Living a life of faith: Craig man travels to Belize on a mission
CRAIG — A Craig tradesman is ready to swap a cushy retirement in America for the dangers of a developing county. About three years ago semi-retired electrician Terry Calvert felt the call to serve others.
“God told me, ‘I provided you a good life.’ I had a good job, raised my kids; now it’s time to go to work for Him,” he said.
On Saturday, Calvert will leave Craig for six months to work as an Avant Missionary Instructor in the Trades4Life program near Belmopan — the capitol city the small Central American country of Belize.
Belize, about the size of the state of Massachusetts, borders the Caribbean Sea between Guatemala and Mexico and is home to slightly more than 360,000 people, with over half living in rural areas.
“It will be a total change of life. It’s not cushy, like America. The water can be a problem. You’re giving up a lot of things,” Calvert said.
Calvert’s first mission trip, in 2013, also took him to Belize. He went again for a short time in 2015, and last year, he was part of a team from The Journey at First Baptist that traveled to give aid in Haiti. If plans go well, after Belize, he’ll travel again to Haiti.
Other Craig residents have also heeded the call to help the less fortunate in developing countries, people like Louise and Wayne Walgren, who spent about four decades as missionaries in Brazil.
“We know what it feels like to be down there, and they need professionals like Terry,” Louise Walgren said. “What he’s doing is just amazing.”
Unlike Brazil, where the official language is Portuguese, the official language in Belize is English, though the top three ethnic groups include 53 percent who identify themselves as Mestizo, About 26 percent identify as Creole and a little more than 11 percent Maya.
There is a high degree of risk from food or waterborne diseases, including bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid fever; vector borne diseases including dengue fever and malaria and the Zika virus.
“Although Belize has the third-highest per capita income in Central America, the average income figure masks a huge income disparity between rich and poor, and a key government objective remains reducing poverty and inequality with the help of international donors,” according to the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook.
The Trades4Life program seeks to provide training opportunities — primarily for men, but also women — as a way to address life, leadership and trade skills with values rooted in the Christian faith.
“The most famous phrase is, ‘Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’ I think the goal is to take some of our resources — financial or skills and abilities — using Belize nationals as much as possible, but taking those resources to areas of need on a short-term basis,” said The Journey’s Pastor Len Browning.
Browning said the experience also often changes the missionary.
It’s not an easy calling.
“First, he’s had to pay for it all out of support of friends, and since our church isn’t able to fully support him, he’s also had to seek support from other churches,” Louise Walgren said.
Friends and family have also helped ensure that Calvert’s finances, pets, home and Visa process are all set.
“I’ve been working through that and have been nothing but blessed,” Calvert said.
As he looks forward to the next six months, he’s hoping he can help Belizeans’ obtain a better standard of living. His first task is to jam what took him four years into six weeks, as he helps write the new electrical trades course.
“I’m not a big public speaker or preacher, but I try to live by example,” Calvert said.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.