Seine Bight (Part 2) – Arriving

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After a night in Belize City, you spend 3 ½ hours on the road down to the village of Seine Bight. It is on the Placencia Peninsula where you see the Belize that is outside the view of the tourists.

The Belizean population in approximate numbers are 50% Mestizos, 25% Creole, 10% Mayan and 6 % Garifuna. The populace of this area is different than other areas of Belize. The Garifuna people make up only 6% of the population of Belize, but they represent 70% of the people in the Stann Creek District, where Seine Bight is located. This is only area where the Garifuna (black Caribs, a blend of 3 peoples – the Caribs, South American Indians and West Africans) are in the majority of the population. Prevalent among the Garifuna is the practice of Animism as well as ancestor worship.

While many, if not most will profess a belief in Christianity, this infusion of the old beliefs and customs taint their faith and still has a strong hold on the older generation. There does seem to be a turning away from this by some of the younger ones.

Upon arrival in Seine Bight (a.k.a. the village) we stopped and spent an hour walking around and taking opportunities to invite folks to Bible studies and other events as well as praying for the people or town in general. Seine Bight is all of perhaps 3 full city blocks in length by 2 blocks in width. There are many living outside this main block of the village, but this is where most are. This is when I began to see God’s call to us for these people. Many from our group already had relationships with some of the people here. By the end of the first week and even more so by the end of my return week, these “brothers and sisters from another mother” were better understood as brothers and sisters of the same heavenly Father.

We were welcomed by many, ignored by some, looked at suspiciously by a few, but received with open arms by those whose hearts God was already working on and preparing to hear His Word and serve His people. The children in particular welcomed us with a love reminiscent of their coming to Jesus when he said in Matt. 19:14 “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” The kids came from everywhere. It would not make sense to most who have never seen this kind of environment. When a two year old, being watched by a 3 year old child are walking safely alone across town from their home, you wonder what we have become in the states where we hesitate to let kids ride down the street on their bikes alone anymore.

As with our life in the states, the children of Seine Bight are where the future lies. They wanted to be carried, given piggyback rides and held. They do not get a lot of personal physical attention once they can walk in their in their culture. Some of the young ladies in our groups spent most of the week just holding children. This was a classic example of “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” While we did a good deal of painting houses (and a bus stop), building steps and verandas (basically a small porch) and various other physical tasks, the attention given to the children will be something that makes a vital impact on their lives that is strengthened every time we come down.

While there are many adults I will be praying for regularly from the village, these children hold an even more precious place in my heart. They are God’s plan for Seine Bight. We are very blessed to be a part of it.IMG_20150724_225126 (2)

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Seine Bight (Part 1)

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Donna helping at the school

In June, Sue Dorn, Donna Peck, Kathryn & Aaron Lowrey and myself, joined 18 folk from Immanuel Lutheran in Belvidere, Illinois on a Mission trip to Seine Bight, Belize. It was the first planned Adult Mission trip from Holy Cross. We’ve had Jr. and Sr. High trips for years. Several years ago it was mentioned that it would be great to begin having adult trips as well. The place and dates were chosen and when the deadlines came, we had only this small handful of folks from Holy Cross planning to go. I truly pray those numbers triple or more for next year as it was a truly blessed experience for each of us and something I wish every one of our members would experience. Yes, “would” is the word, because almost everyone “could” go, but it will take commitment.

I returned in July with a group of 35 from St. John’s in Ellisville, Missouri. They were leading a VBS for the some 300 to 400 or so children from the village. We were there during a time in which a Dugu ceremony was taking place at the opposite end of town. This is a ritual/ceremony that is tied to the Garifuna people involving sacrifices to their ancestors to appease them that they might not cause the living illness or injury.

Bringing the life giving and changing Gospel to people is something every Christian needs to be a part of. There is no more important task than sharing the Gospel. It is the Word of Life & the Word that brings Life! While it can be done in our daily lives where we live, it is also a call we are given to take the message to all parts of the world. Belize could be that place for Holy Cross for the foreseen future.

When most folks think of Belize, they picture snorkeling or beautiful diving spots like the famous Blue Hole, the exclusive and tropical island getaways or sailing, zip-lining and cave tubing. We didn’t see any of those things or places. What we saw was how the people of Belize live that are outside the eye of the tourists. These people scrape by and live in shacks or plywood huts. They only have a couple changes of clothes which have to be washed most every night. The children wear the rubber flip-flops 4 sizes too big, if any footwear at all. They live without plumbing at the house, except for some who may have a water spigot located either inside or outside their home. There is trash and runoff waste everywhere. Some live in a trash dump or in a house sitting on piers above a cesspool. These are people who have so much less than us, and yet many of them have hearts so much bigger than ours.

We did indeed witness to them, talked with them about Jesus, led Bible studies for women and men, tutored their children, painted and did repairs to their homes, tended their wounds, fed their children, clothed them and worked alongside of them. The little children hung on us, sat on us and climbed all over us. In all of these things we were also blessed by them in as many ways as we sought to be a blessing to them.

If you haven’t been a part of a foreign mission team, now is the time to start praying and planning. This area of Belize is ignored by the common mission trips planed by organizations. It is a harsh environment and too remote. Thus the need is greater and the people receptive with no one else venturing out to them.  I have much to share, many details about the trips that I will post in the days and weeks to come. Look for them at <https://blowrey.wordpress.com/>.