I get it wrong all the time!
I get it wrong in parenting, when I discipline in manner that I shouldn’t.
I get it wrong in my marriage when during a discussion I seek to get the last word instead of being humble and just listening.
I get it wrong in my friendships when I don’t reach out as often I should or disciple someone as frequently as I should.
I get it wrong in my walk with the Lord as my mind and spirit are mostly willing but my body lacks the discipline to have a consistent quiet time.
In short, I get it wrong a lot! As a perfectionists I HATE getting it wrong. It bothers me. It eats at me. I get FRUSTRATED. But one thing I try to NEVER get wrong is my work. Even when I was in pharmaceuticals, in an experiment with solving a problem, in writing a report, I tried to NEVER get ANYTHING wrong. Mostly it was successful.
I applied that same logic and drive to working with PPM. When I got to Belize I attacked getting information. I devoured needs expressed through the leaders of the local churches and worked to translate those needs into actionable steps and ministries our teams could execute while on the ground in Belize.
Overwhelmingly, the local church leaders and other ministry partners said “food” was the number one need in their community. Many families (families that I know personally) literally live on bread and sugar water. What could Praying Pelican do to meet that need? The answer I thought was food distribution. For only a small financial investment from our teams, we could meet that need. So we did some research and for as little as 500 USD, we could package up food staples (rice, beans, sugar, flour, shortening, oil, cereal, milk, coffee, toilet paper, soap) for approximately 20 families for about a week. BAZINGA! Problem solved (in my mind at least).
So we started plugging that as a ministry option and our teams, our staff, the communities, and the ministry leaders LOVED IT. I was blown away and still am blown away about the life-change that has literally occurred because of these food staples. Literally people have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus, they have stopped lives of sin, kicked drug habits, and stopped selling themselves. Victory through food staples. Glory be to God!
So the past June, I was serving in Armenia Belize, a small mayan community nestled in the Maya Mountains just as they begin to shoot up as you leave Belmopan. I love Armenia. It is probably my second favorite place in Belize. So we are serving there and the team starts to deliver groceries and the stories and tears start to flow. Story after story of intense gratitude. We see the families return back to the church to thank those on the team who did not go to deliver the food. We hear every team member significantly impacted, tears rolling down their faces saying I will never forget this or that.
That night during our staff meeting, I was happy. I told our staff that it was a success. Food distribution was awesome! And it was then and still is now!
The next day I go with the team to do a small repair to a woman’s house (pictured above). As the team worked on the house, I got to speak with the family. They were an elderly couple. The husbands eyes had gone bad and he was no longer able to work. They used to have a farm on their land beside the house but the government had rezoned the area residential and took their farm land. The government gave them more farm land but it was a 15 minute bicycle ride outside of the village up some very challenging mountain roads. They had no family to help them and the villagers around them didn’t know the situation. Pride prevented them from sharing. She shared how their biggest need was food. They had none. I sat mostly quiet. Trying to work my spanish and creole in the conversation to show them I was trying. It turns out they only new Mopan Maya and English. I got their language wrong!!
Anyway, I went inside the house during a break in conversation to help the construction crew and I saw the box of groceries our team delivered the day before! I was ecstatic. Another problem solved!
I went back to our conversation and asked what they had to eat in the morning for breakfast thinking she was going to tell me tortillas, beans, fry-jacks, coffee. She said she boiled 1 plantain and they shared it. I was confused. I asked again and she mentioned the same thing. I didn’t dare ask her a third time because I was embarrassed. I asked about the groceries we brought and she mentioned that they had never used flour before. Everything was done with corn. We had provided a resource, a solution to the problem but they didn’t know how to use it. Her husband had only used corn. She said she could eat off of a barrel of corn for 1 month. At 60 BZD/barrel, we could have provided a lot MORE food for this family that what we did with our basket of groceries. I was devastated.
That afternoon, I spoke to one of our Belizean staff, who happens to oversee the most strategic social programs ministry in Belize out of her church, and I shared my thoughts. I got it wrong, I told her.
She was gracious and laughed quietly and said “Josh you got it mostly right. We are helping and that is good. The real question is how can we help more or help better.”
We talked for a while and I shared with her the needs for family gardens, chicken coops, ministry that can happen all the time to meet the REAL hunger problem when our teams aren’t there. She said that’s why we do what we do at our church Josh. She then explained the vision and the process behind family gardens and chickens. About how proceeds from the BBQ sales of the grown chickens go into purchasing more chickens for that family and then another. She shared about how members of her church bring in first fruits from their gardens (like in the Bible..DUH!) and instead of feeding the Levites, they use it to feed those in need in her communities. The answer!
She and I then sat down and talked with the ministry partner in Armenia, Pastor Jesus. Paula, our staff, shared about her ministry and the opportunities that could exist in Armenia should he desire to partner. Pastor teared up a little and said that he had been wondering the same thing. He mentioned that his children’s ministry worker wants to raise chickens but doesn’t have the facility. He said his church has 25 acres that they can use to plant food for the community, they just need some help with workers.
So we left that meeting with some ideas and opportunities. But it doesn’t end there. We had someone on the team desire to see these opportunities realized and donated the money necessary to build a chicken coop. A few weeks later, Rudy, Pastor Jesus’ children’s ministry worker, got a chicken coop, 50 chicks, and feed for about 4 months to get him started on raising his chickens! What a blessing! In fact this chicken coop ministry was also executed in Libertad, northern Belize this summer as well!
On the gardening front: Amy and Paula are working together to source the appropriate seeds, drawing up plans, and writing plant care for several different types of vegetables. God is moving! Hunger will NOT be a problem in Belize! We will work with our ministry partners, get them the right tools to be able to erradicate this unnecessary need!
I got it wrong but Praise God for putting people like Paula and Pastor Jesus, my wife, and teams that catch vision in my path who get it right!
Together we are changing this country!