An update from Jamie and Lisa Williams, GBGM (General Board of Global Ministries) missionaries to Belize from our own KY conference.
Things are going well in Belize! Jamie is busy serving 2 churches in a circuit of 5 churches where he shares responsibilities with Reverend Papouloute, the District President (equivalent to a Bishop in the US).
My main job is to coordinate UMVIM teams that come to work in Belize from the United States. The primary focus for UMVIM teams coming to Belize is to build a new high school in the capital city of Belmopan. A portion of the high school has been completed and the first class of 96 students started on September 2nd!
We have several more years of work to finish the high school so put on your work gloves and come join us! The KY conference is sending a team February 8-15, 2014 to do construction on this school. Currently about half of Belizean youth do not have an opportunity to attend high school due to the shortage of schools. At the new school dedication we heard testimonies of students who had waited for 2 years to continue their education. One girl even repeated the last year of primary school while she waited!
We would also like to ask for help with a specific need for the Methodist Church in Belize. We need two 12-15 passenger vans; and an enclosed U-Haul type trailer. These would be used to transport incoming UMVIM teams and their luggage. Currently UMVIM teams rent vans from commercial businesses, which can be expensive. If Belize Methodists owned the vans/trailer, the teams could pay the Belize Methodist Church for usage, at a lower cost. This would help the Belize Methodist Church to build capital and also have the vans for use by the Belizean Methodist churches when UMVIM teams are not using them.
In the John Wesley tradition of using the circuit system, the Belize churches are very connectional, which is wonderful. For instance Jamie and I serve in a circuit that contains 5 churches. The distance between the churches in this circuit is up to 30 miles. This distance is a long way as most all the roads are very bad - thirty miles can translate to 1 1/2 hours travel! With the connectional culture, churches within the circuit love to participate in events hosted by other churches within the circuit. One church may have a festival or other special event and the other churches want to join but can't because they have no transportation. Most Belizeans have no vehicle and rely on public transportation which has limited service on weekends. In short, vans to transport persons will help the individual churches as well.
The GREAT news is that we were just able to purchase one van with funds collected from UMVIM teams that have come to Belize over the past two years along with a generous no-interest loan from an individual belonging to a church in our own KY Conference! The usage fee from future UMVIM teams will generate funds to repay the loan and maintain the van. We will build capital and at some point have funding for other church related projects and needs. The Belize Methodist Church is absolutely crippled by lack of funding.
This where the KY Conference comes in. ……(drum roll)………
As we really need another van and an enclosed trailer, is there a church that may be looking to sell or donate a 12-15 passenger van you are looking to replace? Do any Kentuckians out there have or know of an enclosed trailer for sale? Are there interested Kentucky Methodists willing to drive a van and trailer to Miami Florida to a port for shipping when we obtain the van and trailer? Are there churches or individuals that would like to donate resources for a portion of these needs?
The few larger churches in the country of Belize that have vans use them for many, many things. I cannot begin to express how happy the Burrell Boom congregation is that they will receive the first van so their members can benefit!! (It will be kept at the Burrell Boom parsonage when not used by UMVIM teams.)
We are so excited to host the KY Conference UMVIM team in February and will hope to see you then!