January 30, 2012 - The Dunfords Revisit Belize - Lobsters - Another Baptism

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Belize City enjoyed a visit from some former missionaries this past week.   
Brother and Sister Dunford (at right) were senior missionaries here in Belize City just previous to us. They and their children came on a cruise and had a few hours to come ashore in Belize. 

They came to our house first, then all the children took a tour to the Altun Ha Mayan ruins with Suzie (front far left). While they were gone, Brother and Sister Dunford went with us for a few visits, and then we drove to the Belize City Chapel.

The Relief Society sisters had prepared a nice "rice and beans" luncheon (favorite Belizean cuisine). We helped set up the tables and decorate them.  

The Dunford's children returned from their tour just in time to join us. The branch members were delighted to see the Dunfords again and meet their family. 

Thank you for your service to Belize, Brother and Sister Dunford!  We enjoyed your visit!

*     *     *     *     *
Earlier in the week we got a frantic call from Rose. She had slipped out of her wheelchair and needed help.  We picked up Sisters Clark and Villatoro and headed to her house. By the time we arrived, Rose's father had arrived and helped her back into her chair. We were happy to see that she was okay. It was Rose's birthday, so we were especially glad for an opportunity to wish her "Happy Birthday!"

On Thursday we attended another meeting at the U.S. embassy in Belmopan. Inside the compound the beautiful grounds are meticulously cared for. But since no cameras are allowed, we only got this shot from down the street. 

OSAC - Overseas Security Advisory Council 
In our OSAC meeting, we were told that the population in Belize fell in 2010. The economy is struggling here just as in many countries of the world. Some of those that can are moving to other places. We were reminded that crime is up, but since the gang truce with police in September, things have been quieter.

We found the best pizza we have eaten in Belize in a little place on our way home. There is no sign out front, but we think it was called Pasquale's. Next door was a small house with a papaya tree growing almost under the eaves. The rooster wanted his photo taken, too.
On Saturday Brother Smith invited us to his home in Sanhill, which is about 20 minutes outside of Belize City. He has served in many leadership callings here, including district president. He decided to treat us and four of the younger missionaries to a lobster fest. We have never seen so many lobsters. Needless to say, they were delicious!

A Caribbean lobster's claws look different than those of an Atlantic lobster.

Brother Smith loves the sea and has caught lobsters for many years. He told us of the time he and his brother had a contract to provide live lobsters to a man that flew them to Florida. They made an underwater cage and caught lobsters all month to put inside. They would feed the caged lobsters each night. The evening before the man from Florida was to come, the brother accidently left the door to the cage slightly ajar after he fed them. When the man arrived to get his load of lobsters, they had all escaped. 

Brother Smith introduced us to his mother who  is home bound. She has 13 children and over 150 posterity.  She doesn't know the exact number of her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. She inspired us as she told us about her life. Before we left, we all sang "I Am A Child of God" to her.

We enjoyed visiting with the younger members of the family, too.

We saw this iguana sunning himself as we were getting into the van to leave. Before heading home we tried to find some less active members that lived about a mile away. Unfortunately they were not home.

Desiree (center) has been investigating the Church and was baptized. She will be a great strength to her family and branch.

January 20, 2012 - A Family Visit and Missionary Work

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Time is really flying by here on our mission in Belize. Sister Pattee looked at the calendar the other day and was surprised to find there are only 8 weeks left! It's hard to believe.  

Our oldest son, Troy, his wife, Jyl, and their two children, Chase and Connor, came for a visit. (Adilee and her cousin Sylvia are also standing with them.) We had a lot of fun. 
Elder and Sister Pattee enjoyed getting to hug their grandsons.

They arrived on Chase's 11th birthday.  Happy Birthday Chase!

We all loved visiting Xunantunich.

They were surprised at how tall and huge "El Castillo" is. 

They were also surprised at how noisey the howler monkeys are. Those monkeys can really roar!  Troy, Jyl, Chase, and Connor enjoyed looking down into the trees at them (and taking photos) from the top of the temple.

The boys especially enjoyed climbing on the many ruins...

And Swinging on the trees.

A week or so ago, we enjoyed a Belizian dinner with Herb and Melanie at their new home on the beach.  Melanie is a great cook!  They own a drinking water store in Belize City.  Most of the population buys drinking water here, including us. That's how we met them. 

The sisters were invited, too. We all loved the beach and the huge, beautiful full moon that appeared to rise up out of the sea. (Unfortunately my photo of the moon didn't turn out.)

This little family came to home evening at our house with the elders.

Another night this family joined us for home evening, also.

We took Sister Cherrington, the primary president, shopping for some new nursery items. We found a good buy on stuffed animals. They were being sold out of the back of a pickup truck. 

We've also been trying to get our Perpetual Education accounts updated. We want to get some inconsistancies cleared up between our financial records and Guatemala's. 

Elder Pattee taught the Gospel Doctrine class, and Sister Pattee taught Relief Society. We both did leadership training, and we also spoke in sacrament meetings in different branches. Many days we went to meetings or ran errands with the elders and sisters. 

To end this post, I'm borrowing one of Jyl's beautiful photos taken on their San Pedro, Belize visit.Thanks, Jyl! Have a great week!


January 11-2012 - Christmas and Starting the New Year

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy New Year from Belize!

Now that the Strength of Youth Conference is over, lots of cots (and tents) had to be washed and put away. 

Belize City Branch had a Christmas party with a rice and beans dinner--every one's favorite. It is too hot to grow apples here. So when each person received one, it was a real treat.

After dinner we had a program, including some thoughts by Elder Pattee. Then karaoke was enjoyed by all.

Christmas lighting is only minimally done in Belize. We were surprised to see our hotel in Corozal all ablaze with Christmas lights. It was just like in the U.S.A.

We enjoyed a surprise holiday visit from the Choc family, who were visiting Belize from Guatemala. Their son, Gustaf Choc, (back row) was a zone leader here a few months ago, before his release. It was fun to see him again. He was one of our hardest working missionaries. 

These youth came to our house to watch a movie over the holidays.  The Church in Belize rests firmly on the shoulders of the upcoming generation. 

The Elders brought Desari and her young daughter to our home for a missionary lesson about Christ and Christmas.

The Vernon Family on Christmas Day

All dressed up for Christmas

Elders Robanalis and Sutton dressed up a bit, too. 

The Tillett Family from Corozal were baptized during the holidays. They are all about family and know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints puts emphasis on family.  

We made one of our last visits to Corozal. This little branch is located almost on the Mexican border and is right on the Caribbean Sea. 

Six of our finest missionaries are leaving for home. "Well done thou faithful servants".  How quickly the time goes. It is sad to think that we, ourselves, have less than 9 weeks left on our mission. There is much to be do before our time is over. 

The same day as many of our missionaries left for home, we received new missionaries, too.  These missionaries are new to Belize, but not to our mission.  They have been serving in El Salvador.  We hope there will always be missionaries to replace those of us that leave.

December 19-24, 2011 - Strength of Youth Conference

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Our first ever Strength of Youth Conference held in Belize was a resounding success. It surpassed our fondest expectations. 100 youth from all over the country were in attendance (46 young men and 54 young women). There were also about 40 other people, including counselors, advisors, and those in support groups like logistics, Red Cross, and cooks. It was a week of  learning, fun, opportunities to make new friends, and miracles.
 Those of us advising, the counselors, session directing couple, and coordinators arrived Sunday evening to make sure all was ready.

The young men and their leaders and counselors would be staying in tents (two per tent). 

December weather in Belize is usually quite nice. But this year it was very rainy all month. As leaders we had been praying that the elements might be tempered. Sunday evening, once again, it rained heavily. We were concerned about the grounds being too wet and muddy, especially for those sleeping in tents. 

Monday morning dawned warm and sunny.  We were blessed with beautiful weather the entire week. We felt our prayers were truly answered.  The majority of the youth arrived on buses (December 19).  

The young women and their counselors stayed in nice rooms with air conditioning and adjoining bathrooms. 
Though the young men stayed in tents, they slept on cots, which arrived just hours before we needed them (another miracle).  

Our Session Directing couple, Brother and Sister Gomez, were key to setting the spiritual tone of our conference each day.  Dora Murga was SOY coordinator (partially seen at left). She was like the lead counselor, conducting meetings, giving counsel, training, and  instruction each day. 

As you will see, many activities took part in the same building, because it was the only room we had that was big enough to hold all of us. We aptly named it "Zion". Other areas were available for smaller groups ("Deseret" and "Zarahemla" were two of them). 

We won't attempt to show photos of all the week's activities, as that would take too long, but here are a few.

Tuesday night was dance lessons. Participants especially enjoyed learning line dancing (taught by the counselors) and the cha cha cha (taught by Elder and Sister Sandberg). Next, a dance and dance contest was enjoyed. Michelle and Geofry, at right, were the winners.

Elder and Sister Sandberg not only taught the cha cha cha, but had many important assignments throughout the week that were crucial to the conference's success. From our first planning days, they were the ones that spearheaded SOY and kept it moving along.

One of the favorites activities was the banner making/cheer contest held Wednesday evening.

Everyone got into the spirit of it.

Judges table with the Sandbergs, Gomezes, and Pattees
The banners/cheer-offs were all so good, it was difficult to choose a winner.

The youth especially enjoyed the games after they had finished with their banners.

Educational classes for the youth were held on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Sister Casteneda taught about the importance of making wise choices. One of Elder and Sister Pattee's assignments was to teach about choosing good friends. They also had lots of other assignments throughout the week.

Other classes the youth attended taught about education, learning, standards, and  physical health.

President and Sister Cordon (our mission president and his wife) joined us Tuesday through Thursday.  On Wednesday President Cordon encouraged the young men to set goals to serve missions.  Several young men were later heard to say they were definitely including it in their plans. 

Monday Sister Pattee encouraged the youth to participate in a variety show. (You can also see a better photo of Dora Murga at left by the Gomezes.)  It took place on Thursday evening, with 12 different acts participating. Following are photos of a few of them:

Break dancing and shuffle were a big hit. The four youth shown took turns showing their stuff--kind of like a competition.

Youth displayed their talents in dance,


even flute playing.

Minie wrote, strummed, and sang her own song.

Two groups danced to Christmas songs--San Pedro and

Orange Walk.  Lisa sang the introduction to "All I Want for Christmas Is You", then they all joined in the dance.

This band from Succotz was a big hit, too. 

Pizza night was enjoyed in individual groups.

One afternoon we all stood together to spell out "SOY".

Three meals a day and a snack
We all looked forward to mealtime. Our food was provided by a group of Mennonites that cooked onsite.  They did a great job!

The hammocks were a favorite free time hangout spot.

Arm wrestling was enjoyed by some during free time.

Many new friends were made.

 Having the opportunity to be with LDS youth from all over Belize was enjoyed by all. 

Our youth choir practiced all week for their presentation.  It was beautifully done.  We were fortunate to have help from Guatemala with music for both the choir and variety show.  (Thanks Rivas Family, and Elizabeth, and Vicki.)

Oscar (at left) created a way to make strips of green tinsel into Christmas trees for table decorations, as they began decorating for the dinner-dance on Thursday. 

Getting ready for dinner
That evening each young man escorted a young woman to her table. Thirteen tables were needed to seat all the youth. They were dressed in their Sunday best.

 Later, a dance was enjoyed by everyone in attendance. 

Friday evening Elder Pattee was asked to help lead the youth in a medley, the last song of the conference. It was a touching rendition of "Sisters in Zion" and "We'll Bring the World His Truth", with the young women and the young men singing parts simultaneously. 

The week was definitely a faith building and unifying experience for the youth. When asked to tell about their favorite part of SOY, most did not speak about the classes, or the fun activities they had experienced, or even pizza night.They talked about what they learned in gospel study each morning and about the special testimony meetings held on Thursday night. 

Hearing their answers and seeing their glowing and happy faces made all the efforts of the past year worth it. 

Thank you everyone, including our important logistics/technical team, security, and the Red Cross! With all of our best efforts, the help of our fine youth,  and intervention of our Heavenly Father, the very first SOY in Belize was a big success!