We lived in Belize City, British Honduras (renamed Belize in 1973), for three years--late July 1970 to early May 1973.
We were married just over a month before going to Belize (above), and we returned to the United States of America a few months early than three years when I (Richard) was diagnosed with hepatitis from eating tainted food or drinking infested water.
After 39 years of never being back, we visited Belize once again in September, 2012, for 12 days. It was a very special reunion for us. Above is a photo of Elsie and I at one of our favorite places in Belize--at the lighthouse at the end of the Belize River as it empties into the Caribbean Sea.
Belize is located along the Caribbean Sean on the southern edge of the Yucatan peninsula. So its neighbor to the north is Mexico, to the west is Guatemala, and to the south for a short distance is more of Guatemala. Visit this page to get a truer perspective on its location and to see a map showing the layout of the cities, towns and districts in the country.
From late in 1970 until we left in 1973, we lived in the upstairs of the house shown above along with our VW bug that had its steering wheel on the right-side of the car.
IIn September the house at 33 Mahogany St. was still there with just a few alterations.
My primary role in the early 1970's was to pastor the national Mennonite church in Belize City. Here two of the leaders are digging the first shovelfuls for the foundation to our church building. (I am the too young fellow on the right of the photo, in case you did not know me back then!)
By 2012, the original building completed in 1973 had been added onto for more room. (The original building is the peaked structure in the center of the above photo.) Zoe Ministries is now the church occupying the facilities.
Betty and Roger Taylor (above) were our hosts in our 2012 visit to Belize. We greatly appreciated their hospitality and all of the good conversations we had with them.
We had learned to know Roger as a young man doing voluntary service in Orange Walk town while we live in Belize City in the early 1970's. Betty was a young woman in the youth group of our church in the City. Soon after we left they were married and have lived in Belize City for most of the years since then.
Above is a photo from our living room in about 1972 showing Betty (far left) and Elsie (second from the right) helping some young girls from the church to do some crafts with fabric.
Betty and Roger live in a hexagonal-shaped house--predicted to withstand the hurricanes which on occasion devastate Belize.
The weather in September was in the low 90o F with the low 70% hunidity. During the night these two numbers switched places! So we were glad when a small rain storm came through and refreshed us and the plants.
Roger's import-and-export business, Imex, Inc., has its main office in the bottom floor of their house.
We were also excited that we were able to reconnect with a few other friends, such as Miss Joyce, during our recent visit.
Many shops line the streets in Belize City such as the one above that is located on the lower level of our friend's house.
On September 21, 1981, Belize finally received full independence. Thus on our second day in Belize, we helped line the streets as we watched the 31st Independence Day parade.
The Sun was bright, and the day was hot, so Elsie and I gave out before it was all finished. But it was fun to be part of the celebrative atmosphere.
On our first Sunday in Belize, we attended the Open Door Believers Chapel, and as happens before services in many churches, teenage girls chatted about their week (past or present, I am not sure).
We worshipped with a praise band playing gospel jazz and a challenging sermon from the lead elder, Gordon “Dickie” Soutar. He arrived in Belize from Jamaica just a couple of years after we left Belize and has made Belize his family's home.
It was very exciting during the worship service to hear the newly translated Kriol New Testament being read. Everyone read aloud together a portion of Galatians 5. Above is verse 25 which loosely translated into English is: "Since that the Holy Spirit will give us our new life, then we must make him control how we live." For more information visit the National Kriol Council.
We also learned to know a number of new friends during our visit in September, such as Alex, Leah and Anya who joined the Taylors and us for lunch that first Sunday. Alex is the director of Harvest for Kids--Belize and the Belize Camping Experience. (Use these words in a web search if you want more stories of what these groups are accomplishing.)
Of course, without any of our nine grandchildren around, Elsie took full advantage of the opportunity to hold Anya. The only reason I did not do so was that someone had to take the picture!
Talking about babies, our first child, Todd, was born in Belize City in the Holden Memorial Hospital. That hospital is now a hotel (above), and Todd is 40 years old.
Another important part of our visit to Belize was the interaction I had with the faculty and students at the University of Belize in Belmopan (the capitol).
Inside the Jaguar Hall was the auditorium in which I presented two seminars to students in the physical sciences, mathematics and computer science.
If you want the answer to the question in the title of this seminar, contact me to set up a time for me to give the presentaiton to your group. (I'm only half teasing; I would be glad to give this seminar at other schools.)
The "Game of Life" is not the board game that many of us know, but it is about some simple cellular automata. Again, contact me if you are interested in more info.
I enjoyed exchanging teaching stories and research
interests with Dr.
Joaquin Urbina, interim dean of sciences and technology at the
University of Belize. To me, this interaction was very special because I
taught for one semester at Belize Technical
College in the fall of 1972. And it was that experience that convinced me that I should become a college professor.
While we were in Belmopan, we took the time to view the open air market and to eat some good Belizean food in a local restaurant. Rice and beans was my choice.
Later on in the week, I was granted my request to find a local restaurant at which I could order black relleno--made with chicken, ground pork, hard-boiled eggs, chopped onions, black recado seasoning and other spices.
Just on the edge of Belmopan (and at several more locations in the whole country) one can find a Caribbean Tire Wholesale store for tires and lots more. The company was begun by persons from the Spanish Lookout Colony of the Kleine Gemeinde branch of colony Mennonites.
This stores is a very modern building whether one is looking outside or inside.
I was happy to see that, while there was a more modern bridge now in place, one could still ride a ferry across the Belize River to get to the Spanish Lookout colony.
I was even more excited when I heard the ferry operator accept my offer to crank the ferry across the river. With surprise, I discovered that the ferry was relatively easy to crank, so we shared some jovial conversation as I worked.
While I "worked," Elsie observed the local snacks available for purchase to the passengers on the ferry.
In Spanish Lookout we visited several modern stores selling items from tractors to hardware to groceries and clothing.
Our second Sunday was spent meeting Nancy Marshall, Brittany Lentz and one of their frineds in Orange Walk town where Nancy gives leadership to an emerging church for the deaf. (Read Nancy's blog for more details.) Nancy is connected with Eastern Mennonite Missions and Virginia Mennonite Missions.
In late afternoon that Sunday, we worshipped with the "Life Changing Ministries" church in Orange Walk town. They are a Spanish speaking evangelical Mennonite congregation pastored by Asuncion Chan.
As the Moon rose on our last full day in Belize, we were hoping and praying that our renewed relationships with Belize--its people and culture--might continue.
For more photos visit my nature photography blogs at:
--©2013, Richard L. Bowman/p>