La Jolla church group helps build school in Belize


By Colburn Mowry


When it comes to productive missionary trips, La Jolla Presbyterian Church has got them wired.

On June 25, the church sent three youths, myself included, and five adults on a trip most tourists couldn’t fathom.

By the end of the trip, a school was built in the slums of Belize City, and we had interacted with people from all different walks of life.

The Word at Work, a Christian nonprofit organization out of Texas, was the backbone of the entire mission. Along with bringing in supplies to build the school, the group had connections with local people in Belize, making the language and race barrier virtually disappear.

“It is not so much the building and manual labor that our missionaries accomplish, but the bonds they make with one another and the experiences they have with people who may be less fortunate than themselves,” said Tim Tam, leader of The Word at Work.

Belize is the melting pot of races. Bordering Mexico and Guatemala, Belize is one of the most culturally diverse countries in Central America. Culture influences include Kriol, Maya, Mestizo (a Spanish-Indian mix), Lebanese and Chinese. It is a mix that emerged through the country’s occasionally violent and long history. Throughout all of the differences, LJPC still treaded on common ground with the natives of the country.

La Jolla High 2009 graduate Luke Emerson, who also went with the church to Malawi, Africa, last summer, recalls his experience in Belize.

“Not only did we give these kids a proper place to learn, but we made the most out of the trip by getting to do some really fun things as well, like going to jump off of one of the local waterfalls after a day of hard work,” he said.

The people in Belize all share common traits: hard work, strong family values and love for their country. The patriotism in Belize is astounding. Flags are hung everywhere, and the children are taught at a young age to respect and appreciate where they live.

It was easy for them to appreciate what the group from La Jolla Presbyterian Church was doing because the locals in Belize City knew that the school we were building would have a lasting impact on their community.

To find out about other LJPC activities, visit For more information on The Word at Work, visit its Web site at

Colburn Mowry starts his senior year at La Jolla High in September.