We had a Happy Birthday to Joseph last week. Amy and Madeline enjoyed making his cake and he REALLY enjoyed eating it! Some of our friends even brought him a present which was totally unnecessary, unexpected but touching nonetheless.
Last week was busy as I was “down south” traveling to Dangriga, Independence and to Punta Gorda. I have now been to each district in Belize. During this trip south, I was able to spend quite a bit of time in traditional Maya Villages. It was a true blessing to speak with some of these pastors and people and understand what their lives are like. Highlights of the trip south include
- Belize is beautiful – Southern Belize consists of Maya Mountains, rainforest, and beach. It was awesome
- Mayan Hospitality – I was able to learn about sustainable farming (seeing coffee beans drying, chocolate preparation, corn ground into masa, etc.). I spent time in traditional Maya thatched roof houses and drank some Mayan tea. I am currently trying to convince Amy to move to a Maya Village…not happening any time soon.
- Understanding challenges – as I wrote last time, I am working on a nerd report of the Belizean needs. I was able to understand from our Southern pastors what the true needs are…In Dangriga there is a HUGE problem with witchcraft, sorcery, voodoo. Independence needs help with the young people. Maya Villages need micro-loans to start up small businesses to pay for high school tuition.
- Conch fritters – Pastor in Independence made us conch fritters. THEY WERE AMAZING!!!
Brief Life of Maya People
Mayan people are located in Western and Southern Belize primarily, although there are some located in the North. They are either Mopan or Ketchi, two different groups, with two different languages and no understanding of the other one. They live off of the land, collecting palms and timber to make their houses, sleep in hammocks (including the babies) and grow everything they eat. With living off of the land, when catastrophe like hurricanes, bad crops, etc happen, it leaves people scrambling. For example, the last hurricane came through and took out many palms and timber for houses. Mayans that wanted to build had to then travel to purchase the materials instead of cutting the materials themselves. Also, I spoke to a pastor who in a good rice season gets 80 bags of rice. This year was particularly poor; he harvested 8 bags. He looked me square in the eye and said he didn’t know what he was going to do.
Most villages have primary schools (through 8th grade) but no villages have high schools. Many Maya would have to send children to the “city” for high school and with no source of income it is not possible for these teens to further educate. Therefore, people get married early (as young as 12 – 13) and have children as early as 15. Many families are extremely large (think The Duggards). One pastor I met has 9 kids with ages ranging from 26 years old – 6 months!!!
The largest need in these communities (at least in the South) are jobs or small micro-loans so the Maya can start businesses like grinding corn into masa or providing coffee (through picking, cleaning, drying, roasting beans), or seamstress through an old school sewing machine (not electric).
Hospitality is over the top with the Maya. I can’t believe how hospitable they were. Burt and I had a pastor purchase us Cokes and snacks and simply refused to accept no for an answer. I can’t wait to lead teams in some of these Mayan villages in 2013.
Other Week Highlights
- Community – We have a great friendship with Pastor Mark, his wife Shari and their two boys MJ and Shadrach. We went over there last week for dinner and Amy went over on Saturday night for a game night with the ladies of the village (they apparently played Wii Dance and Amy killed it! All the ladies were telling her to shake it!). In fact the reason that I didn’t get the update out last night is that Shari called and said that they didn’t have a chance to make dinner. We had just made a pot of chili so they came over to eat with us! The kids love playing with each other and we all get along so well. Even writing this I am moved to tears on how the Lord provided such community!
- Volunteerism – I went to the Youth Hostel (note: Hostel is a dwelling/school or delinquent teens who are their due to behavioral problems or criminal activity). I was speaking to one of the workers and they were sharing what they really need help with is creating IEPS (individual educational plans) for the teens that are slower in math. I literally laughed out loud and said well next week I will introduce you to my wife and she is the one who can help with that. Amy is beside herself with excitement.
- Preschool – I went with Pastor Mark to the Mennonite preschool in the village and talked to the principal and teacher. They are ready to accept Madeline today, so now Amy and I are getting all of her paperwork in order and plan to enroll her the first of the year. My baby girl is going to preschool!! AHHH!!
- Shopping – Last week Amy found / went to Benny’s (the Lowe’s Home Improvement of Belize). Amy had a great time looking at things and the kids LOVED riding the escalator over and over and over and over….Also, I was down town with Pastor Mark yesterday and found a toy store with Christmas decorations, an office supply store, and a fabric store. I will be taking Amy there this weekend.
- Church Program– Madeline is going to be in a church program this weekend for Thanksgiving! She has had one practice so far and has two more this week. Can’t wait to share pictures and video of that!
- TV / Cable – Pastor Mark and Shari gave us a small tv that they weren’t using anymore. So Monday I went to sign up for cable and yesterday we got cable. Last night I watched Kentucky vs. Duke and right now Madeline is watching Dora! This the first time we have had cable since being married (7 years). Needles to say everyone is happy here!
So it has been a GREAT WEEK!
Praises and Prayer Requests:
- Men in the church – Please continue to pray for a revival among men in the church. Pray that men are rescued from their sin and redeemed. Pray that churches are willing to work together to get men in the church.
- Pastoral Busyness – Many pastors stay busy. Most work bi-vocationally and take jobs on the weekend to make ends meet. This is in addition to the demands of church ministry. They are most definitely called but are squeezed for time, like all of us. Pray for protection over their health (some have suffered stress related illnesses including facial paralysis), and pray for their families. Pray for the pastors to rest. Continue to pray for this!
- Team – We have a team serving at Hattieville Baptist starting on Sunday. Pray for protection over the team and for their lives to be forever changed as part of this trip. Pray for smooth logistics all week.
- Amy – Continue to be lifting up community for Amy. We are really enjoying getting together with Pastor Mark and his family. Community is developing. Continue to pray!
- Amy – We seem to have found where Amy can use here teaching skills. Now it is up to her to make the move. Pray for boldness and confidence. Pray for open doors for Amy. Pray that my schedule is consistent and I can provide her the support to go and do this!
- Joseph – Praise – we had a great birthday with Jojo! Little man is growing up fast! Praise God! Thank you Jesus for Jojo Edmonds! He is such a joy!
- Support Raising–Support raising has been slow. We are going to start actively raising support for the next year shortly. Specifically we are seeking to get more monthly supporters, either on board now, or pledged to be a monthly financial partner next year. We are praying to have 60% of our financial support come from monthly gifts by the end of next month.
- If you are interested in giving please follow this link – https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=ZZVK8FYCJXTS2
- If you cannot support now but want to pledge to be a monthly supporter next year, please email me directly at Joshua.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for taking the time to read. Please write when you can. We love hearing from each and every one of you all!