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Daily Narrative from the Belize Mission Group

Date and Time Posted: Sunday March 14, 2010 - 5:42:53 pm

DAY 8 - Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Today has been an emotional roller coaster. We woke up really early, got our bags packed and loaded, and sat down in the dining hall for our last breakfast from the kitchen staff. Everyone was kind of somber - not nearly as much joking around as the days before. The reality of having to leave all of Belize behind began to set in. Yvette made us a breakfast cookie with cream cheese, homemade cinnamon buns, and fresh fruit.

The little girl that I'm sponsoring, Isela, came with her family to pick up a bookbag and some other things I brought her. Her family has been at the compound almost every single day to sell us souvenirs and crafts that they've made. Today, they didn't bring anything, they just came to say goodbye, for now. The three girls from Valley of Peace, who told us that Friday was the greatest day of their entire lives, also came to say goodbye to us and to Layton and Debra. Layton decided to sponsor one of the girls through school and Debra decided to sponsor another. The third one already has a sponsor and is in school now.

Jerry and Estuardo were really kind of emotional about us leaving but they didn't show it. After breakfast, we took our final look around, said goodbye to most of the local staff, and boarded the bus. Estuardo, Yvette, Simon, Simon's wife, and Simon's son all got on with us. They wanted to go to Belize City and see us off.

It took us about an hour and a half or two hours to get to Belize City and when we got there, Simon and the others unloaded our bags onto the sidewalk. We all got our things and went to the Delta counter to get our boarding passes. Jerry stood in line with us and Estuardo came in and out. He'd leave when he got upset and come back when he could. Jerry talked about wanting to come to the U.S. some day to go skiing and snowboarding and said he'd miss us. We made him a Facebook account and hope to get a computer down to the Dining Hall so he and others can keep in touch with us.

At the security gate, we said our goodbye's, most cried, but everyone knew that it was not a final goodbye. We boarded the plane with tears in our eyes and lifted off for Atlanta, leaving behind a week that can never be explained in words.

Our flight to Atlanta was great, we saw some beautiful land and things in the ocean, and our landing was perfect. We spent our brief layover getting food, telling stories, and saying goodbye to Debra, who we'd leave behind in Atlanta as we flew to Tri-Cities.

Once we arrived in the Tri-Cities, we went upstairs and found all of our family holding signs of the support and running to us with open arms. In the back of our minds were the faces of men, women, children, and Belizean family. Still, we were thrilled to be in the arms of our 'other' family, and the moment was, in summary, bittersweet.

Everyone's luggage arrived OK except for Clay's and Jim's. Both of theirs was lost somewhere between Atlanta and Tri-Cities.

After a week of fellowship, medical care, spiritual awakening, and emotional disaster, a team of 29 professional, students, and spiritual leaders parted way at Tri-Cities Airport. Each of us will return to our routine lives but none of us will ever be the same. As I arrived home and began to unpack my bags, I broke down one last time in tears as I pulled out my stethoscope. This week, I listened to the very essence of life, the heartbeat, of hundreds of Belizean people.

No one who traveled to Belize with us failed to do their part. The Belizean people did not fail to do theirs. We love you, Belize, and we'll see you soon!


Posted By:Dru Morgan

Date and Time Posted: Sunday March 14, 2010 - 5:27:57 pm

DAY 7 - Friday, March 12th, 2010

After a hard week of working in the clinic, today we had a free day to unwind and see some of the sights around Belize. This morning, we woke up and had a great breakfast, as always, and some more amazing pineapple.

This morning, we boarded the bus and met our bus driver, Simon. Simon is one of the deacons from Faith Baptist Church and he's also an expert on Mayan Ruins. Simon drives a Coca-Cola truck for a living so he was the perfect candidate to take us to Xunantunich ("Stone Maiden"). We also took Jerry, one of the locals who hung out with us most of the week, and three girls from Valley of Peace (where we did the ice cream feeding), who would touch our lives tremendously by the end of the day. We had to drive about 45 minutes west to get to Xunantunich.

As we traveled West we began to see some of the areas and homes that are better off than the ones in Roaring Creek where we're staying. Most of them, the group leaders told us, are local farmers who have a lot of land. Agriculture is one of the biggest money makers in Belize so that's certainly easy to understand. Once we got closer to our destination, we could see the largest temple of Xunantunich on the mountain peaks ahead of the bus.

When we arrived at Xunantunich we had a few minutes to look at some of the stands that were setup at the foot of the mountain. We'd have more time later so we all got on the barge to cross the river to the Xunantunich road. The barge runs on two steel wire guides and is propelled by a hand crank. There were probably thirty of us on the barge plus the van that we'd use to transport everyone up and down the mountain.

Some of us decided to get in some exercise and walk to the top of the mountain. It was a great idea at first but after awhile we collectively decided, "The reason the Mayans settled on top of this mountain is because they didn't want to climb it twice!" Once we got everyone to the top we spent a few minutes catching our breath, buying waters, and catching our breath. We had a bit more walk to go to get up to the actual ruins. On the way up, we saw natural banana trees, and many were amazed to find that bananas grow upwards!

Walking onto the grounds of Xunantunich was nothing short of an incredibly experience. As you turn the corner into the temple grounds, Xunantunich appears on your left and demands an incredible amount of respect. The main temple is enormous and overshadows the entire area. We spent some time looking at the smaller temples and taking in the view. Simon told us about the history of the temples and what some of the structures were used for.

After looki ng around at the smaller temples, we all started to make our way to the highest one, which is where the Mayan king would have ruled from. It was immediately clear that everyone was amazed at the level of construction the Mayan people were able to maintain given the time period that the temples were built. Information on the wall in the visitor center showed that the large structures appeared somewhere around 600 - 1000AD. This was the first year that Layton was able to walk to the top of the temple. He lost thirty pounds, worked out continuously to prepare, and made it to the top without any problems. He was even more blessed to be able to share it with the three girls from Valley of Peace, one of which Layton has decided to sponsor through school. God bless him!

The heat was, at times, almost unbearable. It was early in the morning, only around 9, and it felt like it was probably 95 degrees. As we climbed to the top of the royal temple, it only got hotter and hotter, but once we arrived at the uppermost point there was an incredible breeze that was much appreciated. The view at the top was incredible. It never ceases to amaze us how beautiful God's work can be and looking down upon the land in Belize and into the mountains of Guatemala was humbling. We have an awesome creator.

The bravest of the group dangled their legs off the edge of the temple and the others clung to the walls in the middle. After enjoying the temple for about thirty minutes, we climbed back down and made our way out of the park. Along the way, we learned about how human sacrifices took place on the grounds, and another tour guide told us that a few scenes from the first Indiana Jones were filmed on-site.

Most of us walked back down the mountain (much easier down than up), boarded the barge, and went back across the river to bargain with the vendors. Debra and others decided they wanted some hand-made hammocks so they got together to purchase them in bulk and saved a bunch of money. The vendor was happy, too, because he made at least $100.00 in one sale! For being so nice to us throughout the week, we all chipped in and bought Jerry a hand carved knife that he could, "use in the bush." We didn't ask what he'd use it for.

We boarded the bus and Simon drove down to the Belizean/Guatemalan border to show us what it looked like. Frank let us know that Guatemala claims ownership of Belize and they basically have the stance that as soon as Britain leaves Belize they'll take it over. The fortification at the border crossing brought that home.

We turned around and headed towards Golden Corral, our place to have dinner for the night. It's not the same Golden Corral you're thinking of. It was a buffet but it only had one small island with about 8 selections of food. About halfway there, we realize that Caleb wasn't on the bus. There was a van following us with Papa Joe, Dr. Smiddy, and others, so we were hoping he was on it. We pulled over to check and he was. Sorry for not noticing you were missing for at least 30 minutes, Caleb.

Golden Corral's food was great - they had an amazing beef stew, a corn tortilla casserole, some rotisserie chicken, and more. Most of us were excited to have some selection and see bottled sodas! The three girls from Valley of Peace didn't understand how the buffet worked and Layton had to show them how to go about getting their food. All three girls became emotional because the concept of taking as much food from the bar as you want was a foreign one to them. It broke many of our hearts. Papa Joe enjoyed the food, Aaron and Megan took plenty of pictures, and the UVa-Wise crew cut up and carried on with Jerry and Simon.

After dinner, we sat around for about thirty minutes and talked about the day so far and the trip itself. We left Golden Corral and decided to head for the "Belizean Wal-Mart." It's a Farmers Trading Market ran by the Mennonites in Spanish Lookout. I was personally floored when we walked in because I didn't expect it to be as nice as it was. There were full blown Wal-Mart style checkouts, coolers/refrigerators, a frozen foods section, etc. Some of the prices were higher than you'd expect and some of the prices were significantly lower than you'd expect.

We all walked around, bought spices, and picked up some souvenirs to take home. Layton gave the girls from Valley of Peace $20 each and told them to go and shop. All three girls came back with only one small thing for themselves and spent the rest on things for their family. They also had money left over! I told Simon to go and pick up some formula, groceries, or whatever else he needed for his family. It sparked a wild fire. When he left, I think he had about three or four things of formula, three or four packs of diapers, food, and more. It was the least we could do to thank him for driving us.

We went to Western Dairies, another Mennonite business, to have some ice cream. The girls from Valley of Peace loved it, all of the team members were glad to have some comfort food, Jerry pigged out, and Simon got his in a to-go cup so he could take it home to his son. He's an amazing father. Some of us tried comfort flavors (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry) and others tried the exotic flavors (kiwi, graboo, etc.).

We left Western Dairies and headed back to the Uriah Compound. When we arrived an hour or so later, we were surprised to see that Jerome was grilling chicken and had been all day long. He made us an amazing barbeque chicken dinner with slaw, mashed potatoes, and all the fixins'! They said he started at around 12:00 and he didn't sit down to eat himself until about 7:00. We're so thankful for the lessons Jerome has taught us about life.

After dinner, we had devotions, and I (Dru) talked to the group about how we all doubted our place on the team but as we began our work God clicked everything into place. Everyone served a purpose and each of us did our best in the role that God placed us into. I shared a few quotes, an inspirational story, and closed by telling everyone that all of us were family and our fellowship and team didn't end in Belize.

However, there was a special man that I wanted to close out the week, because I felt like he had been able to sit back, absorb everything that was going on, and could relate our entire mission throughout the week to the Bible. Boy, was I ever right! John Trewhella really brought a great message about how God calls us all to service and shares with us an amazing love.

After John spoke, the others on the team shared some thoughts, including Dr. Smiddy, Papa Joe, and Layton. Papa Joe and Dr. Smiddy played us one more round of good 'ol southern bluegrass hymns and closed with "Butter Beans," at Frank's request. Many in the group had never heard the song and really enjoyed it!

The rest of the night was spent by most packing their bags, talking with the kitchen staff, screaming at Jerry for making the tarantula that graced us with his presence in the dining hall mad, and turning in early. Tomorrow is a long day of travel.

God bless!

Posted By:Dru Morgan

Date and Time Posted: Saturday March 13, 2010 - 9:51:52 am

Today, we awoke early and had a wonderful breakfast from Yvette and the ladies in the kitchen of French toast, fruit, and all the fixins’. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no one has lost weight on this trip.

The clinic opened, as usual, at 8:00am and we were prepared for a significant number of patients given that it was our final day operating it. When we left the dining hall and got to the clinic, there was already a line to the door waiting on us to open. We expected an immense amount of patients because of new patients and patients who were asked to return when they visited earlier in the week.

From 8:00am until lunchtime, it was steady. No one had an opportunity for rest and it was one patient after another. As always, no one complained. The Belizean people do not complain about their wait, they do not complain when we cannot help them, they are simply gracious. This positivity radiaties into the team and it has been clear throughout each and every day.

Wayne and Jim setup the ‘bouncee bounce’ room again and the kids had a blast with it. Of course, boys will be boys, and once they started fighting Jim showed his first signs of frustration all week (God bless his patience). I asked Jim, “How’s the bouncee bounce thing going today?” Jim replied, “Well, you know, Dru, those kids fight like crazy… I mean, really fight! So, I pulled the plug and deflated it!” The kids had a blast with it though!

Lunch consisted of an incredibly amazing dish. Yvette and the ladies in the kitchen made us empanadas filled with beef, corn, green pepper, and onion. As a side, she had homemade salsa and fresh sour cream. For most people, this was the favorite dish of the week so far!

After lunch, we not only had a wealth of patients we also had a wealth of interesting cases. One amazing story is when Dr. Smiddy discovered an object in a child’s ear. The child presented to the clinic with ear pain and minor hearing loss. Upon inspection, Dr. Smiddy found something metallic inside of his ear. After unsuccessfully being able to remove it due to the boy fighting, he asked Dr. Collins, our oral surgeon, to take a look at it. Dr. Collins applied local anesthetic and used some of his tools and finally removed a watch battery from the child’s ear.

Earlier in the week, Dr. Collins had found a pair of magnifying glasses that he used throughout the week in many of his operations. They proved vital in the removal of the battery from the child’s ear. After the operation, Dr. Collins happened to notice some inscription on the glasses. It turns out the glasses, which were here in Belize when he arrived, belonged to a oral surgeon who was a dear friend of Dr. Collins’ and Dr. Smiddy’s who died almost twenty years ago. As Dr. Collins told the story tears swelled in his eyes. The glasses were a blessing from God and helped to guide his work this entire week.

On Wednesday, Dru spoke with a family who knew of a child with cerebral palsy. The child was having a hard time breathing, couldn’t eat, and generally wasn’t healthy. The small girl was limp, undernourished, and terrified. She was 24 months old but had the body size of a 6 month old child. We sent word to her mother so she could get her to the clinic for treatment. If she did not show up, we were going to go and pick her up. Finally, at 10:00am, she walked into the clinic with child in hand. Dru pulled her back into the clinic immediately for treatment. She was certainly undernourished and in very grave condition. To worsen conditions, the mother was depressed because people had told her the child was mentally retarded and would never know who she was. Dru educated the mother about cerebral palsy and made sure the woman understood she could have a happy life.

Clay and Tuna had a case where a girl was in her 30’s, she had one kid, and her husband had tried to kill her three times. She finally got out of the relationship and she had no money, no friends, nothing. She was a single parent without a steady job. She babysits and sells jewelry and stuff to keep money and keep her kid in school. She barely makes it from cash income to cash income. She told Clay and Tauna, “If it wasn’t for God, I could not make it.”

We closed the day with an iguana and guinea pig dinner. It seems that only a few tried the boiled iguana eggs! We closed with devotions, and prayer, thanking God for all his graces and glory.

Posted By:Day 6 - Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Date and Time Posted: Thursday March 11, 2010 - 9:08:43 pm

DAY 5 – Wednesday, March 9th, 2010 Today was… hot. Incredibly hot. In fact, today was so hot, that even the locals were saying it was hot! I don’t know how hot the thermometers read today. What I do know is that a group of professionals, students, and local treated 164 patients, both medically and spiritually, in a nine-hour period of time. On paper, the medical team is three receptionists, two patient coordinators / glasses fitters, four triage personnel, two nurses, two nurse assistants, three pharmacists, a two person data entry team, a four person dental team, and one physician. However, behind the scenes is a vast array of pastors, cooks, one God unites us, and with God on our side we endured the heat, endured the sweat, and made a difference in the lives of 164 Belizean people.

The day began by having a wonderful breakfast of French toast, sausage, and fresh fruit. I’m certain that no one has lost weight on this trip! After breakfast, we opened the clinic, and within just a short amount of time realized what kind of day it was going to be. Jim Collie blew up the “Bouncee Bounce” room and the kids had a blast with it as always. Inside, as the day moved on, we quickly realized what kind of day it was going to be. Each patient as they come into the clinic is numbered.

By lunchtime, we were treating patients with numbers in the 20’s and early 30’s and there were patients signed in in the 80’ and 90’s. Regardless, there was very little complaint. There’s no dissatisfaction when you’re working for God.

Several of the education majors and Martha Blackburn went down to one of the local schools to meet the children and their teacher. They also looked over the school and sat in one some instruction. Overall, all agreed the conditions were poor but the curriculum was excellent and even in some ways more advanced than the U.S. curriculum for the same age group. It was very clear that our ice cream ministry last night paid off. There were a very small percentage of patients today who spoke English and an overwhelming majority who spoke Spanish only. The village we were in last night, Valley of Peace, is a Spanish village and many of them do not speak English at all. We collectively agreed that our visit to their village paid off tenfold because they all turned out today to let us treat them. In a more somber note, the patients we saw today were increasingly more serious in condition as time moved on. Notable patients included a three month old suffering from under-nutrition and liver enlargement, a man with a strange facial condition which appears to be similar to leprosy, several women who found out they were expecting, a host of patients with rashes, infants and children who could not hold down their food, several patients with high blood sugar, and much more.

We treated a very solid majority of patients today either with a complete language barrier or communication via an interpreter. It truly speaks volumes of the things that this team is capable of. Imagine if you were unable to communication with your doctor about your needs! These patients are so appreciative that they work through it with us to get us where we need to be.

Just after lunch, part of the medical team took Belmopan Hospital up on their offer of touring the hospital. The facilities were better than expected, according to those who went, and there were even some instances where Belmopan Hospital had newer equipment than hospitals back at home. We’re excited to see if there can be or is a bond formed between the work being done here at this village and the Belmopan hospital. Having access to real medical resources would change the impact of Body N Soul Ministries completely.

With part of the medical team touring the hospital, things slowed down in the clinic a little, but the line kept building. Teamwork paid off and there was no hardship or complaints about being short on staff. During the afternoon, Frank and Wayne had some of the locals (Jerome included!) pour and form a concrete sidewalk in front of the Uriah Compound main entrance. It was blistering hot outside but these guys and gals worked exceptionally well and got things done!

In the evening, things started to calm and cool down a bit, but patients were still coming steadily. Personally, one of the things today that touched my heart most, was when I asked a twelve year old girl for her family medical history and she told me, “I have no family, I am an orphan.” In almost all instances this week, even if a family had no resemblance of health, they have had two things: family and God. However, for the first time, I met a little girl today who had only one of those things; God. It turns out that we treated every young girl at the orphanage today just to get a general check-up and to check and see if they had colds.

We closed the clinic, cleaned up, and got ready for church. Yvette made us a great dinner of BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, chocolate cake, and juice! There’s nothing quite like southern soul food to make you feel at home!

Church service was fantastic and John Trewhella from First Baptist of Church Hill brought a great message! His sermon was fantastic and an amazing close to our church services with the members of Faith Baptist Church here on compound property. Several of the locals spoke after church and one ladies words really touched me when she said, “Under God, we are one people, our home is your home, and we welcome you always.” Renee stood and said that she was nervous about leaving her home to come to their home but, “I feel like I’m at home here.” We. Are. One. People.

After service, Megan delivered a fantastic sermon about using our individual abilities to our greatest advantage. That has been apparent during the week and everyone has contributed their own skills and talents in incredible ways. Those who doubted themselves prior to taking off in Atlanta, by today, have realized how big of an impact they’re truly making. The work ethic among this team is second to none and today was no exception.

Again, many of us stayed up into the night working on homework, photos, and studying the Bible. As for Loretha and Tauna, they just giggled.

Posted By:Dru Morgan

Date and Time Posted: Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 9:03:22 am

DAY 4 – Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 Thank God for the day that he gave us. We experienced another vast array of spiritual and medical miracles and each day is as unbelievable as the last! Some on the team (Dru.. Parker) slept through breakfast but Yvette, as kind as she is, made sure that they got something to eat! The clinic was full by about 8:30am and there were significantly more adults than yesterday. Most of the kids were back in school. All of our patients showed up to an extra surprise this morning. Wayne Maness from Hearts of Christ obtained a huge blow up bouncing room and the compressor to inflate it with. He sat it up outside the clinic and a few team members put kids in and out for a while throughout the day! They loved it! The day was sweltering hot and was certainly the hottest to date. I’m not sure of the max temperature but it sure felt all of 95 degrees outside. Throughout the day, we met some special patients, including a group of heart patients. One of the heart patients, a 17 year old girl, had a significant heart murmur and congenital heart disease. Two of the heart patients were on dialysis multiple times a week. Another heart patient, who was 6 months old, was born with major heart defects. The baby was incredibly ill and touched the hearts of all on the team. May God bless her life. Many members of the team were pulled into Dr. Smiddy’s office to gather around one of the young girls. He told us that God created her beautiful, she has congenital heart disease, but she is lost with the Lord. We gathered around and prayed for her. We saw a significantly less number of patients with skin rashes throughout the day compared to the previous day. The chief complaints that seemed most common were high blood pressure, cold/cough, diarrhea, and an immense amount of dental patients. Eyesight was another chief concern and Gil and Martha handled those patients the best we could given our supplies. While we were in Lagoon Road village on Sunday for church service, one of our team members, Kaye, said that God spoke to her and asked her to walk behind the church and into a house to meet the family. When she did, she found not only a very sick family, but an incredibly sick six month old baby. This area of Belize is incredibly poor and it is largely impossible for them to get to the clinic on their own. The image of the baby weighed heavy on Kaye’s heart for days until finally, her brother, Wayne, borrowed one of the vans and they drove down to the village. Before long, Kaye walked back into the clinic with a baby in her arms and a family in tow. After all of them were seen, Dr. Smiddy said that Kaye’s actions certainly saved the baby’s life. God works in mysterious ways! Wayne, Frank, and some of the others began working on an extension to the local church and in one day’s time they’re ready for a concrete foundation! Jim took care of the bouncy room and John and others spoke with those who needed spiritual guidance. We handed out beans and rice as we could when we identified families who were without. By the end of the day, we had seen 135 patients in the clinic, a significant number compared to past teams. We are on track to see at least 400 or more patients this week. It’s clear from everyone’s faces, everyone’s words, and everyone’s actions that their hearts and minds are clear and their medical care is ingrained with spiritual love. After closing the clinic around 3:00pm, we spent some time having dinner and relaxing. Papa Joe and Dr. Smiddy entertained everyone on the porch of the bedrooms with a fantastic performance of “I’ll Fly Away.” We had to have dinner and be ready by around 6:30pm so that we could be to Uriah Baptist Church by 7:00. The team traveled by bus to Uriah Baptist Church for a Spanish service that was translated into English. Additionally, Layton’s sermon in English was translated to Spanish. Layton delivered an amazing message about how Jesus was sent to the world to “bear our licks” for us. The invitational at the conclusion of Layton’s service brought many locals to the front of the church to accept the Lord into their life. On a previous trip, the members of this church pooled their resources and treated the team to ice cream. On this trip, we decided to return the favor, and took nine gallons of ice cream for the church members and the community. Many agreed that doing this was the most heart warming experience we’ve had. It’s incredible to many of us how something so simple can bring such joy to the lives of these people. It makes us all look at our lives in an entirely different light and appreciate the things that we have back at home. I can promise you that no one will have ice cream again without thinking of the people in Valley of Peace Village and Uriah Baptist Church. We closed our evening with devotions from Caleb, thoughts among the team, and prayer from Clay. As the gecko’s called out and the power flickered, many students stayed up into the night finishing assignments.

Posted By:Dru Morgan

Date and Time Posted: Tuesday March 9, 2010 - 2:45:20 am

I will begin by saying that no matter how many words I type into this window, it will never be enough to brush the surface of how powerful the presence of God was in Roaring Creek Village today.

We’ve been having intermittent Internet problems all day long so please know that everyone is safe and sound! We awoke early this morning for breakfast at 7:35 am and had plenty of great food from Yvette and the girls in the kitchen. We had sausage, toast, fresh watermelon, and more! Even before we made it to the dining room there were already patients lining up outside the clinic.

Today was a national holiday in Belize so we saw an immense amount of families in the clinic. Debra, Terasita (sp), and Leah did a great job of managing reception. Gil and Martha were in control of the eyeglass table and helped people find glasses that could allow them to be able to read, write, and work again. Kay, Brittany, and Renee oversaw vital signs and history on patients and were assisted by Dru, Rachel, and Joseph. Tauna and Loretha each worked separate examanation rooms and saw all patients who needed their attention. Clay and Bryant managed the pharmacy and I believe they were assisted some by Nickie as well. Dr. John Collins and Doug Boggs, our fantastic oral surgeon and dental technican, were assisted today by Caleb and others. Aaron and Megan had the most nervewracking job of them all – they were responsible for receiving and inserting patient medical records into Excel spreadsheets so that Dr. Smiddy can look over the data later on to help determine what needs to be brought on future trips. The others either worked in the clinic or helped to pacify the children outside waiting.

I haven’t seen the final number but that’s probably because Debra, who worked reception today, stayed incredibly busy. It was well over 100. She worked incredibly hard to keep all incoming patients organized and provide us with their updated charts. Even with the hectic crowds, she did an amazing job at keeping everyone together. Thank you for being here, Debra, we thank God for having you!

Chief medical complaints today included almost every patient having some form of skin rash, diabetes complications, high blood pressure with dizziness, cold and cough, and dental issues. The medical team tended to all general medical ailments and Dr. Collins and Doug Boggs, a very experience dental technician who has joined our team, did an absolutely terrific job running the dental clinic. They were in incredibly high demand today and we never saw them stop moving.

Children as young as two months and adults as old as 70 to 80 were treated by the team. Those who needed spiritual support were taken to John Trewhella, Frank Waldo, Layton Bentley, Jim Collie, and Papa Joe Smiddy where they anointed and prayed for them. Some of the patients that they prayed with included a father who’s wife became paralyzed after a fall, a prison guard who lost his job because of constant epileptic seizures, and many, many more. After praying with Layton and the others, the father who left the clinic came back to tell me, “all I needed was God.” Amen, brother!

While parents, family members, and others were inside the clinic, the kids outside the clinic had a blast. We handed out candy canes, suckers, pixie stix, bouncy balls, toy cars, airplanes, and more! Jim Collie shared a special connection with the children and it wasn’t uncommon to see him completely surrounded by children and smiling from ear to ear. We all know that Jim has a kind heart and the children of Belize caught onto that immediately!

As we were working in the clinic, a young woman came into the front entrance and was crying her eyes out. There was about a 45 minute wait and by the time that she got back to us her tears had subsided. However, I asked the woman, “I noticed you were crying when you came in, why? What’s wrong?” She replied, “It’s my baby… I’m worried about my baby.” The baby looked happy, healthy, and was giggling and smiling. We inquired, “what’s wrong with the baby?” The woman went on to tell us that she had taken the baby to Belmopan, the capital of Belize, to be seen at the hospital. The hospital diagnosed her with a lung infection but said they could not treat her because there is no lung specialist in Belize for the baby to see. Then, she said, “So, I wanted to come here and see if your doctor could help her.” I let the woman know, “No, our doctor can’t help her, but our lung specialist can!” The woman’s mouth fell wide open, her eyes filled with tears, and I told her, “We have one of the best lung specialists in the world here, Dr. Smiddy, and he’d be happy to see your baby. Turn around, he’s standing right behind you, and she’ll see him within the hour.” Needless to say, the woman was floored, and I couldn’t stop crying. Praise. The. LORD!

We closed down the clinic around 3:00pm after a quick clean-up and reorganization mission. We drank plenty of water and then got our things together to head over to Valley of Peace so we could see a patient there. A local man in Valley of Peace suffered a head injury caused by a falling tree. He was treated at a hospital and released but there was concern of his welfare. We also packed up our first deliver of rice and beans to take to the villagers in Valley of Peace.

After a quick stop for gas, we followed a friend of Body & Soul Ministries to the house where the man lived. His living conditions were poor but ideal for his area and we were surprised to find that his wound was cleaned and stitched significantly well. Dr. Smiddy and Dr. Collins decided that a thorough cleaning, wrapping the wound, and some ointment and other medications would help him make a solid recovery! Renee really stepped up to the bat in this man’s home and took great care of him! As we left, I decided that since the man had access to an English translator in the village and recognized he needed God, he needed a Bible. I gave him mine, which held very significant meaning to me. It makes me incredibly happy to know it’s in the hands of that man tonight.

Everyone on the team really enjoyed walking through the food and doing food distribution. It’s a very different feeling when you’re on foot, mingling with the locals, and playing with the children at their homes. They have so little but they are so welcoming to us and want us to come into their homes so they can show us the things they have! Wayne found out recently that a lady in Valley of Peace named her child after his wife. We stopped by to see her and the baby and gave them some supplies to make things easier.

After leaving Valley of Peace, we came back to the dining hall and had some amazing food! They never cease to amaze me. They fixed us some of the most tender chicken I’ve ever had, rice and beans, and more!

After dinner, we had a couple of hours to have fellowship with one another, share stories from the day, take a shower, and just generally enjoy some peace, quiet, and friends. Leah delivered devotions tonight and Rachel helped her by playing guitar. Leah’s message was powerful and many praises were given! Afterwards, we shared stories from the clinic, thanks for those who really stood out, and ended the night with song and prayer.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, is a new day! Stay tuned – Wayne is going to setup a huge inflatable bounce room for the kids, we’re going to hand out 9 gallons of ice cream and cones at the church in the Spanish community we went to today, and the clinic operates as usual! What does God have in store for us tomorrow? We can only imagine!

Posted By:Dru Morgan

Date and Time Posted: Tuesday March 9, 2010 - 1:47:57 am

Note: Sorry for posting htis late, we've been having intermittent internet issues all day. Narrative for: SUNDAY, MARCH 7TH, 2010 This morning, we all woke up pretty exhausted but the bright spot was that the ladies in the kitchen made us an amazing breakfast of eggs, refried beans, fryjacks, and fresh local fruit! The refried beans were the best many of us had ever had and they went amazingly well with eggs! After breakfast, we lounged around for a few minutes and then boarded a bus for Lagoon Road Baptist Church. The drive down was amazing! We saw a few other small villages, the orange groves, the mountain terrain in Southern Belize, and much more!

We got to Lagoon Road about 45 minutes early so they told us to take off on foot, if we wanted, and walk through the village. Most of us did. There were lots of houses along the main road and the further we got the more dilapidated they became. All of the kids along the street came running out of their houses because we were handing out candy canes and suckers! All the kids were incredibly friendly, spoke very plain English, and some as young as 6 spoke multiple languages.

The church bus (a retired school bus) arrived and the church was immediately flooded with children. The pastor told us later on in service that there was 96 people present at the church that day and we were in a church the size of many American living rooms. The people of Lagoon Road were so incredibly inviting, thanked us many times for being there, and sang us the "you are welcome" song. One of the church members led us in Sunday school and it was great to see their perspective on well known Bible passages!

After Sunday school, the children joined us for church service and we had many excellent sermons from the local people! Dr. Smiddy and Papa Joe played music for the church members and they all really enjoyed it! After church, we took photos with the local people and gave out more candy to the kids. Just before the kids were getting on the bus, Dru opened a bag of candy canes and the kids swarmed him. Clay, Bryant, and some of the others went through almost an entire bag of suckers (dum-dums, the kind you see in a bank) in no time. Some on the team saw kids switching suckers with one another because they wanted to try all of the flavors. Again, it’s amazing how something so small can bring such joy to their lives.

After leaving Lagoon Road we traveled back to the Uriah Compound, where we are staying, and settled in before lunch. Everyone was exhausted so it was nice to have a break. The ladies in the kitchen had lunch ready around mid-day and we had a fantastic lunch of hot dogs, beans, fresh pineapple, and cookies. Everyone, especially Loretha, collectively agreed that the pineapple was the best we’d ever had! One of the ladies in the kitchen, Yvette, had her birthday today so we sang to her and wished her a happy birthday. More on that, later!

After lunch, we continued to enjoy a bit of lounge time and socializing, and most of us made our way over to the clinic to start looking at what needed to be done to prepare us. We ended up pre-packaging a significant amount of drugs into small doses so that we can easily and quicky dispense the most common ones. Others in the team worked on cleaning, organizing, and in some instances completely transforming a closet into a usable space!

While working to get the clinic ready for Monday, a woman showed up with three children and wanted to know if Dr. Smiddy would go ahead and see them. Of course, he agreed, and all the children left with the needed medications, the feeling of knowing someone cares, and the word of God. The woman had a multitude of handmade crafts and the team took advantage of it and helped make the woman’s day brighter.

After leaving the clinic, we all got cleaned up, and it was time for dinner. Yvette made us an amazing Spaghetti and Garlic Bread meal. The food is amazing which the pictures will clearly show. After dinner, they announced again that it was Yvette’s birthday, and there was a birthday cake made for her. We sang to her again and Clay presented her with a birthday present of over $50 in cash that was raised amongst the group! Needless to say, she was very, very happy!

Following dinner we walked just a few yards away to Uriah Baptist Church here on the compound property. The pastor of Uriah Baptist has a son who goes to UVa-Wise so he was incredibly excited to see us and to meet Papa Joe! Church service began with the amazing talents of one of the church’s musicians who sings and plays the electric guitar.

Many of us did not walk into the church with the expectation of hearing such a high quality artist. He truly has a gift from God and knows how to use it well! In addition, one of the girls from the church sang and did a fantastic job! Papa Joe spoke to the church and thanked them for allowing us into their lives, into their church, and into their hearts. Dr. Smiddy and Papa Joe played for the church members and did a great job as always! Everyone was ecstatic to hear banjo music! The UVa-Wise Choir (that’s us!) followed and sang for everyone!

Frank Waldo delivered a great sermon and opened many of our eyes to the things we take for granted each day and the importance of being born again. Needless to say, the Holy Spirit was alive and well in Uriah Baptist Church tonight! At the closing of his sermon, the pastor of the church asked anyone who needed prayer to come forward to the team. Many of the locals came forward and asked for prayer for illness and unspoken difficulties. A local who is a regular to the team and to the clinic came forward and God spoke to Papa Joe’s heart and he stood to wrap his arms around her and comfort her in prayer. It was an amazing sight and brought many of us to tears.

After church service, Jim Collie delivered a great devotional to give us a deeper understanding of the “self-test” prescribed by John in the Bible and what it means to us. He closed with song and we spent the rest of the night packaging beans and rice for the week.

God bless you all!

Posted By:Dru Morgan

Date and Time Posted: Saturday March 6, 2010 - 11:57:50 pm

Can you believe it?! The day of our trip has finally came! 3:00AM sure comes early, doesn't it? For most of us, that's what time our day began today. For others (Clay, and Bryant!) their Friday never ended because they opted to stay up all night before the trip! Our team met at the Tri-Cities Regional Airport at 5:00 to begin pre-boarding procedures. Overall, it was a very smooth experience, and no one had any major issues with their luggage or with security! We made it to our terminal with plenty of time to spare and our flight ended up taking off a little later than expected due to deicing procedures on the plane. Once we finally boarded 25 minutes late, the pilots made up time by increasing our cruising speed, and we actually landed in Atlanta at our intended time. Right on schedule! But, not for long. The first thing we noticed when we got off the plane in Atlanta was that our departure time from Atlanta to Belize was moved from 10:05 until 1:00pm. It was a significant difference but everyone seemed to relax and enjoy the trip more since we weren't as rushed. In the end, it was a gift from God! As we were departing from Atlanta, the Captain let us know the reason for the delay was a faulty gauge. Papa Joe Smiddy had everyone in the plane in tears by exclaiming, loudly, that he "sure hopes it wasn't the fuel gauge, what about you?" When we landed in Belize it was 32 degrees. When we landed in Belize, it was 79 degrees! We pulled off our outer layers, got our baggage from baggage claim, and made our way through customs without any issues. The Body and Soul Ministries bus (and our wonderful driver, Cory, a local) picked is up and we made the trek to Roaring Creek Village. Along the way we passed many of the local sites, saw the state of some of the homes, and got a pretty good feel of how much different this country is from ours. The entire drive you could see people watching the bus - it's clear that everyone here knows what a bus full of missionaries mean! As we arrived at Roaring Creek, people began waving and smiling as they saw us coming through the village. Jerome Young, a patient treated by the UVa-Wise team last year, was on his porch waving as we came in! After arriving at the Uriah Compound and getting acquainted with the facilities we were able to have a brief team meeting to discuss the plans before dinner. Dr. Smiddy took us to the medical clinic and shared general ideas with us about how he would like things to flow through the clinic as we begin treatment. The local ladies, Yvette and Margarita, fixed us a great dinner of homemade salsa, chips, and fresh sandwiches. After dinner, we had a fantastic service called "Blessing of the Hands," where Layton, Frank, Dr. Smiddy, and John cleansed our hands, dried our hands, and anointed our hands with oil. Layton and Frank then asked God to bless our hands in order to carry out his work and change the lives of these beautiful people. Finally, we were treated to an amazing devotional by Papa Joe Smiddy about the impact of our work and why God sent us here. Papa Joe preached to us about the trials and tribulations that Jesus faced and how he was persecuted for standing up for the poor. Papa Joe let us know that one of the most noble things a person can do is stand up for the poor and that's the very reason we're here this week. He closed his devotional with banjo music and singing! Most everyone has collapsed into their beds and those of us still awake are listening to the crickets and geckos. God has given us a beautiful day in Belize and we're certainly thankful for everything he provides! God bless you and we'll see you tomorrow!

Posted By:Dru Morgan

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