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Hello!

 

This is a long awaited update on our most recent container! 

I know I have missed people that should have been included, but hopefully there is a way to communicate some of this info to the church as a whole since there are many people who contributed and would like an update on the status.  Please feel free to share (and if you get this email through someone else, please forgive me for not including you initially!).  It has been a long journey for our shipment after it left Forrester Hall on March 26th, and getting updates is not easy and they come in bits and pieces, so I will put a few of those pieces together here! I apologize for the length of this email, but I promise you that it is worth reading!  Exciting things are happening because of the work that we have been involved in!

 

The container arrived in the port of Belize somewhere around April 22nd.  I received many questions from customs in Belize during the month of shipping regarding specific details of items that were included (where was the rice grown?,

What was the brand of spaghetti and mac n cheese?, brand of tuna?, what was the size of the tv?, what was in the “40 boxes of hospice supplies” that I was told NOT to list as nitrile gloves and gowns…). 

Upon arrival, it spent another week and a half sitting before customs released it to the Word at Work on May 3rd.  Fortunately, at that point, the board of the Word at Work was actually in Belize (from Amarillo, TX) for the first time since the pandemic started!  As I piece things together, I think that they and some folks from Marvin’s church helped to offload the contents.  Most of it was loaded into a storage container that is actually part of a partner church (First Stone Church) that TWAW works with:

Ebenezer Church gave out boxes of dinnerware that had been donated by Royer Greaves School for the blind (and boxed up in 6 serving packages by several of us) to moms in their community for Mother’s Day.

Yes, that is Pastor Marvin in the photo above!  I am sure his team collected much of their gifts that day, but with over 150 boxes just for them, they may have needed to make several trips to get it all!  As much as packing, sorting, and loading everything on our end is a big project, when the container arrives, they need to pull everything off quickly (2-3 hours) so they need to put it somewhere temporarily until they have time to sort and distribute items to the appropriate ‘homes’.  Much of the distribution is done by two men—Kenny Logan and Chepito Valencia.  Then come their questions…”did every box spring have a mattress?”; “What do all the gray cushions go with?”; “did this bed have cross boards?”…

There were over 200 boxes of fabric for Christian Sewing Partners of Belize.  To my knowledge, these have yet to be delivered, but because of the large fabric donation, I had several conversations with Pedro and Maria Perez who run the Sewing Ministry and during one of them (in February), Pedro asked me if I knew anyone who knew how to paint on fabric. 

He wanted to start giving lessons in fabric painting around the country so that people could have another craft that could help them to earn a living.  I thought of my friend Roe Murray who is a wonderful artist and has done several paintings for Tuesday morning bible study. 

Roe had just the person in mind to do this, and introduced me to her friend and fellow artist, Kathy Apflebaum, who had her own fabric painting business for 40 years.  Kathy painted beautiful coverups to sell to women on cruise ships, and was the perfect person to help begin a new venture in Belize! 

Thanks to new technology that we have all discovered as a result of the pandemic, Kathy’s willingness to share, and the generosity of several of you, we were able to purchase all the supplies needed to get 20 people around the country of Belize set up to begin their own businesses! 

We sent 5 boxes which included cotton t-shirts, special fabric paints, brushes, fabric markers, and 3 beautiful designs that Kathy created to get them started.  In the past two weeks we have had 3 ‘google meetings’ classes where Kathy from her own living room in Newtown Square, taught a group of 20 people around Belize how to create beautiful garments that some of them are already selling! 

I am looking forward to my next opportunity to go to Belize so that I can purchase one for myself!

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We are truly blessed by seeing what our efforts can do to be a blessing to others, and I know that all of this is only the beginning of the Blessings for Belize that were on our last container!

 

Sheelagh Straub

This was an absolutely amazing and fun offshoot of the whole container project, but it is so rewarding to see what can happen!

And speaking of rewarding, you may remember that we had 5 hospital beds and 6-7 wheelchairs included in the container.  These were acquired from the Lion’s club in Avon Grove, and Jonathan and his son helped me pick them up and load into my trailer since they live in Coatesville.  When you see this next photo, I hope you get the same feeling of satisfaction that I get in knowing that by making it possible for some no longer needed (or wanted) items from the US, to be sent to needy folks in Belize, we can cause beautiful smiles and make some lives a little easier!

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Letter from Sheelagh