Fountain City Presbyterian Church (FCPC) has a longstanding commitment to the rural village of Los Tambos in Belize. On the church’s first mission trip in 2004, 19 team members went to several villages looking for the right place, but when they arrived at Los Tambos Government School, they learned the village was established by the United Nations as a refugee village. All team members agreed that Los Tambos was the place to adopt, and they described feeling they were walking on holy ground.
The 2023 team just completed its mission to Los Tambos, building a large wooden playground structure to replace a similar one built by the 2005 team. Team members pitched in with many hands including village volunteers, working as one body in 100-degree heat to get this project completed.
This year’s 20-member team included eight people serving in Belize for the first time and 12 people who have served previously. As FCPC celebrates its centennial year, it is fitting that those eight new members bring the total number of different people who have served in Belize to 100!
Prior to this year, FCPC made 16 trips to Belize except during Covid, when the team reluctantly stayed home yet served by purchasing beans and rice that was distributed to Los Tambos residents by village volunteers. However, Covid did not hinder the church’s continuing support for the students’ education beyond primary school, since the country does not provide free education for students to attend high school or vocational school, and many students were dropping out of primary school.
Thanks to scholarship funds donated by members and friends of FCPC, 39 students have completed secondary education and very few students now drop out of primary school. Tere McDonough who co-leads the team with her husband, Tom, says, “We have seen many examples of how secondary education pays off for students from Los Tambos village as they are blessed to live close to the Mennonite community of Spanish Lookout, which has diverse businesses.”
Each year the team has a big project to complete like this year’s playground, as well as multiple connection projects to demonstrate the continued community connection between Los Tambos and Fountain City.
The team thrilled mamas in the village by donating dresses and shorts made by the FCPC’s Grandma’s Pajamas Sewing group. They helped with community food needs by donating rice and beans to the families. The group provided nine new bikes for students who need them for safe transportation to school and refurbished many older bikes with new seats, tires, inner tubes and pedals.
112 gift bags were donated by a member or friend of FCPC to be given to each child in Los Tambos. The bags included items like Christian books, school supplies and musical instruments. The most prized possession in the bag is a letter and a photo from the bag’s donor. Team members describe the gift bags as, “giving away Jesus in a zip-lock bag and celebrating Christmas in June.”
Alyx Wheeler who along with her father, Bedford Chapman, made her first trip described the mission trip experience. “A piece of my heart will forever be left with the families in Los Tambos.”
I believe that describes the feeling we have all felt when getting the opportunity to be with the Los Tambos community.
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