First Baptist Church AR. | Belize

| May 31 to June 07, 2008

Local Host:
Staff: Jason Swartz

Trip Journal Updates

by Travis Yoch | May 31, 2008
First Baptist Church from Cave City, AR arrived safely in Belize today! The weather here is rainy and a bit cooler than we expected. We checked in to our hotel, The Global Village, today and got settled into our rooms. We had some snacks and met some of the people from other groups that we’ll be serving with here in Belize. Some of us took naps to recover from the long day of travels. We’re excited for our group orientation meeting later this evening and for a special youth service at Ladyville Evangelical Church and School.

Saturday Evening Update
by Travis Yoch | May 31, 2008
This evening we had our group orientation meeting. The meeting was preceded by some worship time lead by Eric, and Nathan gave us a message about trust. At the meeting, we went over some guidelines for our mission trip here in Belize and discussed plans for tomorrow. After the meeting, we went to our cook for the week Sharon’s house for supper. Sharon had prepared a delicious meal of chicken, rice, potato salad, and cornbread. We met Brother John Diaz and his wife Norma who told us a little bit about Ladyville Evangelical Church. The church was started by missionaries and is now run by a deacon and a group of elders. We’re excited for tomorrow morning when we’ll be leading Sunday school and church service.

Sunday Worship in Ladyville
by Travis Yoch | June 1, 2008
The rain is still coming down today, but nobody seems to mind. This morning, we had breakfast at The Global Village followed by some time for reflection and preparation for Sunday school and church service. When we arrived at the church, the congregation greeted us enthusiastically and we broke off into a youth and adult Sunday school. Tasting the individual ingredients of a cookie and then the cookie all together was turned into a lesson for the youth about how God takes all of the bitter and sweet parts of our lives and weaves them together into an amazing story. We also took part in a “Jonah and the Whale” and a “Fishers of Men” skit with the youth. At the same time, the congregation led the adults in their weekly lesson. The church service was an amazing experience. We heard a message about the Samaritan woman at the well, listened to Amy’s testimony along with some others from the group, and lead the church in worship. We’re excited for some missions training and a second service later tonight.

Evening Evangelism Service
by Travis Yoch | June 2, 2008
For missions training yesterday evening, we learned how to share our testimonies/life stories. We broke off into groups of about four or five and each of us shared our testimony with a small group. It was amazing to hear where everyone was coming from in their faith and we all bonded as a team. After supper from Pepper’s Pizza, we had a chance to share our testimonies at a special evangelism service at Ladyville Evangelical Church. It was hard to imagine a time for worship that could even compare to yesterday morning’s, but Nathan Rogers lead us off with a powerful message that called us to, like Aaron did in Numbers 16:48, stand between the living and the dead. After some worship time, Bobbi and Carrie gave us their testimonies along with another member from the group. When asked if some of the people from Ladyville would like to come up and share, we were overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and eagerness with which six or seven of them shared. There ended up being almost two and a half hours of fellowship and worship last night. Later, we came back to the hotel for a closing meeting where people got a chance to share how they saw God working in Belize. The rain continues, but we’re going with what God has planned.

Out and About in Ladyville
by Travis Yoch | June 2, 2008
The rain let up this morning, so we were able to walk to Liberty Children’s Home in Ladyville. At the children’s home, Nathan and Eric taught a lesson about sin using Jolly ranchers. The rest of the group did similar skits and games with the kids. The children quickly captured our hearts and demanded our attention which we gladly gave them. We completed our visit with a tour of the facilities. This afternoon, we went out into the streets of Ladyville where we had home visits. The people of Belize are so welcoming. It was easy to start conversations, invite them to our Tuesday church service or Wednesday bible study, and pray with them. We gradually made our way through Ladyville to a central park where we had some time for sports ministry with the local kids. We played basketball, soccer, Frisbee, jump ropes, and other games. It was amazing to really connect with the Belizean community today.

Shool Ministry
by Travis Yoch | June 3, 2008
This is a picture from today's school ministry at Ladyville Evangelical School.

Tuesday Update
by Travis Yoch | June 4, 2008
We arrived at Ladyville Evangelical School yesterday morning to find a sea of hundreds of children in light yellow school uniforms. The kids welcomed us with smiles and hugs. After a brief introduction from principal, we sent a couple people from our group to each of about a dozen classrooms. There we had the opportunity to start the kids’ day off with a devotional that we had been preparing months prior. We had skits, stories, coloring, sculpting, and object lessons. We also had the opportunity to observe the teachers interacting with their students after the devotionals. Later in the afternoon, we got to come back to visit the students for some sports time. We played Frisbee, football, soccer, children’s games, jump rope, and ran races with the kids. After saying goodbye to the school for the day, we got to go back to Liberty Children’s Home to spend some more time with kids there. The friendships that we had started the day before were made even stronger At the end, it was hard to say goodbye to them. Finally, we had a nighttime evangelism service under the lights at the park. The worship band from Ladyville Evangelical Church along with Eric played some music for the kids and young adults at the park. We heard testimony from Nathan and others in the group as well as hearing music from local gospel singer Burton Brooks. It was a great night to reach out to the community.

Altun Ha
by Travis Yoch | June 5, 2008
Yesterday morning started off with some devotions at the school. The kids were really excited to have us back. Once again we had skits, object lessons, and bible stories to share with the classrooms we were in the day before. It’s exciting to see the relationships that we’re building with the kids grow with each new visit. After school ministry, we took a trip to some local Mayan ruins called Altun Ha to learn a little history about Belize as well as have some relaxation time. The structures were enormous and it was amazing to think that some of them were built during Jesus’ time. We climbed up steep stairs to the top of them and looked out over the ruins. The trip was just what we needed to re-energize for the bible study later that night. At the bible study, we had some worship time lead by the local worship band followed by a message by Nathan on the story of Peter healing the crippled beggar. He told us how a spiritual change causes and emotional response which causes a physical reaction. Afterwards, we broke up into a men’s group and two women’s groups for some prayer. We were deeply moved by the amazing prayers that the Belizeans shared.

Altun Ha Picture
by Travis Yoch | June 5, 2008
Here's a full group picture from Altun Ha.

Sister Cecilia's
by Travis Yoch | June 5, 2008
This morning we had our last day of devotions at the school. It was so hard to say goodbye at the end of the day. There were many hugs exchanged and group pictures taken. Afterwards, we visited Sister Cecilia’s home for the elderly. A lot of people were nervous at first, but we made some great connections with the people there. We sang a few songs and even had an encore request for Amazing Grace. We were able to spend some time in great conversations after music. We learned a great deal about Belizean history from the people at the nursing home. After the nursing home, we headed back to the school for some sports time that can best be described as organized chaos. Hundreds of kids pined for our attention as we played various sports and games. A lot of the kids walked around with a piece of paper asking us to sign. Once again, it was hard to say goodbye.

Closing Ceremony
by Travis Yoch | June 6, 2008
After sports ministry at the school yesterday, we had supper at, our cook for the week, Sharon’s house for the last time. We all signed a card thanking her for all of her wonderful meals and then we headed to the church for a closing ceremony. There was lots of worship music and several people from the Ladyville congregation got up and thanked us for taking time out of our lives to come down and serve the Lord in Belize. They prayed for us and gave us a hearty welcome to return some day. Then we were given the opportunity to shower them with thanks in return and to offer some donations that we had brought down for the church to use in ministering to the community. A lot of us expressed that we came down here expecting to change lives, but we didn’t realized that our lives would be changed as well. We ended in prayer and continued worshiping and dancing for a long time afterwards. Finally, we headed back to the hotel for a meeting and to pack for Caye Caulker.

Caye Caulker
by Travis Yoch | June 7, 2008
Yesterday, we concluded our trip on beautiful Caye Caulker. We had the opportunity to go snorkeling on the Belize Barrier Reef where we saw lobsters, sea urchins, nurse sharks, and a myriad of different types of fish and coral. We then had a chance to swim in shark and ray alley where there were several stingrays that would brush up against our legs. After, our snorkeling trip we had some recreation time to explore the island. Many of us took this time to buy souvenirs and eat lunch at a restaurant of our choosing. Later in the evening we had our final group meeting on the roof of our hotel, overlooking the ocean. We started off with some moving worship made all the more incredible by the tropical atmosphere and warm Caribbean breeze. We spent some time reviewing and reflecting on the week and then each of us shared with the group their highlight for the week. We spent some time discussing ways that we might take home some of the ways that God was using us here in Belize. We used these ideas to write a “five year letter” as our future selves writing to our present selves. We wrote down what’s happening in our lives and what happened in the past five years. It was a good exercise to really think about where we’d like our lives to go from here and how we’d like to see God working through us. We ended the meeting singing God of Wonders and each of the participating churches received thank you’s. It has been an incredible week of doing God’s work here in Belize.

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