As of today - September 22nd

Summer is officially behind us, and it is high time that I get an official update out to all of you! I can't believe how time has flown!

Since I last wrote in early July, a lot has happened. July was our month of mission teams from the United States. We were so incredibly blessed to be able to put on a VBS in conjunction with Christ Church (Savannah), which went really well, and in their spare time they also helped paint the pews a beautiful off-white! And as usual, our mission team from New York and New Jersey led by Gus Calvo and Geoff Miller was able to accomplish an enormous amount in their brief time with us. In addition to tiling and painting a lot of classrooms at St. Andrew's school and leading teaching series in our parishes, they helped fund and construct a walkway from the road to our Spanish-language congregation in Selena Village, Santa Cruz. We are enormously grateful for everything they were able to do alongside of us, and what God was able to bring about over the busy summer.

August had its own projects, though it tends to be a "down month" between the busyness of July and the start of school in September. In addition to doing some hosting, I have been steadily working at moving into the rectory in San Ignacio, making it less of a house and more of home. Bit-by-bit, I have been able to buy furniture and decorations, though it still looks like a bachelor is living in it. My hope is that by the end of the year, it will be fully functional in every way as a center of life, rest, and hospitality.

In September, I was grateful to be able to take a few weeks of vacation (my first in years!). I made the trip to Peru to spend time with my father who is teaching in Lima for the next few months, and to get to see old friends. One of the wonderful parts of a vacation like this is that it allowed me to experience again the old joys I had when I once served in Peru, and yet confirm again for me that I am exactly where God has called me and wants me. Unfortunately, I managed to come down sick a few times, in part because of the change of season and temperature, in part because the elevation (Cuzco is over 11,000 ft), and in part because travel is stressful and my body thought it would be a convenient time to rebel. In any event, I arrived back in Belize on Saturday, a bit under-the-weather, but happy to be back.

Starting tomorrow, we begin again with children's chapel services and teachers' devotionals in the three schools, as well as Sunday School, preparation for baptism, preparation for confirmation, pastoral visits, and many other regular things that happen through most of the year. Also, with the help of some new young leaders in our congregation, we hope to begin youth group again very soon, as well as a university campus ministry which we have been invited to begin. All in all, there is much to give thanks for, and there is much I need prayers for as I begin a new phase of ministry with St. Andrew's and St. Hilda's.

Finally, please keep me in your prayers for this coming Sunday. The Bishop is planning on coming to San Ignacio on Saturday to assist at a pre-ordination retreat, and from there he will come by St. Andrew's on Sunday to install me as the incumbent of the parish. Please keep the installation service, the retreat, and the diaconal ordinations (Monday) in your prayers, along with everything else!

As of today - July 7th

Time is flying quickly by! Here's a quick update from an almost-rainy Western Belize.

Things are going well. We have made it through the end of the school year and the graduation season (yes, it's a season like trout or elk). We were so blessed to have a team from Mosaic Anglican Fellowship come again to help lead graduation retreats for the exiting Standard VI classes at all three schools, and we look forward to forming a tighter bond and relationship with them in the months and years to come.

I had a wonderful time with my parents during their stay in early June, and before and after there departure I have been trying to outfit the rectory with enough furniture to make it liveable and inviting ... no small task indeed. The cost is signficant, but so is the blessing of being able to invite people into my life and home, and so I'm taking the time to tackle it, and tackle it responsibly.

Things at St. Andrew's and St. Hilda's churches continue to move along. Attendence has been good, though it is sure to dip as we head into the summer months. The summer however also brings visiting groups, one coming later this week from Christ Church (Savannah) to help St. Andrew's lead its Vacation Bible School, and another ecumenical team from New York and New Jersey coming to tackle all sorts of physical and spiritual projects in our communities. We're really looking forward to their being with us!

The transition to being priest-in-charge of these two churches has been a difficult one for me, and I have been struggling with how to meet everyone's expectations (news flash: I can't), how to meet all my expectations (news flash: I can't), and how to have a health life as I serve God as he is calling me to serve him (good news: he can). With the encouragement of leaders in the congregation and the Bishop, I am taking steps to lead a healthier, less workaholic lifestyle that involves rest, setting boundaries and limits, delegating more, and sticking to the priorities that God has revealed to be at the top of the list. All-in-all, I'm at a good place, and we're at an exciting place as we see where God is going to take our congregations in the months and years ahead.

I do crave your prayers however for an immediate health situation in my own life. A few months ago, I developed some terrible pain in my feet (the heel and arches), particularly in my left foot. It is most likely due to the combination of thin-soled sandals, poor-arched loafers, and tight-fitting boots that I was wearing. X-rays revealed an inflammation of the periostion on the inside of my left foot's arch, and it is reasonable to assume that much of my pain stems from compensating for that primary pain. With a lot of rest, I sense that my feet are getting better bit-by-bit, but I have almost had to stop walking. Please pray that God would heal my feet, give me a full recovery, and allow me to engage in the blessing and ministry of walking as I was able four months ago.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. May God richly bless you and keep you in his love and his grace!

As of today - June 6

Time has gone by quickly, and it is high time for an update! I will try and keep it brief, but there is truly a lot to tell.

First things first, in early May Bishop Wright of Belize asked me to step up to the plate and take responsibility as Priest-in-Charge of both St. Andrew's (San Ignacio) and St. Hilda's (Georgeville). This is a huge change for me, and it is a huge change for our congregations. Over the last month, I have begun the long process of familiarizing myself with St. Andrew's and its people, finances, administration, and possibiltiies, at the same time that I have begun to scale back my time at St. Hilda's and try to be more efficient in everything I am doing. It will take a few months to figure out how a balanced life will look for me, but I should be able to get there.

In order to be more efficient in ministry, this has also meant two other big changes. First, I have moved into the St. Andrew's rectory, just a block from the church in the center of town. For the last two years of ministry, I have been having to walk from far away to get to church, or much of anywhere in San Ignacio or Santa Elena. Being this close puts me at the hub of life in our twin towns, and of our parish as well. I have now the complex (and expensive) task of furnishing the rectory, and I hope to have it liveable and inviting by the end of the summer.

Second, purchasing a motor vehicle became paramount for me as take on the full pastoral responsibility of two parishes, three schools, and serving as a liason for the hispanic congregations. Thanks to some last-minute gifts to what had already been a year's worth of donations, a few weeks ago I purchased a used diesel Nissan Frontier, with four-wheel drive sufficient to handle the rugged conditions of rural Belize. It's required some repair, but I think we're close to (if not finished) getting it in full working order. The vehicle is a huge blessing, not just for efficiency and safety in the ministry, but also because the local doctor has told me that some pain I have been experiencing in my feet is caused by overdoing the walking, and I hope this will allow the heels and arches of my feet to heal.

In other news, Holy Week and Easter went wonderfully, and though we have been missing Juan and Maria, we know that they have arrived in Colombia and are doing well. We had a beautiful wedding last month, and we're preparing for another wedding in a few weeks. Our intern in Georgeville came back and served for one more week after the end of her university term, and she planned an amazing outing for the children of St. Hilda's. We're now preparing for the arrival of a handful of mission teams who will serve alongside of us in June and July, and graduation for our schools is coming up quickly as well.

Also, for those interested in my process of obtaining permanent residency, I am still in the process. I have gone through a handful of the steps, and now it seems just to involve waiting for my paperwork to be processed, and for the immigration officials to make a decision.

Finally, I should add that I am enjoying a visit from my parents at the moment. They arrived last Wednesday, and depart next Friday. It's been fun having them here with me for the short time that we could manage.

Thank you all for your prayers. Thank you all for your gifts. Thank you for your patience in waiting for this update, and for reading it all the way through! I am truly grateful for your support, and I pray that it will continue bearing fruit here in Belize and in your own lives as well. Take care!

As of today - April 15

It's tax day in the United States, and it's update day for me here in Belize. I cannot believe (and I'm very embarrassed to realize) that it has been almost two months since my last update. Let me give you a taste, albeit in very broad strokes, of what has been happening on the ground here in Belize.

First, we are rapidly approaching the departure of Fr. Juan and Maria, my missionary co-workers here in San Ignacio, Central Farm, and Georgeville. They have been much more than supervisors to me: they have become beloved friends and companions in life and ministry, and I am going to miss them terribly. They leave Easter Monday (April 21), though I hope to visit them in their new home in Colombia the first chance I get.

This has meant too that we are approaching some big changes in the makeup of our ministry team on the ground. We don't have any hard-and-fast answers quite yet, though I anticipate that an up-and-coming visit from the visit the first weekend in May will answer many of our questions. For the moment, what is clear is that, while still vitally involved at St. Hilda's (Georgeville), I will be coming back into more pastoral responsibiltiies at the mother church, St. Andrew's (San Ignacio). As daunting as this new phase of ministry will be, I am also excited to see what the Lord has in store for his churches here, and for me as well.

Second, these tumultuous times have been paired with my application for permanent residency in the country of Belize (somewhat equivalent to a Green Card to the U.S.). April 11 I completed one whole year in Belize (without any departures), and I became eligible to apply for residency. However, applying has taken a lot of time, a lot of medical visits, a lot of bus rides and taxi fares, a lot of interviews, and a whole lot of patience. This process, just beginning, will take many months and, at the end, a significant financial investment on the part of the mission. But I believe that it is worth it, as I strongly see the possibility of serving long-term in the country.

For those who were praying about it too, I should let you know that I now am indeed licensed to perform civil marriages in the country of Belize, and I will be performing my first wedding on May 10th, followed by another wedding in June. There's nothing like a marriage, and preparing the happy couple for marriage, and I'm very excited to see each of them begin their own new chapter in life together.

Third, things continue well in Georgeville, and I am pleased to announce that we even had a cross-cultural missionary student from Messiah College (Pennsylvania) come and serve with me for two weeks as our intern. It was a great fit: Lauren did an amazing job, and we look forward to her coming back in May and spending another week connecting with families in our community. Unfortunately, her time as an intern was marred by my getting a cold, and her getting hit hard with her own illnesses. I've actually ended up sick a few times in the last few months, and it has affected my ministry in Georgeville, especially given the increased distance between my new house and the village.

But fourth, that has not stopped us from preparing for Holy Week and Easter. I am very excited for everything that we have planned. Palm Sunday went off wonderfully: the day before we joined up with Santa Cruz (Selena), Annunciacion (Santa Elena) and St. Andrew's (San Ignacio) as we made palm crosses, and then we welcomed our Lord as King before reading again the agonizing story of his passion and death. Wednesday (tomorrow) evening St. Hilda's will have a going-away party for Fr. Juan and Maria, Thursday evening we will have a foot washing, the (Last) Lord's Supper, and a stripping of the altar. Friday morning we will have a solemn Via Crucis in Spanish, read the Passion and pray the Solemn Collects in the afternoon, and in the evening join with three other churches for a Tenebrae service made up mostly of psalms and Scripture reading. Saturday evening, we will begin our celebration of Christ's resurrection from the dead by lighting the Paschal Candle, recounting the history of our redemption from Creation to Consummation, and baptizing the newest Christian of our small church. And then Easter Sunday, we will sing, feast, and celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, a moment that I expect to blow all others away and be most like heaven on earth. It is a lot of work, but it is worth it.

And so, with that, I wish you all Easter greetings! Thank you for your prayers for us here ... once again, please remember:

  1. Fr. Juan and Maria's departure.
  2. Our Holy Week and Easter celebrations.
  3. My application for residency.
  4. Guidance in long-term ministry directions.
  5. My computer which is on the fritz.
  6. Health, health, and health.
  7. Sanity in the midst of these crazy times.
  8. Holiness, love, and childlike trust in God.


As of today - February 17th

There is so much going on these days, and it is time for an update. Here goes.

First, let me say that much in ministry is going on as normal. Things at St. Hilda's are going well: we have some people who want to be baptized into Christ, others who want to get married, and prayer and worship, sickness and life continue on as normal. We are very blessed, and things (for the most part) are going well.

The big news that I've been wanting to share with you is that Juan and Maria Marentes, my coworkers and co-missionaries in Belize, will be heading out on indefinite medical leave to Colombia in April, and they won't be coming back. We are trying to assimilate this hard news, the pain of having dear friends leaving, and the questions surrounding the ministry here in Cayo and how it will carry on.

Bishop Wright was here last week to talk with our pastoral ministry team about the next steps. Since there are various leaders here, at various stages of discernment, there will be a period of transition after April. The most likely scenario is that the Bishop will call an interim clergyperson from North America, probably a priest on sabbatical or a retired bishop, to provide pastoral care to St. Andrew's, St. Hilda's, and St. Barnabas' while we listen to how God is calling each of us to serve long-term in the future. This interim period will probably last for about three months, and we should know much more by the end of the summer.

For me, this could mean that I could be asked to take on more responsibility at St. Andrew's as well as St. Hilda's, overseeing all the congregations and schools here. It could also mean that I may be transferred to another part of Belize as the Bishop calls someone else to take a primary role in Cayo. There are also many other possibilities, as you can imagine.

In all of this, I don't expect much change to my placement to occur before the end of the summer, but please keep me, Juan and Maria, and everyone in our churches and schools in your prayers. And I'll keep you posted as news develops! Thank you.

As of today - January 29th

Hello everyone! There's a pause moment today in the hectic aftermath of the last two weeks, so I'm taking a moment to give you a little taste of how things have been going. God has been very, very good.

We said goodbye on Monday to nearly two weeks of retreats and mission projects revolving around SAMS's visit to Belize. Two weekends ago the board of SAMS began their triannual retreat, and we hosted them at a local resort in San Ignacio. The week following most of the board stayed on and was engaged in a handful of mission projects in our congregation: they installed a church bell at St. Hilda's (Georgeville), put in garden plants at the new property of Church of the Annunciation (Santa Elena) and at St. Andrew's (San Ignacio), led healing services in all three of our congregations, and held devotions for teachers and chapel services for students in all tree of our schools. We were busy! Following their departure by Friday, we commenced with our retreat for new missionaries, coming from far away places like Honduras and Peru. We all had a thoughtful and restful few days together before heading off to our respective homes. Things have been good, but they have really been busy!

There are many other things afoot here on the ground in Belize that I should be able to share in a few weeks, but for right now let's simply say that reintegrating back into parish life has involved a lot of work in just a few days. This Friday we are receiving a team representating the Diocese of St. Alban (U.K.) at St. Hilda's and St. Andrew's schools in preparation for the Feast of the Presentation (Feb 2nd). Our new teaching series on the life of King David continues unabated, and we're trying to gear up for Lent, Holy Week, and Baptisms come April. There is a lot on the plate.

On top of everything, I am still in the process of moving: there have been a few hitches and hang ups, but I think God is behind them all, and I'm patiently waiting for the living situation he wants to provide. The process of raising funds for a vehicle also continues, and at last count I have received $3,600 towards my goal of $5,000 - $10,000 (a necessary amount given the price of vehicles here and the need for a truly tough pickup truck). If you have any questions about the conditions which require this kind of a vehicle, simply ask the guests who have been with us for the last two weeks, and they will explain in detail why having a truck will be strategically essential in the months and years ahead!

Thank you again for all your prayers and emails! I look forward to checking in with you again in about a week!

As of today - January 13th

Happy New Year! The month of January is proving to be as busy as December was, and I'm excited to give you an update on how things are going.

I've really enjoyed the last few weeks. Not only have we finished our Christmas, New Years, and Epiphany celebrations, but I had a delightful visit from my mother and one of her work colleagues. We did a lot of exploring and tourism, but I was also able to introduce them to the rhythms of Belizean life, and ministry within that life. I'm so grateful that they were able to come down and spend the time with me and others here.

Now, we're just a few days away some other big arrivals. This weekend, the board of SAMS-USA (my missionary society) will be coming to San Ignacio for their once-every-three-years retreat, and I am looking forward to helping to make it goes smoothly and fruitfully. Most of the board members will stick around next week to help out as a team in a number of different missionary opportunities, including helping with chapel services at the school, construction, and healing prayer in our congregations. Finally then, the weekend following SAMS-USA will be holding in San Ignacio a retreat for its new missionaries (including yours truly) which will extend to the following Monday. In other words, we're booked and we're busy!

Before these groups arrive on Friday, I will be spending more time receiving a few other visitors and trying to nail down my housing situation (still up in the air until I get a firm word from the Ministry of Agriculture in Central Farm). In the meantime, I've begun buying some basic items of furniture to put in my new house when it becomes available. Please pray that this continues to go smoothly.

In other news, we are excited at the possibility of beginning our new Spanish-language service on Saturday, February 1st. Please continue to keep this in your prayers. Take care, and have a wonderful couple of weeks!