DSC02453The Inter-Institutional Athletic Competition continued yesterday with the volleyball competition.  We arrived at just a little before 9:00 for a competition that was supposed to start at 9:00 (see previous story on the bus). It was our job to provide the snacks for the day so our students hustled around and took 12 watermelons, 100 oranges, and 200 bananas into the kitchen and then found our team area.


Coach Candi doing a little coaching between games

I guess there was no real need to hurry, we waited until about 9:40 for the officials to arrive, at which time the team from Cadets still had not arrived.  At about 10:15 we decided to begin the competition hoping that the Cadets would show in time to play their game. It was about 10:30 before the first game started.  I seemed to be the only one stressed about it.

Our team had a tough day.  We had some residual effects from some troubles at school the day before (a story that I’m still trying to decide whether or not its wise to share with you) so we played without much enthusiasm and lost the first set 2 games to zero.


There were 4 teams in the competition and we played a round robin, playing each of the other teams before the day was over.  We played pretty well against the second team and were ahead for a while but ended up losing. Our last game was against the best team and we had just run out of steam by then.  The last game was pretty ugly.


The teams lined up for presentations at the beginning of the games and at the end,


We were in a foul mood when we got on the bus but an hours ride home kind of let all of that work its way out of our system and the mood was better when we arrived back at school.

Next up is basketball. We have one month to prepare for that. I’ll keep you posted.

The Bus

As you know, Friends United Meeting/Belize Friends School has recently become the proud owner of a small school bus. We purchased it from the manager of a hotel here in town.  On the first day that we took possession, Ms Candi drove it to school, all the students piled in, and we took a drive around Belize City. Following that little trip, we parked it in the back yard of our school board President, Mr. Tench and I went to Creative Marketing to order decals for the front and sides of the bus, hoping to have them before we took the bus on its first excursion. DSC02383The decals were ready on Monday but first it was necessary to remove the lettering that was already on the bus.  A little time with Ms Candi’s hair dryer, and some ambitious students, and that task was accomplished. Each student who wished to help used the hair dryer and removed a couple of letters. DSC02417Cion and Harrison, two of our ‘less weighty’ students climbed up on the top of the bus and did the work on the decal above the front window. After that was accomplished during the lunch hour, I took the bus a block and a half down the street to Creative Marketing where they applied the new decals.  See below. DSC02429       On Wednesday, we drove our new-to-us bus to Belmopan for the volleyball competition.  On the way there we suddenly heard loud noises from the back of the bus and stopped to have a look. The tread was coming off the inner right tire.  AhHa. The “new” tires the hotel had purchased were retreads, and not very good retreads at that.  Not only were we losing the tread on the inner tire, but the tread on the outer tire was showing signs of coming loose as well. We limped into Belmopan, got the students ready for their competition, then took the bus over to Caribbean Tire which just happened to be directly across the street from where the competition was taking place–God is good. We now have 4 new back tires on the bus. Recently a donor came to me after hearing about the bus purchase and said, “Your are going to have maintenance costs on the bus. How much do you think it will be?”  So I calculated the cost of license, insurance, oil changes, etc, took a stab at a cost for “incidentals” and gave him a figure for annual maintenance costs. He has already sent a check, so the new tires are cared for. Thanks dad.  (Don’t tell him you know, it would just embarrass him.) DSC02431

Reflections: Assembly of God, Presbyterian, Mormon…

I don’t expect this blog to hold together very well, because it is just reflections. Here goes.

Assembly of God

When I visited Belize I went to the Central Assembly of God with Sam and Becky Barber and their children.  Worship begins somewhere around 10:00 am with singing which lasts about 45 minutes. There is a large praise band of maybe 7 or 8 instrumentalists and singers; the music is loud and there is lots of clapping. Scripture and prayer are important.  There is always a time for attenders to approach the altar for special prayer. The sermon is longer than I like and the service is over about 12:00 most days although that’s not important.  The meeting is mildly pentecostal in the sense that there is a good bit of hand waving and “amen-ing.” I have not been there when there was speaking in tongues but I have heard the pastor speak strongly of it. In the times I have been there, attendance has been in the 150-200 range.  Central Assembly has a Sunday School, youth group, and other activities. There are lots of families and children.


Since I’ve come to Belize I have been attending St. Andrews Presbyterian. This is the church where Sadie Vernon was the organist back when she first invited Quakers to be involved in the school here. It has been the informal home of the Quakers since that time and I get to see Mike and Kay Cain every Sunday.  Worship begins somewhere around 10:00 am and lasts somewhere around an hour. Mike Cain runs the sound board and projection system and we sing to praise hymns projected on the screen. There is no other accompaniment to the songs.  The order of worship is typical mainstream protestant. Ernest is the Belizean pastor whose Creole is so heavy that I almost cannot understand him. I do a lot of meditation when he is preaching.  Mike is from the States on assignment in Belize to help with leadership training in all the Presbyterian churches in Belize (7, I think).  When Mike preaches I can understand the words. The sermon is longer than I like and we have been “preaching our way through 1st Peter.”  Theology plays a large role in the sermon, practical application not so much. There is no Sunday School. There is a midweek prayer meeting which I have not attended.   I have been to worship when there were as few as 20 in attendance. Children sometimes come from a local orphanage. When that happens there are 20-30 more in attendance.  Last week the children were there and the total attendance was around 60, the largest it has been since August.

Latter Day Saints

On the plane ride back from Christmas, I sat next to Mr Joel Munoz.  We got into a rather extended conversation and I had chance to tell him about the school. He had some good questions and I took his phone number.  Of course I lost the phone number, but he had said that he was a Mormon and I had asked where he worshiped so today I rode my bicycle down on Orange Street and went to the Mormon Church. I noticed as I walked in that there were busy classrooms, Sunday School was happening.  There were several young white male missionaries present who were extremely friendly and we had some good conversation. Joel Munoz showed up and sat with me. Worship started at 10:00 and was over by 11:00. There was a pianist and a single song leader; we sang songs from a hymnal.  The physical sacrament of communion was served; the bread was bread and the wine was water.  There was reading from the Bible and from the Book of Mormon. The sermon was short and to the point. The meeting was quite formal.  Proper attire for men was obviously dark pants, white shirt and tie. There were 120 or so present including children and youth.


Starting “around” 10:00 drives this North American crazy.  I know, I know, that’s my problem, not theirs.

Each church was glad to have me come;  I have been able to worship.

Each church feels like it has the right answers.  At Central Assembly I have heard that in order to be truly Christian, I must speak in tongues. At St. Andrews Presbyterian I have heard that the elders are the ones who have been called, have taken the training, and are the ones to instruct and lead the rest of us. This morning I heard that Joseph Smith was right, God was raising up, through him, a church of latter day Saints.  In each instance I smiled inwardly and said to myself, “Whoa, Quaker here, not so fast.”

I’ve been told that the hand waving, loud music, loud preaching, sort of meeting is what we will need to have here if we want people to come.  So I’m glad I went to the Mormon church this morning, because it was the antithesis of that and the place was packed to the gills with people of all ages.

It seems to me that every sermon I have heard here has a really good ending about half way through and the rest of the time would have been well spent in open worship.

I’ve become aware that the concept best expressed in the phrase “Jesus Christ is come to teach his people himself” is really quite radical.  To believe that God himself can come to each of us and teach us while we wait quietly together, and maybe even grant a message for the assembled body, is really quite unique and powerful.   I wonder how many Belizeans would be attracted to such a place.




Kori Dawson

In the summer of 2006, Kori Dawson stopped by the school to talk to Ms. Candi. He was living with his sister, “No ma, no pa.”  He wanted to know about the school and what we did here. As she looked back at that moment, Ms Candi described him as a young man with absolutely no self-esteem.    He had been “put out of” St Joseph primary school in 2005.  Before he walked out the door, they had made it known to him that they considered him “not capable of learning.”

During the conversation Ms Candi took a risk and asked him what his one dream was.  He was hesitant but finally said that his big dream was to become a pilot. Then it was Kori’s turn to take a risk. He signed up for our school.  Usually we require a parent or guardian signature, but this was a special case.  This 14 year old boy signed himself up.


Kori in his uniform shirt–back when.


In those first days, he did not seem capable of doing anything academic, but he worked very hard and within a month or so he was average for our students.  At that point Ms Candi was convinced that this young man really had potential.  He stayed after school for extra help and she would catch him reading during the ‘down times’ of the day.  He was not afraid to ask for help and by the end of the year he was our top student.


The students who attended career day that year. Kori is middle row, center.


Mr. Tench, our current school board president, who has been actively involved in the school forever, saw potential and sponsored him to compete in World Water Day, a high school competition that has two competitive categories: essay and poster.  He decided to compete in both. At the end of the competition he placed 3rd among many high school students.


Placing 3rd at World Water Day

He applied to Edward P York High School.  Of course the grades from his previous school were awful and he was placed on a waiting list.  But he was also granted an interview and Ms Candi went with him.  She was able show his improvement over the year at our school and he was accepted without probation.


During the following year, he continued to return for help from Ms Candi, “every Friday like clockwork.”

Over the summer between his year with us and his start at Edward P York, he enrolled in a program through the US army—pilot’s ground school. He was 15 years old.


In 2009 he began to participate in a program sponsored by a non-profit called the Belize Family Life Association where they work with young people through the medium of television. They have a program on Saturday afternoon from 1-3 described as being, “for youth, by youth, informing youth.”  Kori began working with them and was soon an interviewer.  Shortly after he started, he invited Ms Candi on the show to tell about Friends School.

He still works at the station. Over the years he has continued to take flying lessons. (He has not completed his pilot’s license because he cannot afford the money it takes for flying time.)


In his pilots uniform at the high school prom.


When Kori was at Edward P York, he never gave up.  He was at or near the top of his class each year. In June 2011 he completed high school as the salutatorian of his class.

4th from graduation

High School Graduation





Kori earned a scholarship to 5th form, equivalent to college Freshman in the US, in the junior college at St Johns.





Why am I writing this story now?  Because at the end of last semester Ms Candi got notice that he had earned his associates degree in science.  She was so excited she almost cried.

Epilogue: Kori is continuing his studies with the goal of earning his Bachelor’s Degree.

Are you a Quaker

I posted this story this morning on facebook and then remembered that some of you who follow this blog are not on facebook so I am sharing it here as well.

I was walking in downtown Belize City a few minutes ago when I saw a young couple standing on the corner looking at their map. So I said, “Lost? Can I help you?”

Them, “No, we were just taking the walking tour.” I looked at where they pointed on their map, told them they were doing fine, and began to walk away.

I had gotten about three steps when the man said, “Excuse me, Sir?”

Me, “Yes?”

Man, “Are you a Quaker?”

Me, “Yes I am.” All the while trying to figure out how in the world…

Man, “I saw you shirt and was just wondering.”

Aha, I was wearing my teaching shirt with the “Belize Friends School” logo on it.

It turns out that they are not Quakers but are from Millsville, PA. According to them it’s “an old Quaker town.” We talked about the school for a minute and went our separate ways.

How fun.