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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Prayer Mail

Dear Friends,

Life continues on the mission front. Many blessings. The path of Jesus is awesome. Things really do come together by the Holy Spirit in a way that makes sense, but not in the way that we might expect. Among the highlights in the past day or so:

1) I have written an article on the Cursillo Weekend for the Diocesan newspaper, and I have been asked to write a general critique of the weekend for the Cursillo Community here.

2) More interaction with the English team has taken place, and today we traveled to missions in Belize District along the river. These are otherwise known as the River Missions.

2a) First stop, St. Philips in Willow Creek. A small mission. At the end of our visit, the deacon who was leading us said: "Fr. Mudge, want to see some killer bees behind the Church?" I asked, "is this a metaphorical statement or are these really killer bees?" The reply was "they are killer bees." I ventured forward yet respected their privacy. At the end of the day, I looked up Killer Bees and found out that they are African Honey Bees, and they can be dangerous if their nest is threatened.  

2b) Second stop, in the vicinity of St. Thomas in Doublehead Cabbage. No one knows why the town of Doublehead Cabbage is thus named. St. Thomas is "between buildings". Lots of mosquitoes. Not so much a problem outside, but quite a few decided to come inside the van we were using. This was followed by an international effort to rid the van of mosquitoes, with some participants not wanting to harm God's creatures, and instead moved them along to others who were more than willing to hasten the mosquitoes demise. I did not get bit. Sizable mosquitoes.

2c) Third stop, site of proposed parish building for St. Thomas at property close to one of the government schools. I felt something inside my trouser leg and looked down to see fire ants commuting around the toe of my left shoe. Moving quickly, I did not get bit.

2d) Fourth stop, St. Francis in Burrell Boom, one of the key locations for mahogany log processing sometime ago. Great parish, building built in 1972, and the parish is in great shape financially and typically has attendance numbers in the mid 30s to mid 40s. Challenge for us here: potential group dehydration. I had brought a sizable water bottle with me. Our van driver (who is co-Chair of the Commission on Ministry for the Diocese of Belize) provided water as well. After group consumption of water, everything was fine. The small community of Burrell Boom has 14 churches of all sorts of denominations, and has a Salvadoran community and a Honduran community.

3) I have been helping transitional deacons and their supervisors with satisfying requirements pertaining to the Belizean ordination process.

4) Have been participating in matters related to the strengthening of bonds between the Diocese of Belize and its companion diocese in the UK. The Diocese of Belize has companion relationships with two other dioceses, elsewhere, as well. It all adds up. 


1) That I would do and say what the Holy Spirit would like me to do and say:

1a) Am trying to connect with an editor for the Spanish book of Common Prayer. Everything is a go, but we are awaiting any final editorializing that he might suggest. We are hoping he can submit any changes by the end of the month.

1b) Travel mercies for the trip to the north tomorrow, and for a visit to Belize City schools on Friday morning.

1c) Friday afternoon, I meet with the Commission on Ministry to discuss diocesan ministry strategies ahead. Just myself and the Commission, without the English. We pick up from the conversation of last week.

1d) Saturday, preaching class begins.

1e) There are other matters as well on this trip. Bishop Philip of Belize has some interesting plans ahead.

1f) Prayers for decisions and plans, not just for Belize, but for various members of the Mudge family.

Thank you for praying. I pray for you, every day. 

God bless you,

Belize City, Belize

Monday, October 26, 2015

Prayer Mail

Dear Friends,

This has been an eventful week.

The storm of last weekend turned out to be more than exceptional. In fact, I think I downplayed it a bit much, as I continue to listen to stories that people have been telling me about the results of the storm  this week. 

According to one newspaper report, the storm was the biggest weather event for Belize City since Torre Bissell survived Hurricane Hattie, here, in 1961. (Torre's story is much more dramatic.)  

And since then, just about all water has receded. The river did not overflow its banks. And the weather is now mixed: with sun, overcast, and occasional rain.  

I have done some traveling around Belize this week, particularly to parishes and Anglican schools in the Dangriga and Hopkins area (to the south). 

Our English visitors and I met with the Bishop and Commission on Ministry this week, a conversation to be continued this Friday, in terms of planning for the future of the ministry of the Diocese.

Last evening, I came back from Belize Cursillo 11, at which there were 32 candidates and a team of about 24. I served as the Assistant Spiritual Director for the weekend, presenting 2 rollos and a meditation, as well as serving in other capacities. A FB link to a short video from the closing can be found at this Web page.

In hindsight, my tour to the south came in handy in preparation of the Cursillo weekend because quite a few of the candidates were from that area.

I have touched base with people in the ordination process based on the outcome of the meeting with the Bishop and Commission on Ministry, several of whom were on the Cursillo weekend. One of the leaders of the weekend is also one of the co-chairs of the Commission on Ministry.

I am attaching a photo: Belize Cursillo 11. The person who took the photo with my camera was the driver for the Belizean government's Minister of Education, Youth, and Sports. 

And people have already begun to turn their attention to Belize Cursillo weekend 12, to be held in 2017 (two years from now).

Your prayers are requested for the following:

A) This week, I plan to:
1) continue with more diocesan meetings and travel, 
2) become acquainted with additional participants of the English short term mission trip, 
3) probably do some course development work, 
4) begin a new course on Saturday morning (internet connection permitting), all things being equal, and
5) write ministry reports for Bishop Philip.

B) Family members continue to face major decisions, and your prayers for all of us are always welcome.

Thank you for praying. I pray for you every day.

God bless you. 

Shaw, and on behalf of Julie.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Trip Update

Dear Friends,

Belize Mission trip 12 moves forward.

Today, I met with our English guests, the Bishop, and members of the Commission on Ministry to discuss ordination process matters for the future. Most of the Commission could not make it because of water related issues, and finding a suitable meeting place was an issue, in part because of water related matters. We finally met in the Bishop's office. In the hopes that more of the Commission could benefit from today's discussion, another session has been scheduled for a week from Friday. It was an awesome experience. The presence of the Holy Spirit was very evident.

Clean-up continues in storm affected areas. Even though every day between now and the end of the month is supposed to include thunderstorms, what made this past weekend's rain particularly unusual was the length of time of the rain. Usually a thunderstorm pops up in the early hours of a day, and by the beginning of the commute there is a slight drizzle and that is that. What made this an exceptional storm was 16 straight hours of rain. This does not happen very often.

The Anglican Church in Belize City has been providing meals for about 289 people affected by the flood, at the urging of the government (with the government providing materials for the food).

Roads are still a bit affected by the flooding as one proceeds out of Belize City. Fortunately, there has been no river overflow because Cayo District (where the river comes from) was not really affected by the rain, and in fact, the farmers out that way are suffering from a 3 month draught that has ruined some crops.

There has been some property damage due to street flooding in general.

Two Anglican schools in Belize City may have serious leak issues in some part of their roofs. They are also cleaning up from the water having deposited mud in the classroom. Students in those situations have been sent back home until cleanup is further along. Any substantial rain is a concern for the roofs of those buildings. 

Since the waters have subsided, the weather has been reasonable.

Tomorrow we go out and about a bit farther south in Belize and return. How many places we will visit will depend on the shape of the roads. 

Thursday, I head to the Belmopan area for the Cursillo weekend. At that point you probably will not hear from me until next week some time.

God bless you, and pray for this trip in general, for travel mercies, and for the clean up.

Shaw, and on behalf of Julie.  
Belize City, Belize.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October Newsletter

Dear Friends,

We have had a bit of rain over the weekend, with more expected on the way.

There are two parts to this event:

Part 1: We had an exceptional amount of rainfall in a short period of time. That was evident by the layer of water that covered the first floor where I am staying. It is said that if there was that much water on our floor, then in other parts of the city there was a lot more water in people’s homes. Such water is not pure, yet has receded. And my host has took care of the internal water yesterday afternoon, including disinfecting the floor.

Photo by Fr. Shaw Mudge, 18 Oct 2015

Part 2: If the river (that runs the width of the country) should be overflowing its banks about mid-way into the country before it arrives at the sea, then by the time it get to the sea in a day or two after that, we would have a “flood” by insurance definitions. So, we are waiting to hear and are praying that all will be well or minimized in the next day or so, by the time that area of water reaches us. As of this morning, I do not believe that we are in a Flood Watch at the moment, though I have not heard an update as of this writing.

Not everyone is feeling the effects of the rain in equal proportions, in part because of the storm drain infrastructure that the government has been installing, particularly in Belize City. Some roads, which were like small rivers Saturday evening, were completely dry by Sunday afternoon, about 2.5 hours after the water started to subside. Superb effort. Superb results, though some people’s neighborhoods have not been improved to that standard, quite yet.

Effects of the national storm vary region by region. A special case is that of apparently migrant squatters who have built dwellings to their own standards over lagoons, and they get their electricity via extension cords across wooden bridges (called “London bridges”), electrical cords which do not always stay above water level, and shall we say, it is rumored that this is so because they do not always acquire their electricity through normal means.

For most people, there is a varying degree of water damage to homes, particularly those built on the ground as opposed to those that are on raised foundations or on stilts, much damage being to internal possessions including electrical appliances, and this further varies by neighborhood. But no one has died because of the storm. Repair work is in process, and there is more to do.

The forecast is for continual thunderstorms throughout the month of October, an anticipated break being the scattered thunderstorms forecast for the Cursillo weekend, this next weekend. Typically, based on past experience: of the 42 people who are candidates for the weekend, there are likely to be about 25 who show, depending on schedules and the weather. Please pray for another kind of outpouring on the weekend, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

 Photos by Fr. Shaw Mudge, 18 Oct 2015.

There is a certain solidarity here for having survived an historic event. People are bouncing back. Merchants are reclaiming their stores.

To summarize the mood of the nation, as Bishop Philip of Belize said as part of his email to us clergy yesterday evening:

“I trust that all is well with you and your family.  For those in the areas affected by the current weather and flooding, I hope that you and your congregants are coping as well.”

On the home front, Julie is celebrating her birthday, this week.

I pray for you every day, and may God bless you in whatever you are doing,

Examining Chaplain, Anglican Diocese of Belize

SAMS missionary

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Belize Visit #12 Update

Dear friends,

Downpours and all of the rain, there is also an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this trip. Thank you for praying. And it has been a phenomenal previous several months, that way, in addition.

Not everything goes according to human plans, but in the end Jesus Christ sorts it out just right.

I have been able to work out the various appointments and trips, meetings and so forth. It unfolds one step at a time. As in previous months, quite a few things are coming together at the same time, from different perspectives. My strategy: sit tight and listen to the several points that I had intended to make, be made by others, except for the main point that God wanted me to raise. Launch into that point, and watch it all burst into flame. Glorious!

The Diocesan Synod was like that today. My presentation was almost near the very end, intended as a complement to Bishop Philip of Belize's comments on ministry. My points: it all starts with worship. Parish and diocesan development is a path of holiness. Stewardship (of time, talent, and treasure) is a spiritual discipline, like prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Spiritual disciplines include spiritual gifts, which include the path to ordination. Then, I asked everyone who wished to, at the Synod, to name a key value that they have valued in clergy and Lay Ministers over the past three years (with the intention that those points were for the benefit of Commission on Ministry members who where there). Those became points for consideration as part of the ordination process over the next few years. I ended with a prayer that God would answer all the issues on people's minds on all the topics covered, as the diocese moves forward. In the process, I drew examples from the Synod itself to make my points. There was a sense of unity and peace. 

In the end, Bishop led everyone in a standing ovation in response to my presentation; the only ovation at the convention. It confirms the fact that the Holy Spirit was active in many of us at the same time. I think it went well. Keep praying. I pray for the Diocese of Belize every day. The Diocese is transforming. 

Pray that the Holy Spirit speaks through me the right words to speak, and that this trip would continue to be a blessing for all. The current draft schedule (timing depends on the outcomes of phone calls and scheduling availability, the strength of human memory, and the desire of Jesus Christ):

Sunday plans are for me to visit the Cathedral for an evaluation of someone at the 6:30 am service who is in the ordination process, to evaluate his sermon.

Over the next week: continuing my meetings with people in/supervisors of the ordination process, meeting with the Commission on Ministry, informal participation in a meeting of clergy, interaction with the diocesan development people from England as part of travel (I suspect); and the upcoming Cursillo Weekend.

From the 25th until I return home, I believe that the plans continue for me to travel out and about, with potential modifications to the plans as the situation warrants. 

I am praying for you, every day.

God bless you,

Examining Chaplain, Diocese of Belize.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Belize Trip 12 Arrival Update

Dear friends,

I have arrived safely in Belize and had a briefing with Bp. Philip, as well as catching up with the latest news. Humidity is about 89% and it has been raining off and on. It is also warm, which makes the rain pleasant. 

As I have mentioned previously, I never really know what I am going to be doing until I meet with the Bishop. This trip follows in that tradition. 

There are several things set for me from weeks ago such as the Synod and the Cursillo weekend, and some will be revealed as we go along. Nothing is ever really set in concrete until it has already happened, and yet it is not chaos. It is a flexible arrangement that is filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit, one step at a time, in God's timing.

Please pray for the course of events as they are planned and as they unfold. The caveat, "subject to changes" applies, but this will give you an idea of what is likely to be ahead. In fact, my prayer theme for everything that follows is likely to be: Pray that the Holy Spirit speaks through me the right words to speak, and that this trip would be a blessing for all.

Here goes the current draft schedule: along the way are some plans for meetings with field supervisors of people in the ordination process, timing depends on the outcomes of phone calls. 

Planned for tomorrow are meetings with people in the ordination process, after morning devotions at the Bishop's house. Also planned is a meeting with the new Dean of the Cathedral as a way mutual introduction. Timing depends on outcomes of phone calls.

Saturday is a diocesan synod (mostly in plenary form) with perhaps other attendees than just the delegates (for wider circulation of diocesan goal presentation information), and I am to be prepared for the traditional thinking fast on one's feet, as the Bishop hands off the "projections for ministry briefing" in my direction at some point. We are forward looking, not simply picking up where we have left at last Synod. 

Sunday plans are for me to visit a parish for an evaluation of someone in the field who is in the ordination process.

By the way, my trip coincides with the visit of a team from England (they arrive tomorrow), so when I am not otherwise occupied, I am to be making day trips with them such as visiting different parishes throughout the month in different parts of the country. This gives me an opportunity to catch up with students, and to check-up on parishes, introduce myself to parishes as examining chaplain, and to get to know my fellow travelers who are helpful to Belize. 

Tuesday, I am to meet with the Commission on Ministry.

From the 22nd to the 25th, I will be with the Cursillo weekend.

From the 25th until I return home, I believe that the plans continue for me to travel out and about, with potential modifications to the plans as the situation warrants. 

God bless you,


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Prayer Mail

Dear Friends, 
This is our public prayer mail for Tuesday 6 October 2015. 
Among the highlights of this past week: 

1) Preparations continue for the upcoming Belize trip which begins in mid-October. Among other things, I have been working on the Cursillo talks.
2) The A301 Pastoral Ministry course, live version, continues. 

3) Started creating a Parish Development and Stewardship course planned to begin in January, on starting new churches, changes to existing churches, and time, talent, and treasure.

4) Additional parish visitations are in the works.   

1) Pray for the October trip to Belize, now about 2 weeks away, including preparations for the Cursillo weekend, the Synod between synods, and my part in representing the Diocese of Belize for the visiting team from England. 

2) Pray for the continuing online seminary education program in Belize that all would be done to God's glory, for our ministry fruitfulness and for the students, faculty, parish clergy, Commission on Ministry members, and diocesan staff involved. 
3) Pray for the people in the ordination process and my role as Examining Chaplain in Belize; and pray for the continuing plans for ordinations.
4) For the ongoing Belizean projects, including the actual publishing of the Prayer Book, and for the theological library plans. In addition to the Grant, the Diocese of Belize could use about an additional $2000 to meet the entire anticipated amount needed for publication; your prayers for God's provision of that amount would be appreciated.
5) Pray that I would listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit on what to say and do over the next several months, especially at St. Mary's in Manchester (CT) in October and November, the parish mission conference at St. James in Farmington (CT) in November. Pray for Julie at Trinity, Tariffville (CT).

6) Pray for our overall upcoming parish visitation schedule and trip plans, that they would continue to be according to the Holy Spirit's schedule, where and when.  
7) Please keep various family members in prayer about: relationships, events and appointments, decisions to make, educational goals, gainful employment, and fruitful ministry. 

8) Pray for Lydia and Julie in their studies. 
Your prayers are very important. I pray for you every day.
God bless you, 
Shaw, and on behalf of Julie.