My anxiety level went down as I looked out the window, seeing the clear water and coral reef below. After a year of planning, raising money, and praying, I was landing in Belize. The road was littered with unfinished, yet occupied, homes and stands selling various foods. After stopping for coconut milk, spiced oranges, and fresh cashews, we could were eager to get off the bus.
Once we made it to Orangewalk, my mother and I got ready to explore the town. After leaving the hotel gates, I followed the delicious smells that lead me to the town bakery. After eating delectable pastries, we moved on to find stores like, The People Store which is like the Belizean Wal-Mart, and the China Store, which had individual bags of water for ten cents. After a day of exploring, we were all anxious to start our Vacation Bible School the next day.
When our bus that broke down, I was able to experience riding in a truck bed as we went over sixty miles an hour down the highway, since there are no speed limits and just speed bumps. When we arrived at the church and school where we would be working, we couldn’t wait to decorate for Vacation Bible School. As we finished decorating the church had transformed into the island theme and we were ready to see the children.
Nicole and I were ecstatic to meet the kids we would teach, knowing we would have a lot of fun. Our hopes were crushed as most of our boys refused to participate and even talk during the day. As we began to pray, the boys eventually opened up enough that they would kid around with us. Although I could be found chasing the boys around the yard, hoping to herd them into our classroom, we were certain that our other projects for the week would go nicely.
After VBS had ended, we would be building a church and handing out soccer balls to kids in San Pablo. When I walked out of the bus, the youth pastor laughed and commented that I looked like Santa Clause with the bag of balls slung over my shoulder. The balls were gone within minutes and our entertainment was trying to play soccer with the kids in the streets. When the kids were all tired, I was nominated to read a Bible story. When the day ended, we had built the foundation of a church and brought many children to Christ.
After all our work had concluded, we had a free day. For that day we went to the island of Caye Caulker. When the boat docked, we could hear Bob Marley blaring out of a local record store. Palm trees dotted the coast and the motto of the island was, “No Shoes, No Shirts, No Problem.” We found that life was carefree as we could feel the warm, soft sand beneath our feet and only cared about the flavor of milk shake we wanted to buy. We snorkeled and went swimming with Manta Rays and even explored Altun Ha, a Mayan ruin.
My week in Belize was full of wonder. I made friendships that will last for a lifetime and helped lead new friends to Christ. I climbed up, and was “sacrificed” on, the Temple of Masonry Altars while discovering the wonder of Mayan Culture in one afternoon. I rode, at high speeds, in a truck bed down the terrible roads of Belize and survived. I had seen poverty and come back to America wanting to change the world.
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