MGAES Students Become Pen Pals With Belize School

Nineteen pairs of eyes stare in amazement at a world map as Caryn Earl, Meadow Glade Adventist Elementary School (MGAES) second-grade teacher, shows the distance between Battle Ground, Wash., and Belize, Central America. This far-off place has just become a lot closer to the first through sixth graders at MGAES since they have become pen pals to the students of Zion Adventist School (ZA) in Dangriga Town, Belize.

MGAES became connected with ZA through a non-Adventist doctor, who worked across the street from ZA and noticed the poor, dilapidated building. Upon returning to the U.S., he called a local Adventist church, which connected him with MGAES.

"He wanted us to help the school," explains Brian Allison, MGAES principal. "And once we find out their needs, that is exactly what we will do."

In the meantime, the MGAES students have written letters to introduce themselves to their new sister school. And in March, the first package postmarked from Dangriga Town was enthusiastically received among Earl's first and second graders. Big, excited smiles spread across the faces of the students as they jumped up to receive their letters. As the letters were read, the students learned the ages, genders, names, family members, and other things about their pen pals.

The package also contained pictures of the ZA principal, students wearing uniforms, and the interiors of their classrooms. Earl's class was amazed to see the bars on the glassless windows, the dirt-floor play area and absence of books in the classroom. Some of the boys didn't quite understand why the walls in all the pictures were painted pink. So the students' ideas about how to help ranged from sending pencils and paper to books and play equipment — and, of course, paint for those pink walls.

"This is a great opportunity to help our students become mission-minded," says Allison, who plans to have the students help collect the items the school needs. "And then maybe when these first and second graders become seventh and eighth graders, we can take them to ZA for a mission trip."

However, for now, second grader Mirella Catarino is just happy they wrote back and want to be friends too.

May 01, 2012 / Oregon Conference