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Monday, May 23, 2016


Missionary going down into a chaltun. 2016.
Photo by Dcn. L. Tullock.

Chaltun! (chal-TOON)

What do I mean by “chaltun”?

A chaltun is a centuries-old Mayan cold storage/water storage/trash area, tunnelled in the ground, in which a family might have stored food in pots. These days, not much is left of the centuries old food, the pots are in various degrees of intactness, and the access ways into the chaltuns can be rather formidable, if you are taller than about 5 feet.

Many major Mayan city ruins make great tourist destinations, but many smaller Mayan discoveries might also be exciting even if they be a stray potsherd found in a chaltun. Half the adventure is just getting there: our team navigating through a jungle-esque forest, to arrive at our destination, and then, navigating to the far side of a poisonwood grove (one of two tree forms of Belizean poison ivy - I don’t recommend coming into contact with its sap). Then, we find the hole in the ground of a collapsed roof in a chaltun into which we peer with awe. It is all part of the adventure.

By the way, 60% cotton long-sleeved clergy shirts absorb one’s sweat rather well in 90+ degree heat, with humidity of 88%+.

About 5 million Maya used to live in the greater Mexico, Belize, Guatemala area. The only inhabitants in a chaltun are likely to be fruit bats. After watching my 5 foot guide disappear into the chaltun, this 5 foot 10 inch or so North American attempted to do likewise.

Once several feet down into the chaltun, I was faced with a decision whether to venture into one of two corridors, or not. Ah. Body length issues around turns, designed for shorter people, in the relative dark among fruit bats….on my stomach, with not much to hold onto. Not wanting to be stuck below ground as my primary activity of the day, I ascended, using tree roots as handholds.

What does this adventure have to do with missionary work? Well, as people in Belize have noted from time to time: “You take an interest in our culture, Dr. Mudge.” And they smile. It is part of the missionary way of life.

God bless you all, and thank you for your support,

Fr. Shaw, and on behalf of Mtr. Julie.
SAMS missionaries with the Diocese of Belize.


Please pray, and continue to make checks out to: "SAMS". Put "Shaw and Julie Mudge" in the memo, to support what we are doing.

Mailing address:
P. O. Box 399,

Ambridge, PA 15003-0399

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