Belize - Day 5
Sorry we didn't update yesterday! We had to prepare for our Tuesday night program after a day of interviewing. In last night program, Pastor Jim taught "How to study the Bible." Everyone, especially the youth, learned a lot from this informational workshop.
Today, Patricia from the Chinese church, brought us to many places today. We first split into two teams and visited different grocery shops and bakery. God is good to us. He knew we had to take in a lot of difficult stories in the first two days. So today's visits include many optimistic and blessed people. For example, the Lau couple we first visited lived really close to the church. Although they own a really small store, they are really content with their live situation. Mr. Lau is not a Christian yet. But since he had chef experience when he was in China, he always made a lot of food for church when his wife goes to church on Sunday. Also, as they live in a safe neighborhood, they are more at ease with their surrounding. They have four kids and their only hope for the kids is that one day they can be self-sufficient and make money on their own. Through this visit, it shows us that we really don't need a lot of things, like a spacious house, a nice car, etc, to be happy. It reminds us once again that we cannot put our "first-world" mindset and impose it on others. Meanwhile, the other team visited a bakery and Pastor Brian was able to talk to a young boy who grew up in Belize. He didn't go to school and his parents would like him to inherit the store.
Then, we visited Qing jie. We wanted to visit her yesterday but she was out when we got to her restaurant. She has been in our prayers because we knew she is in a unhealthy relationship, her "husband" is already married to another wife, and he is addicted to gambling. She worked hard to make money, but a lot of times she had to give the money to her "husband." When we talked to her, she said "A lot of people could not understand how I can tolerate the situation, but for me, it's because I don't like conflicts. I don't want to fight with him." Her mild temperament is quite admirable but at the same time, we still really want to pray for her that she will be able to give her heart to God so that she is able to be freed from all the constraints of sins.
In the afternoon, we visited some bigger grocery stores next to the airport. The grocery stores are a lot bigger and it's not blocked by gates. The owner has a great business sense of knowing how location, and adapting to the local culture matter. After owning a small gated grocery stores like the other Chinese for a while, he and his brother decided to expand and do something different. They bought a piece of land near the airport and opened this huge grocery store (size is almost equivalent to half a Target). His story reminds us that the Chinese stories here are not all the same. They are people who are willing to be more immersed with the local culture, and live in a "freer" environment.
The last interview for the day was very meaningful as well. Wu Ma, tan, small, wears a stylish glasses, is a very amiable and cheerful and fun-loving lady. She has been here since her early 30s around 24 years ago. We had a good story about her life in Belize and how she opened up a club, a 24-hour burger store, before she opened this current Taiwanese restaurant. She loves to cook and enjoys singing with friends and customers at her store. Her husband died around 11 years ago from cancer. She then shared with us her testimony of how she came to believe in God. When her husband was able to be baptized in his last days and passed away peacefully. She even mentioned that her husband saw angels and people singing before he died! It was an encouraging testimony for us.
A lot of people we talked to today were encouraged that our church is sending a survey team here to Belize. They appreciated our willingness to get to know them, and they are happy to get their story out, so that more people are aware of the hardship that the Chinese experience here. Please continue to pray for all the people that we have spoken to. Thanks to our previous effort in Belize, a lot of people recognized LGCC, and they are thankful of the medical team that gave them free health examinations! We will continue to sow the seeds and are also ready for harvest! :)
Monday, January 28, 2013
We had a productive day in Belize today. Victor Fong was our driver and he handles the traffic like a local professional driver. People walked on the street. There are hardly any traffic lights, with minimum stop signs. On our way, we spotted many grocery stores owned by Chinese, they were all named after Chinese names, like the "Hong Store"...etc.
Marinda from church brought us to the first stop- which is a grocery store operated by Mrs. So. She has her hair braided.- it seems like she is happily expecting our visit. She was very welcoming and she lets us get pass the gates immediately.(Gates are very common in Belize. Unlike America, there is no honor system, and to prevent robbery, all stores are gated. Customers can only order things from the outside.) And she was not reluctant to be video-interviewed either. Her store is pretty big in size compared to others. It can fit all 7 of us. Praise God that she got a lot of customers in the beginning of our visit, but the customers stopped swamping in right after we started the interview.
Mrs. So has been in Belize over 10 years with her son. Her son is around 24 years old. But he is barely around the store. As we began the interview, Mrs. So mentioned about the crime that had happened a few months ago where four people were killed. She lamented that she is concerned about the safety, but she is used to the instability. Mrs. So works from 7:30am to 10pm. When we said it's a rather long time of work, she laughed and said there is nothing else to do anyway.
One of her hopes and aspirations is to one day visit America. When she left Taishan, China, she actually wanted to go to United States the most, but since she couldn't get the VISA like her sister, she is left with no other choices but Belize. Though it's not her first choice, she is still mostly content with her life, it seems. She doesn't hope for many things. "I just want to be safe, and continue to have good business," She said. After talking to us, she indicated interest to come to our Sunday service. We then proceeded to pray for her.
The second appointment we had was with Mr. Ma, who is a plastic factory owner. He is a short, cheerful man. He welcomed us into his factory and office. And gladly accepted the request for a video-interview as well. He was originally from Guangzhou, then he moved to Hong Kong, and eventually to Belize around 30 years ago. "Half of my life is spent here in Belize- It is my second hometown." He said. He expressed gratefulness for the opportunity to come to Belize. He is able to do what he does well, which is mechanical engineering, and he successfully raised up to two kids, who were able to obtain master degrees in the United States. He showed us around his plastic factory, which produced plastic bags, spoons, and containers. He shared about his faith in Christianity, but also his doubts and his fear about the evil spirits/idols. He is extremely passionate about music especially Erhu. He even invited us to go to his house to jam together! (But we will see if we have time).
And then, we had a spontaneous visit with a Taiwanese hotel owner. Our team member Michael met with her and her son in 2009. During that past meeting, Michael heard about the tragic story, in which the son witnessed a brutal murder of his father, and since then became quiet and close off. We suggested to the mom that we would like to speak to the son. The mom was hesitant, she didn't expect her son would want to come down from the apartment to speak to us. But when she called him, he said yes. We were able to have a good chat with him. He told us about his plan to go study in Taiwan, and he asked us some questions about United States and job situations. He is very intelligent and gifted. He didn't seem like he is autistic (like his mom said) at all. We were touched to see how much he has grown. The mom cried at the end, because she didn't think her son can be so sociable.
We really witnessed how teamwork and prayer work in today's visits. In every meeting, the members who are not speaking would pray unceasingly. And because of God's grace, the people we met today were able to open up to us. We thank God for letting us to have a glimpse of these people's lives!
Sunday, January 27, 2013
We all arrived at the San Jose airport yesterday morning by 4:30am to catch our 6:20am flight to Belize. The trip was pretty uneventful, which is a good thing! Everyone was in good spirits and looking forward to the trip ahead.
As scheduled, we arrived in Belize at close to 4pm (two hour time difference from California) and were met by a large group from the Belize City Chinese church. They took us to our guesthouse and then we had a time of dinner and fellowship together. It was good to see old friends, especially Victor and Jerry who came to LGCC last summer for our exchange program.
So far, our Sunday is planned. We’ll lead the Sunday service here at BCCCC and then have lunch together with the brothers and sisters here. We also hope to begin doing some interviews with the church members, so we can practice interviewing and they can see exactly what we’re doing, too.
Eddie and Pastor Brian have meetings scheduled on Monday morning with the Minister of Forestry for Belize as well as the head of the Office of Climate Change for the entire Caribbean.
-Pray for the team that we’ll get settled in quickly here in Belize and that many Chinese people will desire to be interviewed for this project.
-Pray for Pastor Brian because he came to Belize sick with some kind of sinus cold. Pray for healing and energy, especially with Monday’s meetings coming up.
-Pray for these initial government meetings on Monday, that what we present in terms of aiding the country will begin good discussions about potential partnership in the future.