Meeting Mennonites in Belize – Day 5

Attended the Mennonite church in Spanish Lookout this morning. Services began at 9:30 and ran until about 11:30. The members sit in different areas of the church depending on gender and age – the men in the center and on the left, with the younger men farthest left, and the aged towards the front. Same for the women, just everyone on the right. The service opened with hymns, some in German, some in English. Then there was an object lesson given by one of the young men – all of the preaching (everything in the service except for a few songs), is done in German. Next one of the ministers gave a message, then they sang a few more hymns, and then a different minister gave a separate message and a closing prayer. There was a Sunday school class for children during the first message, but not the second. My guys enjoyed all the scripture references, but said that it really wasn’t much different than what we were used to at home (except for all the German of course!). The guys were able to follow along as there was a translator who typed out the message as the minister gave it, and the typed version, in English, came up on a monitor in front of their pew. This happens every service for any visitors who don’t happen to be fluent in German.After services were over, the guys were introduced to some of the men of the church. They really enjoyed their fellowship – everyone is so friendly and open. They were also very encouraging of people moving to Belize, and were glad to answer any questions posed to them. John introduced the men to a gentleman from church named Henry, and after visiting with him shortly, he invited the guys over to his house for lunch. Actually, they were invited to several homes for lunch! Henry and his wife have 6 boys at home, and 2 married daughters. Large families are the norm in Belize, and are not in any way looked down upon.
Many Mennonite women can much of their food for preservation. Many families have freezers, but they seem to pressure can most of their produce and even meat. It is easy to find items for canning in Belize, especially around Spanish Lookout.
Our boys weren’t really sure what kinds of things that the Belizean boys did for fun, and Greg found out that they like to do the same things that we do! They like to ride their dirt bikes in the mountains, and go hiking and fishing just like he does. Only in Belize, there is no such thing as a fishing license – everyone our guys talked to thought that was a very silly thing to have to get a license to do! Henry’s boys have 2 pet spider monkeys, and the monkeys are incredibly entertaining! The young men in the Spanish Lookout community were incredibly friendly, polite, and treated Greg like one of them.
After a wonderful time of fellowship at Henry’s house, the men went back to John’s place and after being shown around the immediate area, had dinner with John’s family and his brother-in-law Abe and Abe’s family (6 kids). Our men were fed incredibly well while they were with the Mennonites! They definitely practice the gift of hospitality! The church men were very informative and were glad to answer any questions about Belize that Vaughn and the others asked. At one point, our men asked what they thought of the US – they answered very graciously (and didn’t say much! :) . They answered all sorts of other ?s like (answers):
*There is no income tax as long as you make less than $1665/mo. (gross, NOT net), after that is is a flat 25%. They government is trying to change this to $3000./30%
*Vehicle duty to bring into the country (as a resident) is based on engine size, type (diesel cheaper), overall condition, and age. Approx. duties: 3.oL=45% of blue book value, 4cyl.=22%, Lg.8 cyl=78%. There didn’t seem to be any way to figure out exact fees…
*No problems with, or regulations on homeschooling.
*To subdivide land, you just get it surveyed (about 500-1000bz – cost depends on who you know). Not a lot of red tape.
*Cost of livestock: good milking cow about $3k bz ($1500US), butcher beef is about $.30/lb live weight. It does not take very much pasture land to provide for livestock. Chicken is the easiest and cheapest to procure.
*No regulations on selling your own produce (don’t count on making a fortune – tons of people do it); there are street/road vendors everywhere.
*Some of the dangers for children are: water (drinking unclean, and there is water everywhere so there is the risk of drowning), jungle (getting lost), auto (accidents; no-one wears seat belts, Vaughn didn’t notice a single car seat while there(!), and also getting run over as they drive crazy). Despite the #s of poisonous snakes and spiders, this did not seem to be a concern for anyone down there – very few people wore shoes (especially around home), even the Mennonite children in the fields were barefoot. And there is definately NOT a ‘no shoes…no service’ policy in shops there.
*Employment opportunities: endless if you are a good worker. The men down there said that it is very difficult to find men willing to work – the laid-back atmosphere down in Bz seems to breed laziness in some. However, the wages are nothing like here in the states!
*Power is fairly reliable, but not like here in the USA – some outages, but not long-term.*Internet access is easy to obtain (depending on your location), 256k was about $50/mo.
The men also talked about marriage/courtship, immigration, employment/wages, public schools there… they stayed until about 8:30 talking. My guys got to see fireflies, which we don’t have in Montana, and back at the apartment, they caught a small gecko, whose tail fell of and twitched (which was cool since we don’t have geckos in Mt either!). Greg wrote in his journal (which he faithfully kept for his mother) “One second I had a lizard, the next I had a tail.”

view from the apartment, through the rain Sunday morning

In the morning they have plans to visit shops to check out the prices of Everything in Belize so it’s off for a good night’s sleep…

Lilla Rose

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Comments

  1. Looks like a very fruitful day with information gathering.

    Belize Customs does publish their rates, it is a bit difficult to figure. We think “Blue Book” value, but it is more like the Customs Officers valuation. (http://www.customs.gov.bz/duty02.html#1)

    Internet is about $50USD/mo for 256K via BTL – but where DSL doesn’t reach you need to look into a US HughesNet account (or other sat internet). BTL does block VOIP ports and some websites (specifically ones for VPN providers) while sat has high upfront costs (but very common) and latency issues for VOIP.

    Great findings!

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