June 9 – We’re Online Again, Well Kinda!

Well, we are back online and connected with the internet!

At least enough to tease us!

We have made great progress on the aquaponics project. We now have finished all 4 garden beds and are working on the irrigation system. We will not be able to get it all finished, but there should only be a few things to do, like adding a pump, filtration system and a few other details. This project has been a lot of work but it has the potential to provide financing for the school as well as teaching young men and women how to provide for their families and make it possible for them to have a much better diet.

The two classrooms are almost finished, as well! The ceilings are finished and the painting is almost done. The addition of these 2 new classrooms will give the High School much needed room to accommodate the increasing student body. Pray for the Alvin Young High School and the students and their families that they reach. Lives are being impacted for eternity at this school.

Yesterday we were able to go the Belize Zoo. It is a zoo comprised mostly of animals that have been rescued for health reasons or were a danger to people or livestock. It was interesting to see some animals that we don’t get the opportunity to see in the U.S. It’s not often we can stand and watch a leopard resting on a perch only 15 feet away from us! But Daryl and I had that very opportunity! He hardly looked at us, but when a group of college students for the States came up to his enclosure, he intently stared at them! I’m thinking he thought they would be much more tasty and tender than we would be!

Well, I need to get back to work or the team may decide to sacrifice me on the top of Xunantunich, the temple that is just across the river from us! And that would not be pretty!

Thank you for all your prayers! We have had a great trip. No one has been ill and only a few minor scratches.
We love Gateway and can’t wait to see you all again soon!

Mark, for all the team!

Thoughts From Your Belize Team!

This has been a good trip filled with awesome people who love the Lord! I want you to hear from some of our team members!

Shelby Briggs


Ashton and I were standing in the rain between the ice cream stand and the street and someone in a car honked at us! Scared us to death!


I came on this trip thinking I would get to know some kids from Belize, but I have been surprised how much I am getting to know those who are on the trip with me, even the really old ones, like Pastor Bill!

Katie Doll


Being so tired that EVERYTHING is funny, when it really isn’t!


On other mission trips, I was more focused on the children but on this one I have been focusing more on the work we are doing, knowing that it will change lives for eternity!

Jonathan Champlin (also known now as Herbie)


All the puppies!


The poverty! That was not something that I expected!

Ervin Bruxvoort


It took us 4 hours today to get a tire replaced! Including an hour and a half wait for the ferry to cross the river. I’ll never complain about Klyn Tire again!!!


How God has provided the right people, with right skills, to keep us on target with our projects and health!

Matt DeJong


Finding two huge coachroaches under my bed!

And giving away all my Bill & Ray tee shirts, which I had brought to wear! Oh well!


The times of sharing and how we opened up to each other. What a powerful time that was!

If you’re not here, you might not understand! But I challenge you to come on a mission trip and have your life changed and build friends of people you may have just met or might have known for years! I dare you!


Mark, for all the team!

Monday – Moving Mountains!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ok, We really didn’t move any mountains, but . . . we did get a lot of work done today!

Alfred Booy, who is our construction guru continued to lead the work in the classrooms. And we finished up classroom #1! The walls have two coats of paint and it is beautifully done and the color is wonderful! The ceiling is freshly sheet-rocked and looks ready for classes to begin. The windows are all framed! Tomorrow, on to classroom #2.

Some of our ladies worked on the laundry for many hours. Oh how thankful we all are for their labors! Everyone is a much better mood and certainly the smells are much more agreeable! Thanks Patty & Billie for taking care of us SO well!

We also purchased many of the materials needed to work on the aquaponic project. So, our plan is to lay out the gardens and begin to work on the fish pond tomorrow. This project is being completed in memory and honor of Pat Grover. I know of very few people who have such a heart for people and acts of that huge heart to befriend and love them to Christ. Pat, a farmer and a fisher of men, would have been thrilled to see how fish and crops will impact the country of Belize and build the Church of Jesus Christ. Thank you Pat, for your life and commitment lived for Jesus. And Patty, thank you for joining us on this trip and your help in making all this possible.


Mark, for the Belize Work & Witness Team from Gateway Church of the Nazarene.

Sunday – We Were Glad as We Went to the House of the Lord!

A quick update of our Sunday in Belize! We had the chance to sleep in a little on Sunday as we were heading to Pastor Eric’s church in San Jose Succotz. And we truly enjoyed a bilingual service as both the Sunday School and the worship in both English and Spanish.

I felt like I was back in South Texas as the speakers jumped back and forth between English and Spanish and we sang together in our own languages. My mind jumped to what Heaven will be like! All the peoples of all the nations worshiping God in their own language! What a day that will be!

After an awesome meal we headed out for Xunantunich, the local Mayan ruin just across the river from Succotz. It is a much larger and more impressive site than Cahal Pech, which we visited earlier in the week. It was awesome to climb to the top of the temple and look in to Guatemala and feel like we could see the whole country of Belize. What an amazing view and to think that it was built up over hundreds of years! The Mayan people were a highly skilled and intelligent civilization.

After we returned to the campground to shower, we headed out for a meal in a neighboring town. It was great to visit together with Pastor Eric Reyes and his family. I even got to watch most of the Mexico versus Uruguay soccer match! Of course the right team won! Mexico! Mexico! Sorry for that outburst!

Another blessed day in Belize is in the books and tomorrow will soon be here! May God bless you!



Day 2 – Working at the High School

Today we worked on the new classroom at the Alvin Young High School. We made good progress on the first classroom today as we primed the walls, built the frames for the windows and finished up the ceilings for the sheet rock.

The youth who are with us have had a blast hunting tarantulas and a group of people found a baby owl that was on the ground! We also have seen many parrots flying around the compound. What a day in God’s beautiful creation!

As I sit here writing, the rain has started to fall which is a great thing except for the fact that we have had a man working to level the spot for our raised garden plots and it will soon be a muddy mess of dirt and limestone rock. But I’m reminded that mission trips rarely go as we plan them, but always as the Lord designs them.

The bus we have been using to travel had almost no brakes! (You didn’t hear that from me!) But, fortunately (I think God had this all on His itinerary) we have diesel mechanic with us who replaced the master-cylinder and we have brakes! PTL! And many thanks to Dave DeJong!!!

I hope to post some pictures tomorrow, but I’m learning how to do this on the job!

Good night!




Day 1 – We Made It

We made it to Belize and San Jose Succotz. We sat in the airplane for almost two hours waiting for the rain and a strong storm cell to move out of the area. Although we were a few hours later than expected, we arrived in Belize and drove about two and a half hours to our destination.

We were tired but thankful that we made it safely, well all of us but two suitcases belonging to Tammi O’Day and Ashton Hines!

Friday, June 3rd

We started our day by joining the school for their chapel service! What an awesome spirit and singing as we joined the students and teachers in worshiping the Lord.

Then we jumped in to our work! We cleaned up a classroom and prepared it for finishing. It is so much fun working with others who are excited about serving others.

This afternoon we traveled to San Ignacio and explored the Mayan ruins Cahal Pech. We had an incredible time and were amazed by the skill of those ancient builders. This settlement dates back to before 950 B.C.

Comments from a few of our team!

Words of Wisdom from Pastor Bill:

You don’t have to come to Belize to serve. Start with your family and neighbors!

Speaking of Pastor Bill, He slept with the largest cockroach that any of us have ever seen. It was so big that it picked up Pastor Bill’s bunk bed and moved it in front of the nearest fan! Have we said that it is hot here?

Greetings from Daniel Ruckman:

We received some very welcome rain today. According to Pastor Eric Reyes, it hasn’t rained for the last 3 months! Tonight we received word that a tropical storm is headed for us and is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. That may be just a little bit more rain than we want or need!

Words from Alfred Booy:

It is hot!

And there are lots of cockroaches!

We’re making progress on the work on the classrooms for the school. We cleaned out one classroom, started firring strips on the ceiling, we began to frame out the windows and doors and no one around here knows what a chalk line is!

Well, that is all for today. We’ve had a great day and we are praising God for all that He is doing through us and in us!

Pray for us!

Oh, and one last quote from the team member from Bill and Ray’s! We’re working on a classroom right now, but if we get hit by a hurricane, we’ll be building an ark!

With that I close! Good night to all and may we all represent our Lord well this we I pray!

Pastor Mark

Belize Bound

Tomorrow morning, 24 excited youth and adults from Gateway Church of the Nazarene will head to Des Moines, Iowa to catch a plane and begin the journey to San Jose Succotz, Belize!

We tried to do that today, but our flight was cancelled. Ugh! But tomorrow we’ll give it another try!

I will be posting updates over the next 9 days on our trip. So, while it’s too late to join us on the plane, I invite you to join us on this blog as we experience Belize, learn more about ourselves and minister in a culture most of have never encountered.

Let the adventure begin! See you soon. Hasta la vista!


Welcome to My WordPress Blog!

I don’t think I ever thought I would be sitting here, writing a blog! But here I am.

So, let me introduce myself. I was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. And that explains my favorite teams. I am a diehard fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Maryland Terrapins.

I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior as a child and that decision drives my passion to serve Him. I had no idea how that decision would change my life. My wife and I moved to Mexico where we lead Bible studies, trained leaders, and planted churches.

Moving to Circleville in 1999, I accepted a teaching position at Circleville Bible College, now Ohio Christian University. In 2000, our family moved to Iowa where I taught at my alma mater, Vennard College until it closed in 2008.

I have pastored several churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Iowa. I am presently ministering in Oskaloosa, Iowa at Gateway Church of the Nazarene.

I will be writing about life, ministry, missions and maybe even a little about sports! So, let’s see where this all will go! My aim is to exalt my Lord through this journey. So, are you ready to go with me? I hope so.