September 21, 2011

September Update

Greetings from Belize,

With summer wrapping up and fall approaching, we are reflecting back on all the wonderful blessings of God and the many teams that came and labored with such dedication. We are also looking forward to seeing the great work that the Lord is continuing to do in the ministry here in Belize.

It was a much more comfortable stay for all the groups that came this summer due to a very generous gift from Corinth Baptist Church in Darden, TN of 50 new mattresses for our campus. Also, fans were bought by a group from Hopewell Baptist Church in Parsons, TN (a nearby sister church to Corinth) adding a wonderful “coolness” to the stay as well. Together these make for a much more pleasant night of rest.

The rains continue to pour down here in the jungle, but it hasn’t slowed down the baptisms in our churches as we continue to see people saved. However, it does present a challenge at times to keep your feet planted in the swift rivers while baptizing. It is so exciting to see lives being changed by the Lord Jesus Christ. To the right you see Randy pictured with Pastor Mas and one of six new Christians from Valley of Peace baptized on August 7th. You may view a video of one of our recent baptism services by the following link:

In recent weeks we have hosted five teams who covered many villages throughout Belize. Their activities ranged from VBS and sports camps to construction projects. A team from Corinth Baptist in TN held a VBS for the children while having Bible study classes for the men and women in both Valley of Peace and More Tomorrow. Often times there are a few adults who will join in on the activities for children. It was such a blessing to have organized activities for the adults as well who are so hungry to learn more about the one true and living God versus the clay figures they have been exposed to all their lives.

Two youth teams from Central Christian in AR ministered in the village of Bella Vista. These teams worked very hard putting siding on our church in that village. They also provided many activities for the children including a family movie night for the entire community. In addition, these teams distributed a ½ ton of food to the villagers and spent over eight days going door to door sharing Christ as well as witnessing one on one on the streets.

A team from Hopewell Baptist in TN worked in Hope Creek village. The ladies held a VBS for the children while the men worked on constructing a building for our church. In just one week the men had all four walls up and were ready for the top beam to be poured to support the rafters and a roof. We just began the church in Hope Creek in March and the congregation is so excited about having a building as there are no other churches in this village. Pictured to the left is the Hopewell team in front of the church building.

August also meant a very busy time preparing for “back to school”. There were children to be measured, uniforms and shoes to be purchased, and many backpacks to be stuffed with school supplies. In addition to the 30 preschool students attending our Children’s Nest Preschool in Valley of Peace, GEM is sponsoring over 35 primary and high school students who would not otherwise be able to attend school. We are still in need of at least 23 additional sponsors. Please contact us by email at if you are interested in assisting a student. Pictured to the left are stacks of backpacks full of school supplies and to the right is Sheila distributing backpacks in More Tomorrow.

Of course “back to school” hit the Gaither household as well. We enjoyed a long summer break, but home school classes resumed on August 15th…whether Brandon was ready or not. While Brandon is tackling chemistry and Spanish II, Micah is working on counting, number and letter recognition and his Spanish. As many 2 year olds do, when something is not going exactly how Micah wants it he starts yelling “help me!” However, if someone doesn’t respond to his plea quickly enough he begins yelling “¡ayudame!” I guess he thinks we don’t understand English anymore... Sheila stays busy with her Spanish-English pocket dictionary trying to figure out what Micah is saying and her periodic table trying to remember everything she forgot about elements and ionic compounds. Randy, on the other hand, has been busy trying to oversee five different construction projects we have going on at the same time and relocating wildlife in his spare time. Apparently all the rain we have had lately has caused the “critters” to search for higher ground. One wush willy (aka black iguana) recently found a nice, cozy, warm place to lay his head in bed with Brandon. However, Brandon was a little less than thrilled with his new roommate when he was awakened at 2:00am by the 16 inch lizard in his bed. YIKES! Brandon made sure that little guy never got the chance to be relocated… In the jungle every day is a new adventure!


Randy, Sheila, Brandon, and Micah

July 20, 2011

June-July Update

Greetings from Belize,

We are having a fantastic summer with several teams and a lot of activities. There have been many people and a lot of exciting activities from Vacation Bible Schools, to construction projects, and Bible studies and revival services. More than the busyness of people and things going on, there is an unexplainable joy as we continue seeing people saved and experiencing the life changing presence and power of Jesus! We may never really know this side of Heaven just how many lives have been touched through the dedication and labor of those who have been obedient to God’s call and followed His leading…both those who come to Belize for a short term mission trip and those who reside in Belize.

In the six weeks since the beginning of June we have hosted eight different teams. Several teams were from Arkansas with others from Louisiana and Tennessee. These groups ministered in eight of the nine villages where we have churches. It has been very heartwarming to see folks from the US making a real connection with people in Belize through sharing of their personal testimony, activities for children, worship services, food distribution, and overall demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ.

In addition to the personal ministries that have been taking place, one team also worked on the water cistern for the church and preschool in More Tomorrow. They built a raised concrete platform for the cistern and put up guttering on the church to catch rain water. This water will service restrooms (with real flush toilets) for both the church and preschool.

On June 18th we held a graduation ceremony for the Children’s Nest Preschool in Valley of Peace. It was a great celebration and 27 students graduated ready to begin primary school (the equivalent of kindergarten in the US) in September. There were also four younger students who successfully completed the first year of preschool and plan to return to preschool in the fall since they are not old enough yet to begin primary school. We appreciate all the hard work of the students as well as the teachers: Ms. Elba, Ms. Ruth, and Ms. Olga. Congratulations to all of you!

Speaking of Valley of Peace, we would like to welcome Pastor Camilio Mas and his family to the Valley. Randy had been talking to Pastor Camilio for quite a while regarding his faith and God’s call on his life. On July 3rd Pastor Camilio was installed as the full-time pastor at the church in Valley of Peace and he moved his wife and five children from a Ketchi village in the southern part of Belize to begin serving God as part of GEM. In just two weeks the attendance has doubled and two individuals have been saved. Praise the Lord!

Celebrations continue with a special anniversary service in Bella Vista. On July 17th we celebrated the one year anniversary of our church in that village. There was standing room only inside the church and many people gathered outside to listen through the doors and windows. The building in and of itself is another reason for celebration. Until just a few months ago, the congregation was meeting under tarps. We now have a concrete floor, a thatch roof, and board siding. No more standing in the mud to praise the Lord…not at church anyway.

Just to let everyone know, the Gaither family did not fall off the face of the earth. We were without a computer and modem for about a month so we were unable to keep up with our email communications. Now that we are back online it has been a struggle in all the busyness to get to the HUGE back log of emails. We have literally been running so quickly in so many different directions for the past few weeks that we can’t keep up with each other. Randy changes hats every time the wind blows…besides being a missionary and senior pastor for nine churches; he has been a bus driver, a plumber, a tour guide, and overall errand boy. Sheila is busy trying to get all the records caught up after being without a computer for so long as well as getting school supplies, books, and uniforms together for all the students we sponsor. Brandon was able to spend several weeks in the states this summer visiting friends and family. He turned 16 the end of May and thanks to Grandpa, Nana, and a borrowed car from Aunt Shannon he now has his driver’s license…YIKES! Micah has also been working on his driving skills. A wonderful lady sent a tricycle to Belize with one of our recent teams (thank you BB!). Zeke and Hachi (our two dogs) are less than thrilled with Micah having his own set of wheels, but Micah is having a blast. He has put so many miles on that tricycle that the tires are already worn down to the tread wear indicator. With those two boys driving it’s no longer safe on the road, sidewalk, or in the yard!!


Randy, Sheila, Brandon, and Micah

April 19, 2011

March-April Update

Greetings from Belize,

It is such a joy and privilege to be a part of what God is doing here in Belize. The ministry is growing and expanding so much faster than we had ever imagined. There is no greater joy than seeing lives changed as people come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Not only are we getting to see people coming to know the Lord, we are getting to see them grow up in the Lord. As the people grow, our churches grow and reach a point of independence. Much like our children graduate and leave “the nest” to go out on their own, we have seen the church on the main northern campus graduate to an independent church. An inauguration service was held on February 26th to celebrate their independence as Living Waters Fellowship.

As some grow up, new churches are being birthed. God has opened the doors and expanded the ministry into two additional villages in the past few weeks. On March 16th we established a church in the village of Hope Creek which is being led by Pastor Rigobeuto Rodrigues. We have also begun a church in Otoxha, and Pastor Thomas Ack is leading that congregation. This is especially exciting as there are no other churches in Otoxha. We now have a total of nine churches with these two new additions. Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support that make this possible. (Pictured top right: Pastor Rigobeuto and family at Hope Creek. Pictured bottom right: Randy with Pastor Thomas Ack at Otoxha.)

We have also been blessed with some great teams over the past few weeks…surprisingly four teams all from different churches in Arkansas. The first team worked in More Tomorrow repainting the government school and leading Bible studies. They also helped Sheila out a great deal with several projects around our house including setting up a new computer accounting system which will save her a great deal of time in keeping all of our financial records.

In addition, this team worked on fixing up the staff house on the northern campus so someone can live in it again. We are very anxious to get the renovations completed as God is sending a family to help us with the ministry. Jason and Ashley Hancock, along with their two children Jacob and Kristen, from Mansfield, AR have answered God’s call to serve Him here in Belize. That will be a tremendous blessing to us and the ministry and will free up some time for Randy to focus more on church planting, leadership training and mentoring our pastors. Please pray with us that God will send a buyer for the Hancock’s house in AR and that He will provide the means for us to complete the staff house soon.

The preschool in More Tomorrow is coming along nicely and we hope to have it open when school starts in September. The building itself is almost complete. The second team from Arkansas installed the doors and windows and painted the building inside and out. Bathroom facilities that will service both the preschool and the church have been started but are not yet finished. We also need a water tank to collect rain water for the bathrooms. Otherwise, we only lack electricity and furnishings for the preschool building.

During the same week another team from Arkansas worked in Bella Vista with a focus on evangelism. They visited house to house and shared the Gospel in the village school. They also provided some basic teaching to the church leaders.

April begins the hot, dry season here in Belize so the Gaither crew has been busy trying to come up with ways to beat the heat. Of course the top pick with all four is a thirty minute ride to Spanish Lookout in an air-conditioned vehicle to get ice cream. However, that option is not always practical and Micah’s little wading pool becomes overcrowded quickly, so water guns and a lawn sprinkler have to suffice. Otherwise, Brandon is on the home stretch toward finishing school for the year with only about two weeks left before summer break…yee haw! It’s unclear who is happier about the end of the school year – Brandon or Sheila. Micah, on the other hand, is not putting his education on hold. He practices his overly abundant language skills constantly while also counting and naming the color of virtually everything he encounters. Randy recently had a weekend tour of three different Belizean hospitals due to several kidney stones, but after spending the night in a ward with five strangers he decided there’s really no place like home. Fortunately he is doing much better now and he has reclaimed the water hose as his weapon of choice (since the water supply is endless) in the family battle to stay cool.


Randy, Sheila, Brandon, and Micah

March 31, 2011

January - February Update

Greetings from Belize,

In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul says “So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” (Romans 10:17). Paul makes it clear that it is not enough just to love and care for people; we are called to communicate the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. We are continuing to see this happening as individuals and teams are using their gifts and skills for opportunities to share this message.

Several people from Iowa and Tennessee came to Belize to prepare the way for the arrival of other teams to follow. Some maintenance problems around the facility (including the remaining post-hurricane repairs) were addressed. With new screens on the windows, the bugs stay outside the dining hall and Micah once again has a swing set. Much needed new bathroom facilities were also constructed very quickly to accommodate our upcoming teams. We are very proud of the new bathrooms and one of the team members who was able to utilize the new showers thought they would rival any five star hotels in the states. Ok, maybe that is a bit of a stretch, but she had been in the remote villages of southern Belize and running water was a luxury…not to mention hot water.

While some of the folks were working on the bathrooms, two mechanics were busy working on all of our vehicles at the northern campus. These guys did a great job to get things running, keep things running, and overall facilitating more dependable transportation for this year. What would we do without you guys? (I guess walk.)

During the last few days of January and first part of February, a medical team from Tennessee provided onsite clinics in several villages in the more remote jungle villages in the southern part of Belize. They treated 489 patients in four different villages and distributed over 300 health packs. Not only did they minister to the physical needs, but also the message of Christ was shared through videos and one on one personal testimonies.

We also had a team from the University of Arkansas who tested the well water in several locations including More Tomorrow and our main campus. As a result of the tests conducted, the team is planning to return to Belize in the next few months for projects to provide safe drinking water to the entire village of More Tomorrow. While the team was working in More Tomorrow, they took time to prepare a foundation with posts for a new home for one of the families there.

Through all of these efforts, the love of Christ was demonstrated and the gospel was shared personally which both strengthened and encouraged our churches. We appreciate each and every member of the teams that gives his time and talent to serve God here in Belize.

After a very busy (but very wonderful) start to the new year, the Gaither family is currently taking advantage of a few days to catch their breath between teams and get caught up on work that had been backlogged for several weeks. In all of his running around taking care of business, Randy found a real treasure…a case of Dr. Pepper from Guatemala which made for a happy Valentine’s Day for Brandon. For the most part, Brandon has been buried under so many school books and research papers that we haven’t seen him for days. However, the number of cans of Dr. Pepper keeps decreasing so he must still be alive somewhere under all those books. Speaking of education, Sheila is seriously contemplating why it is necessary for a child to be potty trained before he starts college…after all, if Micah can change his own diaper why deal with all the soiled clothes when he is too busy playing to take time for toileting??? Micah celebrates his second birthday this month and he is convinced there is nothing he can’t do…from speaking in full sentences using very descriptive language to attempting to climb the mango trees…well, nothing except the potty training that is! The two newest members of the family, Hachi (a blue heeler puppy) and Zeke (a German shepherd puppy) are enjoying life in the jungle. Just keep the food and the belly rubs coming and life is good. Hmmm…how much simpler life might be as a dog…


Randy, Sheila, Brandon, and Micah