Category Archives: Culture
Our First Independence Day Parade!
The kids and I had the opportunity to be in a school parade for Belize Independence Day today! This was definitely our kids’ first time being in a parade, and for me as well, other than maybe when I was in marching band as a kid. The last two years the parade had to be cancelled for Covid, so this was an extra special time. All the kids were excited as they made decorations all week long. Our youngest went as a toucan, which is Belize’s national bird. The teachers and administration of Presbyterian Day School did a splendid job of making it both fun and educational, as the kids learned Belizean history and learned to value the importance of freedom.
Belize was formerly a possession of Great Britain. They won their independence on September 21, 1981, making them a very young country! They are still a part of the British commonwealth, meaning that the day of the Queen’s funeral will be a day off for schools and banks, to commemorate her important influence nationally.
Please pray for the great nation of Belize! Pray for a great work of the Holy Spirit, that our churches would be full of passionate worshippers of our Triune God!
Day Trip to Cerros Mayan Ruins
Since our son is visiting from the U.S., we decided to take my day off to travel to a historical site in Belize. Cerros is an ancient Mayan site inhabited for a few hundred years before and after the birth of Christ. We drove about 40 minutes from home on mostly dirt roads and had to cross a river on a ferry to reach the site. As far as I know, it is the only Mayan ruins site located along the seashore. This must have been a beautiful place for the Mayans to work and live.
For much of history the Yucatec Mayans living in and near Belize were an unreached people group. Thankfully today there are believers and churches among Mayans and their descendants. In our village the older generations still speak Mayan in the home though most of their children and grandchildren speak Spanish and English. We can thank God for the salvation of many among the Mayans and continue to pray for many more Mayans as well as other Belizeans to come to know Christ.
Sugar Cane Fields
Along with ecotourism, sugar cane is one of the most important industries in Belize. In recent years the sugar cane harvest has suffered from a 5 year drought. Praise God that this past year the rains have increased dramatically, providing needed moisture for the soil and giving hope to local farmers. Many of our church members in the Presbyterian Church in Belize are either sugar cane farmers or somehow connected to the industry. For example, there is a network of distribution, processing and sales both locally and abroad. Please be praying for the sugar cane farmers and that God will bless them abundantly.
What follows are two brief videos showing sugar cane fields during the day and night. Many burn their fields at night in order to make it easier and safer to harvest. This clears surrounding shrubbery and drives off harmful critters such as poisonous snakes.
Saying goodbye to Uruguay
The Call family spent most of the month of July packing up, getting things ready to ship to our new ministry in Belize, selling furniture, saying goodbye to friends, sightseeing, and doing ministry.
The first week was really sad because we will miss this great nation of Uruguay and it is always hard to say goodbye. But we threw ourselves into the work, while seeking the Lord at the same time. As the month went on, we learned how to give thanks to God for our time ministering there and for all the fruit that God produced through the ministry of the Word.
God gave Ray the opportunity to preach at our church plant in Montevideo – Iglesia Presbiteriana Salvos por Gracia. It was a blessing to gather together with God’s people there once again! Michele was able to spend time with friends and leaders not only in the Presbyterian churches, but in the evangelical churches at large – other godly women who love the Lord and are serving Him in various ways.
We were pleased to hear that God is raising up leadership for the church plant as they announced their first elder candidate. He and some other men in the church have begun an online radio program, which carries quality content as well as a radio show where they deal with important passages in the Bible. Ray was interviewed and also gave a short devotional.
This trip was also a temporary reuniting with our dog Canela! She is a Boxer and we have had her since she was a very small puppy about four years ago. It was a sad goodbye as we adopted her to a nice family living on a farm out in the country. We hope to see pictures and videos of her enjoying farm life!
As we said goodbye to friends and brothers and sisters in Christ, we also said goodbye to the city. What a beautiful city it is. We spent a whole day downtown – mostly in Plaza Independencia and the old part of the city called Ciudad Vieja. Aside from visiting a museum, walking the streets, and buying souvenirs, we had a delicious lunch at Mercado del Puerto – plaza with several indoor and outdoor parillas (grilled meat restaurants). Most of the family ordered the Uruguayan national dish: chivito. This is a dish with a cut of filet mignon usually piled with lettuce, tomato, egg, bacon, ham, and possibly other ingredients! The two options are usually on a plate or in sandwich form. Ray opted for the grilled lamb – all meat is grilled over embers from an open wood fire.
May the Lord bless this city and may its inhabitants, as well as all the people of Uruguay! And may they all hear the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ and be reconciled to God by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone!
The Rise in Crime
What do grocery stores, armored cars, ATM machines and my back patio all have in common? Theft.
Over the course of 2018 we have seen a rise in crime. There were at least three attacks by gangs of armed criminals on armored vehicles transporting money. That is quite an undertaking as each armored truck has two armed men with a car full of armed men following behind. Unfortunately, they were taken by surprise and some of the guards were shot. If my memory serves me well, I do believe that the men recovered, though I imagine that there must be lingering effects from their wounds. Two of the robberies were within five blocks of our home. The first was at a bank on the corner and another took place in the parking lot at the mall – both within broad daylight. Even more striking, the third robbery took place very close to the Uruguayan seat of government – the Palacio Legislativo (Legisltative Palace)!
One of the most tragic crimes took place at a grocery store a few miles away where two men entered a supermarket, robbed it and then shot and killed one of the employees on the way out. The victim was a young mother. Later, the shooter was found by police which ended up in him being shot and killed. A friend of mine had met this young man years ago – an example of what a small world Uruguay can be at times.
Very recently, I have been seeing news of ATM machines being blown to bits so that criminals can steal the cash. Some ATM’s are even equipped with an anti-theft ink system which sprays the money with ink so that it will be recognized – making it hard to spend. Sadly, sometimes the ATM machine is the only one in a small town and it can be difficult for the retired folks living there to withdraw money if the banks decide not to install a new one.
One day last month I woke up and went to the kitchen like normal to turn on the burner so that I could cook up some fried eggs. Eggs are my favorite breakfast. But to my surprise, the flame would not start. I thought that was odd and I eventually had the idea of checking the propane tank just outside the kitchen in the back patio. It was missing. Not only was it missing, but the valve and another empty propane tank were gone. Someone had climbed our roof, descended into our back patio and carried out two propane tanks! They are not easy to lift either! I filed a police report, but nothing much came of it.
As we heard news of these various crimes, we prayed – asking the Lord to be at work. Begging God to change the hearts of the criminals. Praying for healing, comfort and peace for the victims and Continue reading The Rise in Crime
Baptism and New Membership in a Dry and Parched Land
What is it like to be a Christian missionary in the most secular country in the Americas? Uruguay is unusual in Latin America for its level of secularism, as the Pew Research Center explains here and here. It isn’t just the most secular country in Latin America, it is strikingly more secular than any other country in the region. Many think that is because Uruguay is following in the footsteps of Spain, but in fact as this article in Spanish describes, Uruguay has a much higher percentage of atheists and those who are religiously unaffiliated than Spain or many other European countries. And although Argentina is the close cousin culturally of Uruguay, the religious landscape between the two nations are quite distinct. Continue reading Baptism and New Membership in a Dry and Parched Land
First Day of School, Missionary Style
Summer is quickly coming to a close in the Southern Hemisphere. Today was the first day of school all across the city of Montevideo￼. Because our seasons are opposite of the Northern Hemisphere, the school year runs from March through December. Continue reading First Day of School, Missionary Style
A Taste of Uruguay – Tortas Fritas
Winter seems to have descended early upon us in Uruguay. The weather has been cold and grey since the baby was born in mid-April. Although winter doesn’t officially begin until June 20, I have been watching the weather report every morning for over a month, waiting for a warm day, to no avail. Continue reading A Taste of Uruguay – Tortas Fritas
A New School Year
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The long, relaxing summer days are coming to a sudden end. The new school year starts again this Monday. Summer seemed to fly by. It is never long enough. But there is also excitement over new routines and new experiences. In my almost 19 years as a parent, I always saw us as a family of die-hard homeschoolers. But, I am now preparing for our second year in a local, private school. Last year we sent our then 4 and 8 year old children, reasoning that they were young enough to pick up the language. This year we are also sending our 11 year old. It was clear that in order to gain fluency in both the language and culture he had to attend school. Our church plant is small and without any other children, and his weekly lessons weren’t enough. Continue reading A New School Year