Two years ago I boarded a plane with sixteen people some of whom I only knew their names. We came together and planned a mission trip to Punta Gorda, Belize with the help of Praying Pelican Missions. I had never heard of Punta Gorda or had any clue what being a missionary was all about until I joined the team. Some of the teens going I had only known for a few months because we attended the same youth group, but for the most part I had to take a big leap out of my comfort zone becoming part of the team. At first I was scared thinking that everyone else knew already what was expected of them because many had siblings that had been on trips before, but for me it was the first. Later I found out that only four or five had been on a missionary trip before, I was not alone. Before the trip we prepared, saved, prayed, and came closer together to create a strong pact that could take on anything. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew this trip was going to change my life.
After arriving in Belize City we had boarded a school bus, and for almost six hours we were at the mercy of an unpaved, pot-holed, rocky road. Just by riding the bus in I became aware that Belize was anything but the paved and modern U.S I knew. Although to pass the time our entertaining “Bus Driver Bert” (became his nickname) sang to the local music, and danced as he drove the down the rugged road. As we passed the sign that said “Welcome to Punta Gorda” I realized this was real, and I was in for a week full of exciting new opportunities.
During the week our team did various activities in which our leadership, determination, and patience was put to the test. My test was being put as leader of arts and crafts for the Vacation Bible School we hosted at the church we stayed at. There were three groups each with at least twenty-five children. I was responsible for teaching them the new craft each day, and making sure all of them had the supplies necessary to complete the project. Luckily I was not alone I had two friends, Kaitlin and Alathia, who assisted me. Together we made sure every child knew what to do. Whether it was a cotton ball, sequence, and colorful lamb one day or a jeweled crown the next everyday was new. At first I was scared to talk in front of all the kids. Especially since some of my team members were watching me, but I knew I had to. I was on this trip for a reason, to break through my safety nets, and to do things I normally do not do.
That Wednesday night we hosted a concert in which “The Heavenlies”, a local worship band, performed. This was the grand appearance of “Bus Driver Bert’s” true character. He was the leader of this soulful band, and his fellow band members were his family. Our team joined in dancing and singing with everyone. Some even had the courage to go on stage and sing with Bert. One of the songs “Trading My Sorrows” had fun motions that my new friend, Jess, and I danced to with exuberance. It was a night to remember. There were moments I cried as I saw my fellow team members spilling their troubles to Him, and seeking his healing power. The week was overwhelming, and has impacted me in multiple ways.
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