Thursday, February 27, 2014

Helping Hands in Belize


The church in Belize, working with the Mennonites, donated about 500 student desks to 5 primary schools in 4 cities in Belize: Belize City, Ladyville, Crooked Tree and Orange Walk Town. We had a wonderful day.  The church contracted with the Mennonites to construct the desks and the missionaries and leaders of the District distributed them.  We were able to wear the LDS Helping Hands shirts which was fun since people all over the world recognize them.  Unfortunately, Elder Tague and I didn't get our shirts because when they were handing them out, we were shuttling missionaries to and from the church distribution center.

The distribution center had been stacked to the ceiling for a few weeks with desks.  It was so full we couldn't even have any meetings there.  We started preparing to load the trucks on Thursday evening, February 20, 2014. The elders made an assembly line from the upstairs rooms down to the front yard.  It was quite a project.





But, as all good plans must sometimes go awry, the trucks didn't show up.  They got the times and dates mixed up so all the chairs that had been brought down had to be repaced inside the building.  
Luckily, they had only brought about 120 chairs down and they were able to find space downstairs to store them overnight.  

The next morning at around 6:00 am, the trucks were there and all the loading was completed.  Some desks were going to a school in Ladyville which is just outside Belize City on the Northern Highway.  One truck and several missionaries went there first.  

We were assigned to take 65 desks to Crooked Tree.  This was quite an adventure.  Crooked Tree is a very small village about 50 miles north west of Belize City.  We took Elder McCleery and Elder Fowler with us in the car and the truck followed.  To get to Crooked Tree, you go on the Northern Highway for about 40 miles and then turn off on a dirt road and go west for another 10 miles or so.  The interesting thing about Crooked Tree is that it is along the banks of a lagoon.  You have to cross the lagoon to reach the town.  The town is surrounded by marshland which has been designated a wildlife refuge.  

During the rainey season, the road actually is submerged from flooding and the only way in or out is by boat across the lagoon.  Last month the road was submerged and there was still some areas with large puddles that we went through.  


                          We stopped to take pictures of the lagoon on our way into town.
There was a white egret on the road and I got some good pictures of it.  There was also a boat out on the lagoon as we passed.



When we drove into town, we passed a quaint thatched roof building and a cute sign.  Cashew trees practically grow wild there.  We found the school and the principal was really happy to see us.  They really needed the desks.  It was a cute school and the students were very helpful and polite.  The boys formed a line to unload the desks.  



                                                      Some pictures of the campus.


      We got a picture with the principal and President Jaime Chi, our district president, who was coordinating the donation. 

After we finished at Crooked Tree, we drove on another 30 minutes north to Orange Walk to meet the other trucks and missionaries and help unload the rest of the desks.  Three hundred plus desks were delivered to 2 schools in Orange Walk.  





It was such a great experience to see how excited these schools were to get these desks.  Many of the children had been sitting on benches with no backs or on little stools.  The children were so excited to have a real desk.  We saw some beautiful areas of Belize that we probably wouldn't have had an opportunity to visit, as well.  All in all, it was a wonderful day.  We made the hour and a half drive home tired but happy.