GREETINGs FROM THE HANCOCKS!
UPDATES on What is Going on in Belize
Gene and I are in the states awaiting the time when Belize will once again open. We had come back to the states for Gene’s second knee replacement, which he had in November 2019. He still has some issues with it, but it seems to be doing better at this time. He is now having problems with his sciatic nerve and back. Belize went for months with only 18 cases of COVID. When it first started, they shut the country down and still have not opened it back up. The only flights that have entered or left Belize were organized repatriation flights bringing American citizens back home and taking Belize citizens back to their home country. There have only been three or four of those flights. However, a major problem has come up with illegals coming into Belize from Guatemala, intending to go to the United States. Some of these people have been caught and tested positive for COVID.
They have since had more illegals enter, and some nationals have gone over to Chetumal, Mexico, to buy some things they could sell in Belize. The country has been hurting financially because the government shut it down even to the nationals moving around. Many businesses have closed. I think if you are fortunate to have a job, you can go there and straight home. Our superintendent, Charles Kerr, is fortunate enough to have a job in road building, and the government is in the middle of a big project, which leaves him little time for anything else. However, he continues to pastor a church. If you do not have a job, you are not likely to get one with so many places closing. In addition to their already severe circumstances, Belize has just had major flooding, which has caused most of the South (the Mayas) to lose their crops. These floods affected the whole country, but the farmers with big equipment are able to bounce back a lot easier than someone who has to do all of the cleanup and replanting by hand. Their main food is rice, beans, and corn tortillas (see the photo of a more plentiful time).
We have been sending money, as it comes in, to help our pastors and church members. If you would like to help with this endeavor, you may send your money to the Belize Ministry Account #69000P, earmarked COVID Relief Fund. Our pastor and his family on the island of Ambergris Caye, are really struggling at this time because this last round with COVID was someone that went to the island. Therefore, they have completely shut down the island. No boats or planes go in or out. The only things they grow on this island are coconuts, mangos, avocados, and that is about it. There is no farming. We are now part of the Gulf Coast Region, which incorporates Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. I am often asked, “Where is Belize”? You can see from the map where our new region is and the boundaries of Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. This photo was taken up close, but if you see the real size of Mexico and Guatemala, Belize is tiny in comparison. You can completely cover it with the tip of your index finger. Of course, when you try to cover it by yourself in travel, it is not that small. (see the photo of the map).
We now have four churches in Guatemala, which are ironically in the Belize Conference. There is a group of 12 villages in Guatemala which call themselves the Maya Alliance. This group desires to become a part of the IPHC. Our indigenous director has made a couple of trips to Guatemala, but the Coronavirus has become so bad that it is not safe for him to go right now. Guatemala and Mexico are hotbeds for the Coronavirus at this time, and we cannot run the risk of catching it and bringing it back to Belize for the most obvious reasons. We do not want anyone to get COVID or bring it back into Belize , nor do we want the Belizeans taking it across and infecting others. Our prime minister also stated that if anyone involved with a business or ministry goes outside of Belize and brings the virus back in, their company (or ministry) will have to leave Belize, and they will not be allowed to do business (or ministry) there again. There is too much at stake.
We had six teams lined up this summer for VBS, Youth Camp, Women’s Conference, and a team to work on the electrical at the campground in addition to the ministry they do every year for their adopted church. They had already shipped down all the electrical materials to do the job. We were sure that all of this would be over before summer, and one by one, the teams' times came and went for their arrival and departure as Belize remained closed. We already have teams lined up for next year, and we will see how things go. It is so important for us to raise up leaders in the countries in which we serve. As we share the gospel in one village, we can teach these future leaders how to share it in the villages to come. We often think of the doors closing on our country due to political unrest and such. I can only speak for myself, but I would never have thought of a pandemic that would prevent us from returning. We have not been without our issues during this time. Gene and I have been going to the chiropractor because of his back and my vertigo. On August 19, I will have had vertigo for 20 weeks.
Every Christian I have talked to feels, as do I, that we are so close to the return of the Lord and that we do not have any time to waste. “We must be about our Father’s business,” whether we are here or on the field trying to win the lost to Jesus. We miss these little guys (see photo of our youth camp), but the Lord has given us two other little guys (our two great-grandchildren) who live at our house and come to Belize every year with our daughter’s team. They fill part of our time while waiting for Belize to open, as well as the churches here to open for missionaries. We look forward to being able to hold services while we are in the U.S. I think it is still a little awkward for pastors because some churches require masks, and some do not. We always wear one when we go out in public, doctor's appointments, or anywhere there are people in close proximity to us.
Here are a few things for which I would like to request prayer:
• Belize- Not to be repetitious, but Belize is just beginning the journey we have already been traveling with COVID-19 for some time. Their numbers are going up daily, and I know the medical part of Belize cannot handle a full-blown pandemic. They are not equipped for that kind of problem.
• Our health- Pray over Gene’s sciatic problem in his back, legs, and knees. I have had vertigo for 20 weeks. The doctors have done several things to try to find out what is causing it, and I have been going to a chiropractor because I have heard that many people have to end up going there to get rid of vertigo. The doctor’s office recommended this.
• The Budget- Please pray over our budget and the ability to continue to minister here in the U.S. in preparation for Belize.
Ministry Opportunities for 2021:
• Our Campground property needs dorms and bathrooms. I believe I have a group that will be working on building our dining hall and kitchen. We also need to complete the balance that is owed on Phase I of the Karen Boggs Chapel so that we may continue with Phase II, which would be the security doors, windows, and security screen so no one can break into the chapel when we move our sound system to the campground. To give to this project, please designate your funds to project #69003P.
• We plan to host VBS Teams in July and the first two weeks of August.
• We have a team that does most of the remote VBS, youth camp, and Women’s Conference. If you have ever wanted to work in this area, let me know, and I will put you in touch with the team leader.
• Other teams are willing to allow people to go with them to help them in their ministry. However, as in the team above, that is all at the discretion of the team leaders.
• We have construction projects needing to be done and some to be completed that have already begun. One of which is our church on San Pedro Town, Belize.
If you are interested in any of these areas of ministry or construction, please notify me by email or phone, Gene- firstname.lastname@example.org, or by my cell phone, Liz- 706-955-5105.
Gene & Liz Hancock