On Sunday July 10th, Bill and Karyn Ward and I left for San Pedro, Belize for a week of mission work. We did not have a clue what God would set before us, but we knew we were called to go. We brought with us some crafts for children (just in case) and Karyn was prepared to provide a teaching to the women of San Mateo, if given the opportunity. She also wanted to take pictures of children to give to their families as a gift. Bill wanted to be used and serve in some way. I think Karyn put it best when she posted on Facebook, “ headed to Belize to love and serve.” And that is exactly what was on our hearts and what we did last week.
We served at Holy Cross School and served in the small, extremely poor community of San Mateo located just over the bridge from San Pedro. Most people that travel to San Pedro don’t even know this community exists…
God’s plan and provision never ceases to amaze me. Bill was able to connect with another church that was working at the school that same week doing painting and construction. He spent all week working alongside them and even went to work on Friday morning after the other team had left.
Karyn and I worked on building relationships at Holy Cross and within the community of San Mateo. We were able to meet up with Tivany Milligan, who went to Holy Cross School through seventh grade, and who Restoration sponsored last year for a year of High School and is continuing to sponsor for her remaining year of high school. We were able to meet Tivany’s mother, Teri, who is an amazing woman, working a fulltime job at one of the local hotels and trying to raise two children. She is a wealth of information about San Pedro where our hotel is located and the community of San Mateo.
I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful Tivany and her mother are to the people of Restoration and what we are doing for their family, especially Tivany. We met with Mrs. Grazziano who owns the land the little blue church is built on. Her home is right next door. It was her husband’s vision that one day a church would be built on their property. That came to fruition a few years back and now there is a Pastor and his wife who serve there one week out of the month to minister to the community.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed supplies for us to take to Holy Cross Anglican School. As I have previously shared, it is only through the generous donations from people like you that Holy Cross is able to serve so well the children that attend there.
On Monday morning we dropped off two very full suitcases of vitamins, shoes, medical and school supplies, and fabric, which was GREATLY appreciated! Also, the team received money so that Restoration will sponsor a child for this upcoming year of school at Holy Cross. God is so good!!
God’s timing and plan for us this year was incredible as well. It was all about loving on and ministering to the people and building relationships. Monday evening, we met the pastor and his wife at the little blue church. He shared with us his vision for the church and how they are in great need financially. But what really struck me was when he told us that the people that attend, as poor as they are, have committed to tithing. One week, they brought in $27!! This was the perfect opportunity for us to make a donation to the church in support of the wonderful work they are doing in the community.
The Pastor was very open to us using the church to provide something for the children. We found out that most of the women in the community work until 5:00 pm and then have to make dinner and tend to their families so there was not an opportunity to minister to the women, but we could provide a mini VBS for the children and that is exactly what we did on Tuesday and Thursday morning. Both days, we had over 35 children, a few moms with very small babies. We loved on those kids and moms as best we could and provided teachings, sung a few songs, did crafts and prayed. It was awesome!
Wednesday morning, we made sandwiches and bought raisins and water at the local market. We handed out lunches in San Mateo to anyone who wanted one. When school is in session the children are fed a healthy meal each day. During the summer, many go without food and are lucky to get one meal a day. We found out that there are many adults in need of food as well.
I have stories of God’s perfect timing and how he used us to love and serve, but the one that sticks out the most is when we went to deliver the pictures of the children from VBS to Mrs. Grazziano’s home in San Mateo on Friday morning. While we were there at her home, we noticed her grandson (Anthony – age 17) was terribly upset and was crying holding his hand. Because we had Tivany with us, she was able to translate for us from Spanish to English, and we found out that he had smashed his finger in a door and now it was terribly infected. He had gone to the local clinic the previous day, but all they did was put ointment on his finger.
We ended up taking Anthony to the local doctor in San Pedro where the finger was lanced and drained. He was given prescriptions and we went to the pharmacy to fill them. We also took him out for something to eat before taking him back home. The doctor wanted to see him again Saturday and Sunday morning. On Saturday morning, we were able to pick him up and take him back to the doctor prior to us flying out of San Pedro. We were so grateful for this opportunity to help out. It is very possible that we saved his finger!
I am still processing the week we spent in Belize. My heart is full. I feel so blessed to have been given this wonderful opportunity to love and serve and I know Karyn and Bill feel the same. There are more stories to share… and I hope to have that opportunity later on in the month during church.
If you would like to support future mission trips to Holy Cross School and the community of San Mateo, please talk with me, Karyn or Bill Ward. Perhaps you would like to join us? We do plan to go back again!