As I arrived at Holy Sacrament Episcopal Church, Pembroke Pines, Florida, just after 6:00 a.m., I was a profound moment to see the missionaries gathered in their beautiful yellow polo shirts and black slacks for their inaugural mission trip to Belize. The team included six (6) missionaries from St. Paul’s Church, Vero Beach, Florida, and a few missionaries from other churches and religions. A number of members of the parish along with family members and friends were at the church to send us off. Praying for the team was Archdeacon Bryan Hobbs, former Rector of Holy Sacrament and the brainchild of the mission trips, which started over 25 years.
Such a large team of missionaries, thirty-seven (37) to be exact (with the exception of our medical group leader who will arrive on Monday morning), presents new challenges at the Miami International Airport in that the check-in, baggage, and security time took longer than usual. This meant that we were unable to have a proper breakfast and had to board immediately for the one hour and 45 minutes flight to Belize City. Having arrived safely, Father Eric Richards, one of the priests in the Diocese, met us at the airport. We arrived at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel, situated about 15 minutes from the airport, where we received a warm welcome and wonderful Belizean hospitality. The first order of business was to have a very delicious buffet lunch at the hotel.
Immediately following lunch, while the majority of the team worked on organizing items in preparation for our missionary work, Erna Rappaport (Team Leader), Al Skeete and Larry Harris (Co-Leaders of the Construction group), and Bob Webster (a member of the Construction group) and I visited the Anglican School at Queen’s Square and the Dorothy Menzies Child Care Center. We met with the Principal of the School, Myrna Smith, and the Director of the Child Care Center, Hortence Kelly-Augustin, to finalized the scope of the construction work, and the necessary items needing to be purchased to make this happen. Our construction group will focus on repairs to the boys and girls’ restrooms at the school, and building storage units for the female dormitories at Children’s Center. At both places, painting will also be done.
We returned to find the other team members in the hotel’s Board Room working diligently at unpacking 47 boxes of items, which many people donated. These items will be used in the three areas of the mission – medical health, construction, and vacation bible school. It was then off to Team Meeting, followed by dinner. Since we are a group, we have been dining in a private room, with great service, wonderful tasting food, and beautiful fellowship together. Larry Harris led Compline immediately after dinner and then we retired for the night.