The rest of the story

7:45 Leave the apartment for the immigration office

7:55 Arrive immigration

8:00 Enter immigration office where the other couple from yesterday are waiting

8:10 First couple gets called in for interview. At this point I’m feeling really positive. This may go quickly.

8:25 First couple returns from interview and takes a seat in the waiting room.

9:00 First couple goes to the window to ask about progress, are told that the man who has to sign has not yet arrived and are given a 3:15 appointment.

9:05 I go to the window to ask if I will be seen this morning. “Oh, yes.”

9:15 One of the men we saw yesterday arrives at the office, not hurrying.

9:37 We get called for an interview.

9:44 Interview over, have a seat in the waiting room.

9:50 Me to attendant, “What happens next?”  Attendant, “They are signing your papers.”

9:56 Attendant, “Do you know that your passport expires in November?”  Me, “Yes, I have made an appointment in Belmopan for a passport renewal.” Attendant disappears into the back with my passport.

10:10  Attendant, “This permit will only be issued to the renewal date on your passport. When you get your new passport come back in.”

10:20 Attendant, “Take this to the cashier.” So I take the papers to the cashier and give her my $100.

10:22 Hand receipt to Attendant and watch her hand-write into the record books and hand-write on the work permit.

10:32 Walk out with Temporary Work Permit-Volunteer.  Good for one year (except I have to go back in when I get my new passport and get it properly stamped).


The day

7:35 Leave home.
7:45 Pick up Discernment and Planning team at Barbers.
8:00 Arrive at school.
8:30 Teach class–discover we are out of chalk and no one has said anything about it.
9:00 Take Wayne Carter to check on bus repairs and get chalk.
    Wayne wants to stop at the Lions club sign he has seen and talk about the Lion’s eyeglass program, so we do that. It takes a half hour. Then we buy chalk. Then we check on the bus where we discover someone working very diligently trying to find out what the electrical problem is because, as I suspected although no one will admit it, that it does not appear to be the glow plug controller.
10:00 Take Eden, Jan and Tom to see the potential properties
11:00 Get a call from Ms Candi asking if we can come to school right away and see a property Mr Tench has just learned about.
11:15 Look at said property.
11:30 Go back to the trip to the other properties.
12:10 Eat lunch at school.
1:10 While Darcel takes students to swim lessons, take Tom and Jan and Candi to visit Candi’s mom. While they are there, deliver Wayne and AnnLee to the Barbers for some rest. Get some gas.
1:40 Get a call from Candi that the visit is over.
1:50 Pick them up, deliver Tom and Jan to the Barbers and go back to school.
2:00  Arrive at school to find 2 big burly immigration officers.  They tell me that my application for a temporary work permit is approved and ask if I have received the letter. I have not so they say that it may be at the labor department. They also tell me that I am missing the passport photos from my permit application (which we submitted with the application).  They are investigating to make sure that I am actually working at the school.  Since I have just walked in with Ms Candi, that seems to be no problem. (Meanwhile they have apparently had a fairly fruitful discussion with Eden and Ms Darcel)  They want to know when I can complete the process.
2:30  Upon looking at my passport we discover that today is the day that it is supposed to be renewed.  They tell me to go to the labor department, get the letter, get three passport photos and proceed to immigration where I will need to go to the income tax department and get an approval letter after which I will proceed to immigration and pay the fee.  Oh, and by the way, the tax department closes at 3:30.
2:45. Arrive at the labor department where they find the letter, say they have no idea how the passport photos were not with the original application and that I will just have to print more of them. Oh, and by the way, the tax department usually closes at 3:15 even though they are supposed to be open until 3:30.
3:00 Arrive back at school, print more passport photos.
3:15 Arrive at immigration where we are immediately sent to the tax department.
3:16  Arrive at tax department (in the same building, thank goodness).
3:32 Leave tax department with said letter (whew).
3:35 Arrive back at immigration where we are told that the passport photos will not work; they “need to look more like this” (showing us a passport photo with a  flat white background) and we will need to wait for a final interview with the same guys who just saw us at school and said everything was fine. (????)
3:45 Boss at immigration tells us and 3 other people that the immigration officers discovered fraud at their last stop of the day and would be dealing with that, please come back tomorrow morning at 8:00 am where we will be first in line. I mention that my passport was to have been renewed today.  She assures me that it will be no problem if I am there at 8:00 in the morning.
4:00 Pick up Darcell at school.
4:15 Pick up the rest of the team at the Barbers.
5:00 Begin nice leisurely dinner at Bird’s Isle.
7:00 Leave Bird’s Isle before the karaoke begins. Deliver team to respective homes.
7:30 Arrive home in time to watch the last 2 minutes of the Wisconsin game.
And how was your day?

Wilmington Visit

After School Program and Field Trip to Caye Caulker

A visiting team from Wilmington was to have arrived on March 9, but there were difficulties with the flights so they arrived on the 10th.  Nancy McCormick and her daughter Talia came to be with our students and to direct an afterschool program for three days, Wednesday through Friday.  They stayed with the Barbers and asked Christy and Kassie to help with the program–an absolutely wonderful idea.


From left: Talia McCormick, Candi Young, Darcel Murray, Nancy McCormick

Here are some photos along with a few comments.








Christy Barber and Kassie Barber lead the singing.


Ms Candi getting in on the action.


Following a lesson time, there was craft time.  I did not photograph the lesson.


Cion’s rubber band bracelets


Ms Candi and Ms Talia help tie-die t-shirts

DSC02866 DSC02863

The team had raised the money to take the students to Caye Caulker on Monday. Ms Candi had arranged to make a presentation about our school with the elementary school on the island. Sadly, that plan fell apart, so the students got a full day of play.


These students were probably 50 yards from shore. Notice that the water is only knee deep. You can walk out a long ways before the water gets deep.


Lunch line


Student Anthony took this photo. The students love to take photos with my camera, and I let them.


Another view of the lunch line


It was Talia’s birthday.

DSC03022 DSC02976 DSC02956  “And a fun time was had by all.”


Four Signs


I was browsing around the internet this morning and saw a posting by Eden Grace about 7 questions you can ask yourself about your ‘purpose in life.’  One of the comments on that posting, by Kathleen Wooten, contained this quotation:

Four Signs

It caught my attention immediately and I began to reflect.  It seemed, in the quiet of my apartment before getting ready to go to worship this morning, to be particularly pertinent. In fact it jumped off the page and smacked me in the face.

It is simple.  My task in Belize has been defined. I am to speak with an many different people and agencies that are involved on the south side of Belize City as I can. I am to gather data that will inform the discussion of a group of people who will discern a future direction for the work of Friends United Meeting in Belize.

It is persistent.  There is always someone else to talk to or a conversation that needs to be continued. I never feel like I have learned enough.

It seems impossible.  How can such a simple assignment be so frustrating, even seeming impossible?  Why do I feel like people are giving me the answer they think I want to hear, instead of what they really think?  Why do I get only part of the information, and a small enough part that later discussion makes my first impression incorrect?  Why is it so hard to get straight answers?  How long will it take to be trusted?

It doesn’t feel impossible, or even frustrating, every single day. Some days it’s just plain exciting. But it’s important for us to understand that, if we choose to expand the work in Belize, there are going to be times when it feels impossible.

It involves others.  I am convinced that the success of any long term plan for the work of Friends United Meeting in Belize hinges on the buy-in of Belizeans.  We must find Belizeans who “get” Quaker. I must model “FUM Quaker” with integrity in a way that Belizeans can see that of God in me and that of God within themselves. Then, for those who find truth in the Quaker way, we will need to place a heavy emphasis on leadership training.  Yes, indeed, it involves others.

This is my morning reflection.

(Oh, by the way, the electricity just went out.  Good thing my computer and my modem are battery powered…)