Meet Joni: US team visitor on her first trip to Belize! She is on a year sabbatical, exploring the ways that places and people fit together. Joni saw the projects flourishing with many interconnections – friends ‘getting it done’ in their faith walk.
“…what would I do?”
If you’re anything like me, when you hear someone mention a missions trip, you think, “Well, good for you! But that’s not for me.” I mean, what could an introvert possibly do on a missions trip? Meeting big groups of new people is never fun. Besides, what would I do? I don’t have any tangible skills. I’m not a doctor or an electrician.
December was different, though. When my friend Kimberly Carraway invited me to go to Belize with her, I knew I really wanted to go. Kimberly has been traveling to Belize for ten years, and she has shared many stories about what God is doing to love the people, places, and things of Belize. My heart felt settled on going.
Our team of six, including folks from Faith Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, met in the shade under the awning of the Belize airport. We were strangers at first, but we were trusting that God had designed our team just as he wanted it. As we headed out to Orange Walk, we were already joking and laughing over the walkie-talkies between our two cars.
The days were full and the week passed quickly. We spent time with the teachers and kids at New Life School and Presbyterian Day School. We played soccer with third graders and practiced our Spanish with kindergarteners. We helped Kimberly as she led sessions with teachers, parents, and students on teaching, learning, and taking exams. We saw God’s joy and kindness in playful kids and hardworking teachers.
We visited Jacob’s Farm and one of the Houses of Hope. We saw God changing lives by providing physically and emotionally safe places for men recovering from addictions and women seeking shelter from abuse. We saw God’s faithfulness to restore broken hearts and chained souls.
We worshipped God with the congregations at Faith Presbyterian Church in Orange Walk and Bethel Presbyterian Church in Cristo Rey. We worshiped in English and Spanish. We saw the bigness of God’s kingdom while worshipping in tiny villages.
Throughout the trip, I was humbled and encouraged by the words of my new Belizean friends. During a conversation at Jacob’s Farm, Ismael reminded us, “This is God’s ministry. He started it. We are tools in his hands. He will finish the work to completion.” I was profoundly moved when Mario said, “Faith enables us to wait for God to do the expected.” The expected. Not the unexpected. How often do I pray with faith for the expected?
It was a privilege to step out of daily life in the US to see God working in Belize. The Holy Spirit that lives our hearts is the same Holy Spirit that lives in the hearts of our Belizean friends. Our God is everywhere! The whole earth is his! He is building his kingdom in Belize, the US, and in every country. He is worshipped by Christian brothers and sisters through the earth! Being in Belize renewed my hope that he is doing the expected. We wait with faith that he is drawing his people to him. He is restoring his people and his creation. He is doing everything he has promised to do. Amen!