Finally landing on the tarmac of the Belizean Airport was such a relief. I am a terrible passenger. I hate flying. And I absolutely cannot stand waiting. So with great relief I climbed down the steps of the plane and onto the soil of a country I would soon fall in love with, Belize. Working through a missionary company called Praying Pelican, I was there to do God's work what I didn't know was that Belize would impact me more than I would ever impact it. As we walked onto the bus that would shuttle us for two hours to a beautiful sea side village, Libertad, I was able to take in the decrepit state of the building surrounding the small airport, the only airport in Belize.
â–º SEMI FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
As we drove, I saw shacks that housed large families. I saw people walking down the street in ratty clothes, carrying their water by the bucketful. But, most notably, I saw the smiles that the Belizeans had on their faces. How is it that these people could be so happy with having nothing? How is it that these houses did not make the horizon ugly but magnified its unmarvelled beauty?
Throughout the week I would not be able to grasp the gorgeous views that surrounded me, the people so humble and poor, citizens so in love with their country and so content with nothing. The experience provided me with a perspective no untraveled American will ever know, not everything beautiful is constructed or maintained and no happiness is gained from possessing things of this world. Belize taught me that beauty is anything that makes one smile. My plate of lasagna is beautiful. My cold water is beautiful. The houses in Belize are beautiful. The aqua waters licking the Belizean shore are beautiful. We were housed in the Church of Nazarene in Libertad in the heat with no air, no fans, no gate, in the heart of the city. We travelled and built a church, went into schools, and played soccer with barefoot children. Everything and anything made the Belizeans happy. The children did not need kangaroo leather shoes to play soccer like the over-privileged children in America. The parents did not need walls to call a place a church, simply a gathering of Christ seeking individuals. It was the differences between cultures is profound, and when I realized how simple the Belizeans lived and how joyfully my life was altered. Back on American soil for over 4 months I've tried to adopt a more Belizean lifestyle, I find joy in indoor plumbing, a luxury unheard of in Belize, I seek out neighbors just to chat, I find time to do nothing but lay around. That is why travelling is so important, it teaches foreigners different perspectives. But maybe more important than merely travelling, one must implement the lessons they learned from their stay away from home. If you do not learn anything, you've wasted what could have been a wonderful trip.
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