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St. Gabriel’s Deacon Makes Huge Impact on Trip to BelizeJanuary 11, 2018 • Nina Keck  • DIOCESAN FAMILY • REACHING OUT

Children learn to read at St. Jude’s Catholic School in Camalote, Belize.

Deacon John Clark of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal in Titusville truly felt called by God to make his recent mission trip to Belize, a country on the eastern coast of Central America known for its extensive, coral Barrier Reef and fall celebrations, among other things.

“I woke up from a dream where God said, ‘Go to Belize,’” Clark said. “I didn’t even know where Belize was!

“Belize is a very poor, dangerous country in Central America,” Clark said. “The average annual income is $10,000. Gas is $11.65 a gallon. All levels of school have tuition. They have all that expense on that salary. It’s crazy! We went not knowing what God had in store. I assumed God would reveal His plan when we got there. He did.”

The mission served a Roman Catholic elementary school and an Anglican school. “A lady was teaching English to children at the Catholic elementary school with only one dry-erase marker. The children sat in a circle on the floor. There were no chairs, no books and no pencils. We have adopted her and the Anglican village school in St. Ignacio.”

The mission extended its reach to food assistance, as well. Clark and his wife, Jacki, also helped out at a soup kitchen in Belize City.

St. Hilda’s Anglican Church and school in Georgeville, Belize, were recipients of missionary work.

“The day we arrived, the soup kitchen fed 300 people chicken feet, donated vegetables, a bag of rice, soup and bread,” Clark said “The kitchen was buying their rice at the grocery store. I contacted the largest rice grower in Belize and went to their warehouse. I told them that I wanted to pay the distributors’ price. I said I’d like to buy 50 pounds of rice at the distributors’ price, and I asked the owner to donate 20 pounds of rice at the same price. I bought 100 pounds of rice that day and took that rice, along with the donated 20 pounds, to the kitchen. The kitchen now receives 120 pounds of rice each month. Now the kitchen can use its money for other areas of need instead of buying the rice at the grocery store at full price.”

The kitchen had no seasonings to put in the soup, so Clark got busy to remedy the situation. “I called the spice company that my wife and I had bought from when we were distributors and asked to speak to the owner,” he said. “I was told that he had died four weeks earlier. The person on the phone said that he was the new owner, and could he help me. I told him my story, and he said, ‘Yes!’ He donated a case of restaurant-sized containers of garlic, paprika and black pepper. He also donated money and school supplies! He sends them every month.”

People gather for Soup Kitchen Day recently at the Cathedral Church of St. John The Baptist.

The mission trip gave the Clarks a new perspective on what needs and wants are. “There are no windows or screens in the houses we saw. At night they close wooden shutters. People in the poorest section of Titusville are affluent in comparison,” Clark said.

The trip made such an impression on the Clarks that they are preparing for an encore. On Feb. 6 they leave for Belize again. Folks interested in going or helping out may contact Clark at via email.

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