|Daily Narrative from the Belize Mission Group|
Date and Time Posted: Monday May 21, 2007 - 11:00:04 am
I wanted to post one last narrative that describes our last few days at the Uriah compound for this year:
Friday May 18th:
Friday started with an early breakfast as we all prepared to depart for Lamanai. Breakfast was fantastic as usual. Yvette always cooks a great meal. Bill brought the devotion on the promises of God and what a blessing it was to have him give the devotion as his strength returned to him. It was a long bus ride, probably an hour and a half or so, before we reached the New River where the boat was going to start.
It was a great day for riding a boat as the rain from the previous night had cooled the air. Of course that didn't last too long in the dry season, trust me, we all have the farmer's tan to prove it. We stopped several times during the boat ride to please our eyes with the wildlife and beauty of Belize. We were fortunate enough to see a crocodile which was probably about 4 to 5 ft in length as well as some beautiful bats that were perfectly camouflaged. Other stops included opportunities to view the Mennonites’ village, slowing for fishing boats, and some native birds as well. We had to slow down for the fishing boats as some of them were old fashioned canoes where if the wake from our boat was too great, it would wash into their boat giving a nice bath to its occupants as we found out on the ride back.
Anyways, as the river opened into a larger river delta, we got our first sight of the ruins above the jungle canopy as we could see ‘High Temple’ above the trees. We were quickly ashore eating lunch. Lunch consisted of some great chicken, slaw, and potato salad as well as coke, sprite, or water. As the guides cleaned up from lunch, we had a few minutes to spend in the museum where artifacts and ruin information was located. Seeing examples and artifacts of the Mayan culture including the large stone carving called Stela 9 was quite fascinating. Joe also ran across a large walking stick that he was using which transformed him into a figure resembling Father Time with sun shades…. It gave us all a laugh.
The guide started at the beginning of the trail that led us around the ruins that had been uncovered. I think most of the team was fascinated to find that only about 5% of the entire Lamanai site has been uncovered in 12 years of work which has now ended as research funding has ran dry. Many other undiscovered artifacts, ruins, and temples still remain untouched on the remaining 95% of the site. As the facts kept coming to us from our guide, including plants and animal life of the area, we walked along the trail working our way through the jungle to the first location of interest called ‘Mast Temple’. And appropriately so, there is a large mask visible on the right side of the temple. The other side of the temple also has a mask, but it has yet to be uncovered due to fear of damage upon salvage efforts. There was also a smaller stone resembling the Stela 9 artifact from the museum lying on its side in front of the temple where it was found. Its damage was far more extensive than the one in the museum due to exposure as well as the fact that it was a limestone carving versus another harder material.
Working our way back into the jungle, we made our way to the next temple called ‘High Temple’. This temple was also appropriately named because of its 272 meter tall basin that towered above us. At the base of the temple, one could see nearly imagine what this temple might have looked like when new. The worn masks on either side of the stairway stacked three high. The stairs to the top were on a steep incline; probably around 65 to 70 degrees. A rope provided assistance for climbers that dared the top. But the reward atop the tower included a breathtaking view of the New River Delta as well as miles of the surrounding jungle canopy. It was at this ruin that Layton, Randall, and Jeff also got their walking sticks from a bundle that had been cut and were wrapped together behind a large tree. After pictures and some video, were started on our way back into the jungle toward the Mayan ball courts and the last temple to visit.
We were met with a pleasant surprise at the last temple; Howler Monkeys were in the trees for our viewing pleasure. They were lounging around in the top of the trees probably 50 yards or more from the jungle floor below. From what we could tell, we believe there were 4 to 6 monkeys in the tree we were looking at. I hope you enjoy the pictures of the monkey in the pictures section. That last temple was named Jaguar Temple after the stone statue of a jaguar’s face made into the front of the temple again on either side of the stairway. It was a shorter temple, but just as interesting as the rest because of the rounded sides that are unique to Lamanai among the other Mayan ruins of Belize.
After this temple we made our way back to the front of the ruins for gift shopping and a break before boarding the boat for another hour and a half boat ride back to the dock and back onto the bus headed for Uriah. We were very happy to see God’s influence on us once again as we saw two double rainbows not even 5 minutes apart on our trip back to Uriah. Isn’t it great to see God’s promises to us? What a blessing.
As were pulled back into the Uriah compound, we were greeted by Ralph and Dennis laying out sticks in the design of the next project, the new cabanas. This large cabana will consist of 4 rooms and 4 bathrooms where teams can stay. The current plan is to build them all together as one large building with a thatch roof. What a sight that will be when it is finished. The wound down early and closed as Darius gave the devotion which led to an enlightening conversation on the Bible and word of God. After devotions, we Blessed the Lord standing within the layout of the new cabanas. It was a peaceful time as I believe the realization of the ending of this trip came upon us all. We retreated for our cabanas for packing and reflection upon the journey that was coming to an end.
Of course Saturday was rather uneventful travel. We left Uriah and stopped at Cheers for breakfast that was as usual wonderful. Our travel took us from Uriah, to the Belize City airport, to Atlanta, and finally Tri-Cities airport. I think I speak for everyone on the team when I say that a week can pass by so quickly that it only seems like we were there for a day. There was so much work done in so little time; so many blessing that passed so quickly. I can already say that I’m ready for next year’s trip. I’m sure that no matter what project we might find ourselves working on, it will be just as much of a blessing as this year’s trip has been. So until next year, I hope you enjoy this website as it serves as a reminder of what we accomplished with God’s grace, guidance, and help. Bless you all!!
Posted By:Jeff Arrington
Date and Time Posted: Thursday May 17, 2007 - 11:18:45 pm
Greetings from Belize! The men decided to get a jump start on their work day this morning to beat the scorching sun! No one had to twist their arms too hard, though, to get them to sit down for a pancake breakfast. Darius did devotions this morning, reminding us all that there is plenty of miracles God is waiting to show us if we just have the faith. Joe, Darius and Jerry put the finishing touches on Jacob's well while Brooks, Randall, Frank, Layton, Joel, Ralph and Ralph's friend Dennis from Muncie, Indiana, were hard at work on the lattice around the walls of the dining hall. Everyone back home should be proud of those guys because they've worked HARD this week, in spite of Crystal's pictures! (She loves to catch anyone who's sitting down!) Martha and Damaris took Ann, Crystal, Kathy, Jeff, Rebecca and Jessica out to try to track down as many of our sponsored children as we could. This was a special week for the schools here, and most of them were having field day-type events for the kids at the nearby ball fields, so we didn't have much luck. We did find the little girl sponsored by the ladies' Sunday School class at Darthula and were able to give her the gift that the women sent down. As we were pulling out, some boys were trying to peek inside the bag, but she was guarding it with her life! :-) Rebecca and Jeff also got to see Victor, the little boy they sponsor. They met him during their trip last year, and he never, ever smiled. This year, he couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear! They gave him a tote bag full of goodies, including a pair of flip flops, which he couldn't wait to put on! He didn't speak a word of English, but it wasn't hard to figure out that he was sure happy to see them! Ann and Crystal also got to spend some time with three sisters they and Ann's grandmother are going to be sponsoring next year. Talk about some beautiful girls! Lunch was quick today. The men hurried back to work, getting as much done as they could before we loaded the bus with the rest of our tote bags and headed out to Frank's Eddy, a little village outside of Belmopan that last year's team visited. Darius was thrilled to see that they had gotten the main street through the town paved and had a new school. We split up into small groups and canvassed the village, handing out rice, beans, flip flops, toys, hats and other goodies to as many families in the village as we could. Our prayer is that the recipients get a taste of God's love through those gifts. We would have loved to be able to spend more time witnessing and fellowshipping with the people in both Frank's Eddy and Buena Vista, and the rest of the area, for that matter, but we must remember -- God can take the smallest seed and grow it into something beautiful. And when He does, how much greater is the miracle?! Rebecca's devotion earlier this week about the miracle of the manna has resurfaced over and over on this trip. Sometimes we're so caught up in looking for bigger and better things -- and grumbling and complaining about the things that might not go the way we expect them to -- that we forget to take notice of all the little miracles happening right before our very eyes! We headed back to the compound around dark and Evette had a wonderful meal of barbecued chicken, baked beans and rolls waiting for us. She has absolutely spoiled us rotten this week with her cooking. We're sure gonna miss her!! :-) Joel did devotions tonight, and his message was about being a faithful servant of God. The song he sang, "Make Me a Servant," was a beautiful and most appropriate way to close out our day. Thanks to everyone back home for their prayers this week. We've needed -- and felt -- them. We'll post more tomorrow night after we get back from Lamanai. May God bless you all!
Posted By:The Team
Date and Time Posted: Thursday May 17, 2007 - 10:29:17 pm
Hey everyone! Sorry for not getting Wednesday's narrative up earlier. It's been an eventful last couple of days! We started the morning with some good ol' biscuits and gravy, eggs and fresh fruit, followed by an equally filling devotion by Ann and Crystal. Crystal used a couple of jars, some beans and a candle to show us that even though our lives are busy, we've still got time to put God first in our day. Ann's lesson was about how Jesus came unto the disciples during the midst of a storm on the sea of Galilee. Even though they had just seen Jesus perform a host of miracles in the days before, they lost their focus when trouble arose and were blinded by their fear. But Jesus was there to comfort them, in spite of their disbelief. And when Peter stepped out of the boat, instead of trusting the Savior, he lost his faith and began to sink. God couldn't have given Ann a better devotion because we needed plenty of faith to make it through the day! While the men were hard at work on the well and dining hall, the ladies finished filling tote bags with rice and beans, then headed over to the clinic, where a lady showed up to have a tooth pulled. Now none of us are dentists, but she didn't seem to mind -- she just wanted that tooth out!! We circled up and prayed that God would help us, then Ann and Darlene rummaged around in the clinic until they found some supplies. It didn't take Ann long, though, to realize that she needed someone with a little stronger grip to get that tooth out! Enter Jeff Arrington, DDS. :-) Jeff pulled on a pair of too-small gloves and three yanks later, that tooth was outta there! The little lady didn't even flinch! Ann fixed her up with some antibiotics and pain-reliever, and she couldn't stop hugging her team of dentists! :-) Bill wasn't feeling well, so Ann and the rest of the ladies spent the afternoon taking care of him in the clinic. After the guys wrapped up work for the day on the dining hall, we cleaned it up and got ready to feed the church a good ol' Darthula hot dog supper! Evette and the rest of the girls in the kitchen made a wonderful meal of hot dogs, potato salad, fresh fruit and cupcakes. The team served more than 100 people! After the meal, everyone headed over to the church for the Wednesday night service. Frank preached a powerful sermon on the cross and how we all have to choose whether we're going to be on the right or the wrong side of it. The grandmother of a family we've grown very close to here in Roaring Creek was saved, praise God! When the service was over, Damaris helped the team pass out tote bags of rice and beans to each family represented. Randall led our nightly devotions, bringing out scripture from Psalms 103 -- "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name." We closed with cake in honor of Kathy's birthday! Bill still wasn't feeling well by the time we were ready for bed, so Ann, Ralph and Frank drove him to the hospital in Belmopan to get him checked out. We circled up and had prayer for both Bill and Crystal, who slipped on the steps outside her cabana. God answered our prayers, because both were up and about again by Thursday morning. Isn't God great??
Posted By:The Team
Date and Time Posted: Wednesday May 16, 2007 - 12:18:03 am
Today has been an especially busy day, yet rewarding as always. Jessica and Kathy gave a powerful devotion this morning to start us on the right track. It was about our purpose for coming on this mission--to bring honor and glory to God. The day started early, about 5:30 am, for the men continuing to work on enclosing the mess hall. It's really going to look great when it gets done. It will also be nice to have a screened area to eat in. Rebecca and Jessica went to the market with Martha to pick up food for our churh cookout tomorrow. We will be serving the people hot dogs prior to church service Wednesday. Yes, that's right! A Darthula team can't throw a church cookout without hotdogs! I know everyone is excited. We were able to purchase 500 lbs of rice and 300 lbs of beans for feeding in the villages. We placed 2 bags of rice and 1 bag of beans in our tote bags for a total of about 225 totes to pass out. We had a special blessing today through Samual Gregarios. Samual is the Spanish pastor at the church here, and also works on the compound throughout the week. He rides his bicycle here daily and returns to his house several times throughout the day to check on his farm. Yesterday, the chains and gears broke on his bicycle and it was truly in a condition beyond repair. The team decided to purchase Samual a brand new bicycle and I have never seen someone so humble and thankful. But the best part was when he received his new shiny, red bike, he wanted to have prayer to thank God-the true provider. Although we could not understand his language in prayer, the spirit was loud and clear. The stonework on the well looks great. Ralph is going to engrave the names of the Hilton's community churches on the stones in honor of helping obtain Jacob's Well. In the afternoon we went to Buena Vista to pass out food and other trinkets to the families in the village. The children came running out of school as soon as they saw our bus coming. They would take us to their houses and help translate to the adults and other children who could not speak English. I think I saw at least 25 kids hanging on to Brooks chanting, "Gimme one," as he tried to distribute what he had in hand. Afterwards, we drove up to Spanish Lookout for ice cream at a Mennonite store there. Bill got two scoops of his favorite, rum raisin, and Randall ate an entire quart of coconut ice cream! We ate fried chicken at a restaurant in Belmopan for supper. Samual Gregarios and his wife, Victoria, also joined us for supper. It was her first time in a restaurant at 63 years old. Brooks held devotion tonight on being adopted into the family of God. We are all very tired, but have had a productive day. We look forward to tomorrow and what God will bring. Pictures for Tuesday will not be posted until Wednesday morning due to such a large volume. Be sure and check them out when we get them all posted!
Posted By:The Team
Date and Time Posted: Tuesday May 15, 2007 - 12:12:33 am
Well, it's been another great day here at Uriah. Breakfast this morning was fresh cinnamon rolls and fruit. Rebecca did morning devotion from Numbers Ch. 11 on remembering the miracles that God performs before our very eyes. We started work today on enclosing the mess hall. The men were so excited to get the materials, they accidently left Randal Roller behind at the compound! He was a little upset he missed out on an ice cream stop, so they brought him some later. Ann Shipley started work in the clinic today. She did a wonderful job treating the children and has familiarized herself with the resources here very well. Kathy, Jessica, Rebecca, and Darlene also helped Ann do some spring cleaning in the clinic. Also, we would like to thank Larry Browder and Heritage Baptist Church for the chairs that were purchased today for the mess hall today. There will be plenty of comfortable seating for future teams and community gatherings. Joe Taylor, Darius Hall, and Jerry Bentley layed footers for the stonework around Jacob's Well. Did I mention how good the ice water is down here? We spent some special time getting to know some of the children in the clinic and others that visited the compound. It's great to be able to just spend time with the people of Belize because they are such a loving people. We shared gifts with some very appreciative children that really touched our hearts. Later in the evening we bagged rice and beans in preparation for our journey to Buena Vista village tomorrow. After a spaghetti supper, Bill Powers gave his devotion on living our lives to represent our Savior. We look forward to another blessed day tomorrow and are expecting big things! Be sure and check the past days pics. Some were not posted until the following and you don't want to miss the full set of pictures for the selected day!
Posted By:The Team
Date and Time Posted: Monday May 14, 2007 - 1:07:54 am
Greetings from sunny Belize! It's been another blessed day for us here at Uriah, although Ann wasn't feeling too blessed this morning when she picked up her towel and a scorpion fell out! So much for the scorpion guards Jerry installed on the doors yesterday! :-) God really spoke to us through Frank's devotion -- a two parter, with scripture from Matthew 6 about laying up treasures in heaven, not here on earth, where moth and rust can destroy and thieves can steal them, and about how important it is for us to spread the gospel to the people here in Belize because God can feed them both physically and spiritually long after we're gone. Speaking of food, we had fryjack and beans -- what Ralph calls the Belizian version of biscuits and gravy -- with eggs and fresh watermelon and pineapple for breakfast. We had some time to kill before heading over to church, so Brandon took several of us out into the neighborhood, where we visited and prayed with a woman who is dying of breast cancer. It was heartbreaking, yet so moving to feel God's presence there in our midst. Martha led the adult's Sunday school class this morning, and Crystal and Ann taught the little ones. Layton and Ralph sang "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," and it was just beautiful. Randal preached an awesome message on sin, and you could just feel the Lord's presence in the church. Several people came to the altar, We had sandwiches and chips for lunch, then had some time to kick back and relax a little. Several of us walked to the swinging bridge over the Belize River about 15 or 20 minutes away to see the iguanas, and stopped for ice cream on the way back. It had an interesting texture -- almost chewy! -- but it was cold, so we ate it anyway! :-) Dinner consisted of chicken, rice and beans, fried plantain (similar to a banana) and potato salad -- yum! We had a packed house for church tonight. Layton brought a message about blind Bartimaeus and how sometimes God wants us to ask for his help, even though He already knows what we need and want. Several people were annointed with oil, and the lady whose daughter Faith Church is named after rededicated her life to the Lord. Layton also did our evening devotion, with scripture from Psalms about the safety and comfort of being in the shadow of God's wings. As always, we ended the night by blessing the Lord under the stars. What a wonderful God we serve!
Posted By:The Team
Date and Time Posted: Saturday May 12, 2007 - 11:50:05 pm
Well, it's the end of day one, and wow, what a day this has been! We had a wonderful flight out of Tri-Cities and all got goose bumps when we looked out our windows and saw a rainbow halo around the shadow of our plane. Don't think we could have gotten a clearer sign that God was watching over us! We grabbed a bite to eat in the Atlanta airport before boarding the plane to Belize City, about a three-hour flight, during which Joe nearly starved us all with the smell of the Cinnabons he brought along! :-) Landing in that primitive little airport was like landing in another world, and the heat when we stepped off that plane was enough to knock you over! Ralph, Brandon, Martha and Walter were waiting at the airport for us, and after we all made it through customs -- we have God to thank for getting us through that ordeal, too! -- we climbed aboard the bus and headed toward Roaring Creek, singing and fellowshipping all the way. The poverty here is almost overwhelming, especially for those of us seeing it for the first time. We stopped at Cheers for a late lunch, then headed on to Roaring Creek, where we got to see the dining hall for the first time, and what an AWESOME place it is! The team hopes to put the finishing touches on this week. Jeff got right to work installing the wireless internet and had it done in no time, which means the learning center, clinic and teams will be able to get on the Internet right here at the compound. What a blessing! We had a wonderful meal of sandwiches, fresh fruit and other goodies for dinner, and closed out the evening with devotions by Jerry, a time of sharing all that we've seen God do today and circle prayer and blessing the Lord under the stars. It just doesn't get any better than that! We've seen God at work already and are looking for big things this week. Pray that we'll stay in the center of His will and be open to His guiding spirit as He leads us in the way we should go.
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