Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 3 - Monday - Leah on a hot tin roof!

Hello all!

On Monday, we got up at 6am, breakfast at 6:30, group devotions at 7, in the truck at 7:20 to be at work by 8am. Now, before all of you think there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that Rob would get up at that hour, keep in mind that Belize is 2 hours behind Columbus. The team leader, Carl, had to explain to him, "don't think about it as getting up at 6, think of it as getting up at 8!" Well, since that is Rob's normal wake-up time, he cheerfully replied, HEY I can do that!!

Off we went, down the 7 miles of dusty, bumpy, gravel roads, to arrive at the main highway, also bumpy, but paved. That would be the Hummingbird Highway. We took that straight into Dangriga (about 15 minutes), around the traffic circle, turned right at the canal, down 2 "blocks" to the church at Dangriga. We had just been there for church the day before, so it was interesting to now know the people who would be enjoying the fruits of the labor. We knew who we were doing this all for - it makes a difference!

We arrived, and the jobs were handed out. I volunteered to paint the roof. Don't ASK me what I was thinking when I raised my hand. I must have been already crazed from the heat, or slightly sleep deprived. Maybe I wanted a nice view, or a breeze, or maybe I thought it would be a lot of fun to use a saw on a roof to cut down a mango tree. Again, I am not sure why I volunteered for this!

Up on the roof I went, with my helper, Tony. Tony is 10, and here with his grandmother from New Jersey. His grandmother, Carol, was here on my first trip to Belize when we built Ray and Becki's house. Tony loved using a hacksaw almost as much as I did, and I think for a minute we fought over who got to do the cutting. Naturally, as the adult, I won! No, not really. We each took an end, like those old fashioned logging saws, and cut away branches of the mango tree so that we could actually get to the roof to paint it.

Now that I think about it, I think i only volunteered to cut down the tree (that meant I would be in the shade, right???), but then kind of got talked into painting by extension.

I've been a little disappointed that I haven't seen any scorpions yet on this trip, but I think the NEST OF TERMITES in the rotted mango pits that i swept off the roof somehow made up for this. I have never seen anything quite like it, except for when you occasionally find a swarm of ants on the sidewalk in the spring.

The next little surprise lasted about three days - something climbed UP the tree that I was pruning back! It shimmied up the tree in about two seconds, white teeth showing against the dark brown skin, and bright eyes smiling at me. Her name is Kayla, and Kayla said "this is my mango tree!" We talked about climbing trees, and how she likes to come over and hide on the roof of the church. It was funny, because Tony had told me the same thing - how one of his favorite places to hang out was on the roof. Don't these children have adult supervision??? Kidding - I told Kayla that my favorite place to be when I was her age was a tree house that we had built in the woods about a half mile down the street. That was MY place! I loved it! I still want a treehouse - just ask Rob.

Anyway, Kayla wanted to help paint the roof, but I wouldn't allow that, but she did make herself useful in several ways throughout the remainder of our time at the church in Dangriga. I have NEVER seen anyone wring out a washcloth the way she did - i can barely get the boys in our house to SQUEEZE it, let alone wring it til it's twisted in knots and almost dry! I was very impressed. But here, if you don't squeeze it out, it may take awhile to dry, and then it will smell musty, like when you forget about a load of towels in the washer for a day.

Kayla worked alongside us for the three days, always ready to do the next task we assigned. She stuck with it, did everything asked, and then some. My favorite was when she went to help out with the roof while we were having lunch. We think she might have taken a couple of turns with the roller, because I slipped a couple of times, and once went all the way down - falling on my side, sliding about three feet on my backside, and praying I stop before I hit the edge. Luckily, I did!

Keep in mind that it was about 95 degrees, and the same for humidity. I thought i was going to die. Actually, I thought I was going to pass out. For me to quit and take a break is a BIG DEAL. Ask Rob about the landscaping I did in July. I took LONG breaks in front of a fan, with a big bottle of water about every 45 minutes. On one trip down the ladder, I was just shaking. I took a longer break, and ate a cookie.

We finally called it a day around 5pm, and headed back home. Day 4 was pretty much the same, except hotter, if you can believe that.

I have never been so exhausted in my life! But we made a lot of progress, things inside the church were getting prepped for the drop ceiling, and I was moving my way out to the portico of the church for painting.

More on that tomorrow! Have a good night everyone!

Yes, I'm Tabor's MOM!!

To continue my last post, this lady sits down behind me with her three daughters. I turned around to greet her, and she asked, "are you Tabor's mom?"

When I saw her daughters, I remembered her right away too! I had taken Tabor to Belize on my second trip, in July 2008. We told stories in the village of Pomona, and this woman was there, in attendance. Her daughters, Myrna and Sandra, I think were smitten with Tabor, because her mother, Margarita, told me that Sandra had just been talking about Tabor that very week!

I asked what they remembered most about Tabor, and they said that they remember him poking them in the forehead, and making a popping noise (think Donkey on Shrek 2 when he is making that noise on the way to Far Far Away). But they remember him!

It was so encouraging to see Margarita in the service. The church in Pomona has had its share of struggles, and it was nice to see that someone there had been supporting the church for at least two years. I am sure there were others, but I hadn't met them personally.

What are you doing to support your local church, and what are you doing to make a memory that will last two years? What are you doing to make a lasting impression? Is it a POSITIVE impression?

Until next time,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 2 - Sunday

I am behind in my postings, mostly because we have been so busy, we haven't had time to "hook up" to the satellite. I still crack up that you can get a wireless internet connection in the middle of the jungle!

Sunday is church day! We went to service at the church that we are remodeling/repairing. We arrived not so promptly at 9:30ish, and we outnumbered the group that had assembled for Sunday service. Five great ladies were there to worship God, and we were invited to share with them.

We sang. And sang. And sang! The fun thing about singing in belize that you will NEVER, EVER, be the worst singer there, so there is never any embarassment about singing loud and proud. If any of you have been to a Faught Birthday celebration, you will have a small idea of what it's like when the Belizians celebrate on Sunday morning.

There are no clocks or timers on the Sunday services in Belize. I know in America, we have this expectation about what time service will let out. Not here. It's done when we're done. So we sing. And celebrate. We sang a "camp" song that Rob says he learned in 1975! Anyone else out there remember "It only takes a spark to get a fire going...."??

Then came the service. If you've read any of my other postings, you may be familiar with the Bible Storying method. A passage is told, and then the faciliator asks questions. It is highly interactive, and always very interesting as we look at a passage, dive deep into it, and gain insight from others in attendance. Ray, the missionary here in Belize, told the story about how men are like grass, and their glory like flowers. Grass withers, flowers fade, but he word of the Lord stands forever.

The part after that is what is really sticking with me - - THEREFORE, get rid of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and every kind of slander. Hmmm...every kind of slander...whether thoughts, spoken, or written, the things we say about other people that is negative. Get rid of it, because you are only here a short while.

We talked about the longevity of God's Word. If it were junk, would it have lasted as long as it has? And because we are short-timers, we need to listen to the wisdom of something that has standed the test of time, and indeed, will always stand.

It's a good service when you still remember what it was about 3 days later. Sometimes I can't remember by the time we've decided what restaurant we decided to hit.

Speaking of Sunday dinner...we went to a plantation where a man from Louisiana invited us to lunch. He owns the place, its a shrimp farm, and his cook decided she needed a garden. Now, its about 400 acres of every kind of fruit tree imaginable, and includes some you've probably never heard of. Soursap, mollyapples, breadfruit, mangoes, carambola, and even a few pomegranate bushes! I love those things.

He doesn't sell the produce, he just invites friends over to share the harvest! And when the shrimp are ready to be harvested, he invites everyone over, and tells them to bring their coolers and ice. It's one big party, and I asked for an invitation for next time. I want to go!

We had an odd assortment for lunch, roasted chicken, lasagna, zucchini cakes, spring rolls, and okra (Louisiana, remember??) It was so GOOD!! And Miss Emma kept our glasses full of mango punch, and kept asking "you don't like it?" Miss Emma is from the Phillipines, and had a career in the Chinese Embassy here as a cook. She is very proud of her cooking, and rightfully so!

I had to explain that I couldn't eat any more, because I was STUFFED already, and if she was going to bring out anything else, I wanted to have room for that, instead of eating 2 more spring rolls - and they were some of the best I've ever had!! She understood, and said she wasn't bringing anything else out, besides MANGO CHEESECAKE!! Ray, bless his heart, said if I couldn't eat it, he would take mine. Uh, no.

After dinner, we played puzzle games, like those horseshoe things at cracker barrel, or the nails that have curly q's in them that you have to take apart. After laughing at my inability to engineer a solution to one puzzle, the "boys" showed us "girls" how it was done. Grrrrrr..But once you know the answer, OF COURSE it's easy!!

Then came the wonderful tour of the plantation, the trees, the fruits, the flowers (real gardenias) and the shrimp ponds. It was so cool, and we got to pick as much as we wanted. I have never seen this much star fruit in a trip to Meijer at home. We probably have 50 of them.

That night, we went to church in Pomona. I sat down, and the lady behind me asks, "are you Tabor's mom?" WHAT???

More on that next time!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Good ideas, bad ideas

Today is day 3 of our trip already, which is hard to believe! We traveled with no problems from Columbus to Belize, and no issues from Belize City to the Dangriga airport. We travel within the country on a little airline called "Tropic Air".
We were jockeying for position in the lines at customs, because our Tropic Air flight was supposed to leave at 11am. The customs lady said she could not move us to the front of the line, but if we asked someone if they would let us cut in, that would be okay. So, in my typical shy, backward fashion, I announced to the 20 people in front of us, DO ANY OF YOU HAVE FLIGHTS YOU ARE TRYING TO CATCH? And if not, can we get in front of you??
A very nice woman motioned us in front of her, and I called Rob up from 5 people from the end of the line. We got through the line, said we were staying with friends, and all of a sudden she says "Oh, you are staying with friends? Did you bring any gifts for them?" Assuming she did not mean the package of Betty Crocker Oatmeal Cookie mix, I said "No, because they know we would have to pay duty on them if we did!" Well, apparently she hadn't heard that one before, and she had a pretty good laugh, and passed us right through!
In typical Caribe fashion, we hurried through customs, tipped a guy $8 to carry our bags 20 feet, then checked in with the very nice people at Tropic Air, who told us the flight was going to be at 11:15, not 11. Good thing, because it was now 5 minutes til, and we had to go stand in another line! This line was for departing flights, which includes not only the in-country flights, but also flights back to the US - usually Miami and Houston. If you are leaving the country, this is also the point where you pay exit fees of $40 each. If you think security lines are long where you are, Belize only has one metal detector, and no big grey tubs to put your shoes, belts, purses, loads of pocket change, and chanel sunglasses in.
We finally got through all of this, skipped over to the Tropic Air desk, and in REALLY REALLY Caribe fashion, were told it would be "oh, 5, 10 minutes." We checked back 15 minutes later, and were told (oh, come on, GUESS!!). Finally, somewhere around noon, our 11am flight took off, and deposited us 12 minutes later in Dangriga for our week of fun in the sun!

We went straight to the church where we are working this week, and dug right in to help. We painted benches, mostly, and cleaned up for the church service for the next day. I spent more time than i care to admit sweeping sand off the concrete floor, but the place did look nice!

We headed back to camp around 5, had a dinner of spaghetti and salad, which was pretty good, took showers, and headed to bed exhausted.

Rob and I came on this trip to celebrate our first anniversary, among other things. He was surprised to find he would be bunking "dorm style" with two pre-teens, and Carl, the missionary's brother. He is adjusting to things much better than I expected, though. He continues to amaze me!! He has forgiven me for packing a pillowcase, but no pillow. What a sweet man!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ahhh...finally back!!

After three trips in a single year, it was hard to wait nearly 8 months to return to Belize. I've done things a little differently this time - I am out at Ambergris Caye, an island about 35 miles offshore.

All of my flights went very smoothly, although I was VERY concerned about the flight from Columbus to Houston. In the boarding area, there were LOTS of children, which always makes for an interesting flight. I was tired, and didn't want to start my vacation with all that howling. If you've flown frequently, you know what i mean.

Imagine my level of discomfort when i arrived at row 23 (of 24) and found not one, but TWO children in my row, and their mother. And I had the window seat. Trapped. I asked if it was too late to upgrade to first class, but no luck on that.

The four year old next to me was checking out the seat back pocket - his mom told him to quit and sit back. Most of us would bring stuff to entertain, but not this mamma. She was all business. She headed to the head (hee hee) and left him there...with me. He started through the seat pocket again, and his auntie across the aisle, shouted across five seats for him to leave things alone. I asked, "have you ever been in a limo?" She hadn't. But when I was in college, my sister and I were given a night on the town, which included a limo to see "Cabaret". Our roommate got in, and played with every single switch, light, button, and gadget. She even made a call on the "car phone" - this was still back in the day when only the very, very rich had such devices - and they were the size of a bargain price box of cornflakes. I explained to auntie that he was just checking things out.

The feeling of dread left me, and compassion took over for this mom, traveling with two small children. Other family members were with them - auntie and her two children, and several other family members all toward the front of the plane. Among the 12-15 or so of them, there was not one father present. As I learned at the end of the flight, they are all from California, and came back to Ohio for a family reunion. You have to admire that. Maybe the dads stayed home because of expense, or because it was a girl thing, or because who would want to hang around that many in-laws all at once for that long!!

Anway, back to the flight. The little guy slept through most of it, even through beverage service and the in-flight meal - a muffin. He woke up again at one point, and was trying so hard to sit up, but he just couldn't. Mamma was trying to make one blanket cover the three of them. I positioned the pillow against my lap, and offered to let him lie down on my lap, and he did. I put my arm across his little body to maybe keep him a little bit warm in his worn blue tanktop.

We traveled that way together for about half an hour, his head in my lap, my arm around him. I asked God to forgive me for my initial attitude, which wasn't very Christian-like. It was filled with thoughts of self, and my own personal comfort, and my own 'space'. I thought, I am going to minister to others in Belize, but what am I doing now? Opportunities to be missionaries are right outside our doors. You don't have to get on a plane to share God's love, but today, that's where it was needed.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Back to the Jungle!

Tabor and I left the cold and snow of Columbus at around 5:30 on Friday morning. I finished packing at around 2 am, and managed about 45 minutes of sleep before it was time to head for the airport!

The flights were uneventful, and perfectly timed so that we had no difficulty between flights. The exception was my fascination with blankets at Brookstone, and the time flew by. I realized that at 12:25 we probably should be on our plane - the one headed to Belize at 12:40. We got to the gate just as they were making the final boarding call for the McLaughlins. Oooops.

After four flights, and dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Dangriga, we headed to Ray and Becki's house. Quite interesting to sleep in the house I helped build. Of course, I'm noticing all of the drywall work, and wondering if I should have made it just a little smoother. All in all, it looks pretty good for an amateur!

Saturday brought some tropic thunder, and a rainy day. It was perfect to catch up on sleep! I had a wonderful afternoon nap, and guess what we had for dinner - rice, beans, and chicken! Tabor and I helped by making the tortillas, which are now 'passable' for the authentic. We found we probably need to let them rise a little longer to get the puffier version that the Mayan women are experts at. (yes, I ended with a preposition. Forgive me).

Saturday was restful and low key. Sunday was church - almost all day. Remember that nothing is close in terms of time here. It took an hour and a half to drive to church, maybe 40 miles. There is ALWAYS a surprise when you go to church in Belize. Yesterday, it was Harvest Day. Several churches gathered at one location for the service, and each family brought an item to represent the harvest. Some brought oranges, others brought flowers, cakes decorated wtih fruits and sprinkles, papaya, grapefruit still on the branches, corn in the husks, and get this - coffee beans and cacoa pods - the stuff chocolate is made from!! Did I mention several live chickens?

The children and youth paraded the stuff in, and helpers placed it all in a market - type stall outside. After the service, you could buy anything that the people brought, and the money was used for the church.

I only know a couple of Mayan words, but one of them is bo tik. Bo tik means thank you, and I heard it so many times yesterday, that I knew without a doubt that every one of the people in the church yesterday was truly thankful for all that God has provided.

As we think about our Thanksgiving week, and where it all started, it probably wasn't far off from the vision I had yesterday. People from the community, bringing what they had, and celebrating the goodness of God together.

If you are reading the blog, and enjoy it, please send an email to us: Last time, we felt like we were posting things for no reason, only to find out much later that people felt like they were right here with us. Your encouragement is very much appreciated!!

Leah and Tabor

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Great Girlfriend Giveaway!

Hi all!

Yes, it's been a week since I posted anything. My mom is due back from Belize any minute now, and I am anxious to hear the perspective of a 70 year-old woman, traveling to the west. She did "train the teacher" training for people from all areas of Belize, and stayed in the cities of San Ignacio, and then Belize City, so she did not get to experience the fun of the creek, or the fun of the swarming bugs!

She did, however, manage to find a house out west that I could easily afford. Some developers are trying to entice Americans there, offering subdivisions that rival southern Florida, for around $250K (starting prices). LOTS cheaper than Naples, but that's not the kind of house I can easily afford. The one she picked was around $25,000. Can't wait to see it! I wonder if it has indoor plumbing!!

OH - You are probably wondering about the title "Great Girlfriend Giveaway." I am attempting to downsize (to a $28K in west Belize???) and have way too much stuff to accommodate. Rather than having a garage sale, I would much rather give it away to my friends first, then I'll donate what's left. If you ever wanted a coconut monkey, I happen to have one, up for grabs!!

Call me, or just show up Saturday, July 26th at 6pm!! 614-783-5529

Thanks everyone!!

One more thing - Many of you know how passionate I am about childhood obesity, and the dangers it presents to the next generation. Obesity is one of the leading causes of heart disease, and we are seeing a marked increase of young adults with high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. I am raising money for the American Heart Association to assist in the campaign for a healthier generation. My goal is to raise $2000 to Would you consider making a tax-deductible donation of $25?

Visit the link below, and thanks so much for considering it!