In our July newsletter, I (Nate) mentioned plans for a trip with my daughters Lillian and Hope (and two other friends) to visit missionaries in Belize on the Mexican border. If you did not receive our paper newsletter in the mail this summer, it's probably because we have lost track of your physical address. A lot of our newsletters were returned undeliverable. So, if you want to receive snail mail from us, but didn't this summer, then please take a moment to update us on your address!
Anyway, thanks to the 22 donors who responded with financial support! We’ve received $2,250 in designated gifts for the trip, which we estimate should meet 80% of the costs of myself and my two daughters. However, we have been forced to postpone our trip, hoping to reschedule it for January.
After taking a mission trip to Yemen while the U.S. was bombing terrorists there, I never thought that Belize would be the place that was too dangerous for a mission trip, but last week (two weeks before our scheduled departure), I got the following email:
Date: Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 4:40 PM
Subject: Travel Advisory Level 4: Do not travel to Belize due to COVID-19
...The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Belize due to current COVID-19 conditions. Travelers to Belize may experience border closures, airport closures, travel prohibitions, stay-at-home orders, business closures, and other emergency conditions within Belize due to the evolving COVID-19 situation…
The CDC also imposed a 7-day quarantine for U.S. Citizens upon their return from travel to Belize, doubling the amount of time we would have to take away from our regular jobs. This development made it impossible for our two friends to travel with us, bringing our team down to just me and my two daughters, and, since Hope’s passport (which we applied for months ago) still hasn't arrived, that brings our team down to just me and Lillian.
The missionaries we were planning to visit and assist in Belize confirmed that the government of Belize has been extremely aggressive with public health restrictions on its citizens due to Covid. During the time that we were going to be in Belize, the government has issued a two week “no movement” mandate, where no one is allowed outside of their homes for two weeks except for emergencies. Anyone venturing outside of their house must wear a mask at all times (or be fined $500) and must carry proof of Covid vaccination or a recent negative Covid test taken every 48 hours or be arrested. There are no religious exemptions in Belize, so all the churches will be closed. I’ve heard that restrictions are not enforced in the tourist areas, but we weren’t going to the tourist areas.
Through these circumstances (and through the counsel of our elders), it seems that God is directing us to postpone our trip to Belize. I say postpone, not cancel, because we still see compelling reasons to go. One reason is that I still want to give my teenage daughters a cross-cultural mission experience before they leave home. Another reason is that our missionary friends in Belize have been very discouraged by the prolonged lockdowns in their area, and we believe it will be strategic to visit them with some encouragement. The third reason is that the missionaries and the indigenous local church leaders have confirmed the need for Biblical teaching which I can bring on the Biblical doctrines of salvation, because, even though 85% of the population of Belize claims to be Christian, approximately 80% of those “Christians” are affiliated with either Roman Catholic or Seventh Day Adventist churches, both of which have significant distortions in these doctrines. So we are going to try to reschedule this trip for January.
WOULD YOU PLEASE PRAY?
* That we would get Hope’s passport in a timely manner.
* That the airlines would not gouge us for postponing our flights. (We bought higher-priced tickets that were advertised as being changeable without penalty, but later we discovered the fine print that if you change plans due to Covid-related government restrictions, penalties apply.)
* That God would give me and my team members and the missionaries in Belize the ability to shift gears and re-schedule our lives wisely.
* That God would bring deliverance from Covid, and that God would cause the CDC, the State Department, and the Belize government to lift restrictions by January.
* That God would sustain the spirits of believers in Belize who are enduring extended lockdown conditions.
* For a reformation in the churches of Belize in which there is a return to the Biblical doctrines of salvation.