March 28, 2011 - Missionary Work Continues in Belize

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This past Monday we invited the Ruano family over for home evening.  They are a cute little family newly moved here from Guatemala.  Brad is the facilities manager for the Church in Belize.  They have moved in just two houses away from us.  They both speak fair English, but their little boy, Bradley, only speaks Spanish.  He just started school here, and only English (and Creole) is spoken at school.  He will probably be speaking pretty good English by the end of the semester.  At least that is the way it usually seems to work for young childen in this situation. 
L. to R.: Natalie, Bradley, and Brad Ruano

Elder Pattee takes the zone leaders out for driving lessons from time to time.  There is only one of the zone leaders that is designated to drive the mission van.  Elder Choc is a good driver, but will be going home in about 4 weeks, so Elder Lunt has had to learn how to drive a standard shift.  The first time out, Elder Pattee only gave him a 4 (on a scale of 1-10).  The next time he got an 8, which was remarkable.  By the time Elder Choc goes home the end of April, Elder Lund should be doing nicely and will be able to be the designated driver.  We have fine missionaries laboring here. 

Zone Leaders - Elders Choc and Lunt
We also visited Kim Vernon and her little son, Kimar at her home.   She has 5 children and has been a member about 3 years.  She had hoped her husband would join.  He showed interest at first, but doesn't seem to want anything to do with the Church these days.  Kim has been to the temple and longs for an eternal family.
Many people here feel that to be a Mormon requires too many rules and too many restrictions in their life styles.  If they only realized that it is through following the Lord's commandments that we gain greater freedom and greater blessings. 

Our mission president, President Lopez, gave us a projector a couple of months ago.  One day this week, Sister Pattee spent quite some time trying to figure out how to use it, as she was in charge of setting up for the showing of the DVD "Emma Smith" for the Belize City Branch relief society birthday celebration. 

"Hope this is the right cable."

We have never had to use our projector before, and weren't even sure if all the connections were there. 
The activity was to take place in the cultural hall, and we needed to run the DVD off our laptop.  We even purchased some small speakers.  Fortunately our chapel does have a video screen we could hang on the wall.  With the help of the elders, who were in the building getting ready for 2 baptisms, everything went off without a hitch.  In the process Sister Pattee learned how to do something new, which is always good for a sixty something.

We had a very nice birthday celebration and enjoyed learning more about our relief society's very first president--Emma Smith.

This delicious cake was made by a member, Sister Munoz.
We had about 40 women attend the birthday celebration, which is a good group for a relief society activity in Belize City Branch.  We are working to get more participation.   

We also attended a funeral a few days ago.  It was in our chapel  for a woman that was 34 years old.  She was baptized a member some years ago, but has not been attending church.  She was the niece of our Belize District young women's president.  It was sad to see how distraught some of people attending were.  Especially the mother and a brother who were literally wailing for their daughter and sister.  When the service was over, the mother had fainted and was lying on the floor.  At times like this, members of the Church can be forever grateful for the comfort the gospel can bring.

The coconut palm tree grows everywhere here.  The Belizeans like to use the coconuts when they are green as you see on this tree.  They cut them open and drink the juice and eat the soft white meat.   Our landlady, Sheila, brought us some fresh coconut milk and the soft meat.  It was very "interesting".  An aquired  taste is probably needed.  We have seen workers slice off the tops of the green coconuts with their machetes and drink the juice just like water.  It is very healthy, we are told.  The juice is also used in making rice and beans--the national food. 

We both really like this little tree.  It is just outside the gate to our house.  We call it a "cactus tree".  We enjoy seeing the many trees, plants, and flowers that grow here.  So different from home.  All for this week.

March 21 - Monkeying Around

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Our missionary work included quite a bit of monkeying around this week, as we visited the baboon sanctuary in a place called Burrell Boom.  Church auditors came to Belize City to train leaders in Belize District in proper auditing methods.  In addition they wanted to see some local sights, as this was their first trip to Belize.  "Do you want to see monkeys or crocodiles?" we asked.  The answer was, "Monkeys!"

After the training session, we took a photo.  On the front row left to right are seated Sister and Elder Wallace, originally from Idaho Falls, and serving in Guatemala City.  Also, Brother Arbizu, front row, far right, from San Salvador also came to train.  Those on the back row came to learn.  Elder and Sister Pattee attended to give support.

Looking for monkeys.

It took about an hour to drive to the sanctuary.  We wandered around the jungle for awhile and began to wonder if we would really see any monkeys.  Our guide finally discovered where they were.

Here our guide, Garrett, is showing us a jungle plant called "hot lips". 

Garrett had to call the monkeys out.  He did this by making monkey sounds.  Howler monkeys can make an amazingly huge noise.  They sound like lions roaring and can be heard 3 miles away.   

The monkeys finally came out of hiding.

Here is the alpha male of the troup (family).  Each troup has to have about 25 acres of forest for foraging.  Howler monkeys eat leaves, berries, and nuts.

We saw 2 cute little babies clinging to their mothers. 

The howler monkeys have a prehensil tail that they use to swing from tree to tree.  They can use it kind of like we use our thumbs.

Even though we were close enough to touch the monkeys, if we had dared, it was difficult to get good pictures, because they were always on the move in and out of the foliage. 

We enjoyed seeing the howler monkeys, which are not baboons at all.  But they are called baboons by the locals. 

Also this week we worked on EFY (Especially for Youth).  However, here in Central America, it is going to be called SYC (Special Youth Conferences).  This will be the first one ever in Belize, and there is lots to be done. 
We had a combined video conference with 7 other countries:  El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Hondoras, Costa Rica, and Belize.  Ten different sites joined the conference.  (3 of the countries each had 2 different sites joining the conference.)  I took a picture of it, but it didn't turn out very well, even though the  video conference was very sharp and clear for those in attendance.

There are 4 sites represented at the top.  Two in the middle, and 4 more at the bottom.  Belize is at the very bottom, right-hand corner.  Modern technology is amazing. We are finding that there are very strict guidelines for organizing this event. 

The goals of SYC are to help youth gain stronger testimonies of Christ and His Church, to teach them to be leaders, and inspire them to want to go to the temple.  The counselors and leaders of SYC also benefit in these areas. 

We continue to work with our perpetual education participants.

March 14, 2011 - Missionary Work Continues in Belize

Thursday, March 17, 2011

We took another trip to Orange Walk to visit the branch.  Elder Pattee spoke in sacrament meeting about the importance of attending our Church meetings, and Sister Pattee taught the young women about preparing to do missionary work.

  Some of the Orange Walk Branch young women

The Orange Walk Branch is really struggling right now.  Many members have become less-active.  A wonderful couple moved out of the branch 18 months ago and moved to Belmopan.  I think Brother and Sister Gomez must have been the glue that was holding the branch together.  The upside is that they are really helping the activity rate in the Belmopan Branch now, which is in the Cayo District.  

We were told that this is a Madrecacoa tree.

We like the almost 2 hour drive to Orange Walk, because we see new things each time.  We especially enjoy the beauty of the trees and flowers along the way.  This week we saw lots of these beautiful trees with pink blossoms. 

We have been trying to teach the importance of family home evenings.  Each week, or as often as we can, we invite a different family to come to our home.  Last week the Jaimie Chi family came.  (I forgot to take a picture.)

The Norbertos are a happy family with a good spirit about them. 

This week we enjoyed having the Noberto Family.  They have 9 childen.  Sister Norberto is not a member, yet.  She has taken missionary lessons more than once over the years.  The missionaries are working with her once again, and she has been coming to church.  We hope this time she will prompted by the spirit to get baptized.
They enjoyed playing the "mousetrap game". 

We also attended 3 seminary classes this week. 

In Belize City Branch, Angel sang "How Great Thou Art" as a solo for the class's devotional.  He has a very nice voice.

President Angel (not related to Angel, pictured above) of the Cinderella Branch (Our Spanish speaking branch) had us go with him to 4 different homes to encourage better seminary attendance.  His branch is going to begin having their seminary classes at 5:30 in the morning.  He is hoping attendance will improve.  We were able to visit and personally invite 6 young people to come.  

We went with Elder Choc and Elder Lunt to a beautiful home where Sister Patnett lives with her daughter (about 8 miles out of Belize City.)  Sister Patnett invited a neighbor, Sharilyn, to meet with the missionaries.   Sharilyn has come to church once or twice.  The elders taught Sharilyn about the great apostacy.  Everything seemed to make sense to her, and she promised to read from the Book of Mormon.  We were both able to bear our testimonies of the things the elders taught. 

We think we might have discovered a fruit similar to the one Eve offered Adam in the Garden of Eden.  It is called a Mammee apple.  It's grown right here in Belize, and it's delicious. 

We also did a workshop this past week for 2 potential PEF loan participants, Rosa and Tashira.  Rosa is 33, so over the cutoff age of 30.  But sometimes exceptions are made.  We will see what happens. 

The weather here continues to be pleasant, and we are enjoying it while we can.  Have a great week!

March 7, 2011 President Falabella Trains Belize Missionaries

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On Monday evening we and Sandbergs were picked up in the mission van by President and Sister Lopez.  They had with them President and Sister Falabella from Guatemala City.  President Falabella is in the first quorum of the seventy and is also a counselor to President Clarke, Central America area president. We all went out to dinner at Old Belize. 

President and Sister Falabella are in the middle.  You can see boats in the background, as Old Belize is by the sea. 
We also looked at a couple of old cars and other Belizian artifacts at found at Old Belize.  Dinner was delicious.   We enjoyed visiting and talking about mission business.  The only downside was the sandflies.  We all went away with a few bites.   I guess the sandflies had a delicious dinner, too. 

Tuesday morning all of us were at the church by 7 am for the training meeting.  We had to start early, as our guests had to catch a noon flight for San Salvador.  President Falabella did most of the training.  He encouraged the missionaries to use their agency by being obedient to mission rules.  "We gain freedom by being obedient.  Satan gains power over us when we are not obedient and we lose freedom.  Satan is still working his same plan.  He wants to have power over us". 

All of the Belize missionaries with the Falabellas and the Lopezes

After the meeting Elder Pattee and I drove our guests to the airport.  President Falabella told us to ask him whatever questions we wished.  Elder Pattee had some good ones.  He asked him why our districts in Belize were having 4 district conferences a year, as this was a financial drain on the branches trying to pay for the travel expenses incurred.  After discussing the issue Elder Falabella said, "Well, I guess you just got yourself 2 district conferences a year instead of 4."   

We drove back to the church and had lunch with all our missionaries--Chinese takeout.  Then we took this group to the bus station.  We have some of the finest missionaries in the world here.  It is privilege to serve with them.    
Elder Pattee and I ran into a critter that looked just like this (a turantula) scrurrying down his hole while were out taking a walk the other day.  Now I know what those holes are, I think I will stay away from them. 

We are back  to swimming again.  We hope to do this 2 or 3 times a week.  The Biltmore Hotel gave us a free pass for the rest of 2011 because we have many "associates"  that stay there.

We also accomplished much with PEF this week.  Getting loan approval for two young people, Kesheifa and Christian.  We visited Kesheifa's home to get her signature and enjoyed visiting with her family.  President Gordon gave us mangos from his tree when we left.  We visited Christian at his business for his signature and were also able to solve a problem for another loan participant, Norma Young, from Orange Walk. 

While the 4 elders that work here in Belize City were out for the day, their house was broken into and several items stolen.  They came home to find the door kicked in.  The landlord got the door fixed and has ordered a metal overdoor for protection.  

 Missionaries' home.  In Belize City all windows and doors have to have added security.

Thursday evening we visited Roshane Forbes at her home.  We finally got to meet her husband.  They have 3 young children.  Roshane promised she would come to church on Sunday.  (When I can finally find out what I did with her photo, I'll post it here.)

Friday evening Elders Choc and Lunt brought two brothers to our house to see the DVD "The Restoration".
Eli, 20, said the video made him feel like crying, and Iter, 11, asked, "Where can I get a copy of The Book of Mormon?"
Good thing the elders just happened to have a copy.

Sunday morning Roshane came to church and stayed for all 3 meetings.  During fast and testimony meeting she even went up to the pulpit and bore a sweet testimony.  At the end she encouraged everyone to visit a less-active and bring them to church.  "Soon everyone will be here,"  she said.