Monday, March 19, 2018

Greetings to all from Texas!  We arrived safely home very late on Sunday night - nearly midnight! We had a great day on Saturday at St. George's Caye. We had opportunities to swim at the sandbar, some of us went snorkeling, and others spent the afternoon relaxing. We all had the opportunity to reflect on the week and then meet to debrief for the trip. We had great conversations and thoughts about where God may be calling us to help - both in Belize and at home.

As we reflected on the week, we could see how God brought the team together in Belize to show love and support to the staff and students at YES. We renewed friendships with the staff, held hands and offered encouragement to the students as they tried new things, and worked to finish an important improvement - the new walls for the classroom building.

We were happy to serve as the hands and feet of the Lord in Belize. Throughout the week our daily devotional challenged us to examine our identity as a child of God. We learned through a study of Psalm 139 that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" and we praised God for his provision. He is always with us and has created us as unique creations with a purpose.

We also reaffirmed that we are chosen and called  - as John 15:16-17 says "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last - and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command - love each other."

We praised God that he chose us for this mission, at this time, in this place. And we challenged ourselves to move forward with eyes open and ears listening for additional ways that God is calling to us. We pray that we will respond as Isaiah (6:8) "Then I heard the Lord asking, "Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?" I said, "Here I am. Send me."

Thank you to everyone who prayed and supported the team this year!  Blessings to you and Praise to the Father for your support!!

Here is the place we stay om St. George's Caye:

A group ready to board the boat for our return trip...

Sunrise on Sunday....

Friday, March 16, 2018


Today was the last day with the wonderful women and staff of Y.E.S. and it is hard to believe that our week here in Belize will be ending soon. We shared a wonderful day together at Banana Bank where we got to enjoy horseback riding and swimming. For many of the girls this was their first experience in riding on a horse and learning how to swim. We also shared a delicious family style meal together of fried chicken, beans and rice and coleslaw. It was very clear to see what God was trying to share with us today. The friendships and trust that had begun to develop between the girls and the team this week was a reminder to many of us why we continue to come back to Belize and support Y.E.S. year after year.

This is our ninth year supporting Youth Enhancement Services and what we have seen and experienced is people matter to God. In order to bring others to a relationship with Christ, we must first be willing to engage in relationship with them ourselves. We have seen lots of changes over the past nine years, but one thing that stays the same is the genuine friendships and trust between Y.E.S. and FPCA.

Here is the group getting ready for horseback riding - several of these girls were terrified of horses but willing to try....

John Carr (the owner of Banana Bank) works to get two of the girls up on his horse for a photograph..

Poolside relaxing...

Trying to tame a set of birds...

Here is the group at the end of the fun day, getting ready for the drive back to the city.

Tomorrow morning we will be heading out to St. George's Caye to spend some time reflecting and processing through all we saw and experienced God doing this week. Please continue to pray for the team as we spend this final time together.  

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Another wonderful day at YES!!  Today's activities included the daily devotion and worship time. Kathi and Jane discussed the story of Esther. The primary message was that God has a purpose and a plan for each one of us, and it does not matter what position you are in. God can do anything. Esther went from an orphan to the queen, she was then in the position to save the Jewish people.

Judy and Kathi lead a project for each of the girls to build growth charts to hang on their wall at home and mark the growth of their children. Each girl was able to decorate their chart with felt shapes and markers.

Caroline, Kaitlyn, and Suzie lead a project including both coloring and playing board games. The girls enjoyed learning new games.

At the end of the day, the girls demonstrated their recorder skills. We had some girls play recorders and some sing so that we had a mini concert with the song "Father, I adore you."  It was great fun!!

Towards the end of the day, we had a surprise visit from a long-time friend. Ms. Vinny, who had been a teacher at YES for many years, came to say "Hi." It was great to connect with her!

As for the construction project, we completed the final wall!!! God be praised! The best part of all...the girls were excited to join us in the construction. They each participated in nailing some of the siding. They took ownership of the work. Several of the girls had previously nailed boards and were much better than we are.

Here is a picture of the front of the building, we did not change this wall. This wall was built by the team in 2010! Today we are working on the back wall...if you look in the door, you can see daylight on the other side as we have removed the wall by this time (9:30 am). It takes much less time to demolish than to build.

Here is the picture of the back wall. We have removed the old plywood siding and the studs in the frame.

Notice the bathroom in the back. We replaced the wall between the bathroom and the rest of the building. This made for some tricky areas.

 Here is a view from inside the building....

 Next the team built the new frame for the wall....

After the frame was up, we started with the siding (about 2 pm)...AND the GIRLS helped out!

Here is Anika putting up a board..

Suzie and Reneisha celebrate a nail completely in the wall with a high five!  The boards are hard and the nails are sometimes too soft. It can take a lot of effort to get the 2 1/2 inch nail into the wall.

Jorleny was a pro!  She was great at nailing...

Jonathan helps Michelli with her portion...

Shandaley was also a pro!

Here is Mike working on one of the last boards!  Mike was terrific. He was tireless and determined!  Although everyone on the team helped with the construction, much of our success for the construction project is due to Mike, Jill, Kathi, Samuel, Johnathan, and Chepito!

We had to finish the work after we do not have a great completed picture...however, here is a picture of the back wall nearly complete and a great picture of the night work...

Adding the finishing corner pieces in the dark with a flashlight ...

Tomorrow we are taking the YES students and staff on a field trip to Banana Bank!  Since we finished our project, we can all go on the field trip!

Please pray for continued relationship building and fellowship with the YES team.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Today was another very busy and amazing day at Y.E.S. For morning devotional time, we shared the story of Ruth and how she made a life-changing choice to stay with Naomi. Ruth choose to follow the One true God. The girls had recently studied Ruth. It was wonderful to see how much of her story they could recall. The girls really enjoyed acting out the skits for the story.

Jill and Judy lead the sewing activity. Each student made a bag out of pillow cases. The girls are always so excited to show off their completed projects.

Mimi holding the baby while her mother sews...

 Jill working with Jasmine...
Projects are complete!!!!!

Caroline and Kaitlyn worked on a fundraising project to create unique glitter necklaces. The girls each made several necklaces - one to go home with them, and the others for YES to sell for a fundraiser.

Kaitlyn also lead the group as they learned how to make balloon animals.

Ms. Stephanie - one of the teachers...

Construction continued with the second wall. The rain stayed away, however just like the rain fell yesterday, we had falling acorns from the walls today...

Look at the acorns that came from the wall....

The team working hard to put the wood siding up - level and without any gaps! 

 The second wall is complete!!

We ended the day with a joint dinner and worship time at Old Belize with Covenant Presbyterian's mission team (from Austin, TX).

Tomorrow, we tackle the largest wall!  Please pray for strength, cool breeze and extended energy.