We were invited by the elders in Punta Gorda to visit the brethren again; so, we decided to make another January visit. This will be my third visit, Rita’s second, and Brother Jim Cassell’s first. Jim’s flight from Austin and ours from Albany were all on time, as we met in Atlanta and then flew the 3-hour flight down to Belize City, in Belize, Central America. We proceeded through passport and customs without any issues. When we exited the small terminal, there was Brother Livanio, with his wife Irma, and their three young children waiting for us. That was a great relief for me, as our phones do not function on the local phone connections here.
Livanio (aka Li) had an old grey Mitsubishi van that was rented for us from his employer (he is a professional van driver), and we soon began the 1 ½ hour drive to his home town, the capital city of Belmopan. We were soon ensconced into the Yim Saan Hotel, where we had stayed the last time. There were no meetings scheduled; so we had supper at the hotel and settled in for the night.
The next morning, Li came for us and took us to the Bull Frog (our hotel does not serve breakfast) for the morning meal. We decided that we would try to live on two good meals each day. Afterwards, we had a good season of prayer and fellowship with Li back at the hotel. In the evening, Li took us with his family to the meeting at Brother Luis’s fellowship. We arrived at the appointed time and the music was already well under way. About an hour later, I was given the opportunity to speak; I spoke on the parable of the Ten Virgins.
The next day, January 18, we visited a local open-air (with tents and canopies) market. After that we visited Li and Irma’s home, a simple, peaceful and comfortable abode on one of the side streets of the city. In the evening we were invited to minister at the local Nazarene Church. It was a very neat and clean building, tastefully furnished. The pastor, Sister Aura, was very friendly and gracious toward us. After their usual preliminaries, in which she minimally participated, we were given total liberty to minister as we felt to do. Jim and Rita shared some praise songs and I brought a word on The Kingdom of Heaven, including the Baptism in Fire, which seemed to be well received.
After breakfast on Saturday the 19th, the four of us loaded our luggage into the grey van and started the four-hour drive south to Punta Gorda. We arrived midafternoon at the “home stay” place named Ki-Kuntal. The proprietor’s father Valentino is an elder in the church. She called him and he soon came over to greet us. He informed us that they were expecting us for the evening meeting. At the meeting, they informed us that we were to be given tonight, both Sunday meetings (with Jim to preach on Sunday morning) and all of the next weekday evening meetings, except Wednesday. They are having a special annual meeting of their own local fellowship the following Sunday morning and then they also wanted Jim to preach the last meeting on that Sunday evening. The senior elder really liked the music and exhortation that Jim shared at the first Saturday evening meeting. Except on Sunday meetings, Jim and Rita were given exclusive rights to bring whatever praise they deemed appropriate.
My Saturday message was on Mount Zion, the City of the Living God. Sunday morning, Jim spoke on the Power of the Blood. On Monday, I taught on the History of Music as it related to the kingdom of God. My Tuesday message was, I Will Give Power and expounding on the remainder of Revelation 11. I began to sense much more liberty in speaking as the days progressed. Jim and Rita have also had a very sweet anointing on the praise. It is so good to be able to hear the singing voice and the tone of the guitar.
Wednesday, January 23, is the mid-point of our visit here. The evening meeting was being held at the home of our host (our home stay “motel”); so we gathered together downstairs, in a large enclosed porch for the fellowship. They invited their cook and some of their extended family that have not been involved in church lately. Jim and Rita brought some good praise songs and I brought a word on the parable of the Three Lost and Found. After the word, we had prayer for a few individuals and there was a spirit of repentance.
The next evening, we were back at the little church. Our music team again set the tone for the uplifting in the Spirit. I felt a liberty as I brought a teaching on Midnight. The audience is quite small, but the two key elders are always here with their wives. And the participation level is increasing, not only among our team but with the elders as well. Our feedback tells us that the spiritual level of our meetings is gaining momentum.
Friday, January 25, is a new day. I must take a moment to describe the environment here. When we first arrived in Punta Gorda, they were having a “cold spell”, meaning it was in the mid 60s at night and the 70s during the day. We just opened the windows at night and didn’t need the room fan provided. Then it got warmer in the daytime to the low 80s, we needed the nighttime fan, which made a tornado noise and drowned out all of the local ambient sounds. Daytime sounds are tropical birds and a tropical human neighbor that loudly plays angry American rap “music” (turn on the fan please). The early morning sounds are mostly nature: wild birds, domestic birds (roosters that must answer one another), and dogs that cry and carry on all night and sleep during the day. In the early morning there was a sound that I didn’t recognize. I told Rita it must be the sound of some construction project. But on closer examination, we thought it could be screaming dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. It turns out that we were hearing Howler Monkeys, and they are not small things. Their chorus carries as much as 3 miles in the jungle forest. We did not see them however. I must admit that we cheated (on our two-meal pattern) to get some midday food today. We found a little “hole-in-the-wall” pizza place and had a good meal in the town (I would call it a large village). Li knows his way around here very well; he drives very slowly through the many large gravel road potholes. The evening meeting went very well; I spoke on the Seal of Almighty God. The elders said they are looking forward to another meeting tomorrow (Saturday) night.
This is supposed to be somewhat of a rainy season here. So far, it has only rained briefly up in Belmopan. But early this (Saturday) morning there was another brief shower and it cooled down again. After breakfast, the team of the four of us have our usual time of prayer and reflection concerning the mission. Early in the afternoon, Val came to escort us to the home of an elderly couple in the town. When we arrived, we found a couple in their early 80s who needed prayer for certain health issues; we anointed them with oil and then returned home. In the evening we had our meeting at the small independent church, where I spoke on “Who is Elijah”?
Sunday will be a day of two meetings. Since the church was having their annual meeting that morning, we had another home meeting in the enclosed porch downstairs at 10 AM. There were nearly 20 of us attending, including some children, all extended family of our hosts, who are currently not church affiliated. Brother Li brought the message, Be Strong and of Good Courage, which included much of his testimony; it was a good word.
After that, we were invited to a noon meal with the church brethren, then we went back there at 6 PM for the final meeting here in Punta Gorda. At this meeting, they had their regular routine for the first 100 minutes or so. Then Brother Jim was given the floor to speak. He brought a very powerful message on the Mighty River/Living Water to a larger than usual crowd. Then he closed with prayer for the people and Rita joined him to sing Fill My Cup Lord. We were then warmly loved by all and told that we might meet again. It was a good day in the Lord.
Return to Belmopan
Monday, January 28, we left our lodging at Punta Gorda at about 9 AM. On the way through town, we waved goodbye to Brother Val, standing in front of the bank, dressed in his security guard uniform. On the 4-hour drive north, we made the rest stop at the usual crossroads. Then we made one more stop to identify the famous “sleeping giant”, whose profile is seen lying on the mountains. After checking in at the Yim Saan, everybody took a time of rest and recuperation, and yes, a good supper at the hotel.
On Tuesday, after meeting with Li for breakfast, we had arranged to make a visit to the local zoo. However, when Li came to pick us up, he informed us that the van he had been using had a bad water pump and that due to lack of proper parts, the vehicle would not be available to take us back to the airport, but a substitute would be used. Oh, the goodness and mercy of God! The timing of the breakdown here in Belmopan was perfect. I can only imagine the complications of a breakdown somewhere in the mountains between here and Punta Gorda. We did manage a visit to the local zoo, where we saw some of the rare animals, such as: the Jaguar, Toucans and Howler (which we heard from the jungle in Punta Gorda) and Spider Monkeys, Tapirs, Peccaries, Crocodiles and the Harpy Eagle.
On our last day here, we managed to arrange one more meeting for 7 PM. We had the “home meeting” in one of our hotel rooms. Li brought his wife, children and grandfather. It was a short meeting in which we sang, read from the word and had prayer for our visitors. I believe it is a down payment for many more home meetings to follow after we leave here.
On Wednesday morning the 30th, we were to be taken to the airport in the “new” substitute van, accompanied by Li, Irma and their three children. This second van broke down twice: the first time when we were yet in town; the shifting linkage seized up. The second time halfway to the airport, it suddenly shut down. We parked it and the owner sent a much newer third van, which carried us safely to the airport with a few minutes to spare. I am glad we planned to leave early. I can see the hand of God in this testing and I can also see the enemy taking such opportunities to harass and distress; I am sincerely hoping that we did serious damage to the gates of hell, which cannot prevail against His church.
We all made it safely home with no delays or further problems (all of our flights being on time), Jim to his home in Texas, and us to our very cold weather in Upstate New York. Again, we give a heartfelt thanks for all who were faithfully praying for us on this mission. We believe it to be successful on many levels.
Mark and Rita Jantzi with James Cassell