Belize with a Bunch of Guys from Church

Lakewood Church decided to have their first ever Men only mission trip and send their guys to Belize. The trip was multi-purpose with some of us doing construction work, others doing ministry outreaches into prisons, and all of us being camp counselors for a weekend. This turned out to be one of the most remarkable/difficult/wonderful/exhausting/action-packed weeks of my entire life!

The action began before the Mission even started, actually, by participating in a Servolution. We went downtown to a shelter and worked in the kitchen and laundry for the day. I mostly worked in the laundry room.

But, finally, the day of departure arrived! We each met at Bush International Airport bright and early and checked in our stuff. A few hours later we were in Belize! Our host Michael Simmons of Cayo Tours met us at the airport with a big van and escorted us (for what seemed to be forever) to the place we were spend the night. I was prepared for something as basic as a cot to sleep on in a barn, but our accomodations turned out to be much better than that! Way better! It was Robert’s Grove Resort right on the Caribbean sea. The rooms were air conditioned and had comfortable beds and hot showers. Each morning we’d gather at the dinning area for a continental breakfast, and then have our devotionals out on the little cabana at the end of a pier.

I’ll never forget our final night at this resort because of a strong storm that blew through. I found a porch with a hammock and enjoyed the balmy breeze while watching the lightning and storm clouds roll across the ocean. It was mesmerizing and very relaxing.

If you ever go to Belize, I recommend staying a Robert’s Grove Resort. Others recommend it too! It has some high reviews on TripAdvisor.

Of course, we were in Belize to WORK… and work we did. Oh wow, it was difficult at times. Very hot and sweaty. A couple of times I had to just stop and rest. At one point, I thought I was going to have to quit working altogther! It was only noon, but I was spent. Suddenly, though, some clouds and rain moved in and I was able to cool off and regain my strength. Back to work I went!

Four days of working on this church was wrought with challenges and set-backs. The equipment we needed to hoist lumber overhead had decided it was not going to work at all. So we had to improvise. Plus, we were working with guys we had just met – a few from Kentucky, and a few guys from Belize and Guatemala. Tempers flared a few times, there was some grumbling and complaining, but there were also plenty of laughs and good moments. There was also an ABUNDANT supply of mangos within reach from several trees. We were eating mangos all day long! It’s a good thing I LOVE mangos.

Ultimately, our goal up getting a portion of the roof up was accomplished!!

Then came the Boy’s Camp. We packed up our stuff and said goodbye to Robert’s Grove Resort and headed to something more primitive. It was all the way over on the other side of Belize (in the Cayo district in the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen (western side of Belize on the border of Guatemala) and at a camp with a few dormitories and a kitchen. What a contrast to where we had been!

We were thrown right into the action as soon as we arrived. I wasn’t too happy about that, and I could tell right away we were being assigned roles as camp counselors (not something we had been told so far). The group about 14 boys that I ended up being assigned too was rowdy and unruly! At first, I thought it was just me not doing a good job, but at dinner time I could tell the boys at my table were terribly behaved compared to the boys at the other tables. After getting out of hand a dozen times or so, I finally went to the main Counselor guy and said, “What the heck is going on here??” He informed me that my kids were from the worst neighborhood and borderline delinquents. Okay, well, that made more sense, but I wish they had told me that earlier!

We survived until bedtime, and – I hate to admit it – I deliberately escaped being assigned a counselor for the boy’s dormitories. I’ve been around summer camps enough to know that is PRANK time. Sure enough, the guys who stayed in the dorms with the boys were pranked nearly all night long. I think they finally got to sleep around 3 a.m.

The grown-ups sleeping arrangement was in a room with no air conditioning, about 20 beds, and a shared bathroom facility. But, honestly, by the time we arrived I was exhausted and had no trouble going to sleep. What’s more amazing about that is the fact I didn’t have a pillow or blanket! Only a sheet to cover the twin-sized mattress. There was also a ceiling fan directly above me on full blast (which I absolutely hate), but none of it bothered me at all. I closed my eyes about 10 pm, and the next thing I knew it was morning! I didn’t wake up a single time in the night.

The next couple of days went more smoothly and was chock full of activities and even a jungle adventure near the Mayan ruins.

We took time out to visit the Mayan Ruins which was just a few miles away from the Camp. What a nice treat! From the top of the ruins you could see into Guatemala, as well as see wild monkeys rambling around in the trees. These were the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins.

Then off we go to our final stay at Banana Bank Lodge. It was dark when we arrived, so I really couldn’t tell what the place had to offer. So I just took a shower (after shooing away the frog that was in the bathroom) and went to bed. The next day… wow! What a cool place! It was like a tropical zoo with peacocks and parrots and all kinds of flora and fauna. At one point a spotted a howler monkey on the stairway by the pool and went to investigate. I thought it was wild, but it wasn’t. It was the pet of the owner of the resort. He was a very friendly guy and said to just be still for a moment and the monkey will probably come sit on you. Sure enough, that is exactly what he did.

There was an awesome art gallery on the second floor, which apparently I was the only one from our group that found and explored. Oh well, you guys missed out.

We also a few hours to go cave tubing! That was cool! You can float on an inner-tube through cave and marvel at all kinds of rock formations. I loved every minute of this! If you are ever in Belize you MUST go cave tubing. Check out a video here.



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We Are on the Local News (again!)

Ivy and I headed downtown to the Comic Book convention at GRB and literally had just stepped out of the vehicle when a reporter and cameraman began asking us some questions. They were wanting to know if people had difficulty getting downtown or parking with the huge influx of people (about 30,000 people attending the convention). Ivy was dressed as BatGirl, while I was dressed as regular ol’ super hero me.

I wasn’t sure if they’d use our soundbite because there were thousands of people to talk to and I really didn’t have anything profound to say, but later that night we watched the news and – sure enough – there we were! How fun!

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The Wesens

I found a bizarre little app and decided to have a little fun with it.

Meet the Wesens!

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Art Car Parade

I’ve been to the Art Car Parade only one time several years ago and didn’t really like it very much. It was mostly bohemian and had too many pot-smoker, anti-christian, and prissy gay guys prancing around in high heels. It was kind of a turn off, so I never cared to go back.

But today the weather was nice and there was nothing else to do, so I asked Ivy, “Do you want to go see a parade?”

Of course the answer was YES! So off we went. She enjoyed it for awhile, but about 2/3 of the way through the parade she had enough. “When does this end??” she whined. It did go on for a long time. Hundreds of cars!

It was as bohemian and offensive this time around. Lots more families and regular people in the parade. I saw only one prissy guy in high heels. Only one pack of pot-smoking NORML people were at the very end of the parade. No anti-Christian parade cars at all this time.

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Passover/Easter weekend

Another Easter weekend. The weather was nice and Houston had lots of activities to choose from. I decided to take Ivy to an easter egg hunt at the “Orange Show“. I’d never been there before, but heard it about in magazines and and on TV. The Easter egg hunt went quick, and in fact it was an Easter Orange hunt too. Ivy snagged several oranges instead of eggs. Good job! Then we took some a little time to investigate this Orange Show place.

It just so happened there was another festival going on in a nearby park. It was spread out over 3 parks, actually, with the biggest section being at MacGregor Park. It wasn’t an Easter celebration, but some sort of Buffalo Bayou celebration thing. There were several carnival rides and exhibits. It was fun! I even rode a ride (a spinning barn caught up in a tornado).

I decided to try editing a simple video on my phone too. This is my first phone-production. Enjoy!

Sunday, after going to the early service at Lakewood, we (Me, Ivy, Holly, and Jane) went to Galveston to the Easter-Egg hunt and festivities at Moody Gardens. Then some food at Rainforest Cafe.


Then a seagull pooped on my head.

Then end.


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Children’s Fest in Downtown Houston

Off we go again to the Children’s Fest in downtown Houston. :)

Perfect weather. Loaded up our bag full of lots of goodies. Even got some colored hair spray.

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Spring Break and Family Swooping in

I don’t remember Spring Break being this exciting for me when I was a kid! Ivy has had a great week full of all kinds of activities and family. One day was Rodeo and an Ariana Grande concert, and the next was splashing in the water fountain and riding some carnival rides at Discovery Green Park. We also visited the new Gardens at Hermann Park and rode the little train while we were there. As if that wasn’t enough, she also got to see a Cirque Du Soliel show with Mom and Dad, 2 Grandmas, 1 Grandpa, and an Aunt and Uncle. Oh, there was also breakfast and a movie (Cinderella) at Movie Tavern, as well as a children’s play (Flat Stanley) at Talento Bilingue Theater. What a week!

Flat Stanley.jpg

It turns out several of our family members all decide to show up in Houston during Spring Break all at the same time. This wasn’t planned; it was just totally a coincidence. My mom and her husband Larry got a wild-hair and decided to drive down to Houston on Tuesday. At the same time, George and Loann were making their way eastward from Arizona (after having visited Megan in Pheonix) and were planning to spend a few days hanging out with Jane in Houston. Then it just so happened that Toni and Nabil (Holly’s Aunt and Uncle from her Dad’s side of the family) were coming into Houston for a conference over the weekend.

This is the crew that went to see Cirque Du Soliel. Thanks Jane for the tickets! What a great show!

Good grub at Hickory Hollow afterward, too!

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Horse Cops

What to do on Martin Luther King day and there is no school? How about feed carrots to horses!? Ivy and I went to the grocery store and loaded up on carrots and apples, then headed over to the Mounted Police horse stables on Little York Road.

It was kind of fun! I was surprised that we were the only people there other than 2 workers. They were very friendly and instructed us on how to feed the horses without getting bitten, and which one not to feed at all because it has an allergy.

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Christmas 2014

Believe it or not, for once we didn’t take very many pictures!

But yes, a Christmas trip to Arkansas did happen. It was one of the biggest gathering of family and friends we’ve had in years with about 25 people packed into Wes & Jenn’s house. Even the dogs had a good time with Molly (Jenn’s dog) and Rusty and Fifi (our dogs) romping around the house and having a good time.

I met up with Jim Gooing one afternoon at Twin Peaks restaurant. Good food there! Flirty waitresses too. We also caught a movie (Into the Woods) on Christmas Day with Glenda & Lloyd. I got an iPhone6… and dropped it. Had it only 2 days before shattering the entire front cover of the phone. Holly was not happy. :(

Then back to Texas we drove. No bad weather. No headaches. All went well. Once we were in Houston, I took Ivy to the Galleria one day for her 1st attempt at ice skating. She took to the ice like a pro! Well, maybe not a pro, but she was able to scoot around on the ice without too many tumbles.


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Thanksgiving 2014

Holly and Jane whipped up some fabulous Thanksgiving Day food for us. It was almost too pretty to eat. But we snapped a photo and commenced to devouring. Instead of a traditional turkey, Holly tried turkey ravioli – it is turkey and dressing stuffed inside a more bite-sized ravioli. Yum!


Afterward, Ivy and I went to see Penguins of Madagascar and then stopped at Discovery Green park for some playtime and to check out the ice skating rink and “Field of Lights” display.

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