I had no idea what to expect when I told Jon just over a week ago that I would take the last spot on the trip to Belize. My whirlwind of a week to prepare has been well worth it as I’ve seen some of the faces I missed so much. It had been four years since my last trip to Belize with the team and I was excited for the opportunity to reconnect with some of the villagers. Although the basics of the trip have not changed much in four years, I am shocked at how much everything else has changed in such a short time. On the ride in we actually stayed on a paved road the whole way and went over typical bridges as opposed to logs placed across rivers…I’d say it cut down the trip by at least an hour.
On my trips in both ’08 and ’09, I worked with younger kids and I was nervous to see if my favorites would be there the first day. Luckily, three of my four favorites (I call them the Shawn-Clifton-Devan-Alex combo) were all at VBS today and Clifton was so happy to see that I remembered who he was and how to spell his name. Clifton was always a trouble maker, but he has grown up a lot in four years and he was really in to the singing this year. He also introduced me to his older brother and told me more about the rest of his family. He is actually not from the village, but takes a bus in. He stays with a relative just so he can be here for the week! To hear about this from such a small child was extremely powerful and has reinforced for me how important we are to these kids.
As for my teaching duties this year, I am working with much older kids and nothing has inspired me more than hearing their prayers when we circle up after our small group time. It is truly amazing to hear how much they care about their villages and their families. I have been touched every time just listening to them pray. The mission trips in the past truly have set some great examples for the kids. I have also been very impressed with our group helper, who is a VBS veteran and by his own omission, a former trouble maker. He is looked up to by all of our kids and it is great to see some of the leadership that has developed throughout the community to continue our mission even when we are not here.
Finally, we had one of the best days I have ever seen at youth today. The youth session is for those who are over 14, which was a very small group during my previous trips. This year we have had a larger number and the Belizeans took over today and led almost the entire time. From worship songs to Bible studies, they truly showed they have learned a lot over the years. In the words of Sue, it was “way cool.”
Although I have so many more stories…I should get some sleep before tomorrow. Goodbye for now and keep praying for the trip. The impact of our efforts has truly been remarkable.