Clarke County couple finds ministerial purpose in Belize

By Carolyn Drinkard

Alabama Cooperative News

Paul Sims uses his tractor to help remove rocks from a field cleared for planting. The tractor has proved to be invaluable, as rock removal takes months when done by hand.

Paul Sims uses his tractor to help remove rocks from a field cleared for planting. The tractor has proved to be invaluable, as rock removal takes months when done by hand.

Tracey and Paul Sims were living the American Dream! Their children were grown, they both had good jobs, they had bought a small farm, and now they were able do some things they had always hoped to do. But for the Simses, something was missing. Their search to find answers would take them on a mission trip to New Mexico. While there, the Simses made the decision to commit their lives to full-time ministry. However, even after their decision, they were still perplexed. Where were they supposed to go? And what kind of ministry were they being led to start?

Tracey and Paul Sims

Tracey and Paul Sims

A year later, while on a mission trip to Belize, they found the final piece of their puzzle. They met a man who had served as a minister for 17 years in the tiny village of Progresso. His name was Maurisio Sedacy and he had been praying for God to send someone to help him. Sedacy longed to minister full time in his church, but, because he had to support his 14 family members, he was forced to travel many miles to the thriving resort area to work three weeks out of the month. When the Simses heard other parts of his miraculous life story, they felt a need to return to Belize to help him.

Paul Sims drops a “bucket” into the well for fresh water. Paul designed and built this water system. He also found a formula for purification on the Internet and made his own purification system.  He was careful to teach his techniques to the young villagers who helped him.

Paul Sims drops a “bucket” into the well for fresh water. Paul designed and built this water system. He also found a formula for purification on the Internet and made his own purification system. He was careful to teach his techniques to the young villagers who helped him.

The Simses sold their small farm and paid their own way to Belize. Although they were not sponsored by any Mission Board, they did stay with a missionary couple in San Lazero until they could build a home in Progresso. Each day, the couple travelled 30 difficult miles to Progresso to work on their home. Gas at that time was $6 a gallon in Belize.

“It was the rainy season, the roads were bad and, many times, we could hardly get to Progresso,” Paul explained, “but this was what we were supposed to do, and God provided a way.”

Building their own home would open many doors for Paul to use his carpentry skills to help some young men in the village who wanted to work. He showed the workers how to use his tools, measure and cut the boards so they would be straight. This was hands-on learning for the young men, who were eager to gain a skill. Paul even constructed his own water s

torage system and used a formula from the Internet to purify the water for drinking.

Belize is known for its beautiful beaches and luxurious resorts on the coast. Farther inland, life is very different in the remote villages. The men often have to leave their homes and travel to other areas for jobs because the meager amounts made from farming cannot sustain a family.

Paul recognized immediately that he could help the villagers with farming. One of the most difficult jobs for these farmers is clearing the rocky land for planting. In Progresso, clearing can often take more than three years. After cutting the trees, the foliage must be dried and burned. Then, the villagers pick up the thousands of rocks by hand. These sharp flint rocks, similar to the ones used by the Mayans to make weapons, are found everywhere. The rocks damage tires and cut the feet of barefooted children working in the fields.