Trip to Belize offers unique experiences

God’s love to others is carried in many ways. Sister Ann Christine Pendleton was called to carry God’s love to others by going to Belize in January 2019. As she traveled, she was deeply touched by the unique experiences she had and the people she met along the way.

Mary Christine Pendleton, SSNDSister Ann Christine Pendleton was invited by the trip leader to travel with a group of seven volunteers who had made previous mission trips to the country. Pre-trip challenges made Sister Ann Christine question if this experience was of a Godly design. However, with the support and prayers of sisters and many others, her first trip to a foreign country began. She was grateful her sister, Betty Pendleton, traveled with her.

After landing in Belize, they took a five-hour van ride south to Punta Gorda where the group of nine people stayed at the Pallotine Sisters’ Nazareth Retreat Center. The next day, the whole group was back in the van to journey to Indian Creek, an outlying village where volunteers had worked last year. As Sister Ann Christine puts it, “The two and a half hour, 45-mile journey on a bumpy, rocky and muddy road made a roller coaster seem like a merry go round.” The journey allowed the group to see villages made up of thatched homes, early mission churches and schools, with dogs, chickens and pigs roaming freely. The group attended Sunday Mass where they met and interacted with local residents who were friendly and welcoming.

When Monday came, they traveled to Dolores to fulfill their mission in constructing a building to replace a disintegrating third grade classroom. While the women interacted with the children in the classrooms and visited neighboring women in their homes, the men were enthusiastically working. By Friday, the roof was completed. Sister Ann Christine fondly recalls, “We were moved by the interaction with the residents of Dolores and their sacrifice and determination to provide wholesome lives for themselves and their children. We were also humbled by their hospitality, despite having limited resources. It reminded me of Matthew 25:35: ’I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’”

Sister Mary Christine Pendleton shares a photo of the muddy roads the group of travelers in Belize used.During the week, the group traveled between Punta Gorda and Dolores. Due to rain, the group was stuck in Punta Gorda for a few days, so the small group helped in any way they could. At the community hall, the group assisted in a bingo game for seniors where the prizes were 2019 wall calendars from the United States.

They also organized a geodesic dome that would be assembled on the Pallotine Sisters' convent grounds. The geodesic dome would serve as a greenhouse for a vegetable garden, providing the Pallotine Sisters with fresh food and an income source. After breakfast on Friday morning, they all worked to erect the geodesic dome and helped prepare the soil for planting. Abbi, an area resident, told them the soil contained nematodes that eat the roots of many plants. Sifting and baking the dirt in the sun was necessary to get rid of the nematodes so the vegetables would grow properly. The geodesic dome was covered with chicken wire to protect the plants from animals and to support the plastic cover, which would guide rain to water the plants inside.

Sister Ann Christine concludes her experience by saying, “We all carry God's love to others, some by praying and others by going. May the memories and reflection I’ve shared encourage you to have your own cultural, reflective/religious experience.”

 
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