After finally having my first diet coke in a week I am winging my way home from Belize to Tampa. Ed and I just completed a week in the jungles of Belize on a medical mission. Yes, I was a “missionary” and I don’t mean just the position. I have a friend who is not only an attorney but also a nurse. We have worked on several cases recently and become more that casual friends. She has built a house on the Gulf of Mexico in Belize and adopted her home city of Hopkins Bay but also a Mayan village called Red Bank. By adopted I mean she puts together groups of medical providers and others interested in helping provide health care to come of the poorest of the poor in a country of poverty. The hardest thing for me is that it is hard to find diet coke. When malnutrition is rampant and internal parasites are the norm, diet coke is not a big seller.
She does much of this with the help of churches through a 501(c)(3) organization she and some others created called the NoKumbya Mission. They chose the name because unlike the vast majority of missionaries that go into Belize, they actually do something for the people. They don’t sit around and sing by the campfire and pat themselves on the back over what great christians they are for bring the word of Jesus to the natives. They don’t get in great meaningless discussions about the dogma in a great book of mythology. They simply spend the days in clinic providing healthcare to the poor and unserved communities. Making sure that every child gets vitamins and worming pills. Infections, lice, batsi fly infestations and machete wounds treated. Pregnant woman are given prenatal drugs and kids are provided toothbrushes and iron tablets when needed. In the evening we make our way back the beach resorts and shower, eat and drink (and I do mean drink). About half the medical team identify themselves as christians of one degree or another. The rest are Pagan, agnostic or atheists.
The people are mostly happy because no one as told them that they are poor. All the neighbors are poor. As more and more Americans come and build waterfront homes (mansions to these people) there will be problems I believe. That aside I find the influx of Christian Missionaries into these areas. The main reason is that they do nothing for these people real needs. They don’t build well for clean water or roads or anything to help their daily life. As I have said before, One of my favorite lines recently is that if the US got rid of all atheists, it would lose 93% of the National Academy of Sciences but less than 10% of the prison population. 99% of the US prison population consider themselves spiritual. “More prison inmates say they’re Baptist than any other religion.” Associated Press (The Abilene Reporter-News)
As you arrive at Belize airport you see large groups of all white youth mission teams coming and going with the smug satisfaction that they are the personal emissaries’ of the creator of the Universe. Coming to save the natives. The reality is they bring a movie and candy to the kids when what the kids need is a toothbrush and toothpaste. At a project in Haiti or nurse was informed by the Baptist in the clinic that she was not a real Christian. She pointed to the 7th day Adventist across the room and told the Baptist that they probably thought the same thing about them. Degrees of Christianity? I try to live my life by the prayer of St. Francis.
It was not all work and here are a few pictures from the trip.