that they would be distributing their boxes. The church building was still under construction, with the present condition of having a concrete floor and block walls, but lacking a permanent roof. A tarp had been stretched over a frame supporting structure, and had been somewhat secured by anchoring the ropes with blocks. A pool of water was in one section of the building because the weather had blown the tarp back in a section, allowing the rain to blow inside the building. The shoeboxes were unloaded to a nearby house for the church to distribute. After we finished the unloading, Pastor Layton lead a group in praying for the church, its members, and for the Lord’s blessing on the impact of the shoeboxes on the lives of the members of that community. The Holy Spirit was felt, witnessing and confirming God’s approval of the work being done. The group next boarded the van for the trip to Lagoon Road Baptist Church, located farther southeast in Hummingbird Highway, and is characterized by the lush tropical foliage, bounded by mountains to the west. This road runs to the Coast of Belize at Dangriga, intersecting the Southern Highway which runs along the coast to Punta Gorda. As the ride continued, the group passed Blue Hole National Park and many orange groves, and the “Sleeping Giants,” a mountain range that invoked the image of large, sleeping giants. We turned east off Hummingbird Highway to the church, and as we pulled into the yard, were greeted by one of the Church’s elders. Some of the Team had been to the church on many occasions in the past, and were pleased to see that they recognized and remembered them from previous visits. We unloaded the boxes into a storage room, and the church was locked back; however, as the church member indicated, many in the community had seen the van unloading the packages, and stated they would have to be moved to another secure location in the church to prevent their theft as the church had been burglarized in the past. Although the shoeboxes have low monetary values on the open market, “little is worth a lot when you have nothing.” Monday evening was, for the Team, a time of preparation for the coming week, and for resting from the initial activities and travels of the day. During the day some of the Team had went to families to deliver packages, to see how they are doing, and to renew friendships. As the day closed, it was a time of reflection on how God has blessed us in the United States. We are reminded that, no matter how much we have or how little, it all belongs to God, including our hands and bodies to his service. We know that we are saved “by the grace of God through faith…it is the gift of God.” As we distribute these shoeboxes to the children, may we always be mindful of the greatest gift ever given, our Savior, Jesus Christ.


Posted By:Jerry Mcmurray


Date and Time Posted: Wednesday December 11, 2013 - 11:32:13 am


Monday, December 09, 2013 “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” – 2 Timothy 1:6 “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name.” – Romans 1:5 This Monday morning in Belize was one of partially cloudy skies, high humidity, but one with anticipation as today was the first day of distribution of the shoe boxes. Several of the Team, Freddie Robinette and Teresa Hayden, drove to Belmopan television station in order to discuss this week’s activities. They had to leave the compound just after 6 a.m. as the television show was to start at 0630. They enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the pending work with Fem, and to let the people know that the Team is here to show the love of Jesus by our actions. The members of the churches that have prepared the shoeboxes freely have given of their time and resources, not to get any glory of their own from their work, but to show that Jesus has blessed them to be able to donate gifts to the children of Belize, and to tell them that Jesus loves them and died on a cross for each and every one of them. This Team is in Belize to bring remembrance of the gift of God given to the world 2000 years ago! After a breakfast of jacks, eggs, bacon, and fruit, the Team split into different groups so as to maximize our work this week. With more than 1390 boxes to be distributed this week, work started quickly on the separation of the boxes to the different churches for distribution. Some of the churches wanted to distribute them on their own; others, such as Biblical Road, would be distributed at the church by Team members. Each of the churches had submitted a request for a given number of boxes per age category, and by this list the shipments were prepared. One key action was to obtain the numbers of requested boxes for two of the known destination churches, and to add the numbers for the 10 locations to assure that we know what the counts are (age group, and boy/girl). A small group worked to prepare the grouping of boxes for two church deliveries on Monday – to a church in Armenia (which is located south of Belmopan just off the Hummingbird Highway), and to Lagoon Road Baptist Church, farther south on the same road. In addition, boxes were separated for the Spanish Church Service to be held on Tuesday night. A third delivery of shoeboxes was made to the new orphanage building (King’s Children’s Home). The children are residing still at the old orphanage, but they will be moved to their new home later this month. Teresa Hayden led a second group in the delivery of sponsor-prepared shoeboxes to children at Belmopan Comprehensive and Nazarene schools. Two vehicles were used to take the shoeboxes and Team members to the new Orphanage, which is located on the Western Highway east of Belmopan. We were given a tour of the new Orphanage complex, an impressive structure that is far better than the current facility where the children are living. The complex has a center courtyard which has playground equipment for the children. There is a wing for the housing of the boys, and a wing for the girls. The entranceway has a glass walls with an arched entranceway. The floors of the buildings are tiled, and the dining room is a large, expansive area with overhead fans. The kitchen has stainless steel countertops, an 8-eye gas stove, dishwasher, and large stainless refrigeration areas. Adjacent to that is a large pantry area and a large laundry room. The Team unloaded the boxes, and then carried them into one of the storage rooms near the entranceway. The director of the orphanage was present to greet us, as well as a number of construction workers who were diligently working to complete the construction activities, and to prepare for the children’s relocation to the facility in the coming weeks. The entire facility was paid for by donation of sponsors; for example, the new bunk beds for the facility had just arrived on Monday morning, and had been unloaded into one room-these had been sent to the facility by an individual in Texas who had built them and shipped them to Belize. Some of the Team members stayed at the facility to continue touring it, while others loaded back into the van for the trip to Armenia. After a short drive to Armenia, we arrived at the church to unload the boxes. This church had informed us that they would be distributing their boxes. The church building was still under construction, with the present condition of having a concrete floor and block walls, but lacking a permanent roof. A tarp had been stretched over a frame supporting structure, and had been somewhat secured by anchoring the ropes with blocks. A pool of water was in one section of the building because the weather had blown the tarp back in a section, allowing the rain to blow inside the building. The shoeboxes were unloaded to a nearby house for the church to distribute. After we finished the unloading, Pastor Layton lead a group in praying for the church, its members, and for the Lord’s blessing on the impact of the shoeboxes on the lives of the members of that community. The Holy Spirit was felt, witnessing and confirming God’s approval of the work being done. The group next boarded the van for the trip to Lagoon Road Baptist Church, located farther southeast in Hummingbird Highway, and is characterized by the lush tropical foliage, bounded by mountains to the west. This road runs to the Coast of Belize at Dangriga, intersecting the Southern Highway which runs along the coast to Punta Gorda. As the ride continued, the group passed Blue Hole National Park and many orange groves, and the “Sleeping Giants,” a mountain range that invoked the image of large, sleeping giants. We turned east off Hummingbird Highway to the church, and as we pulled into the yard, were greeted by one of the Church’s elders. Some of the Team had been to the church on many occasions in the past, and were pleased to see that they recognized and remembered them from previous visits. We unloaded the boxes into a storage room, and the church was locked back; however, as the church member indicated, many in the community had seen the van unloading the packages, and stated they would have to be moved to another secure location in the church to prevent their theft as the church had been burglarized in the past. Although the shoeboxes have low monetary values on the open market, “little is worth a lot when you have nothing.” Monday evening was, for the Team, a time of preparation for the coming week, and for resting from the initial activities and travels of the day. During the day some of the Team had went to families to deliver packages, to see how they are doing, and to renew friendships. As the day closed, it was a time of reflection on how God has blessed us in the United States. We are reminded that, no matter how much we have or how little, it all belongs to God, including our hands and bodies to his service. We know that we are saved “by the grace of God through faith…it is the gift of God.” As we distribute these shoeboxes to the children, may we always be mindful of the greatest gift ever given, our Savior, Jesus Christ.


Posted By:Jerry Mcmurray


Date and Time Posted: Monday December 9, 2013 - 12:04:43 pm


Sunday, December 8, 2013 “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.” – 1 Corinthians 9:19 As the sun arose on the small Central American country of Belize, a fog was in the air lingering after nightly showers, and due to the high humidity. The air was heavy with moisture, and some showers were expected to continue today, and through most of the week. However, that did not dampen the attitude of the members of the Shoebox Ministry as this was the Lord’s Day, and we were going to participate in two services today-one in the morning, and one at night at Faith Baptist. The Team members are blessed because they have been made servants of all men because of Jesus Christ, and the opportunity to serve this week has the sole purpose of giving glory to God. The Team arose to a breakfast of pancakes and sausage links prepared by the Camp cooks, and to the enjoyment of all. The Team split into two different groups – one to go to the Spanish Church in Camalotte, and one group t attend the LifeNet Church in Belmopan, Belize. The group to LifeNet enjoyed a wonderful, praise-filled service, and also enjoyed fellowship with some old friends, as well as making some new friends. Pastor Gilbert and the Shoebox Team from Lebanon, attended this service. The group attending Biblical Road Baptist for worship were welcomed by a large congregation, with many children present. The service opened with congregational singing in Spanish, accompanied by congregational clapping, as is typical with the Spanish services. This was followed by prayer by the pastor, and the collection of the usual offering. Several members of the team were asked to speak a few words of their choice, with Brother Frank Waldo starting first. Brother Frank spoke about the coming Christmas season, and the worship of Jesus Christ as the greatest gift given to the world. Christ came to the earth to give his life for sinners; his life ended by his coming to Jerusalem to be judged of men, condemned, and then crucified at Calvary. There He gave his life as a sacrifice for the salvation of men, and later arose again from the tomb to show His victory over death. The choice of receiving this gift is yours; if you do not accept the gift, it is your choice as Jesus was the sacrifice for all men. The pastor gave thanks for those members of the Team that had come so far to help serve the people of Belize. Pastor Freddie Robinette next commented that it was good to be back in Belize again with the Shoebox Ministry, but it was better to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ. We know that individuals can pass from death to life through the acceptance of the Savior’s sacrifice, through the acceptance of Jesus as Lord, and putting our trust and faith in him. He then asked Sister Verna Alman to come forward. Sister Verna will be finishing her work with Body and Soul this week after the completion of the Shoebox distribution. She said it was a privilege to be here with Layton and the Team, as it was Layton’s message during the March Team’s visit that had lead her and Dave to follow a new direction in their lives. In that message, Layton had covered how Christ had called the fishermen, such as Peter, to leave their professions, and to go in another direction – that of being fishers of men. In the past months, Layton has become an advisor and pastor to them – praying and weeping together, and now they are in the “boat and crossing over to the other side” in their journey of life. Verna said that she would come back sometimes the members of the church were their family members. She asked the young children of the church to come forward, and to sing “Jesus Loves Me” with her. It thrilling to see so many kids singing the song with her to the glory of the Lord. The Pastor had commented that he was thrilled by the love shown by the members, as evidenced by the Holy Spirit that he felt. Pastor Layton brought the message for the day, and began by also thanking Briceida Reye for her help in the translation. Brother Layton said that he had awakened at 0300 a.m., and God had given him a message that he was bringing today. The text reference was 1 Kings 18:30: “Ann Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.” The thought for the message was: “repairing the altar of the Lord.” Layton prayed that people were to be receptive to the word. In the days of Elijah, Ahab was the king, and Ahab married Jezebel. Ahab did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord; leaders can influence us to evil or good, and as Godly leaders, we need to be aware of what we are conveying and demonstrating to those that are our followers. Ahab was an evil king, leading the people into idolatry with the worship of the Canaan God, Baal. The Jews had been led astray, forgetting the God who had lead them from Egypt with a pillar of fire; the God who had delivered them in battle after battle; the God who gave them water in the wilderness, and as a result, their disobedience had led to a 3.5 year drought in the land. They were dry physically with the lack of water, and dry spiritually, with their abandonment of the living God. Similarly, we can turn from God and be dry in spirit. Elijah was sent to challenge the gods of Baal – and the result was the assembling of the cast of characters on the mountaintop. In life, we can see God when we are on the mountaintop. On this mountain, there was a contest – Elijah challenged them to let the real god answer with fire, and that the winner would be god of Israel. We know that our God is a “consuming fire,” and that was the test for the true god; God is the one who answers when no one else can answer. He is the answer to life’s problems. Elijah told the worshippers – the prophets – of Baal to go first. They chanted loudly and heartily, but no one answer; the answer did not come first or last, but did not come AT ALL. The prophets then “cut themselves” to show their sincerity – but all day long nothing happened. Elijah then “repaired the altar of the Lord.” He did not have to build a new altar; sometimes God calls us back to where we used to be in our worship, and draws us closer to him. Elijah took 12 stones, each representing a tribe of Israel, and then dug a trench all around the altar. Israel had not used this altar in a long time; many of us who know Jesus as our Savior have altars in need of repair. Sometimes, as with Elijah digging the ditch, there must be some digging in our lives to remove the filth in our lives. Elijah was told to put the “wood in order” – though it does not specify what the “order is,” Layton believed that it may have been in the shape of a cross. Elijah took a male calf, cut it into pieces, and put it on the wood as a sacrifice; we can see “Jesus on the altar” in this imagery. However, something had to be added that was precious to the people, and precious to the Lord. To the people, water was precious at that time because of the drought. Elijah told them to fill four barrels of water, and pour on the altar and sacrifice; then to pour four more on the same; and then another four more barrels on the altar. Elijah then “prayed” to God to answer his request as proof that our God is real; he asked God to show his people power – fast – and God answer his prayer. The fire came down from heaven, consuming the sacrifice; consuming the 12 stones; consuming the altar; consuming the water in the trench, and even the dirt (dust) in the trench!!! The Bible says that the people fell on their faces, and cried aloud that the “Lord is God.” Just like the Israelits, we sometimes get distracted by things in our lives, but we should be aware that no matter where you go you won’t escape God; you won’t get out of this life without knowing Christ, either as your judge or your Savior. Salvation is a simple thin – all you have to do is pray for Christ to forgive you, repent of your sins, and open your heart in obedience to Him. The Scriptures in Romans 10 say that “whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It is as simple as that. For us, the location of our temple is Mount Calvary for it was there that a sacrifice – a “Lamb that takes away the sins of the world” – was given. As with the challenge to Baal, something “personal of value” needs to be added; the one thing missing is your offering of your heart – to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable” to the Lord. The sacrifice is complete; God’s work is complete; for whatsoever you need can be met at the cross, here and now. After such a good message, this part of the Team returned to the compound for lunch with the rest of the Team, at which time decisions were made by members what they wanted to do during the afternoon. One group went to visit the Reyes family, to give them Christmas gifts, and to rejoice with them in fellowship. One group decided to go to the Belizean Zoo, just a 30-minute drive from the compound. A third group decided to go to visit the homes of some of the sponsored kids, and to enjoy their fellowship and distribute gifts. The group that went to the Zoo enjoyed seeing a number of animals, none of which were taken from the wild. They were either injured animals, orphaned animals, born in the zoo, or given as gifts from other zoos or confiscated pets from the government. These animals would not have survived if they had not been sent to the zoo for they were not prepared to live in the wild. The Zoo was started in 1983, and has grown to include more than 150 animals indigenous to Belize. Among the animals seen were a number of snakes, deer, spider monkeys, tapirs, keel-billed toucan, ocelots, puma, howler monkeys, curassows, harpy eagles, and jagurundi. The most regal of the animals were the jaguars and the black jaguar, the latter of which was rescued late last year after being found starving and injured in the wild. The black jaguar did not like the flash photography and the cameras, and jumped onto the fence in an attempt to get at Jerry McMurray and his camera, and at one of the other team members. The cat’s failure resulted in him hitting the electric wire that was on the fence, temporarily hurting him, and causing a hasty retreat. The group thoroughly enjoyed the visit and the different animals seen. After returning to the compound, the groups were treated to a dinner of spaghetti, garlic bread, and chocolate cake. The day concluded with a wonderful service at Faith Baptist, the church on the compound, with many of the Spanish church members attending. The service consisted of congregational singing, prayer, and with a “Laying On Of Hands” Ceremony. This was opened up to all members and congregants attending the service, and the Holy Spirit was present as many dedicated themselves to service to God’s purpose. During the service, Terri Hutto had a number of children around her, and took the opportunity to discuss Jesus with them. One young lady was not a Christian, and Terri gave her the message of salvation, leading to the young lady making a profession of Christ as her Lord!! A wonderful way to end a day of service and recreation, with the angels singing in heaven at the saving of a lost soul! We ask for your continuing prayers for our group as we distribute nearly 1300 shoeboxes, and visit many families during a village feeding. Continue to pray that God will provide us with His direction, so that we might go to the ones who have the greatest needs, both physical and spiritual. Let Him guide our hands in His service so that we may glorify our risen Savior, Jesus Christ.


Posted By:Jerry McMurray


Date and Time Posted: Saturday December 7, 2013 - 10:26:21 pm


Saturday, December 07, 2013 “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am He: before me there was no God formed neither shall there be after me.” – Isaiah 43:10 Greetings and Salutations from Roaring Creek, Belize, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Shoebox Distribution Team left from our homes, in a variety of locations, to arrive in Atlanta, Georgia, for a mid-day flight to Belize in Central America arrived safely in the country of Belize yesterday afternoon, and enthusiastically loaded our luggage into the bus for the trip to the Compound in Roaring Creek, a small village outside the country’s capital, Belmopan. On the way to the compound, the Team stopped at Cheers for a late lunch. Upon arrival to the compound, the group was introduced to Dave and Verna Alman, the missionaries currently residing at the compound. Teresa Hayden reviewed the general rules of the compound. The Team picked up their luggage, unpacked, ate a late dinner, and then boarded the bus for the trip to Cayo Christian Academy to see their annual Christmas program. Cayo Christian Academy (CCA) is one of the larger schools in the region; this school has a number of students that are sponsored by Body and Soul. The students of the school, all 240 of them, and the 13 faculty of the school had prepared a program that illustrated the life of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The program consisted of a walking tour through a “maze” of panels that depicted a series of selected scenes from the Bible showing Jesus birth, miracles, ministry, betrayal and capture, crucifixion, and resurrection. The students portrayed the characters of the stories, with dialog and action, glorifying our Savior. According to the principal, the school started work on the program in October, including the structures necessary for the program. The School initially had a single large tent, but as the program grew from year to year, they now expanded to a nearby field. The Team was impressed with the degree and quality of the work of the students, as well as their ability to act in depicting the stories, and commented that it would be nearly impossible to develop such a program in the States, and have such a large group of students not only learn their parts, but also help to prepare the costumes, scenery, and guides. The Team members awoke later than normal to allow them to recoup from the previous day’s travels. We were fed with a good breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast, fresh pineapple, and jam. It was the first day of work for the Team, with the goal of getting prepared for the coming week’s distribution of the shoeboxes and a village feeding of beans and rice. The servant heart was immediately evident as shown by the all members participating in the unpacking of the shipping crates, and segregation of the shoeboxes into the categories (by age range: 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14; and by category of boys and girls). Individual shoeboxes that were sent by Sponsors were also separated from the rest of the boxes, and later were separated into groups by the name of the school. This task was completed by 1130, and the Team was ready for a quick lunch. After lunch, the Team divided to go a number of separate ways: one group went visiting a number of the Sponsored children’s families (at least seven homes) located throughout the region, as well as stopped at a new local store; another group went to visit the location where Dave and Verna will be moving to after the first of the year, and to see a new orphanage in the area that is just being completed; and a third group went to the “Mall” to purchase food for a family, and to purchase beans and rice for a village feeding next week. This team returned to the Site after 3:00, and then proceeded to “bag” all of the rice, beans, and powdered milk that had been purchased for the distribution. With these preparations the Team is now ready for the coming week’s activities. Pray for this Team during the coming week that we may be blessed with the mercy of God in our work in the name of Jesus. We are seeking to bring the word to the lost men, women, and children of Belize. We pray that our Father give us the words to speak so that we can, by our deeds and our words, show the love that our Savior has for the people of the country. It is with God’s appointment that each and every member of this Team has made this trip, and it is to the glory of God that we offer ourselves in service to Him in the coming week.


Posted By:Jerry McMurray






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