Time to Move?

Midwest to New England – June, 1991

For some time now I have felt stuck in a rut, and I have been asking the Lord if He would have me move to a new location. I have lived in the Midwest since I was two years old. One wonderful thing about being a nurse is that I can get a job anywhere in the world. I attended a weekend Bible conference last fall in upstate New York which was excellent. I had the privilege of taking the Bible teacher and his wife to the airport after the conference, and I was able to ask their counsel. They suggested I move after they heard that I was the only single lady in a small Bible church with only a handful of people remaining.

I investigated being a missionary in eastern Europe in helping teach women and children the Bible, but the Lord did not give me peace about it nor did He put the pieces together.

By faith, I put my house up for sale in January. People told me this was not a good time to sell a house, because it was the middle of winter, the time of the Gulf War, and during a recession. But I know that if God wanted me to move, He would sell my house. If not, I would stay in the Midwest. I didn’t want to rent out my house and be a long distance land lady. Nor could I afford to pay for a mortgage and rent at the same time.

I have met several people in New England who have invited me to visit the church they attend, so I decided to take a survey trip in February. I visited New England once on a family vacation and found the region to be beautiful with mountains and ocean, and filled with sites of American history. They also have more snow so hopefully I can go cross country skiing more often. I visited three churches, and was so richly blessed at the second church. They had a choir that sang a beautiful hymn about the Lord’s coming that moved me to tears. It has been so long since I have heard a choir sing. They had a guest speaker in addition to the pastor who had 2 messages Sunday morning and 2 messages Sunday evening all about the rapture! (I Thess. 4:13-18) I felt very well fed spiritually at the end of the day. The people warmly welcomed me.

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. I Thessalonians 4:17

The assistant pastor’s wife kindly drove me around the city so I could look at various neighborhoods where I could possibly live. The cost of living is so much higher here than in the Midwest that I probably will never be able to buy a house again on a nurse’s income.

I interviewed with the head nurse of the dialysis unit at the local hospital, and she seemed excited to meet me. They also just bought new Cobe dialysis machines just like the ones I use in the Midwest unit, so she was thrilled that I would not need much orientation. She offered me a job at the end of the interview! I told her I needed to sell my house in the Midwest first, and I would pray about it. I was also offered dialysis jobs in the other two cities I visited. But I did not feel at home in the churches in those cities.

I returned home and amazingly received a full price offer for my house 40 days after I listed it! This was confirmation from the Lord that He was opening the door for me to move. We set a closing date for the end of April and they asked if I could rent back from them for one month since they had to complete their rental lease. I agreed to this since June 1 would be a nice time of year to move to New England. I gave my notice at the dialysis unit for the end of May. My head nurse and evening staff were sad to see me leave, but understood that I felt the need to move.

I called various moving companies and chose the one with the best price per pound of goods. I will need about a quarter of a cross country moving van. It’s shocking how much stuff I have accumulated in the eight years since I built this house. The goodbyes are so hard to all my family, friends, and coworkers. Many of them think I am crazy to be leaving everything familiar behind. My financial planner is very concerned and said I will never be able to retire at age 57 as we had planned.

Goodbye to my coworkers in dialysis was tough.

Goodbye to my coworkers in dialysis was tough.

 

My dog Sandy and I bid farewell to the house I built 8 years ago.

My dog Sandy and I bid farewell to the house I built 8 years ago.

Three weeks before the move, the phone rang. It was the Director of Nursing from the hospital which promised me a dialysis job. “Pam, I’m sorry but we had to close one of our units and we had to place all the nurses in empty positions in the hospital. One of the nurses chose the dialysis position so we can no longer offer you a job.” I thanked her for calling and hung up. My heart sank as I thought about moving across the country without any friends or a job. I have already paid the deposit to rent a one bedroom condo for a year and have sold my house here, so there is no other direction to go but forward.

Dear Father, Thank You for closing the door to this job and that You have something better. You have promised to provide for me, so I’m trusting You to give me a job when I get to New England. Thank You that You go before me and prepare the way. Thank You for the peace that passes understanding. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus….But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7, 19

To be continued….

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You Better Belize It! Part 3

Dangriga to Big Creek, Belize – February, 1990

Sunday

We began our second week of this short term medical mission trip by walking from our hotel to the Baptist Church where Pastor R lead the services. We were warmly welcomed by the small congregation and were blessed by their hearty spontaneous hymn singing. Pastor R had a wonderful message from John 6 on Jesus Christ, the bread of life. Then said Jesus unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst… All that the Father giveth me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. John 6:35, 37 How wonderful to know Jesus Christ for all eternity, the only One who can satisfy my deepest longing!

9 Dangriga Baptist Church

Dangriga Baptist Church where we worshiped.

 

After lunch, we packed our bags and met at the public bus station to travel to Big Creek in the southern part of Belize, our headquarters for the second week. The public bus was definitely faster and smoother than the old school bus! The mission director placed six of us women in a very nice home where I am sleeping on two mattresses on the floor. I walked in the bathroom and the mirror fell off the wall and whacked my head hard, almost knocking me out. It was kind of eerie, almost demonic. At dinner in a small restaurant, it was good to be reunited with the other half of our team who went to San Pedro for the weekend.

30 Week 2 at Big Creek

Red dirt roads in Big Creek, Belize

Monday – Trio Bladden Banana Farm

A lady translator from Switzerland has joined us since we will be seeing mainly Spanish migrant workers who work on the banana farm. Most of the bananas turned black because the air temperature recently went below 65 degrees F and ruined this crop. It takes 10 weeks to grow another crop. We are thankful for the rain which has cooled things off, but it turns the red dirt into red mud. It reminds me of the red clay dirt in Georgia, USA.

We saw large Mayan and Honduran families today. Dr. Don saw 10 people in one family- family practice at its best!

33 Trio Bladden banana farm Spanish

Clinic site on the banana farm

36 Clinic Dog sleeps under Dons feet

Village dog sleeps under Dr Don’s feet while he works!

37 Don w dead iguana full of eggs

Dr Don holds dead iguana full of eggs – a real delicacy!

38 Pam w village boy

Pam with a village boy.

I felt sad for one man who went blind from glaucoma. Unfortunately, Dr Don became ill after the clinic and had to skip dinner. The rest of the team had dinner at a little restaurant which is feeding our team all week. I was so thankful there was no loud “boom box” rock music like the night before. There is a bar next door where we ironically hold our Bible devotional time in the morning. Dr Joel surprised us all by wearing a dress shirt and tie to dinner. Quite the comedian! All the doctors have been lots of fun to work with this week. I appreciate their sense of humor mixed with godly humility.

Tuesday – Big Creek

I was sick all night from the shrimp I had for dinner last night, so I had to stay here today. Judy brought me boiling water for hot tea and my instant oatmeal. I am so thankful for the peace and quiet and time to be alone with the Lord and read my Bible. Since I live alone, I feel like I’m on sensory overload here with all the noise and being surrounded by people all the time.

Half way through the day, the toilet turned into a geyser, but I was rather proud of myself for fixing it with a coat hanger. Then I walked over to the store and bought a Coke. I was feeling better by dinner time, so joined the group as they ate dinner and I drank my instant “Cup of Soup”. They said the Spanish village where they worked was much like the day before. Then we went to a lady’s home and watched a few travel videos about Belize. The Belize City zoo looks interesting with all the rescued jungle animals.

Wednesday – Big Creek

This was our final and busiest clinic day with 240 patients! It reminded me of our clinics in Honduras except that I could speak in English as I checked the patient’s blood pressure. It was wonderful to hand them the last of my gospel tracts and gospels of John that I brought with me.

Dr Joel, who is a dermatologist in USA, removed a large mole from a lady’s nose, and excised a cyst off a man’s finger, so that was interesting to watch. We saw a baby with a congenital heart defect we are sending to Miami, Florida for open heart surgery. A man with a staggering gait said he had seen a neurologist in the USA who diagnosed him with degenerative cerebellar disease for which there is no treatment. I helped Dr. Don irrigate our last patient’s ears to remove excessive wax.

Some of the team are flying to the Mayan Tikal ruins in Guatemala tomorrow for $185, but I decided that was not in my budget.

Thursday – Big Creek to Belmopan

Some of us decided to go snorkeling in Palencia and then fly to the capitol city of Belmopan for $35, but it rained again and the surf was too rough. The Tikal group couldn’t fly out either because of the weather, so we all took one last bus ride together to the beautiful YWAM (Youth With a Mission) camp. We took a ferry ride in an old row boat to cross the river and hike up 100 steps to the top of the hill. The camp has lush green tropical foliage with brilliant flowers, very nice outhouses (yeah- no more broken toilets!) and loads of mosquitoes. Poor Judy is covered with bites.

49 Crossing river to YWAM camp

Our ferry boat ride across the river to camp.

Friday – Belmopan

I bid goodbye this morning to Dr Pete and Judy and Dr Don as they flew together to see the Tikal ruins. How I hate goodbyes, but I am glad we will see each other again in heaven.

Five of us who remained decided to take the public bus together to see the Belize national zoo. All the animals are rescued from the jungle and in simple wire cages. The toucan is the national bird. Other animals we saw were parrots, spider monkey, howler monkey, tapir (mountain cow), jaguar, cougar, and snakes. Then we hiked back to the highway and waited in the hot sun for over an hour for the bus to come. I ran out of water and prayed I wouldn’t faint from the heat.

50  Belize zoo Toucan

Toucan at Belize zoo – the national bird.

We were so glad to see the bus which dropped us off at a hotel in town where some of the team were enjoying the pool. The five of us quickly entered the hotel’s AIR CONDITIONED restaurant and ordered hamburgers and limeade for lunch. I think we drank about 5 huge pitchers of limeade which was totally refreshing! I have never appreciated air conditioning so much after being in the tropical heat and humidity for nearly two weeks.

Back at the camp, we all showered and put on our best clothes for our farewell “love feast” the camp staff prepared for us. They decorated the dining hall with palm leaves, flowers, and put place cards with our names at our designated seats like a wedding. After our spaghetti dinner, we sang hymns together led by a guitarist. Then we put on a talent show and laughed until we cried. Dr. Joel juggled, Dr Stew pretended he was “Dr Bump”, Donna and Donna sang their rendition of “Chicago” (their home town), others did a magic show, each team sang a song they wrote about the trip, and Jeanne ended with a beautiful solo of “The Sound of Music”. It was a great way to end the trip.

55 Farewell dinner n talent show

We sing our song at the farewell love feast.

44 Goodbye Belize

Reflection

So ended my second short term medical mission trip. I have decided that God didn’t give me a rugged stomach or body to be very effective in developing tropical countries. Thankfully, I had a week to recover my strength at my parents’ home in Florida before returning to my full time job in dialysis.

I enjoyed attending Dr Pete and Judy’s beautiful wedding on May 11, 1990. They have continued to lead dozens of short term mission trips all over the world. Now that I am nearing retirement myself, I have new admiration for the retired people who volunteered in Belize in 1990! I pray God used the tracts and gospels of John I gave to the patients,  that they received Him as their personal Savior, and so I will meet them in heaven!

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not there, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11.

You Better Belize It! – Part 2

Dangriga, Belize – February 1990

On my nice quiet walk along the beach to breakfast this morning, I saw a man cutting grass by hand with a machete, and skinny dogs and horses wandering around loose.

Man cutting grass with a machete by the beach

Man cutting grass with a machete by the beach

After a delicious breakfast with the team, we boarded the old school bus and bumped along for 90 minutes past fragrant orange groves until we arrived in Georgetown. The medical team set up clinic in a cement block church building, and the dentists worked down the road from us. We saw people of African descent in the morning, and Mayan Indians in the afternoon. It was another slow relaxed day without too many patients. I learned much by watching Dr. Don and Dr. Joel examine the patients.

Pam holds beautiful Mayan baby girl.

Pam holds beautiful Mayan baby girl.

Dental clinic under the trees!

Dental clinic under the trees!

I stood on the bus on the way back so the bumps didn’t make my back hurt so much. We stopped for an ice cream break at an enthusiastic Texas missionary lady’s home who begged for a nurse to come work with her.

Dinner under the tent by lantern light was great with fresh fried jewel fish, mashed potatoes, noodles, fresh squeezed orange juice, hot tea, and a warm lemon meringue pie all made by the Pastor’s wife from their local produce. She is a fabulous cook! Judy and I felt uneasy when we became lost walking back in the dark to our hotel.  Loud reggae rock music blares everywhere. There were six men drinking alcohol lining the narrow second floor balcony leering at us that we had to walk past to get to our room. We quickly locked our room door and thanked the Lord for keeping us safe. Judy told me how she was beat to a pulp in her home by a robber about 20 years ago. I told her how I was mugged in 1978 in my home. Then we read our Bible together, prayed together, and went to sleep.

When I am afraid, I will trust in Thee…In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Psalm 53:3, 11

Wednesday – Santa Rosa

Today we held clinic in a one room thatched roof schoolhouse in the beautiful Mayan village of Santa Rosa. The Mayan people are so beautiful and friendly. The ice cold Coke was refreshing on this hot humid day which feels like it’s close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

We set up clinic in the thatch roofed schoolhouse.

We set up clinic in the thatch roofed schoolhouse.

Instructions in the school on how to build a VIP (Very Important Processes) odorless latrine

Instructions in the school on how to build a VIP (Very Important Processes) odorless latrine

School rules: 1. Get to school on time. 2. Strictly no chewing in class. 3. Sharpen pencils into dirtbox. 4. No indecent language in class and around schoolyard. Be neat and clean to class.

School rules: 1. Get to school on time. 2. Strictly no chewing in class. 3. Sharpen pencils into dirtbox. 4. No indecent language in class and around schoolyard. Be neat and clean to class.

We finished early so we walked through the rain forest where I saw a pig pen and numerous chickens roaming freely. I met another pen pal named Teresa for my Bible Clubbers back home. She proudly showed me the bracelet she made with the letters “The Bible” woven into it which I bought from her. She appears to know Christ as her Savior as do many of the people with whom I have shared the gospel, but they don’t seem to have had too much Bible teaching.

Teresa proudly displays her Bible bracelet she wove.

Teresa proudly displays her Bible bracelet she wove.

Our day ended with a fabulous dinner in Dangriga of freshly caught lobster tail with lemon meringue pie. Pastor R is also a lobster fisherman. I can only imagine how much work it took him to catch and clean all those lobsters for us. What a labor of love… At this rate, I don’t think I’ll lose any weight this trip!

Thursday – Hopkins Village

Both teams went to the beautiful large village of Hopkins right on the Caribbean Sea. The people are of African descent (former slaves) who speak Gariffina. Dr Joel wasn’t feeling well, so Dr Don and I worked alone today. After the clinic was finished, we all walked down to Hawaii beach and went wading in the bath water like sea.

Hopkins Village by the Caribbean Sea

Hopkins Village by the Caribbean Sea

After we returned to town, four of us ladies walked to Dangriga Hospital and a nice nurse gave us a tour. It is one story with 30 beds. Only one patient had an intravenous infusing. The maternity ward was interesting with a crib at the end of each mother’s bed and a midwife in attendance to the one patient in labor. There was one small operating room with limited surgical equipment.

Friday – Gale’s Point

After breakfast and a good devotional about the love of Christ by one of the doctors, we rode on the bus to Gale’s Point, right on the beach. We passed a new bridge the US Army and British army were building together. There is no running water in this village, so it is challenging to keep clean.

But God commendeth His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

At lunch, we met Pastor Gabriel, whose  face reflected the love of Christ! He shared his testimony with us of how he was born in Burma, but contracted smallpox at age 2. His parents left him outside the city wall to die, but missionaries found him, nursed him back to health, and raised him. At the age of 6, he received Christ as his personal Savior. He started medical school, but never finished. He has pastored churches all over the world, is 66 years old, and single. He told how he gave up his sweetheart, family, country, and career for Christ. He had a unique collection of scorpions he has collected and mounted over the years. I was fascinated by his large map of the world on his wall with colored pins where churches are located for which he prays faithfully.

Pastor Gabriel with his scorpion collection

Pastor Gabriel with his scorpion collection

After lunch, I became weak from the heat and had to lie down in the local nurse’s office, so she kindly took over checking blood pressures for me. Dr Joel brought me juice to drink and a basin of cool water so I could sponge down my face and arms. I think I’m getting dehydrated from the heat.

After dinner, Judy and I went to bed early, dreaming of sleeping in on Saturday, our one day to relax. But it was not to be. The hotel reggae band started playing under our bedroom at 10 p.m. and went full blast until 4 a.m. It was so loud that my bed vibrated. Even my pillow wrapped tightly around my bed didn’t block out the blast. I was so relieved when they finally quit.

Dangriga – Saturday

We were going to take a boat ride to one of the islands, but it’s raining and the water is too rough. I walked alone through town and shopped for a few souvenirs on my way to Inn on the beach. Dr Pete took the bus down from Belmopan to visit the team for the weekend. Judy was thrilled to see him as they look forward to their May 11 wedding!

Judy and I were relaxing on the quiet beach when two men came up to us and asked if we wanted to “get high”. We quickly replied “No”, picked up our towels, and walked back to the Inn. We thanked God for His protection once again. We were rather shocked at the boldness of the men.

29 Pretty beach

Beautiful beach where men boldly tried to sell us drugs.

This evening, 15 team members who remained in town for the weekend, dressed up and went to dinner at the Inn. We had fun chatting while we enjoyed a fabulous fresh seafood dinner. The evening concluded with the town people demonstrating their traditional folk dances from Africa in full costumes.

Reflection

So ended my first week of medical missions in Belize. It was a much slower pace and much hotter than Honduras which was my only other mission trip for comparison. It was definitely easier to work in English without a translator. Next post I will conclude with memories of our second week in Big Creek, the southern part of the country.

 

 

 

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