7.15.2006

Back from Belize!

Woohoo!! I'm home!! I had a great time on our mission trip to Belize, but I gotta tell you... it's so great to be home again. I missed Robin and Micah (my wife and son) so much during this trip. The last couple days were the hardest because I just wanted to hold my little boy again and give him a kiss. But it was all worth it when I arrived back home and when Micah saw me got all excited and ran to me! I almost started crying... sniff....

Anyway, the trip to Belize was great. We completed construction on a house for a family in the village of San Victor. We painted two classrooms and a snack shack at an elementary school in Caledonia. And we painted a Community Center and a church in San Narciso.

We got to be fairly immersed in the culture, which was really neat. All of our meals were provided by a local family--and, man, the food was good!! Yeah, it was hard work. And, yeah, it was hot and humid. And, yeah, we all got our share of mosquito bites (my feet are covered even as I write). And, yeah, the sleeping accommodations were by no means 5-star (or even 1-star for that matter...). But the food was always spectacular! I was hoping to lose a little weight on this trip. Sadly... I gained about three pounds! Yikes!!

We also had some time for recreation. We went scuba diving one day and I got to touch a nurse shark and a sting ray. Another day we visited Altun Ha, ruins of an ancient Mayan city, followed by a trip to the Belize Zoo.

But the coolest excursion was totally spur of the moment. One night after dinner, Howard Storm (who led our trip) said, "Hey, guys. You wanna go try to find crocodiles in the lagoon?" And of couse we all said, "Heck, yeah!"

So, off we went with a few locals to pick up their boats. One of the boats was a good size and held most of our group. The other boad was not designed to hold four large men. Unfortunately, I was in the smaller boat. The edge of the boat was only about 2 or 3 inches above the surface of the water. A couple of times, we actually let water into the side of the boat, and Shane (my high schooler) and I started freaking out!

It was pretty spooky out on that lagoon in the dark of night. There was a full moon, so we did have some natural light. But the water was perfectly still, adding to the eeriness of it.

At one point, something wet and slimy touched my hand! And I of course jumped, rocking the boat way more than it was meant to be rocked. Turns out a small fish actually jumped out of the water and into our boat, landing on my hand and then falling onto the bench in front of me.

The coolest thing is that we did end up finding a crocodile! We saw the eyes glowing as we shined our spotlights around and made our way toward the eyes. We found the croc submerged just below the surface, but we could see him perfectly with our spotlights. Fortunately, it wasn't a huge one--only about four or five feet long from nose to tail. Not a baby croc--more like a teenager. We looked at it for a while, then one of the locals pushed it with his pole and off it swam into the lagoon.

Anyway, a very cool trip. I've got some other thoughts on the culture, economics, etc. of Belize and I'll try to mention those somtime in the next couple days.