DAY 1 & 2

Susan Slavik: Hello from Mango Creek! We safely arrived Saturday evening after a much-longer-than-expected travel day (thank you American Airlines). I’d say it was our first obstacle as a team and such an opportunity to be reminded that our plans and preparations are not always in control of our lives, and to truly rest in the fact that God is! Sunday morning was filled with worship and meeting the Mt. Zion Baptist Church families. In the afternoon, we headed to the park with some sports equipment. 

A few children sitting on a bench quickly turned into 20+ kiddos playing soccer, volleyball, hide-and-seek, swinging and eating ice cream with us! It was incredible to see them open up to our team and start building relationships with one another. Our team has been specifically praying for all of the children in the community and for each of their hearts to be reached and impacted by the Holy Spirit as we run our Kid’s Camp throughout the week! I also must include how we’ve been blessed with the most wonderful meals from Miss Lula! One of the biggest things impacts for me so far has been not having my phone or screens on this trip. I frequently feel the difficulties and chaos of life on a

day-to-day basis and the opportunity to disconnect and focus on hearing from the Lord has been so meaningful. Thank you all so much for joining our team and for your support— it is deeply appreciated!

day 1 & 2

Aaron Neuman: Greetings from Belize church family and prayer team! We had such an “exciting” trip down to Mango Creek on Saturday.  Our day started around 2am, meeting the rest of the team in the Church parking lot by 2:30ish.  We had such wonderful support even getting to the airport from several members of Peoples. Our first bit of excitement came in the form of a deer on our way to the airport.  We were in the lead car when Isabelle, our oldest daughter, looked back smiling telling us the she just saw a deer heading into the freeway.  We didn’t think much of it until we arrived at the airport.  We learned that the team members in the car behind us actually hit the deer.  How terrifying of an experience that must have been for them.  It’s interesting how perspectives can change for us in a split second like that, but we have trust in God that he will protect us.  The flight was a bit lengthy with more than planned boarding and deboarding of planes, but we eventually made it to Belize about 7 hours later than planned.  It was amazing to see how well the team handled what could have been a pretty miserable situation.  The team remained positive and used the opportunity to spend time together and get to know one another even better.  It was also pretty cool to see how contagious our team’s spirit was with other passengers, while sitting at the gate for 2+ hours…for the second time.  I can only think that the Holy Spirit was at work on that plane, helping us set an example of how to respond to adversity in a godly way.  On Sunday, we had such a welcoming from the Mt. Zion Baptist Church families.  We felt such love from the church families, knowing that we were all coming together to glorify the Lord.  That afternoon, we walked to a local park to just get out, meet members of the community, and let them know about our Kids Camp the next day.  It was tons of fun for everyone to meet several kiddos and play volleyball, frisbee, soccer, and hide-and-seek.  My favorite part was watching our youngest daughter, Megan, giving a young girl a piggy-back ride around the park.  Just seeing the joy on both Megan and the little girl’s faces brought such joy to me, …knowing that all the adversity in getting to Belize was totally worth it and this was truly what the Lord had planned for us to experience. 

day 3 & 4

Nolan: Hey y’all, we have been having a blast! It has been very hot, even more humid and hot than last time. By far the most exciting time for me so far has been yesterday. We spent the day doing construction and I was using a sledgehammer to knock down a wall and I thought that was

particularly fun. After doing our construction  we had lunch made by Miss Lula. She is a super sweet lady who has been making all of our meals. For the remainder of our day we setup our kids camp

which was a great experience. I think we all expected to have a ton of kids come to our camp and yesterday we only had eight! It’s awesome, regardless, to love on the kids in the community. I got to take part in actually setting up the obstacle course for the kids. Honestly, it felt really basic. It was

just a small obstacle course, but the kids loved it. As the Obstacle course went on, I got to go play basketball with Pastor Ramsey’s son Zion and his friends. Noah and Andrew joined me and we played three-on-three and that was a ton of fun. Today we continued with construction including painting the church and putting up boards to seal the church. I got to help teach today for kids camp, and we had over twice as many kids as yesterday which was super encouraging and a ton of fun. Please keep praying for us throughout the week.

day 3 & 4

Janet Schleh: It’s been so much fun to wake up these last two mornings hearing Andy’s wake up serenade! Knocking down the cement wall was fun to watch, with my tiny daughter using a jack-hammer to take out the wall edge. We had a crew washing storm blinds and screens on the windows that don’t have any glass. The second day they had guys up on the roof to finish off a back room for class use and storage, people mixing up cement, and the rest of us trying to scrape and paint the outside of the church a wonderful, bright papaya-orange color. We were even joined by some church members that helped us in the painting. We did have a few extra visitors, a cute little tarantula and a couple of little girls from the area, who joined us for lunch (the girls were a lot more welcome than the tarantula) and an afternoon of working and playing with the girls! The kids that came for the first day of Kids Camp came in smaller numbers but we all had super time singing, and learning about why God created us and our world. We were so surprised to hear that God and Jesus were their personal heroes! A small group specifically prayed to double the numbers for the next day and we went from eight to twenty! I have been really enjoying Miss Lula’s wonderful cooking, I wanted to experience some true Belizean food and she hasn’t disappointed! I have certainly learned that God is no different with us in America than He is here in Belize, and to find that we have in common the same things that God shares with us all, and works the same way.

day 3 & 4

Andrew Lucas: Hello to all of our prayer partners/supports from Mango Creek! I just want to start this out by saying thank you so much to all of you! Your prayers are much appreciated and God is on the move in Mango Creek. There have been some hot, sweaty days here full of hard work. Whether it was demoing a concrete wall, followed by unloading the concrete wall in the junk yard, to working on a roof cutting stone with a grinder, to making cement (which I don’t recommend), it has been a blast and God has been providing the energy for us to continue to work our hardest. Working hard has been extremely enjoyable for me. I love pushing myself to work my hardest knowing each day there wasn’t much more I could have done. Once the work is over its time to have fun and play with all the kids. I have enjoyed running the games for the camp and being used in that capacity, but what has really stood out to me is pouring into Pastor Ramsey’s son and his friends, just by being present and spending time playing sports with them. Whether it’s basketball, ultimate frisbee, or kickball, they love to have fun with us, be competitive, and they definitely like to talk trash to us, as we all laugh and play together. It reminds me of my time in student ministry and why I have always had a passion for it. Something that has stood out to me this entire trip is just how much love Peoples Church has as a whole for one another, as well as the world around them. I have never seen a team work so passionately together and build each other up in a loving way like this! As someone who is newer to Peoples Church, it has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of this team and your community at home! Thank you for praying for us. God hears your prayers and we love all of you! Please continue to pray for us as we get close to the halfway point of our trip. Please pray for strength, health, and energy as we keep working hard to bless the community!

day 5

Catie Stema: This morning started with plenty more bug bites all around, another amazing breakfast made by Miss Lula, and a great spiritual conversation around the table after a handful of us had finished our daily devotions. It’s interesting to see how so many people can read the same passage from the Bible and all come out with something different to say about it. After breakfast, we broke into teams to paint, dig trenches, and do a small construction project. I was happy to join the painting crew right off the bat, but was excited when Pastor Ramsey requested me for the construction team. Along with Patrick and Susan, we made two tables for the Sunday School classrooms here at the church, and got to work in Pastor Ramsey’s impressive woodshop. I was proud to be able to use some of the skills that my dad taught me to make building these tables as efficient as possible. In between tables, we took a short break, during which Pastor Ramsey shared his plan to create a trade school in the community as a way to not only help younger members of Mango Creek learn to support themselves, but as a way to minister to even more people. I was able to share this with the rest of our group after we came together again for our nightly meeting, and talked about how we don’t have to learn a new skill to find ways to bring people to Jesus – He gave us the gifts we have for a reason. Of course, just like God never stops working for us, the work never stops in Mango Creek. As I write this, I’m keeping Annie and Cora company as they work under the moonlight to finish painting the name on the front of the church. I’m so excited to continue our work here and to venture up to Caye Caulker at the end of week, and to share more about what God is doing in all of our lives while we’re away.

day 5

Melissa Armbruster: Hello from Belize!  Each day we awaken to Pastor Andy singing “Arise and shine and give God the glory!”  It makes me smile and is a perfect reminder of why we are here.  The unity this team of 26 displays each day as we set about the tasks before us is evidence of the Holy Spirit at work.  The days are impossibly hot and the work is physically taxing, but our goal to be a blessing to Pastor Ramsey and his community remains steadfast!  From the youngest member of this team to the oldest, we are giving our best. The Lord has answered our prayers for an increase in the number of kids attending Kids Camp from 8 to 23.  The team has rallied and worked together to meet the needs of the children and each other.  The church painting is complete. The new color is called papaya and looks very impressive. The people we encounter are lovely and genuine. My prayer is that they will think the same of us!

day 5

Nathan Schleh: Wednesday is the time during a missions week when stresses really start to flare up, and that was certainly the case for me today. It’s amazing how the devil truly knows when you’re the most susceptible to doubt and distraction, and wastes no time pouncing on that opportunity. The hardest part of a missions trip that I have encountered has definitely been when it just feels like you can’t quite do enough. The one person you can’t reach, the help you can’t afford to give, the prayer you just can’t find the words to say; when you find yourself trying to reach beyond your limits and abilities to give to your heart’s content, but our God doesn’t work in the ways we think. When we feel like we need to give more, he shows us where we are limited. However, he constantly reveals to us through that struggle just why we need to rely upon him for this life, for we can never truly overcome every obstacle and trial without him. How great is it that he, ever bountiful, gives us blessings from his plenty so that we can be a part of his beautiful work? And not only that, but he shows to us just how much we need to rely upon our brothers and sisters in Christ to fully bring a plan to fruition. No man is an island, they say, and today I felt just that; my own physical capabilities failing before the monumental task at hand. But when I fell into that despair, my family here was able to raise me up and show just how much we need to rely upon each other, as well as our God, for us to complete his great work. I learned today to overcome that obstacle, that all of us here have willing hearts, and that God provides his gifts to us that each of us may fill our specific place and purpose in his plan. "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 43:5)

day 6

Isabelle Neuman: Hello church family and prayer partners. Thursday morning we woke up to light rain and cooler temperatures. Which was amazing! Ms. Lula made an amazing breakfast. It had Journey cakes, eggs, sausage, refried beans. The Journey cakes were by far the best food we had there. It was like a biscuit and a pancake, but so much better than you would think. The trench crew had to go out and finish digging the trench, while the rest of the team painted the church doors and legs of the Sunday school tables. We all signed the bottom of a Sunday school table hoping that people from the church would find it someday. And while it was still sprinkling, Annie and Cora finished painting the sign on the front of the church. It looks amazing! God definitely blessed them with the gift of art. Then it was time for the last day of kids camp. I had a blast! We didn’t have that many kids but still more than the first day. When we did the songs as always, Catie asked if her friends would come up and dance with her and today most of the kids went up with her to sing and dance. It was kind of embarrassing for me to go up there and do it but one of the girls that was in my huddle group wanted me to go up with her. We ended up doing the sport inside since it was still raining. All we did was rock, paper, scissors shoot wars. In the huddle groups we had a prayer and if any of the kids wanted to accept Jesus as their lord and savior they could do that then. After dinner the church family came to say goodbye to us. Pastor Ramsey had people from our team share what their favorite part of the trip was. My highlight of the day was playing circle volleyball with Jason, Micah and Krystal.

day 6 & 7

Cora Alber: Our last full day in Mango Creek was bittersweet. We began the day with delicious journey cakes, eggs and beans and immediately, Annie and I got to painting the new church mural on the front of the building. We began on Wednesday, sketching the entire thing out and then did as much painting as we could, anticipating rain all day Thursday. Since we were pressed for time we thought we’d try and finish Wednesday night after dinner (also after dark here) so we had some of the crew sitting beneath us with flashlights and actually finagled one of them in a mic-stand we found to hold it up at the wall like a spotlight while we painted as much as we could. We were not able to finish before the bugs became unbearable so Thursday morning, we had a challenge to accomplish: painting an outdoor cement wall in the rain. Well leave it to the guys on our team to create a roof for us out of tarp, string and poles. We brought one of the industrial fans out and dried the wall before setting out to (what turned out to be) another full day of painting to finish up the mural. It was worth it though, enjoyable work to be able to do with one of my students (Annie is in my 9th grade girls group in our youth group) and exciting that it was going to be a new symbol for a church we love so dearly! We ended the night saying our thanks to Mt. Zion for hosting us, feeding us so well, and were able to share with them the highlights of our week, all of which were exciting for me to hear as one of our (kind-of-not-really-assistant) group leaders. Andy and I will miss our friends in Mango Creek but are excited that we’ll get to work a visit to them into our family vacation to Belize next March. Today has been a long day of travel but it feels great to be sitting on the island typing this in the breeze. I am looking forward to our day with the kids here tomorrow! 

day 7

Noah Neuman: When we woke up today we all had to start packing all of our stuff up because we had to go to Caye Caulker. On the ride down I was sitting in the back of the van with my dad (Aaron Neuman) and Andrew Lucas, we had made it like almost an hour into the drive and we heard a like big woosh from behind us. So me and Andrew looked back and then looked at each other and just said “ that didn’t sound good”. We really didn’t think anything of it but a little while later the driver pulled over to look at the van and trailer to just check everything. He found that the whole tread of the trailer tire had blown off and took the whole fender with it. So we changed the tire on the side of the road in the middle of the jungle. Then we could continue our drive to Belize City. We got to the port to go to Caye Caulker just in time to catch the ferry. It was about an hour boat ride. When we got here to Caye Caulker we went to The Split, which is a swimming area where the channel separates two islands. We swam for a while there. It was much cooler water than when we swam in Mango Creek. It felt good to cool off. We got dinner at The Split too. My highlight of the day was probably getting to swim at The Split and jumping off of the high dive there. Something that God has shown me about myself this week is that I am really good with young kids. When we did the kids camp all the kids just loved having me to play with and to just joke around with me. It was so fun!

day 8

Missy Robinson: Today was a good mixture of ministering, adventure, and fun! Some of us woke up early to get some coffee and a breakfast snack, then the whole group walked to a cute restaurant where those who hadn’t had breakfast yet had a stuffed fry jack with whatever ingredients you wanted in it. Pastor Delgado sent some golf carts our way to transport us from the restaurant to the gathering place we were going to minister to the kids on the island. About 40ish children arrived and we had such a great time with all of them! We sang songs, taught them about Creation and the Gospel, and played multiple games with them. The biggest hit being the game “Water/Land”. So much fun! From there we walked back to our hostel and prepared to head out to go snorkeling for the day! What a blessing that was! The weather was beautiful, not too hot, and the breeze made everything better! We swam with sting rays, sharks, and multiple other incredible fish. God’s creation never ceases to amaze us! After docking the boat, we all headed back to the hostel to get ready for dinner. Showers and aloe vera were a must! Went to The Rainbow Grill for dinner and watched some small children playing a percussion quartet for everyone at the restaurant! They were pretty good. Afterwards, we all went our own ways and picked up some last minute souvenirs. Headed back to the hostel and are all mentally preparing for a long travel day tomorrow. I think it’s safe to say we are all excited to be home and share our adventures with everyone! God has done some great things for all of us and the people of Belize this past week!

day 8

Krystal Jacek: Hello friends of the church! This is Krystal Jacek (who was NOT stung by a scorpion this time-- Praise God!!). Started our first morning in Caye Caulker off with some freshly squeezed orange juice and fry jacks! After breakfast we went to the kids camp Pastor Oscar runs on the island to help with games and songs. So many kids showed up and it was a great opportunity to bond with some of the little girls on the island. Specifically, I bonded with Karley-- a nine year old who was very shy until I sat with her and began talking with her. She told me all about her family and how long she has been coming to see Paster Oscar. By the end of our time together, I ended up giving the bracelets on my wrist to two little girls to remember our group. For our afternoon activities we went out on ‘Carlos Tours’ and went snorkeling with all the fishies in the ocean-- including the sharks! Everyone had a fun time and got a bit sunburnt. Did some exploring and shopping on the island before it was dinner time. Dinner hit the spot which led us into the rest of our evening of relaxing and preparing for out big travel day tomorrow! Can’t wait to come home and share more in person!