Dangriga to Big Creek, Belize – February 1990
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 KJV). How wonderful to know Jesus Christ for all eternity, the only One who can satisfy my deepest longing.
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 into 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.
Monday – Trio Bladden Banana Farm
A lady translator from Switzerland 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 ten people in one family- family practice at its best.
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 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.
Halfway 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 the USA, removed a large mole from a lady’s nose and removed a cyst from 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 saw a neurologist in the USA who diagnosed him with a 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 capital 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 rowboat 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.
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.
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 five 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 hometown), 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.
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 have retired myself, I have a 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 (KJV).