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Karen, volunteering in Las Flores, Belize, sent this post.

Greetings all,

This is proving to be a very emotional week. As you may know, we are leaving Las Flores Thursday of this week. So ever since I got here we have been packing and getting rid of things little by little. Well the time is finally here. The moving truck comes Friday AM. We are having many visitors.

Saturday night was the last Mass we would attend here in the village at St Michael Church. Since this is a Latino community the Mass is in Spanish. So at the end of Mass they call not just Sr Paschal but Sr Brenda, Steve and I up front for a blessing. Let me tell you I feel blessed like never before. They had a bunch of small branches and plopped it on each of our heads. I had water running down my face I was so blessed. After we were seated the musicians and choir sang several songs for us. It was really touching.

Sunday Steve and I had made arrangements to go cave tubing at the Cave’s Branch River. The water is crystal clear because it comes from springs underground. The water is low this time of year so we tubed through the 2 caves down a lazy river. Our guide ended up towing us most of the way. The 2 caves we went through were very different. One had smooth low ceilings and the other had high ceilings with lots of formations. The only wildlife we saw were bats in the caves. They were very small fruit bats. As we made our way to the river we walked through the forest and Eric pointed out different plants and other herbal information. He broke open a cohune nut for us to eat. It’s kind of like a very small coconut. 

Monday was a regular day for us. Steve worked at the church in the morning and at the school in the afternoon. I went to school for my reading group. We don’t have a car so we pretty much stay within the village. Brenda, Steve and I knew there was to be a surprise party for Sr Paschal Monday night. We were told there would be 40 people there. They would bring everything needed for the party. We were expecting them at 6:00 but with this being Belize, that is just a guideline. Paschal was clueless although she did later admit she wondered why we weren’t working on dinner. Well everyone arrived at 6:30. Paschal was still inside but I could hear everyone arriving. The party started with a mariachi band playing on the front porch and all the people arriving at once. It was fantastic. What I wasn’t expecting was for the first several songs were for ME! Because my birthday is today they were singing for me. Never had that happen before. I will never forget it. After the songs everyone gave me hugs and birthday wishes. There were more songs from the band and singing. People had written poems and songs for Sr. Paschal. It was so so touching to see the love that was shared last night. Then it was time to eat. You take a seat and the women bring you a plate. We had the best BBQ chicken I have ever had. Anyone who knows me knows how serious I am about BBQ. We also had cole slaw and beans. And of course tortillas. Horchata to drink. I will admit to having 2 pieces of chicken. Happy day they left the rest of the chicken for us. It was such a good time but when the party was over we were all pooped, even though we had done none of the work. It was just so emotional. Saying goodbye is never easy. I am sure we will have visitors this week before we go.

Well today is my birthday so I get to wear the birthday crown for meals today. Sr Brenda also made me a chocolate cake. Wonder how she knew that’s what I would want? I’ll go to school today to read with the boys. I told them yesterday that Wednesday was my last day but I will leave the books we have been reading for the school library.

Should be an interesting week. Next week Steve and I start a two week trip to see other areas of Belize.

Peace and blessings,

Karen

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