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First Pres, ACT mission team going to Belize

Cary Ashby • Oct 28, 2019 at 6:30 PM

First Presbyterian Church in Norwalk is partnering with Answering the Call Together (ACT) for a mission trip to Belize.

The Rev. James Hodsden said the objective of the trip is not about “rescuing,” but working with the people in Belize and “go where God wants us to go.” During the February trip, the team of 30 people will visit hospice facilities, people’s homes and prisons, work with children and do construction projects.

“We want to come alongside with people who are already there,” Hodsden said. “I think a lot of it is a ministry of presence.”

To prepare for the upcoming mission trip, nine people from the church and ACT took a “vision trip” in August to get a better understanding of Belize. The scouting trip informed them of what the mission team would be doing in February.

“It provides logistics for us to plan for who we’re going to help and how,” said Dave Wallace, ACT executive director. 

During the “vision trip,” the local residents visited mission sites, churches, orphanages, a police department, a federal prison and hospitals. The group also met with the founder of a hospice in Belize.

“This is my fifth time in Belize,” said Hodsden, who has been friends with the Rev. Tim Tam in Belize for 16 years. “I was able to see people walk away with a sense of God’s work.”

While Hodsden said he wants the mission team not just to join with Belize residents with “what God is already doing,” but he wants the participants to be inspired to do and be aware of mission elsewhere.

During the trip in February, the mission team will visit the Valley of Peace, a former United Nations refugee settlement. 

“We will probably be building a house for people who don’t have one,” said Hodsden, who noted the extreme poverty in the country.

The team also will visit a ministry that teaches women to sew. The group also will go to Marla’s House of Hope in which females are saved from sexual abuse.

“Oftentimes a sewing machine can be a tipping point in a young woman’s life,” said Wallace, referring to women who often end up in the sex-trafficking industry. “Learning a trade can make a big difference.”

Hodsden agreed. Because unemployment is so high in Belize, the pastor said single mothers are often left with the choice of getting a job and “letting the street raise” their children or being unemployed with no way to support their family.

First Presbyterian and ACT are collecting items for their mission partners in Belize. The following items can be dropped off at the church, 21 Firelands Blvd., weekdays from 9 a.m. until noon and by appointment: Sewing machines, durable medical equipment, (walkers, crutches, wheelchairs, braces, hospital beds, etc.) computers that are Windows 10 compatible, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, rain gear, shoes, diapers, toiletries and cleaning supplies. 

“It’s open for the community to be a part of this mission campaign,” he said, referring to the donations.

The deadline is Nov. 26. For more information, call Dave Wallace at 419-706-8656 or call the church at 419-668-1923. The plan is for the church to send the donations to Belize in a shipping container.

“We want to create a sustainable ministry there,” Hodsden said. 

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