Sunday, April 13, 2014

Belize: Part 1

I have no idea how many 'parts' there will be to this series but my guess is that you might get sick of hearing about the trip, but I am mainly writing this for my own memory. I doubt I can remember all the details but I can remember feeling the presence of God more than I ever have in my entire life. What an amazing experience Praying Pelicans gave us and I highly recommend at some point in your life that you go on a mission trip. I hope this is the first of many for Jason and I, and even someday our kids.

The first question many people ask is how did you guys decide on a mission trip? And then, how did you choose Praying Pelicans? I always wanted to go on a mission trip and it burned in me badly during college but I just never got the chance. I received brochures and pamphlets from Praying Pelicans since before I was married. It was ironic that I happened to receive another piece of mail from them just at the same time our church Kentwood Community dedicated a Sunday service to talk mainly about missions. I tell people that that's when I was pushed over the edge that I was teetering on.

Jason and I were going and not going on the mission trip about 15 times before we actually booked it. He was supposed to do some training right at that time for the army and eventually, we pushed that back so we could take the opportunity. This happened to be a medical trip to Belize and we were intrigued by both!

We landed in Belize City Friday afternoon. We met up with a bunch of seniors (spring break for them) from Dexter Church on the East side of Michigan, along with their Pastor Tom and some chaperones. There was also a nurse Nicole and her 81 turning 82 year old Grandma. Little did I know that this group was the most welcoming and amazing group of people that we could have been blessed to serve with.
We drove about 2 hours West to San Ignacio which is just a few short miles away from the border of Guatemala. We spent the week staying at Camp Nazarene. Here is a picture of the girls sleeping quarters.
We slept on bunk beds with what was accurately described as a thin foam mattress.
The first 3-4 days was hotter than hot. Temps in the high 80s with high humidity. You'd think we'd appreciate that since we still had snow on the ground at home with temps in the 20s.
We took cold showers and this may gross you out but here's a pic of the showers.

Do you appreciate your shower at home anymore!? I sure do!
Saturday morning we were awoken by a rooster that I think belonged in the rooster psych ward. He wouldn't stop with the cocka-doodle-dooing from 5am until well past noon. I secretly wanted to hunt him down since ear plugs didn't even help me. Needless to say, I was up early every morning and Nicole just happened to be as well. So, thankfully I had a early riser to go on walks with. Here is the view from outside the sleeping quarters.
We ate eggs, biscuits and bananas and headed out to meet the Pastor (The Salazar Family) we would be working with from the small area called Shawville. We took our bus everywhere which we quickly learned was such a blessing to the church when missionaries were there because when they are not, they have to pick up the children in their personal truck in multiple trips to bring them to church for worship. Just one detail that shows you this family is beyond dedicated.
 Here's Nicole and her amazing Grandma Bonnie.
We hiked up a good sized hill to see the land that the local Pastor had designated for a future building and where they brought a big trailor that housed sewing classes. Here's also a good view of Shawville.
 Here is Pastora Eugenia. There are many words to describe her but for the sake of space, we'll say she is one passionate, amazing, selfless, and giving individual. Her love for God and living a life for Him just pours out of her.
 
She told us all about a very recent miracle where she was given the keys to a building that was not in use. It was truly a God thing. To have been given a building for her church just before we came, there is nothing to describe the amazing gift. This is that very building which is just below that hill we hiked up.

Pastura fed us many times throughout our trip. You wouldn't believe the amount of food she made in her small kitchen. She is one amazing cook! For some reason I was very scared for what we would be eating. I knew there would be a lot of rice and beans but I had no clue we'd be eating so well!!
An example meal from Pastura. Jason had me to take a picture to show my mom since she loves 'pretty' meals.
We then went off to play sports with all the kids in the surrounding area. We met them for the first time and immediately they opened up and were incredibly loving. From then on when we got off the bus, we would be rushed with hugs! Excuse the wind!
 The kids were up for anything. Even friendly races!
 But there was no doubt that they would be better at soccer and sure enough, they were pros at a young age!
I am trying to cut back on posting everything, so here's one more favorite with the little ones!
Oh and here's Pastor Mark. He works with Praying Pelicans, lives in Belize and also has his own church there as well.
I know, this post is already long but I am not even through this first day yet!! Bare with me.
We took a break from sports and worshipped with all the children. Two of these guys are Pastora's children. Every one of her children shine the light of God as they continue to work with the community with all of their many talents.
Many people from our group shared their testimonies to the people and we continued to worship.

Jason and I were able to run into town with Pastor Mark to buy some vitamins with our donated money. We had no clue what our first medical clinic would be like, but we anticipated the needs of children being vitamins. We ran into a slight problem. The pharmacies didn't carry many children's vitamins and they were expensive. We got about 500 chewable vitamins and had to divide them into 50 packages of ten. Doesn't sound like much but it was something.

We walked through the local market to get to as many as 4-5 small pharmacies looking for vitamins.
After getting vitamins we said good bye to the kids for now and went back to camp exhausted. We still had to split our supplies into 3 since we had known about 3 which turned into 4 medical clinics at the surrounding areas. This is just one of three tables we had filled with donated supplies!
 We had so much stuff and yet we continued to learn after each clinic that our needs were beyond what we had brought. But this was also a learning experience and this trip was meant to figure those needs out ahead of time for the medical team coming down in November.
We crashed that night after an amazing sunset!
So I only made it through our arrival and one day. We have 6 more days to our trip but we were very busy so I don't think there will be 6 parts to this series but, you never know! Hang in there, I have so much to tell!!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Butterfly Birthday Party

Ava's 2nd Birthday Party started with the idea of butterflies. After scouring pinterest and Kara's Party Ideas, it was a must! Love this theme! We could use a hint of spring and this party was filled with such nice bright colors. Once I found these balloons, we could use that as our color inspiration and get started!

Inkberry over at Etsy made this custom photo invitation. I love using Etsy to find custom invitations.

These bags were made for Ava's classmates at school. They were filled with stickers, balloons, butterfly gummies, travel play packs, foam butterflies, and more!!

A special birthday girl cupcake!
Cupcakes made once again by Cupcake Tree Bake Shop. Always a fabulous job!


 Never enough photos of these cupcakes!!
Cookies made by Judy at Sweet Tree's Cottage Bakery
 Love having the cookies on sticks for display purposes but also love them in bags so they make easy favors for people to take home.
Napkins from Party City


Love the matching presents! Stamps on brown paper, easy and beautiful!

The beginning of lots of pictures of the butterfly garland. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

 Entry way
Just a couple more butterflies here and there.....

 Stuck on a few butterflies to paper lanterns


Cones with stamped butterflies as favors. Inside was a clear bag filled with large butterfly gummies

Butterfly sequin masks from Oriental Trading


A few pictures displayed from her tea party photo shoot where I took the picture for her invite
It was a beautiful party! Can't believe I have a 9 month break before another birthday! Who are we kidding!? I'll be itching to plan another one!!