Saturday, February 10, 2018

Friday 9Feb18

Friday was the team's last day at Holy Cross - the two weeks passed very quickly. A highlight of Friday was an activity that we weren't sure we could pull off: a Skype video conference between a class at Holy Cross and one in Raleigh. Peggy Freer, a member of some earlier St. Luke's mission teams working at Holy Cross, wrote the school song not only for Holy Cross, but also for the school in Raleigh where she teaches music. Classes from the two schools met via video conference to sing their respective songs and to get to know each other in general.

Here's the view from Holy Cross.

And here are the kids at Peggy's school in Raleigh, learning about Holy Cross before the start of the Skype conference.

Jim made a final visit to see Ashanti, her mom, and baby Melanie. After spending time walking through medical matters with Ashanti, her mom, and Melanie's dad Izzy, Jim ended by taking a family portrait of three generations of the family.

Nancy W. finished her week at the school working in one of the Infant I classrooms. Some of the kids took advantage of "casual Friday" to wear their regular clothes. Others came dressed in the same uniforms they wear the rest of the week.

As he was leaving Holy Cross on the last day, Jim thought to get a picture of himself with someone we interacted with every day: Mr. Francis, the school's security guard. Mr. Francis is literally the gatekeeper at the main entrance to the school, letting students, staff, and volunteers onto the school grounds. As we come back year after year, Mr. Francis is the first familiar face we see as we walk or ride up to the school.

Every workday at the school ends with a team meeting back at the hotel, to reflect on the day and to have a brief devotional before we head off to dinner. On the team's last day, Nancy W. used this as an opportunity to reflect on the entire trip. Her reflection took the form of a poem followed by a prayer.


Fry jacks
Johnny cakes
Kitchen ladies 

Cats, and one in particular,  [Note for those not there: cat decided cafeteria floor was litter box.]
But many fewer rats

Swamp into school
Incredible children and teachers

Miracles every day
Remember Valdimir standing tall

Rocky’s Taxi
And Mr. Lima in the morning
Almost a miracle to find
a reliable taxi on the island

New babies
School children
And sometimes their parents
The right questions
Dr. Jim figures it out
The teachers want to make sure
Dr. Jim agrees with their doc

Family challenges
Peer pressure
Katie, Tonya, and Kim
Getting kids to talk
And sometimes their parents

Hard work
Always hot
Itchy legs
Swatting bugs

Finding the right place to be
The little kids want help,
And attention, of course.

Math is tricky when
The question doesn’t ask for the sum,
but shapes and arrows and
Explanations seemed to help.
They said it made sense.
Tomorrow I’ll see if it stuck.

Skyping with NC kids was fun
For Std III
Next year we need to prep
Some better questions

I’ll leave the big kids
To Mr. Bob and Wendy C.

Great food
DandE’s - soursop in a cup
or chocolate with a chocolate bullseye
Chocochino & a chocolate chip cookie
Orange Fanta & Fanta soda water
Coconut shrimp at Caliente
Lime & garlic lobster at El Fagon
Audrey’s lion fish

Weekend adventures
Mexico Rocks
Lera ziplined

Church and the Baboon Sanctuary
Where howler monkeys are protected
Not a baboon in the place

My little ones loved the picture
Of mommy and baby howler
After they wrote their sentences
About the howler monkey.

The Mr. Bob hat:

Will I find mine when I pack? NO - Darn it!
I would have enjoyed wearing it
But it’s not spent five minutes on my head

Audrey’s favorite - the water taxi
Will Wendy T. get to snorkel? YES!
And on a beautiful day, too

Palm trees
Belize breeze

Soaring birds
Little yellow warblers
Pelicans sitting on posts

Amazing sky
Gorgeous sea
Sailboats passing
Or anchored, at night,
Like ghosts on the water

Connections and relationships
Treasured friends
Let’s do this again next year!

Let us pray.

Holy God, we thank you for this time away from our normal. We ask that you remind us that our normal isn’t everyone’s.

Be with baby Catalina and her mother Rachel. Be with the people of San Mateo and the people of Holy Cross Anglican School. Keep us connected in an ever-growing relationship. Keep us connected to our fellow team members, too.

Help us as a team to grow in our abilities to help and show us ways to draw others into this vital ministry. Thank you, God, for the joys we share and the burdens we help to bear, just a little.

Take us safely home tomorrow and bring us back next year with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

Bless the food we will eat soon and us to the loving service. In the name of the One who is Love Incarnate, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.

We'll use Nancy's reflection to close the blog for our 2018 trip. We'll see you in 2019!

NOTE: If you've been reading the blog daily, you should go back to this year's first post on January 25 and read through it again. We have made quite a few updates to previous posts as we've located more photos on different team members' phones.

Thursday 8Feb18

On Thursday, Jim's "office" moved from the cafeteria to the library. The routine was basically the same.

But one of the patients was considerably smaller.

Helping in one of the classrooms, Nancy W. ran into a lesson on the world's oceans. The kids obviously know about the Caribbean basin and by extension the Atlantic Ocean because they see it every day. But the other oceans - especially the Arctic and Southern - are not nearly as familiar to them.

The team had many opportunities to witness ordinary school life at Holy Cross. Here's a photo from Wendy T. showing the girls' sweeping team in the cafeteria.

Wednesday 7Feb18

While Jim saw patients at Holy Cross all of week 2, Wednesday and Thursday are the days when we got the best pictures. On Wednesday, Jim saw patients big and small in the cafeteria.

Jim worked closely all week with the team from Ole Miss, both at the school and in San Mateo. Katie played a key role at the school, getting additional information from the kids as she walked them back from their classrooms to the cafeteria. The trust building and the additional information gave Jim a leg up as he asked the children about their medical problems.

Week 2 wasn't only about Jim's medical work. Wendy T. continued the work in the literacy center that the team had started the week before. We don't see her in this picture because she's behind the camera.

Nancy W. found a friend from week 1 - Audrey's assistant from painting the St. Luke's wall panel last Thursday. The girl's name is Linda. Because she is in the infant division, she gets out earlier in the afternoon than her brother does in the standard division. She took the opportunity to reconnect with our team.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sunday 4Feb18

On Sunday five of the team took the 6:30 water taxi to Belize City for church at St. John's Cathedral. We found a couple of dates associated with the founding of the cathedral - but it is at least 200 years old.

After church, our guide Major Tom took us on a tour of Belize City and out into the countryside. We stopped for lunch next to the "sleeping giant," a mountain formation that looks like - well - a sleeping giant.

Wendy T. had a few minutes before lunch to relax in a hammock right inside the restaurant.

After lunch and some further touring through the countryside, we visited the Community Baboon Sanctuary in Bermudian Landing. There were no baboons there - it's a misnomer dating to the original English settlers in Belize, who used the term to refer to the native Belizean howler monkeys. Our guide Robert led us down a narrow path to a point where we met the local troop of howler monkeys. Because we had bananas to feed them, they came face to face with us as they hung from the trees using their prehensile tails.

Everyone's favorite was the mother howler monkey carrying her baby with her on her back.

After the tour and a water taxi ride ... 

... we had dinner with the Super Bowl and a final stop at DandE's for those of us leaving on Tuesday, then back to Ruby's to get ready for the start of week 2 on Monday morning.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Saturday 3Feb18

Saturday was Wendy T.'s first morning on Ambergris Caye, and she captured a fabulous Caribbean sunrise from the upper deck at Ruby's.

While the adventurous half of the team was off to the mainland again, this time touring the Mayan ruins at Lamanai, the rest of us stayed behind for a second meeting with Arianie and Isolene. Here are Bob and Arianie on the deck at Ruby's.

Friday 2Feb

New to Holy Cross this year is the rodent control department. We saw two cats at the school - this one is apparently a stray who took up residence where there's a plentiful supply of food. Whether they're killing them or simply convincing them to move on, the cats have apparently greatly helped with the rat problem at the school.

Friday was the last day at Holy Cross for four of our week 1 team members: Don, Jeannine, Nancy F., and Jan. The highlight of the day was a pizza party we threw for the two Standard V classes. The party was so hectic that we may not have gotten any photos of it.

Friday evening we moved on to our second birthday celebration in two days, observing Jeannine's Saturday birthday a day early. That afternoon we were joined by the first of our team 2 arrivals, Wendy T. So our team briefly grew to 10 for that one evening, before week 1 people began departing on Saturday morning. We didn't know beforehand, but the restaurant we chose for Jeannine's celebration featured a birthday hat and an enthusiastic rendition of Happy Birthday by the entire restaurant.

The other highlight of the meal was Audrey's lionfish. She met the fish (on ice) personally before the meal, then sent it back to the kitchen to be prepared. Here are before and after photos of Audrey's fish.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thursday 1February

We began Thursday with our annual update to the St. Luke's wall panel. Audrey had an eager helper as she painted new names and touched up some existing ones.

She also touched up the heading for the In Memoriam section before adding the name of our friend Camille Marlowe to the list of past team members.

Here's the St. Luke's part of our week 1 team in front of the newly updated panel.

Don and Jeannine were recruited for our team by Holy Cross board members Richard and Cindy Shaffer. Here are the four of them in front of our St. Luke's panel. One of the projects for the week 2 will be to add panels for the other churches that have sent members to Belize with our team.

Bob and Wendy C. returned to Standard VI on Thursday for some more work on percents and fractions, but they recruited some additional help. Two young women from Maryland are taking a gap year between high school and college, and they are spending part of that year volunteering at Holy Cross. Their actual assignment is helping with an after school football [soccer] program for the older kids. But when they stopped by Standard VI for a "stay in school and work hard" talk, we signed them up to help with the math lesson. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

While Bob and Wendy C, worked on math, Audrey volunteered in the literacy center. The work is one-on-one and highly systematic.

Thursday is chapel day at Holy Cross, which means three consecutive sessions for the "itty bitties," the younger kids, and the older kids. Chapel starts with a reading ...

... and some prayers ...

... but the high point was Don's retelling of the Jonah story. After opening with a song about being swallowed by a boa constrictor, Don used a cucumber as a stand-in for Jonah's storm-tossed boat.

After hearing Jonah's message, the people of Ninevah repented and wore sack cloth.

Needless to say, the kids loved Don's version of the story.

Also on Thursday, the preschool had a career day where the kids dressed up in costumes for their chosen careers. 

A highlight of career day was this little girl, whose chosen career was to be a Holy Cross teacher.

After school, we moved on to celebrating Audrey's 25th birthday at Palapa Bar. From the bar, we could see a kite surfer and a parasailer - our team chose not to partake in either activity.

Other nautical stuff was visible from the bar as well.

Inside, Wendy C. introduced the bar to an American innovation: flights of liquor samples - in this case, rum. Unfortunately, the bartender forgot to identify which rum was which in the 12-slot tray. So even if we liked one, there was no way to order a full serving of it. The waiter did identify the one rum that was significantly stronger than the others. Nevertheless, several of us choked on it when we tried as small a sample as we could manage.

Here's our waiter Marcel at Audrey's celebration - he was fabulous.

We got a cake for the celebration from Ruby's bakery. It was far more than we could eat (although we tried!), so we left the remainder for the staff at Palapa.