Saturday, February 1, 2014

It Stinks!

The day started out normal enough. Just loading huge boulders into the backhoe bucket and dumping them into a septic hole, next to the tank. That one filled up quickly! Nearby was another septic tank that needed the dirt cleaned out around it to make the hole larger so we could put rocks in there, too. Might as well dig that one out next! I had a couple assistants (Tanzi and Laura) who were standing on the tank, helping me dig the hole. (I have driven the backhoe quite a bit at home, but not much in the way of deep holes).... Got a lot cleaned out, but then realized it was a bit after 5. Ok, I guess it’s time to go and make supper. Just a little more.... 

A minute later, it literally felt like in a blink of an eye, the arm on the backhoe somehow jerked forward and hit the tank hard! The bricks were tumbling, and the looks on the girls’ faces were priceless! Laura jumped off immediately, Tanzi, with wide eyes, looked around, then ran and jumped off, too! My hand went up to my mouth as my face turned about 10 shades redder! “Noooo! I didn’t really just break the septic tank, did I? Ahhhhh! Yeah, I sure did!” I started laughing from nervousness as the guys all started realizing and coming over to look! The smell..... Good for me (and the guys who fixed it), it wasn’t full,... But it still was stinky! “Good job, Phoebe!” Ok, yeah, I know, I know. You don’t have to tell me! 

Many thoughts were racing through my mind! “How could I have been so stupid! I should have stopped working just a few minutes earlier (when my conscience told me not to do the last load)! Can we fix it? The poor guys will probably have to fix it. Man, it’ll take lots of extra money. What is everyone going to say? Gross!” The more I thought about it, the worse I felt, until there was some water mixed with my red-faced smiles and laughter. Although the guys laughed with me and told me what a “good job” I did, they didn’t get mad or hateful. Amid laughter, Ray said, “Don’t worry, it’ll be made stronger this time.” We all had to laugh about that one. 

Ray and Edwin decided to start fixing it that very night. It’s getting darker now, the mosquitoes are coming out in forces, but I’m not leaving until the guys leave. I’ve gotta help clean up my mess! So, a small group of us helped mix up some cement, poured it in the blocks to strengthen the wall, then went and ate supper. I still felt pretty terrible, but I started realizing how blessed I am with the team here in Belize. Not only the guys didn’t get mad, but the girls still loved me despite my stinky mistake. 

Have you ever said, “Wow, I just messed up!” “How could I have been so stupid!” “Oops, I hurt that person.” “Can I ever get this mess fixed?” “Ewww, this situation sure stinks!” “I don’t think life will ever be the same again!” You know, I think that God looks down on our mistakes, our problems, and says, “Don’t worry, you will be made stronger after this.” You will learn your lesson. You will be a better person. When we make stupid mistakes, when we mess up our lives and think “It stinks to be stupid”, God smiles at us, wipes away our tears, and helps us to fix our stinky messes and be stronger people because of it. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Who has the wheel?

Rain, rain, rain, and more rain! Yup, that’s what the last few weeks have been like. It won’t rain completely all day, but enough so that the clothes can only partly dry before they get rinsed yet again! 

There is a group here from a missionary school in Honduras. They have been doing meetings in the church with kids classes, teaching health to the villagers, visiting people in their homes, helping work on our project, along with other things. It’s exciting to see as people who don’t usually come to church are coming to the meetings and some of them to church as well! The first night, one of my little girls told me (in spanish), “do you see the man in the white shirt? He’s my dad!” She was super excited, because he doesn’t normally come to church. Her mom sometimes comes, but she usually comes with her aunt. Praise the Lord for the way that He is working in people’s lives! 

The village we work in is about 10 miles away.... But now it takes about 45 minutes to get there. Remember I said it had been raining a lot? Yeah, there are monster-sized holes to bounce over, rivers to ford and mud slides to maneuver through. The bus that we drive has a few minor problems, such as the battery box underneath is about to fall off (well, it did fall partially off to where it scraped the ground, but it’s now tied up with string.... I mean straps:). As it had been a few days since I had driven the road to the village, my co-pilot, Keila, warned me about how to keep that side of the bus out of the holes so the box doesn’t get knocked off. Those monster-sized holes.... they are filled with water, so I can’t see which ones are the biggest! So, my co-pilot was alerting me to where the holes were the worst. Uh oh, do I go through the hole or the river? Can’t avoid this mud-slide! Slowly, but surely, we made our way through the maze and to the village. On the way back was a bit more challenging, because it was pitch black outside! Thanks to the wisdom of my co-pilot and my driving skills ;) we made it back with the battery box still hanging by its strap! 

Who is the co-pilot in your life? Or better yet, the pilot! A big difference is that Jesus knows every hole, He knows every river, He knows every mud-slide that we come to in our lives, because He has traveled this road before! Lord, help me to move out of the pilot’s seat and let Jesus take the wheel in my life! 

Does it Bug You?

As we sit in AY, the darkness outside is settling, I see this beetle-type flying bug come zooming and crash into the stage. It flops onto its back and buzzes until it finally can flip over. Then it flies, hits the stage again, and once again, lands on its back. This happens over and over again and I’m just amazed at how dumb the bug is! Then it flies off to the front of the stage. As I focus back on understand the message in Spanish, I forget about the bug. 

All of a sudden it comes in front of the speaker and tries to land on the floor! Another crash-landing, flipping right onto it’s back..... Again and again. Wow, such intelligence! Then I think about.... yup, me. It just "bugs" me how often I do that! I try to make my own plans, try to do it all on my own, then I flop onto my back. I try again and again. I stress out about it, but why don’t I let Jesus just put me back where I belong, in the center of His will. He must watch me struggling on the cold floor, thinking how simple life would be if I would just trust Him! 

“So long as we surrender the will to God and trust in His strength and wisdom, we shall be guided in safe paths, to fulfill our appointed part in His great plan.” DA 209

Teach me to surrender and trust You!


Bought a ticket.... 5 days later I flew out.... That's how my quick trip home started. It all stemmed from a chat with Becca, my sister in law. "Parents are about to travel south. We want to help them drive, but we can't because of work. Why don't you help them?" Yeah, that's a good question. So, after many prayers, talks, and thoughts, my trip was arranged. Got to see my brother in Washington, enjoy the warmth of a wood stove in Montana, see family in Arkansas, spend lots of time sitting in a truck with my parents, sort my junk in storage in Georgia, and had a little time in Tennessee with family and friends. A super duper huge blessing! Then the prospect of a LONG trip home. If only I knew....

Our caravan for the journey south!

Yummy grapes!

Blueberries! Still

Too long in one vehicle :)
Pretty much, I froze!
Shams & I

Beaver & kids

Becca and I
Mom, Zoe, & I
This part of the trip started at about 2am. Parents drove me to the airport, I flew out, got on my connecting flight, went through customs, caught a bus to the bus station in Cancun, MX. That was uneventful.... except that I almost missed my bus trying to buy credit for a borrowed Mexican phone. While waiting for the bus to the south, started talking with a "little lady". "I need to give her a GLOW tract". We all loaded up. Oops, I missed it. I sit down next to a young Mexican guy who speaks English. I'm so tired, I just want to sleep! So I get some sleep, read some, talk a little. 

I thought to myself, "My trips are so uneventful". About 4 hours after leaving Cancun, the bus comes to a halt right behind a semi truck. I always love it when I am stuck behind a semi! Can't see a thing! What's going on? Everything is in Spanish,.... Hmmm, a road-block, huh? Teachers, yeah, they are protesting. Oh, teachers aren't scary people, they'll move shortly. At least when it gets dark. It's raining! Yay, they'll go home. 1 hour later: I'm enjoying this book. 2 hours: it's about time we go. I want to get home! People are waiting for me, phone doesn't work! 3 hours: can't we walk through and catch a bus on the other side? The driver gets up closer, a bunch of people leave; oh, do I ever want to go with them! Probably not safe for a gringa with a bunch of junk to walk through a road-block. The "little lady" I talked to at the bus station told me she was going to go check it out. Bueno, me voy tambien. I got up, so did the guy I was sitting next to (who had walked to it once already) and a middle-aged gringa. 

Four of us, without our stuff, took the 10-ish minute walk to the block. It was actually quite intimidating! Fires by the sides of the road, people standing there with masks on, sticks and machetes in hand. I mean, a ton of people! They told us we could walk through, so we continued on our trek. Over barbed wire, stumps, trees; around people lying on mats talking; beside people eating supper; next to people singing; through another group of armed people on the other side. Around 400 people! What did we find on the other side? A bus or taxi to take us and the rest to our destination? Nope, only more vehicles; frustrated people trying to get to family emergencies, home for the night, or vacation. I keep thinking, "there must be taxis back there somewhere!" Ok, maybe not. Back to the bus we go! 

At this time, about 4 hours after our nice trip was halted, there are only about 8 of us left on the bus, + the driver. What to do? Go back an hour to the closest town? Everything inside me screams, "NOOOO! I want to go home tonight!" Then I realize how unsafe it is for me to go through there alone with all my junk. Or with one other lady who wants to go. No, I better stay on the bus. 

A "gringo couple" are included in the 8. I go back to talk to the "little lady". She said we should stay in a hotel and that the two of us could get one. Somehow I started talking to her and the wife of the "gringo couple" about what I do in Belize, about Jay (see older blog), etc. We had great fun and the hour flew by. 8 of us got off the bus. 7 of us decided to stick together. We went to find a place to stay. Got rooms, the "little lady" and I staying together, then they wanted to get supper. Ugghh, it was 11:00pm by this time and I wasn't dying of hunger, because Becca had packed me amazing meals! Well, I'll go with them.... Hmmmm, smoothie sounds good!  Fun chats. Wow, it's crazy what kinds of bonds are built with people under such circumstances. That night, the "little lady" told me to say my prayers, and so we were able to pray together and then in the morning, we talked a little bit about reading my Bible. 

Early that morning we met again to figure things out and headed to breakfast. We packed up and dragged/carried our junk back to the bus station. After some negotiating (by those who spoke Spanish fluently), they decided we could catch the next bus around the road-block, without paying again! We waited, talked, shared stories, pictures, and experiences. The "gringo couple" live in Belize as well, and are nice. Finally, the bus comes and we throw our bags under and jump on! Super curvy roads, man was I car-sick! (bus-sick?) Finally, we made it to Chetumal! Said our goodbyes (I gave most of them my e-mail address, on a GLOW tract; made sure the "little lady" got hers:), except 4 of us went to the boarder together. Uneventful boarder crossing, besides being ripped off by the taxi because we were all gringos. 

What a relief to see the little grey truck coming with two of my dearest friends, Keila and Katie! I don't think I was ever more excited to see them! My 3 new friends and I cram into it. We drive to the nearest town and drop them off at the restaurant. I'm pretty sure I'll see the "gringo couple" again! 

As I think back on my day, I'm amazed at how God arranged things! My plane was late landing, my luggage took a super duper long time to get there, I had to wait for the bus TO the bus station, had to wait a while for the bus south. How is it that God designed I would be on that bus with just those people? I don't know, but I know that he arranged divine appointments from that trip! I don't know what the outcome will be. Even though this trip was one of the most stressful, scary, exciting, exasperating trips I have ever taken, I can see how the hand of God arranged every circumstance. When you are tempted to worry, to wonder: "why does this have to happen to me?", remember:
God "never leads his children otherwise then they would choose to be 
led if they could see the end from the beginning." PK 578

Monday, September 30, 2013

Get out!

It all happened so fast! The lamp bursting into flames, feeling the heat on our faces, everyone jumping up from the table, one falling backwards on the floor, another helping her up, people running out the door, one running and hiding behind the tent, trying to get him out.... Finally, everyone is out. Inside the cafeteria is an enormous bonfire on top of the table! Will the propane ever run out!? Maybe the cafe will catch on fire!
One night in March, we were enjoying a relaxing evening playing games in the cafeteria. The propane lamp sitting on the table right next to us was our source of light. All of a sudden, we girls squealed when the lamp on top started to tip towards Ray. He caught it, put it back up and tightened it a bit. We continued our game, not giving it another thought until.... it tipped again, this time too far and the lamp burst into flames! They came towards our faces and everyone tried to jump up and get out of the way. Somehow, Katie ended up on the floor (maybe her angel pushed her back so she wouldn’t get burned) and Tony helped her up. We all ran past the other full propane tanks out the door, except Marco. He ran to hide behind the tent. “Marco, get out, get out!” Oh wait, el no hablas Ingles! Finally, probably only a matter of 30 seconds later, although it seemed like hours, he was out! All the while, the huge bonfire was blazing away! Gary and Perry came running from the next house over. “We need to get this thing outside.” Covering the table was a mishmash of electronics. Directly under the fire, Keila’s computer was being melted. They were able to get the table outside where Perry could carefully turn off the tank! We all praised Jesus when the light went out!
        Life: kinda fragile, huh? Is tomorrow promised us? Sure isn't. What do we need to do today? Is our life right with God and others? Have we let our people know how much we appreciate them? We never know what the future will hold, but we know Who holds the future.