January 31st, 2016, the first of two mission teams St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Durham, North Carolina arrived for a week of work, worship and fellowship in Belize. St Luke’s Episcopal have a long standing partnership with Holy Cross, and have been sending teams for 10 years now.
The week began with a tour of the school and the local neighborhood of San Mateo with Dora, the Volunteer Coordinator and graduate of Holy Cross. It was great to see the progress on the roads in this area.
After the tour the group began the multitude of tasks around the campus. One of the big projects that the group works on year to year is recording all the heights and weights of the children – this task is a great way for the team to meet the students.
A few of the other team members worked in the classrooms teaching and tutoring, while others began work painting signs and a couple of simple murals. These activities continued throughout the week with team 1.
On Friday, the team had a fun pizza party with one of the classes they had connected with – a highlight for many.
Team two brought 8 additional members, including some from St. Andrews Church in Haw River. They held a church service for parents and students on Sunday, then began their work week in various capacities- continuing to collect weights and heights and working in the classrooms teaching.
Dr Jim and Elizabeth Short went out in the community of San Mateo to visit families and assess their health. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were comprised of all things Lenten. The Carnival was held in downtown San Pedro. The music was loud and the children and young people celebrated in the streets. There was dancing and paint throwing everywhere. The night of festivities was followed by Ash Wednesday where Pastor Miriam and Deacon Jan led the Ash Wednesday services in the cafeteria. Hundreds of students and teachers came to receive their ashes.
That afternoon a few took the water taxi over to the nearby island of Caye Cauker to tour the town. The week concluded with a few more medical visits into San Mateo to check on some of the preschool aged children in the community. On Friday there the big Valentine’s Day Fair with games, tattoos, movies and food.
Overall it was a successful 2 weeks for our teams in Belize.