July 25, 2011- Strength of Youth Training

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It may be only July, but training for Belize's first ever Strength of Youth conference is in full swing. SOY is called EFY (Especially for Youth) in the United States. It is a conference tthat has been highly successful in  helping youth find the strength to stand up to the negative influences that are in our world today. 

Recently four SOY-seasoned young people came in from Guatemala to teach our organizing committee and some of the future counselors about how to have a successful SOY. Their names were Berly, Erik, Elizabeth, and Kerben.  They all have previously been involved in SOY in Guatemala, so they know what they are talking about. Our meetings went Saturday through Sunday. 

We spent Saturday in Belmopan (1 hour west of Belize City) learning about some of the activities the youth will be involved in. 

As you can see, this was a-hands-on training.

Elizabeth gave us tips.

They demonstrated many of them for us.

Berly (right) demonstrates line dancing

 and how to play a lively game of tag.

Presenting a creative and entertaining dance routine

Human knot activity

Getting ready for "Poison Tag"

It was a successful and interesting training.

Belize City Chapel got some new framed art for the walls this week. 

Some things we assume all LDS chapels have and take them too much for granted. 

We made a recent trip to the Corozal Branch (2 hours north of Belize City), where we did an apartment check for Corozal missionaries, Elders Campos and Winters.  Great looking apartment, Elders!

 The next day in sacrament meeting, we both spoke.  Elder Pattee also did lots of temple recommend interviews.
Only a small percentage of ancient Indian ruins have been uncovered in Belize.  We noticed this hill-like mound on the way to Corozal.  It is likely a ruin of some kind, but as yet, remains undisturbed.

On the way home, we saw this large herd of water buffalo.

7-19-2011 - A Chance to See More of Belize

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Elder and Sister Sandberg had mission business in Dangriga on Sunday, so they invited us to go with them. We met in Belmopan Saturday morning and left one of our vehicles at the Belmopan Chapel. 

This is the chapel Elder Pattee dedicated about 2 months ago.

We enjoyed the beautiful drive south and east along Hummingbird Highway. Lots of hills and greenery everywhere. We arrived in Dangriga about noon. 

Elder Sandberg arranged for us all to stay at Pelican Beach Resort Saturday night, which is right on the beach at Dangriga. Here we were able to change into casual clothes.

The Caribbean is just yards away.  

 Elder Sandberg had also hired a boat and driver to take us out to South Water Caye as soon as we arrived at the resort.   
It took only about 20 minutes to get there. As we arrived at South Water Caye, we were happy to see how beautiful and clear the water was.

Unlike young elders and sisters, senior missionaries are actually allowed to go swimming and snorkling.  But first, we had  lunch.

The water was beautiful. You can see Belize's famous barrier reef nearby in the background of this photo.  South Water Caye is located right on the reef itself. The reef is second in size only to Australia's barrier reef.  Divers from all over the world love it. 

On our way back over to the Pelican Bay Resort, our captain found some men diving for lobsters.

This lobster was added to the rest of their catch.

Next he also took us to see Frigate Isle.  It is a tiny island populated only by birds. There were large "Man-O-War" (frigate birds) with a wingspans of 6 feet. There were also birds called brown boobies.  Some of them had white heads. The frigate birds can only surface dive, so they depend on the boobies to provide most of their food. Apparently the Man-O-War, or frigate birds, grab the boobies and shake them around enough to get them to regurgitate their catches of fish. (Boobies can dive very deep.)

Later, back at the Pelican Bay Resort, we saw hundreds of these blue crabs.  They are huge--about the size of 2 fists, and they are very blue in color. People like to make soup out of them. 

On Sunday we attended church  in this rented building that Dangriga uses as its chapel. 

About 25 members were there.

Juan was more than willing to pose for us.

We took this cute family home from church.

They live here--not within easy walking distance of the church.

On our drive further south to Punta Gorda, we saw banana groves. We are not sure of the purpose of the blue bags.

These bananas are for shipping and were picked quite green.

We then drove to Punta Gorda which is located very south and along the Caribbean. We stayed just long enough to drive through the town. Then drove back up to Placencia.

We stayed in cottages on the beach at Placentia Sunday night. Elder and Sister Pattee stayed in "Trigger Fish Cottage". The Sandbergs stayed in "Tiger Fish Cottage" next door. 

Each cottage has a front porch and hammock

And an amazing view from the front door. Placentia is known for its beautiful sandy beaches.

Monday was our preparation day, so we took our time driving home. We saw many thatched-roof houses. Thatch is made from palm fronds and lasts for years.

We arrived home in time to get the laundry done and prepare for the next day. We enjoyed the opportunity of seeing parts of Belize we had not visited. It was also enjoyable to spend some time with Elder and Sister Sandberg. Time to get back to normal missionary life. 

7-12-11 Living in Book of Mormon Lands-- A Visit to Caracol

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

President Cordon gave the Cayo District missionaries permission to take an excursion to Caracol. It's good to learn some of the history of the area of their service.

We drove the van to the San Ignacio Chapel on Wednesday morning to pick up the missionaries. San Ignacio is about 2 hours inland and south from Belize City. This was our first trip to Caracol. 
San Ignacio Chapel

Our Group

How many missionaries does it take to change a tire?

The Sandbergs and Brother Kib, a member from San Ignacio, also drove cars. Twenty of us traveled together.  Unfortunately, Brother Kib started having problems with his rear wheel soon after we started out. The missionaries soon had it fixed, or so we thought. 

We are having the rainy season at this time in Belize. And there are days when it seems to rain cats and dogs.  Buckets full of water seem to come down all at once. This made the dirt roads even rougher. Many places were flooded, and most of the road was badly washboarded. 

Most of the bridges had no guardrails.

We all had to stop about halfway and check in at the security base manned by military personnel. 

After 50 miles of very rough dirt road, we were happy to arrive at the Carcol archeological site. We took lots of photos. This is the largest ancient Mayan settlement in Belize. The site also has the highest temple ruin, which also happens to be the tallest manmade sturcture in Belize. 
After the sisters changed into casual clothes, we were off to explore!

This is the first temple ruin we found at Caracol. 

A smaller ruin

This is the largest and tallest temple ruin found in Belize.  It is called the Cana Temple and is much taller than it appears in this photo, as there is more at the top and back that can't be seen from this angle.  The missionaries standing at the top look pretty small, only because the temple is huge.

Elder Pattee and Elder Vasquez

Sister Pattee walking amid Caracol ruins

Another temple

The arena--surrounded by ruins

Stopping part way up

Elder Pattee explores a passageway--or is it a crypt?


Large stella stone

Reservoir made and used by the Mayans

Archeological huts used by those on "the dig" 

The stones were placed under a roofed structure by the archeological team to protect them from the weather. 
The rain stopped during the time we were exploring, but on our way back it started to rain again. Halfway down the dirt road, the wheel on Brother Kib's car almost came off. We were forced to leave the car at the sign-in station. He felt  it should be safe with all that military security.   

Then we all crowded into the 2 remaining vehicles.  The zone leaders decided to ride in the back of the truck.
We enjoyed the day.  It was an unusual break from missionary work.  We enjoyed visiting this area, which is very likely a Book of Mormon site.