Yesterday was the last session of the Healthy Church Conference. Because the pastors all needed to preach at their respective churches, they could not return on Sunday. As a consequence, our numbers were dramatically smaller. The upside of that was that we got some great one-on-one time with people, allowing us to get to know people better.
Today was a lot of fun. It’s probably my favorite day yet. We started off the day leisurely and spent some time debriefing about the Healthy Church Conference: what went well, what did not go well, and what should we change. We had great discussion and, all-in-all, I think our team goes away encouraged about what we see happening here. After our debrief, we set out to find where Pastor Geronimo and his wife Othelia live. They are new acquaintances to Mr. Bob, invited to the weekend’s conference by a friend. Through discussions, Bob became curious and wanted to get to know this pastor more. Though Bob had a vague description, he didn’t know exactly where they lived. So as we drive down the rocky jungle road, we prayed that God would help us find their house. We arrived in town and Bob parked the van in the area described by Geronimo. We then split up to ask the neighbors if they could direct us to the right house, and to share Christ along the way. Kevin, Kendra, Lilia and Nate went into the house right behind where we had parked and immediately Kendra spotted a Bible laying on the counter. She inquired with the young lady at the counter about the Bible, who suspiciously answered it belonged to her Father. Sure enough, Othelia heard their voices from where she was working in the back and laughter and joy ensued. We had parked directly in front of their house!!!
Unfortunately, Geronimo was at work and we did not get a chance to visit with him. But we had a wonderful time visiting with Othelia, her expecting daughter, Pamela, and her granddaughter, baby Othelia. It was wonderful to connect with her again after spending the day with her in Saturday.
After our visit, we went back to the Training Center for lunch and to finish our debrief of the Conference. It divided a good opportunity for me to FaceTime with our children, as today is Isabelle’s 5th birthday. I was humbled to find that almost my entire small group, along with other friends, were gathered together for a birthday party for Izzy.🎉 I won’t name names, but I cannot tell you how loved and blessed I feel to know that my baby girl (and her siblings) are being so well cared for. Thank you, ladies and gents, for going above and beyond to make a little girl feel special. Just, wow.❤️
Late in the afternoon we traveled the rocky road to Machaca for a home visit to another pastor, Pastor Santos. Bob has known him a bit longer. Again, we found that Santos was still at work. But his family warmly welcomed us into their homes.
A very fun surprise was that we had seen this family when we were here in October and the children remembered us! We had brought little toys and balloons for the kids, and smiles and lots of hugs ensued. They had been friendly, but guarded in October. But this time they were very free with their affection and enthusiasm to see us.
Both adults and children were proud to show us their homes. They made us a cold chocolate coffee drink. And we talked about life in Belize. As the young men started coming home from work, we got to meet Santos’ sons, Samuel and Rolando. Samuel was eager to show us the church and play music for us. He has never been trained on the keys, but he sounded amazing!
I guess what I really loved was seeing these lovely people in their context. At the Training Center we get to talk with people and hear their stories, but visiting them in their homes allows you to see the challenges and beauties of their lives. You take a mental image of their extended family and neighbors with you. It gives you an appreciation for their daily struggles and the simplicity of their lives.
We ended our time by visiting Camp Machaca where my Belize experience began 15 years ago. This is just about a mile up the road from where the Machaca village lies. It was spending a summer here that prompted us to explore if God would have our church partner in ministry with missionaries here. Little did we know that the missionaries God would lead us to partner with live just across the road from where I lived and served so long ago. God has a great sense of humor and a wonderful plan.
Blessings from Belize,