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                               In memory of Bernhard L. Friesen

This is a tribute my mentor friend and brother in Christ, of whom I still have fond memories. We went through the hard years togather here in Belize . I will write down the memories the way I told them at the C.K. Friesen family gathering at Whitemouth Manitoba Canada many years ago. Only Ben Jr. and his wife were there from the B.L.Friesen family. As a friend and relative of  the family who also are more then relatives but personal friends. In appreciation. I am passing this on to your children and grand children.


My relationship with uncle Ben was very unusual. At one time he was going to be my father in-law as I was dating his daughter Margret with the intention of marrying her. But then she drowned in the river four days after the arrival of the first Mennonites in Belize. I arrived the next day, so I shared the grief with them. We became very close many are the talks I have had with him and aunt Helen,

 One day maybe a month after the accident aunt Helen handed me a letter they had received from their niece and sister in-law Mary Reimer the widowed wife of her brother Aron who had died of a lightning bolt in Mexico in 1955, I was very touched by Mary’s sympathy and understanding for the grieving family, this letter helped me make a big decision to write and propose to Mary. Through special circumstances I was led by the lord that she was now to be my future wife. Later I remembered the look on who was now to become my aunt and sister in-law because Mary’s  mother and Bernhard had the same mother. I asked aunt Helen did you think of what you were doing when you gave me that letter to read? She gave one of her special impish smiles and said yes. This gave me great encouragement to have them think me worthy to take such a wonderful person as Mary as my wife and be the father to her 4 children.  

 This is how Uncle became my father, uncle, brother in-law, neighbor and mentor and close friend. Bernhard was men in a hurry, as long as I know him he was always the first to do something.

 When they moved to Mexico in 1948 they were the first arrive with John R Friesens together at the hacienda of Cartuchera on the newly bought land of Los Jaguayes. I asked uncle John, who was leading who arrived first? He said Ben of course! he was always first. They were the first to build a house on their own land and move into it, even B.B.Duecks who were also in a hurry were not ahead of them. He was the first start a store so people had a place where to buy the necessities of life, I believe he also had share in the first fuel business with J.R.Friesens together. People deposited money in the store as advance payment for goods. This was used as operating mony for the store, Uncle Ben told me the reason they survived was their policy always to pay these depositors on demand. The clerks in the store had orders to pay up even if that meant there wold be no money to buy supplies the next week. He stressed how important it was to maintain a good line of credit and never break faith.

 So they were the first to arrive the first to build a house the first to have a shop. The first to buy a small dual wheel truck the first to buy a diesel farm tractor a WD30 International or McCormick. Sad to say also the first to lose a brother in-law from a lightning bolt in the field operating a tractor in 1951 and than another brother in-law in 1955.


Written by Menno Loewen