Dangriga, Belize – February 1990
On my quiet walk along the beach on my way to breakfast this morning, I saw a man cutting grass by hand with a machete. Skinny dogs and horses wandered around loose.
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 the 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, another slow relaxed day without too many patients. I learned much by watching Dr. Don and Dr. Joel examine the patients.
I stood on the bus on the way back so the bumps didn’t make my back hurt as 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. Judy and I felt uneasy when we became lost walking back in the dark to our hotel. Loud reggae rock music blared everywhere. Men drinking alcohol lined the narrow second-floor balcony and leered at us as we walked past them on our way to our room. We quickly locked our room door and thanked the Lord for keeping us safe. Judy told me how she was beaten to a pulp in her home by a robber about 20 years ago. I told her how I was mugged in my home. Then we read the Bible and 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 KJV
Wednesday – Santa Rosa
Today we held the clinic in a one-room thatched-roof schoolhouse in the beautiful Mayan village of Santa Rosa. The friendly people gave us ice-cold Cokes to refresh us on the hot humid day which felt like 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
We finished early so we walked through the rainforest 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 much Bible teaching.
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 for him to catch and clean all those lobsters. What a labor of love. At this rate, I don’t think I’ll lose any weight.
Thursday – Hopkins Village
Both teams went to the 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 ended, we all walked down to Hawaii beach and waded in the warm sea.
After we returned to town, four of us ladies walked to Dangriga Hospital for a tour. It is one story with thirty 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 an inspiring devotional about the love of Christ by one of the doctors, we rode on the bus to Gale’s Point located on the beach. We passed a new bridge the U.S. Army and the British army were building together. There is no running water in this village, so it is challenging to keep clean.
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 and contracted smallpox at age two. 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 six, 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. 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.
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 in the restaurant under our bedroom at 10 p.m. and went full blast until 4 a.m., so loud that my bed vibrated. The blasting music persisted even with my pillow wrapped tightly around my head. I was 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 to buy a few souvenirs on my way to the 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 discussed their upcoming May wedding.
As Judy and I relaxed on the quiet beach, two men approached 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.
This evening, fifteen 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.
So ended my first week of medical missions in Belize. It was a much slower pace and much hotter than Honduras, 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.