September 21 - Independence Day for Belize - And Our Children Visit

Friday, September 23, 2011

30 years ago on September 21, 1981 Belize obtained its independence from Great Britain. 

There has been lots of flags flying and much celebrating!

And parades

 And fireworks!

The Belize City Branch traditionally puts on a special flag raising program the evening before Independence Day.  Brother Joel Munoz speared headed  the event and put in much time and effort.  It turned out well with about 70 people attending.  The national prayer was given, and the national song was sung.  Explanations about the history of the different people that make up Belize were given.  It was very informative, and we enjoyed it very much.  Afterwards refreshments were served. 

George Cadle Price was the very first Prime Minister of Belize.  He spent his whole life trying to improve life in Belize.  He died a few days before the Independence Day celebration this year at the age of 92.  He was much admired and well loved by all.  Flags were flown at half mast. 

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Also, last week we had three funerals in Belize City Branch. I mentioned about Sister Gillett in our last blog post.  Then a grandmother of Desiree passed away, and finally the husband of Sister Jones. Elder Pattee was asked to preside and speak at all three funerals, but was able to only attend two of them--Sister Gillett's and Sister William's. 

We have enjoyed the past few days very much. On Friday (a week ago) our second son, David, and his wife, Kris, came for a visit. It was so good to see them.  They were standing out on the sidewalk at the airport when we drove up. Their flight came in a few minutes early, and they got through customs quickly.  Hope they didn't think we had forgotten them.   

David, Kris, and Elder Pattee (Dad)

We also stopped at the produce market on the way back from the airport and bought several fruits we had not eaten before. We got some plums that looked like little green apples, a big red fruit that looked like an artichoke and a star fruit. We also got papaya, and watermelon. We are glad our children got to experience some of the delicious fruits that grow in Belize. 

 On Saturday we wanted to see some Mayan ruins, so we drove about 2 hours to Cayo. We had hoped to see Xuanantunich, but because of all the rain earlier in the week, the river was high and muddy.  The ferry was closed, so we could not cross the Mopan River. We ended up going to Cahal Pech, instead, which was near by and on the same side of the river as we were. 

We enjoyed walking through old archways and exploring the courtyards and passageways. 

"Do you think we can climb to the top?"

"We made it!"

 The largest pyramid is better seen in this shot.

Of course by this time we were hungry, so stopped at the San Igancio Inn for a nice lunch. 

On Sunday we attended chuch at Belize City Branch. The young adults presented the sacrament meeting talks and music. They did very well. I think the branch members were very proud of them. 

We enjoyed their talks about service and the music they sang. This is not the actual photo of that day, because, of course, I wouldn't take a photo during sacrament meeting.  But this one is similar, taken on a different day (after a meeting). The young adult sisters also participated in the meeting.

We took several people home after church. Baby Malik fell asleep in Kris's arms. She had just the right touch.

Brother Smith and also Adalee joined us for dinner on Sunday. We hadn't seen either of them much lately, as Brother Smith has been in the United States, and Adalee moved. We just found out where she lives.  Elder Pattee baptized her this past December.  It was good to visit with them.

We visited the home of the Paul Woods Family Sunday evening. What a nice family!

We also visited the home and family of our branch president, President Gordon. Sister Gordon (furtherest left on the sofa) is a very good cook and told us about different kinds of Belizian food, including "fish tea", which is made with fish heads and cocoa.

President Gordon showed us a breadfruit. His wife will make something delicious with it.  

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Then David and Kris left to spend a few days in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.  

They traveled out to San Pedro on a water taxi.

  The weather was sunny and fine.  Just right for relaxing and working on a suntan. They enjoyed going out snorkeling and swimming with the sharks. They flew back on Maya Island Air. We picked them up at the little municipal airport when they flew in on Thursday. 

We had a nice lunch at the Riverside Tavern (missionary approved) and went back to our house to visit awhile. Then, sadly, we had to take them to the airport so they could catch their flight homeward. We enjoyed their visit very much.

This week we concentrated on getting SOY applications finalized and turned in. We are also trying to encourage several PEF students to get current in their loan payments. 

A week ago on Wednesday, during the night, Elder Pattee had a scary bout of illness.  He had a sharp pain in his lower abdomen that wouldn't go away. In the morning we called for the elders to come and give him a blessing, which Elders Holbrook and Robenalas did.  Soon the pain disappeared. We went to the Belize Medical Associates, just to be sure it wasn't appendicitis. After a few tests and no further pain, Elder Pattee was able to drive to the airport to pick up David and Kris. As regarding heath issues, we feel we have been greatly blessed while serving as missionaries. 

September 14, 2011 - Elder Amado Visits

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

We had a special treat last week when Elder Amado of the Seventy came to Belize City with President Cordon.  It has been 22 years since he was here last. He was pleased to see that the Church had grown during that time. He told us that if we come back in 22 years we, too, will be surprised to see the many changes. He predicted there will be wards and at least one stake. 

Elder Pattee and I had the honor of  fixing dinner for our guests. Sister Sandberg helped with some of the last-minute things. We had the American standby of roast beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy. We also had a nice green salad. We seldom eat beef here, so everything tasted delicious to us. 

This was the Pattees first time to meet Elder Amado.  He is a very humble and a pleasure to visit with.  After dinner he regaled us with stories about the General Authorities. It helped us understand even more what top notch people they are. They are truly witnesses for Christ. 

Our visitors came especially to meet with the missionaries. Early the next morning we had a multi-zone conference. President Cordon gave most of the time to Elder Amado. 

A few of our fine missionaries

Elder Amado said that his heroes are the missionaries, and he is very grateful to be able to work with them.  He told us the most important thing in missionary work is to seek and acquire the Spirit. Obedience is a key factor. We can't expect to teach by the Spirit what we haven't learned by the Spirit. 

Jesus Christ volunteered his agency to God to save the world. He told us that our agency increases after joining the Church, because we choose to follow God.

When Elder Amado had finished speaking, he gave the missionaries an opportunity to ask him questions.  Elder Amado and President Cordon always seemed able to turn each question into a valuable teaching moment.  

Getting ready for the conference photo

We only have 30 missionaries here in Belize. This includes us and the Sandbergs.  The other 150 missionaries in our mission serve in San Salvador, where our headquarters are.  

A dear sister in our branch, Sister Gillett, passed away. 

It is a tradition here to gather and make wreaths for the funeral. Sunday evening we made 3 wreaths for her funeral held the next day. 

Wire was first formed into circles and then wrapped with green crepe paper. Then 4 different kinds of flowers were made out of colorful crepe paper and wired to the bases. 

It took Sister Pattee a long time to make her first funeral wreath flower. The other sisters made roses, carnations, and tulips, quickly and beautifully.   

Even Elder Pattee helped out by crimping some of the crepe paper strips to help form some of the flower edges. The next day he also was a speaker at Sister Gillett's service offering words of comfort. Most of those attending were not members of the Church.

Sisters provided food for the family to enjoy after returning from the cemetery. Sister Pattee made her very first batch of rice and beans, which is the national food of Belize.  Thank goodness it turned out.

A couple of other sisters also cooked rice and beans. More sisters fried chicken, and one sister made a huge potato salad.  The Belizean dish of rice and beans is almost always served with potato salad--occasionally with cold slaw.

Rice and beans--the national food of Belize

It is made by soaking, then cooking the beans. Then rice is added to the beans along with along with coconut milk and cooked together until done. Sometimes (but not often) people get tired of rice and beans.  Then they have beans and rice, instead.

September is the month Belize celebrates its Independence from Britain.  It has been 30 years.   Parades and rallies are in abundance. Also, lots of clean-up has been going on around Belize City. Beautiful flags are flying everywhere. 

September 1, 2011 - San Pedro, Plus, a Fence of Many Colors

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Elders Avila and Perez brought Alfredo, an investigator, over to our home for the Restoration Lesson. They showed him the movie on our DVD player.  About half way through, our DVD player decided to quit. Even though our elders are very good with technology, they couldn't get it to work.

  As Elder Pattee said, "We were left hanging, and we are still waiting to see if the Church got restored."  Actually, we finished watching the movie on our laptop computer, which didn't have quite the same impact, but the Church did get restored.  Too bad we can't say the same thing for our DVD player. It hasn't worked since.

Elder Jackson finished his mission, and his parents, from Provo, came to get him. We picked them all up at the airport, so that they could do some visiting in Belize. Elder Jackson didn't attend Provo High. He went to that other high school.  In spite of that he was a very fine elder. 
There are pharmacies all over this city. This one is close by our church, so we usually go there. 

We needed to go out to San Pedro, once again.  San Pedro Branch really struggles to keep going.  Good thing there are tourists that drop in to prop up the attendance numbers each week. 

We met the Shirleys on the water taxi going over. She is from Norway, but she and her husband of 10 years now live in Logan, Utah.  Of course they were Mormons and attended the San Pedro Branch on Sunday.

Elders Baker and Campos were very happy to go to dinner with us Saturday evening.  We all enjoyed a delicious dinner of lobster and the Belizian favorite of rice and beans.

Elder Campos stopped on the beach to pet this strange animal caught by its owners in the bush of Belize.  They said it was a zquash.  I have no idea how it is really spelled. 

Later Saturday evening we visited with the primary president, Sister Celia. When we asked her how she was doing, she said her house had burned down and some of the primary materials were lost in the fire.  She and her 3 children barely escaped.  Everything was destroyed.  It was a rented house, and the Church has been trying to help out.  What a very sad tale. 

After spending the night at the Mayan Princess Hotel, we attended Church at the San Pedro Branch. Both Elder and Sister Pattee spoke in sacrament meeting. 

As Sunday School started, we realized the primary president, for some reason had not shown up.  President Orbena, the young branch president, was in the primary room trying to figure out what to do with the children. He seemed very relieved to have Sister Pattee rescue him. There were only 8 children, so one person really could manage.

Here are 3 of the cute primary girls.  The boys didn't stay in one place long enough to get a picture. 

Also, we found out that the branch's only CD player got stolen.  Someone broke a very small window in the building right where the CD player was setting. It was the only thing they could reach in and grab. With all these difficulties, little wonder the primary president might be feeling a a bit overwhelmed.  (There is no one that can play the keyboard.)

 Grandma Williams came in at the end of primary, and Sister Angela helped  for a little while. That afternoon we took the water taxi back to Belize City, and the zone leaders picked us up and took us to our home. 

 Our landlords have been doing some rennovating.  They are going to build a new home sometime in the next couple of years, so they started out with a fence around the building site.  (Most all building sites have fences around them here to keep supplies, etc. from walking away.)  They decided to redo the existing fence, too. 

 The new home with be built at the far end (right hand of photo). Our landlady, Sheila, calls it the rainbow wall, but we call it the fence of many colors.

   Here is the "before" photo with Elder Pattee standing on our front porch.

 And here is an "after" photo. 
 Elder Pattee taught the sisters about the priesthood this past Tuesday evening. Several sisters thanked him for his teaching.
Young Brother Gladdens was baptized (by Elder Holbrook) and confirmed this week. He is the youngest member of his family and was the only one not yet baptized.  We hope his family will keep coming to church. We have a major problem with people getting baptized and then soon becoming less active.  In some ways it seems like they see baptism as an event, not necessarily a life-long committment.

We helped a young apply man for the Perpetual Education Fund this week. We are also helping another young man, but are having difficulty with his application. There are always follow-up items to do in regards to this program. We presently are working with about 20 PEF participants. 

The Seminary and Insitute materials finally arrived a few days ago. They were ordered in January, but just barely got here in time to start new classes. Elder Pattee picked up the 28 boxes at the port authority.