|Fagerlins leave piece of heart in heart of Belize|
|Written by Darci Tomky|
The goal was to go to Belize to bless the children and staff at an orphanage, but it was the Fagerlins who were blessed in the end.
Dixie Fagerlin of Holyoke spent Nov. 23-Dec. 4 in the Central American country of Belize on a family mission trip with her son Richard Fagerlin and his family.
“It tore my heart out,” she said of her time in the heart of Belize at an orphanage in the village of Jacintoville, located about 15 minutes from the city of Punta Gorda on the southern point of Belize close to Guatemala.
Dixie and her family had the opportunity to serve the 26 children and 20-some staff members at the orphanage provided by LOL Ministry.
Dixie Fagerlin, at right, spends time with a small girl at
“My first-ever mission trip was going to become a reality,” said Dixie after her son presented her with the idea of a family mission trip.
“The greatest thrill for me is the thought of sharing this amazing missions adventure with my four grandsons,” said Dixie in preparation for her trip.
Richard, a 1992 Holyoke High School grad, and his wife Christy live in Fort Collins with their four sons—Christian, age 13; Preston, 11; Jackson, 7; and Lincoln, 3.
The four boys were joined by seven other kids from four other Colorado families that partnered together for the family mission trip. They all knew each other from Mill City Church in Fort Collins.
They got involved with LOL Ministry through ties to Resurrection Fellowship church in Loveland, and Christian and Preston attend school at Resurrection Christian.
Jervis Fisher, who grew up in Belize, and his wife Melissa were youth pastors at Resurrection Fellowship church. God gave them a vision for an orphanage in Belize, said Dixie, so about five years ago they bought the land and launched the project.
According to their website, lolministry.com, LOL Ministry is an international organization that exists to love and nurture orphans, neglected and disadvantaged children and young adults. Its focus is to bring restoration through God’s love, allowing children and youth to discover their potential, while equipping and releasing them into their divine destiny and future.
Dixie explained the Laugh Out Loud Ministry’s name came from a vision from one of the Fishers’ friends. This person was physically abused and would lie under her bed to journal. She had a dream of a place where children could laugh.
“I loved the humility of Melissa and Jervis,” said Dixie. “They’re following their calling.”
Dixie’s grandsons and the other children were able to interact with the Belizean kids at the orphanage, some of whom are orphans while others were taken from their homes due to bad family situations.
“We got a little taste of how it tears at your heart, and the staff deal with that every day,” said Dixie, noting the country of Belize is not very open to outside adoption. The government was also not supportive of this orphanage at first, but Dixie was happy to note it now has the government’s support.
While visiting a village school one day on their Belize mission trip, the Fagerlins interacted with the kids during a game of soccer. Pictured from left in the top right corner are Richard Fagerlin and sons Jackson, age 7, and Lincoln, age 3.
The Fagerlin family works on the ground for a swing set at the LOL Ministry orphanage in Belize. Pictured from left are Richard Fagerlin and sons Christian, age 13, and Preston, age 11.
The kids all embraced each other, she said. Her two older grandsons, Christian and Preston, really got into it, and Christian commented on how it made him think about all the luxuries he had back home.
“The kids were amazing,” said Dixie, who had the opportunity to fill in as a toddler baby sitter one of the days on the trip.
“The goal was to just love them, and they’re a very lovable people,” she said.
The Belizean children were very well-behaved and obedient. “I think they like the structure” of the orphanage, said Dixie, noting how so many of them come from bad home lives.
The orphanage was very much like a family, with all the staff and interns just loving on those kids. “It wasn’t just a job—they had a purpose,” added Dixie.
“It was filled with life,” she said of the orphanage, which was very different from the broken environment that she thought it was going to be.
Although Belize doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, the Americans got to share a Thanksgiving dinner with them.
In addition to interaction time with kids at the orphanage, families on the mission trip also got to help with small construction projects, like working the ground for a swing set.
One day while Dixie was there, some children from a village came to the orphanage on a field trip. They got to play on the playground equipment, and for some, it was the very first time they had seen a playground.
“It’s amazing how simple they live,” she said. American society has so much and is so discontent; these people have so little but are still content.
Families live in thatched huts in the dense rainforest, and bicycles and horses can be seen in the villages for their transportation. The Fagerlins were able to speak English with the people at the orphanage, while also hearing their street language called Kriol.
The mission group ventured to another village called Santa Cruz for a one-day visit to a school there. Dixie described the school as having cement walls and open windows, and the students were well-dressed and well-behaved in their uniforms.
The different families coordinated activities for the students, with the Fagerlins getting to do things like playing a game of soccer and making rubberband bracelets.
The playground at LOL Ministry’s orphanage in southern Belize
They were also treated to lunch at the hut of the village’s leader (much like what America would call the mayor of the village). Again, things were simple as they were shown how to make tortillas, served with a pot of beans. “They were just so happy to do that for us,” said Dixie.
In addition to their time at the orphanage, the Fagerlins spent some time on San Pedro Island in northern Belize, where they caught 54 fish on an all-day fishing trip and snorkeled with sharks and stingrays.
Since being home, Dixie has been reflecting on her mission trip that certainly gave the Thanksgiving holiday a whole new meaning. It also gave more meaning to the Scripture that talks about taking care of the widows and orphans.
Even though this was her first mission trip, she would definitely recommend that everyone experience missions at some point in their lifetime. “It’s life-changing,” she concluded.
Holyoke Enterprise December 19, 2013