International Nursing

You Better Belize It! – Part 3

Man cutting grass with a machete by the beach
 Hopkins Village – February 1990

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.

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 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.

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 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 was raining and the water was 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.

29 Pretty beach
A beautiful beach where men boldly tried to sell us drugs.

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.


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