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Herman Friesen Declares It from His Mennonite Farm in “Little Belize”

God often intervenes in unplanned-for ways when on a mission trip. So it was last year when we were site-seeing in a Mennonite community known as “Little Belize.” On a rough unpaved road and with our team packed in a pickup, we had a breakdown. Three of us walked in the pouring rain to a farm house about a half mile away it see if we could find help.

We came upon the Friesen family who just happen to be in the truck mechanics business. They spoke mostly German, but knew enough Spanish that we could communicate through one of our host family members who had come along. Working hard at building relationships, we saw amazing barriers break down, so much so that the Friesens allowed us to take their picture for the first time in their lives and invited us back for an authentic Mennonite dinner this year.

Yesterday we returned to sit down together at a holy meal. Everyone introduced themselves, including Herman’s three boys, Jacob, Abram, and Johan, and his very shy 11-year-old daughter, Maria. Also with us were Herman’s wife, Maria, and his mother, Aganetha.

I shared at the table that we had been talking, envisioning, and praying about this day for a full year. That we are called to be of one faith and of one God and Father, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:5-6). I remember holding up Herman’s hand and emotionally saying that “We are now forever friends!”


His response was to say that our moment happened because we are called to do to others as we would want them to do to us (Matt 7:12). It’s the Golden Rule held true in every religion of the world. Knowingly or not Herman again quoted Jesus by saying we are to “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Matt 22:39).

What a heavenly banquet was laid before us, including a red fruit soup that was to die for. We exchanged gifts and made plans for next year. Most of the guys were also fitted for bib overalls that Maria will make for us. As we waited in line for our turn to be measured, Herman would bark out, “Next Mennonite!”