Friday, May 31 – Nick
SOME THINGS WE DID:
Today we had the blessing of attending Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School. It was a beautiful way to start the day and an opportunity to meet some of the students. Fr. Zach gave an incredible homily about the love of God and spreading the message of his resurrection. After a tour of the school we went to our final day of building at the family's house. The workday was extended to finish up as much as we could and included a joyful lunch at the jobsite. When the rain eventually shut us down we had the chance to visit with longtime family friends of Fr. Mark’s. As the night was winding down, we were blessed to have Fr. Tony come talk to us about the need for love and evangelization.
As with every other day, today was overflowing with God’s grace. If I was to take one thing away from the day, it was that God is love and we as Catholic’s need to spread that love so all can feel God’s grace. Fr. Zach spoke of God’s love and related it to a parent’s love for a newborn baby. “The baby has done nothing, and yet it is loved.” We never need to earn God’s love and it is unconditional. He challenged us with asking if we could truly accept that and then turned focus to the resurrection. “Jesus has risen and no one is talking about it!” As Father ran through the aisles yelling, “Jesus has risen!” the call to spread this message with passion grew abundantly in my heart. Heading to the job sight filled with love we were able to truly witness the effects of our work as Messi called his family over to look at the progress made and as they all smiled at/admired their future home. Lunch on the job sight was a lot of fun and allowed us some light-hearted time on the sight. One of our missionaries compared it the scene from Shawshank Redemption when the men look over their work and have a beer. While our drink of choice was coke, this was a great chance to look at the work we had done and feel accomplished. Meeting the Robinson family was wonderful, as the welcoming nature of people here in Belize has continued to amaze me. The night concluded with Fr. Tony’s talk about his work as a missionary. It was inspiring to here his dedication to bringing other people to the faith and I loved the focus on helping all people get to heaven. Father told us to evangelize by loving others and to never give up as anyone can be saved as long as they repent to our Lord. There is room for all of us in heaven and at this point in the trip, it feels like we have all had a slight glimpse into what awaits us in God’s glory. All is simple. All is good. God is Great!
Saturday, June 1 – Jeff & Carlena
SOME THINGS WE DID:
We began the fantastic day with 7:30AM adoration and mass with a gorgeous shining Benque morning shining down on us. Following breakfast, we picked up our large contingent of missionaries and friends and headed on down to Mr. Rene Mai’s house to float down the river. Rene gave us a tour of his beautiful home as well as his chicken farm he raises on his property where his chicken coops were filled with adorable little chicks. After meeting his family, we headed to the water and floated down the river. It was relaxing and thrilling to slide down the rapids, jump and do backflips off of rope swings, and halfway through, we stopped at a riverside bar where we drank Coca Colas, played pool, and listened to jukebox tunes. After getting out of the river, Rene’s family provided an amazing backyard BBQ with classic Belizean pork. Afterwards, a group of us headed over to spend time and bring our donations to a local family. It was a beautiful time having fruitful conversations and sharing fresh coconut from their tree! They were so sweet and grateful for our presence in Belize and our presents as well. Finally, we all met at our friend, Emil’s home where we had a delicious dinner, sang songs, and danced the night away.
We definitely had a packed day, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. It was really great to have a “day off” just spending time with each other and the community. I (Carlena) think floating down the river was a great reflection on our overall time in Benque – I felt such at peace being surrounded not only by God’s creation but God’s tangible work in the people we’ve served through the strong relationships we’ve built with them in a short amount of time. In addition, their endless generosity and kindness is astounding; we came here to serve them and they have served us both physically (Have we mentioned how good the food is here? Jeff) and spiritually. I cannot begin to describe how blessed I feel. Today was an amazing day and we are sad to be leaving Benque and the amazing people here tomorrow, but we are grateful for the memories that we will always hold in our hearts.
Sunday, June 2 – Deidra
SOME THINGS WE DID:
We begin the day with an hour of Adoration, where God’s message for the day was made clear to me. We said our goodbyes to the SOLT community in Benque after morning Mass and left for Belize City. We made a stop at the Belize Zoo en route to the city. It consisted entirely of rescued wildlife that would not have made it on their own in the wild due to various circumstances. We also had the chance while there to greet the SOLT seminarians and Brother Joseph who were en route to Benque for a formation trip. We departed once more for Belize City and arrived at the SOLT mission at Divine Mercy Parish in Belize City. We met up with Jenny Robinson, a sister of Fr. John, who had just moved to Belize City to manage the Catholic radio station in the city. She recommended eating at a downtown park for dinner. We ate tacos, papusas, and burritos at a food stand in the park, and then headed back to the parish mission. We discussed the day ahead, shared our highs and lows, and made our way to our sleeping quarters. The ladies got a rooftop apartment while the gentlemen would be staying in the rectory.
Don’t squander the gift. My message for the day was an assertive but beautiful one from Our Lord. So many gifts here in Belize that God offered today, on mission: one on one time, thanks to the travel day, with individuals from the mission group. Time to get to know each other, on a personal level, but, also, to discuss systems of thought, experiences from travels undergone, and, as a foundation for it all, our lives of faith –seeking. A common thread, bringing us together beyond the shared experience of the last several days. A chance to wonder at creation was another opportunity put in our path. The literally ‘wild’ variety of tropical plants and animals present at the zoo, striking reminders of the beauty, love, and abundance of creative genius that God has spilled upon our common home.