Vacation Bible School – Belize 2011
Fiesta! Fired up for Jesus!
July 22, 2011 – Day 2
We got up early this morning to Michael’s singing and Kimberly’s dancing to begin team-building. We drove to Belize City to catch a water taxi to an island called Caye Caulker. Josh prayed for good weather, calm seas, and safety snorkeling and all prayers were answered. Alex and Linda showed great courage in taking a step of faith and going snorkeling – both had a wonderful experience and very proud of themselves as we all are. Rhett said it was the best because they saw lots of sharks this time. Alyssa was almost speechless and said she was so thankful she was here and able to experience this. Since you have to snorkel as buddies, it was a good team building activity and drew all closer together.
Tomorrow’s plans are to go to the Farmer’s Market to get first-hand knowledge of some of the culture. We’ve been told by the resident missionaries that this is a must if you want to see the culture. A few more touring stops and then we’ll be going to an evening service as St. Hilda’s Church in Georgeville. The older youth and a few adults are participating in an Alpha course and finishing their last day of the Holy Spirit. Josh has been asked to come and talk with them followed by a prayer session with all those who attend.
Keep up your prayers! Don’t forget to pass the word to those who may not know to watch the Desert Call website (www.desertcall.org) for future updates.
Christ’s Love and Blessings,
July 24, 2011 – Day 3
Last night was beautiful! We went to the Holy Spirit day of the Alpha class here (normally a weekend) and Josh talked about being filled with the Holy Spirit and what we as Christians are like when we are filled and when we are not. It is so incredibly wonderful to see so many youth at services and in classes. The youth outnumber the adults. Praise God! Many of the youth were slain in the Spirit for the first time and it was sooooo awesome to watch them. There were also adults there and one who rested in the Spirit as well. What a blessing to us and to her.
This morning we went to St. Andrews in San Ignacio and St. Hilda’s in Georgeville and worshiped with each group. Both were excited to see us and many children remembered Josh from previous years. We are hoping for a big turnout – pray that the children’s hearts and spirits will be touched and filled.
Tonight we will be practicing our singing, puppet shows, and skits. So here we go….I’m sure there will be lots of stories the coming week.
July 25, 2011 – Day 5
Wow! Today was the first day of VBS. We sang, did Reader’s Theater scripts, sang, laughed, sang… Today Josh taught about being “Fishers of Men.” He showed them how the Christians of old drew a fish in the sand as a secret signal to one another. Then Wayne quite boldly stole Nigel Mumford’s secret handshake for Christians, and he and Rhett demonstrated it for the children. It starts with the typical handshake (and you say, “the Father”), then clasping fists as if getting ready to arm wrestle (saying, “the Son”), followed by grasping thumbs as you flutter the rest of your fingers like a bird and lifting clasped thumbs into the air as if flying away, and letting go (and saying, “the Holy Spirit”). We all laughed as the children practiced it.
Kimberly and Rusti were awesome as they did the puppet show, “Fishers of Men” where young Rusti thinks her Sunday School teacher wants her to use a bait, hook, and a rod to fish for men. Her Auntie finally helps her understand that Jesus wants us to fish for men by our conduct and attitude. All of us enjoyed the show not just the children.
All together at last count (more came after we stopped counting and had gotten started) we had 165 children at VBS. Alex, our youngest team member who turned 13 the day before we left, had 31 children in her group and did an amazing job. Although the VBS is intended for 5 year old and up we don’t turn anyone away, so Linda ended up with 17 little ones between 3 and 5 years old.
We are all excited and prepared for more tomorrow. Keep us in prayer as we deal with the humidity and the heat and even more bright eyes tomorrow.
Christ’s Love and Blessings,
July 26, 2011 – Day 6
Today a young man had a lighter and was burning pieces of paper and was taking pieces of crayon and throwing them to the back wall. His team leader told Wayne who took the young man outside to talk. He told him, “You have a choice – you can give me the lighter and go back inside which I would really like you to do or you can take the lighter home and you would have to go with it.”
The young man just looked at him – and Wayne said, “There really isn’t a big decision to make – two choices – and he repeated them. The young man handed Wayne the lighter and went back inside. At the end of the day, he walked toward Wayne and without saying anything Wayne handed him back the lighter. When all the other kids had left, many of them leaving their trash behind and on the ground, this young man – ON HIS OWN – without being asked went and found a trash bag and walked all around the school and church looking for trash and picking it up.
The principal of the school said, “Wow, that’s quite something different for him. He is seen as a trouble maker at school and never behaves this way.” So your prayers are working, please keep them up. This is only day 2 and look already a change prayers have made in one young man’s life.
Today’s discussion was the healing of the paralytic and forgiving sins. One young lady in one of the groups asked if suicide is forgiven. I personally do not know if the question was asked because someone she knows has committed suicide or something she was thinking of so pray for her. We will be following up tomorrow.
We are enjoying our Belizian guide – Jazmine. She has been going to Josh’s VBS ever since he first came to Belize. Now she is one of the team leaders with us. She helps us out when we don’t understand the children, gives us cultural information, gives us directions while driving and is an all around beautiful young woman. She is not only strikingly beautiful on the outside but loving and gentle on the inside as well. Keep her in your prayers that she continues to follow God’s path in her life.
Keep Linda and Kimberly in your prayers as they work with the littlest ones. Linda is truly a preschool teacher and though Kimberly says she has no children and hasn’t been around them much – she is amazing with them and she looks like a pro to me.
Alyssa loves all the kids, and Rhett is praying he gets to keep his sunglasses – one of the kids from last year is really working on coercing him into leaving them behind. And Alex – wow – she is just amazing. I doubt she will come back the same young girl. Her confidence grows by leaps and bounds. She’s doing a wonderful job.
We have to admit it is pretty overwhelming at times with so many of the kids at one church in Georgeville. Just the sheer numbers of them in a small, echoing area makes it a challenge to work with the children. Rusti has been amazing in helping the team leaders with classroom management skills as well as jumping in and teaching an activity to 30 preschoolers – must admit I did love watching her – then jumping over to a group of 30 high schoolers and getting them focused and quieted down. So prayers for Georgeville in particular would be great. The kids are wonderful just a lot of them in a small space. You should hear the roar when we play a game!
The Reader’s Theaters and puppet shows have been a great attention grabber. Today, Linda and Wayne used the puppets for the skit “The Telephone Call.” The Lord called Lucy to say he was coming over. Once she was finally convinced it was the Lord on the phone she ran around like crazy trying to get everything perfect. A beggar came and asked her for a drink, then a piece of bread, and then a shirt and she said no each time. She told the beggar she was busy and had to prepare for the Lord. Well, you know the rest of the story – the Lord called and she said she was almost ready. The Lord told her he had already been there…
The kids loved the show and we had wonderful discussions later.
All for tonight – going to bed early. We’re ready for rest and a fan!
Christ’s Love and Blessings,
July 27, 2011 – Day 7
Today was great! Thank you for the prayers – definitely helped. Each day the number of children at the VBS grows and who is able to come changes. So far I think we have had at least 200 children. These children most definitely need love and prayers. It was interesting to hear what they thought were temptations that young people have to deal with – murder and suicide were the most shocking responses to me. Even the “toughest” boys want to be a part of the VBS.
Rhett and Wayne need to take their act on the road. Today they did a puppet show called, “Dropped from the Register” with the dialogue intentionally written in incorrect grammar – they were hysterical – and soooo authentic.
The teenagers responded very well today – even the oldest like to color. As I walked around asking them if they knew their memory verse and if they had practiced their Ten Commandments, I constantly heard, “Miss, Miss, I know one.” For those who weren’t here when they were passed out or who had not memorized the new verse, they asked, “But Miss, I know another one. Can I tell you that one?” I heard Genesis, Psalms, and others.
It was great fun to watch them play, “On Your Knees” a game about how Daniel stopped the lion from eating him by praying. There was a race across the room through an obstacle of lions. If a lion got too close, the children would drop to their knees to pray so the lion couldn’t touch him/her.
We all came back to the cabana exhausted but in much better spirits with your prayers. And then…..
As Rusti had just entered into the women’s cabana and I was coming up the steps from the showers on the opposite side of the wall from her, we both spotted huge black ants crawling across the sidewalk, into the window between Rusti’s and my bed. I told her to go get Carmen (resident missionary) as memory of his and Faye’s story last time we were here about how Army Ants had gone through their house one day.
Sure enough, Carmen came up and into the room and told all of us to get out quickly and carefully. Watch where you step….quickly…. There were two blessings: first, we were going to take Carmen and Faye out to dinner tonight and were going to be leaving anyway; and second, it happened in daylight when we could spot them and nobody got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and found out the hard way there were Army Ants or after they started crawling over us as we slept and began biting us. They had just started entering the men’s cabana as well when we loaded in the van. Carmen said they’d probably be through the cabana in about two hours. So Thank You Father for your protection and blessings!
So here we are back – they say the coast is clear but I haven’t been to the cabana yet… the good news? I haven’t heard anyone scream yet so I’m guessing all is well. Not real sure how we will all sleep tonight but I’m sure there won’t be any insects left behind to worry about.
Christ’s Love and Blessings,
July 29, 2011 – Final Day
We are getting ready to depart from Belize. Last night the Church committee (like a vestry) at St. Andrews in San Ignacio with Fr. Juan Marentes and his wife, Maria, put on a beautiful dinner for us and another team that are here from New York. The hospitality, appreciation, and well wishes were absolutely beautiful. As we all left, the hostess’ daughter brought each of us a beautiful flower giving us each a farewell hug.
Alex, Rhett, Linda, and Alyssa are off to the USA this morning. Wayne, Lynnea, and Kimberly are off to Guatemala. Michael has already met up with his son and enjoying the sites of Belize. Josh and Rusti will drop us all off at the airport and then take a few days break before heading home.
Continue to keep us in prayer. Please pray for the swelling in Lynnea’s feet and legs. She only has one pair of shoes left that she can get on her feet.
Christ’s Love and Blessings,