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The Belize Diary                                                                   by Brenda Fenderson

On one of the main streets of Belize City, we found the local Post Office. >>







Belize City is an older town that is trying to attract tourism from cruise ships, with limited funds to maintain and upgrade the quality of existing buildings, as well as improve safety for tourists.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Keith and I left for Belize a day before the rest of the group. This gave us a day in Belize City to explore the local sites. We flew TACA airlines into Belize City, changing planes in San Salvador. While waiting at the restroom, I noticed a girl's sweatshirt had Monterey Bay Academy on it. Having graduated from there, I approached the girl to ask if she really was from MBA. She said she was with a group of students that were heading to Peru to work on a battered women's shelter. A faculty sponsor came into the hall who looked familiar. She said that she, Danella, and our daughter, Stacie, had sung together at their graduation in 1996. Small world!!
     As to the need for the shelter they were building, while walking thru shops later that day, we heard a radio ad dramatizing the need for women to identify abusive family situations and prevent their own death by notifying authorities of domestic violence. Apparently this is a significant problem in this culture.

We arrived in Belize City around 10:30 AM, taking a taxi to our hotel so we could drop off our luggage. Having left San Francisco at 1:35 AM, our night's sleep left us uncertain how much sightseeing we would feel like doing.
     In the seatback pocket of our taxi, and old Mercury Marquee, were 4 'Priorities' magazines. I don't know why I pulled the magazines out of the pocket, but in leafing through them, I noticed one discussed the 7th day Sabbath. Thinking that maybe he was an Adventist, I asked the driver if he knew who published the magazines. He didn't know, but said that one of the other taxi drivers was a Seventh-day Adventist and he had given him the magazines to read. When he had time between taxi runs, our taxi driver was reading the magazines. The 'Priorities' magazine is very nice quality, to-the-point publication, communicating the Adventist message.
     There is an Adventist church and school in the village where he lives, the taxi driver said. It started in a small old steel building--which was all that was available. A church group from the US came down and built a school, resulting in significant growth of the Adventist church. The group came back and built another school building and now, the Adventist church, in his village, is very large. This is our goal and dream for the Mayan village of Punta Gorda where we will be building it's first Adventist school building.
    While most of what we saw in Belize City were blacks, the taxi driver said that Mayans (who we are here to build a school for) are making rapid inroads into the government in Belize, with some running for offices. He said that Mayans are very smart people.

Our day in Belize City was not what we expected. As a town where cruise ships bring tourists, we anticipated a larger, more modern city. But Belize City is old and in need of repair. The pictures make it look better than it is. The section of town pictured below (left) is not recommended for tourists, especially at night. 'Too much crime, the locals say.

This part of town is just over the bridge from the tourist part of town which is set apart by signs and security police. (Below) The tourist area is getting some newer buildings to enhance the tourist trade coming their way from cruise ships.

The bridge goes over an oulet where jungle rivers drain into the Carribean Sea. With English the primary language of Belize, I was able to learn that fishing is an important part of the economy of Belize City.


 


Below is the marina into which shuttle boats carrying tourists from cruise ships dock to let their passengers shop in marina shops for about 2 hours. Our taxi driver said that tourism is not, as yet, a major part of the economy, but it is growing.

Mission trips have an interesting effect on me. Having to frequently deal with US building departments, I often question the necessity of some of their standards and codes. When I see how builders in lesser developed countries build their buildings and infrastructure, I appreciate our local building departments a whole lot more.

I tried to take this picture later from another angle, as this picture doesn't fully reveal what a mess of wiring this was. But it was getting too dark and the other picture didn't turn out.

Belize City is not known for it's beautiful white sandy beaches. I heard a tourist nearby, who had wanted to see Belize City's beaches, mentioning that the particles of sand were actually quite large.
We ended our day in Belize with a delicious dinner in a beautiful setting overlooking the Carribean Sea. Knowing that this was likely the last meal that included fresh fruits and vegetables that we would get for at least a week, we thoroughly enjoyed the quality service and food as we dined on the deck of this fine restaurant.

Tomorrow morning, we will meet up with the very sleepy group coming from Grass Valley who spent the night flying from San Francisco. Keith and I, along with about 15 others, have chosen to forego the pleasure of a 5 hour bus ride through Belize, and take the 45 minute flight to Punta Gorda. This will enable us to make sure everything is in order for the larger group to arrive and get a much needed good night's sleep.
My goal is to post daily stories and pictures of our mission adventure so all at home will be encouraged to pray for God's blessing and read the stories of the great things God is doing through the 63 willing people who have come from Grass Valley to serve God and 'expand His kingdom.' Whether time and internet availability will allow this remains to be seen. If God is willing, it can happen.