Ours is the God of the unexpected. His ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts. And that is how my description of our mission experience begins. When I left for Belize, I had expectations and plans. But God had better plans.
Our Belize mission was incredible in many ways. And all of it was a new experience for me. I prepared to be part of VBS work while others prepared for construction and pastor training. But before we ever arrived in Belize, Keith made us very aware that God’s mission is people, not the task we think we are going to do. That is challenging for a task-oriented person like myself.
Our first day was a VERY long day of travel. I was nervous about customs, but I had lots of help. In those hours I was getting to know two groups of people. Some I attended church with but didn’t know very well and some complete strangers on the team. And as I would learn, some of them were strange in the funniest ways, just like me! I met the most wonderful couple who worked with my sister-in-law years ago. The first night, I was paired in prayer with a man who would impact me greatly. We had a team debrief every night and the willingness of these people to share and cry was inspiring to me.
A Surprising Word
We arrived in San Pedro Columbia on Monday and immediately got to work on two things: teaching pastors and preparing lunch. I worked with Megan, Sarah, Angela, Rebecca, and women from the village, including the pastor’s wife.
All of that was done near the Pastor Training sessions. I saw the pastors who came, heard a good bit of the teaching and discussion, and then another very unexpected thing happened. One of the pastors noticed I was listening in. He came to where I was and asked if he could share something with me. I said OK and we had a brief chat. He wasn’t aware of how easily I cry so he was in for a surprise.
He told me he didn’t have any explanation for what he wanted to share other than he thought it was God’s prompting. I never expected to hear what I heard and had no idea of the impact it would have on me. God is good and speaks to us in the most unusual ways.
While we didn’t get to do VBS in our location, the unexpected opportunity was to teach the ladies in San Pedro Columbia how to do a VBS for themselves. It’s one thing if we do a VBS for a church. It’s quite another if we train them to do it for themselves. And that’s what we got to do on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. We also got to be part of a ladies Bible study at the hotel. The ladies were so eager to learn and share.
Thursday came and our San Pedro team traveled to Bella Vista for an all-hands-on-deck effort to finish up the construction projects. I had not expected to be part of any construction work. In Bella Vista, there were strong men who did the heavy lifting that I was not supposed to do. I joined the measure-and-cut team. We marked and sawed, others carried the boards, and still others nailed them in place. The unity among our team and the locals was inspiring. In ways we didn’t expect, God had His servants in the right places at the right time.
We all helped each other through the airport and in the villages. And we shared a lot on this trip. That included our stories, our tears, and a lot of bug spray!
And now I’m back at home. Keith called and asked me to share some thoughts about the mission. On the night before we came home, he told us to be good stewards of the work God had done in us. He said it would take varying amounts of time for each team member to process the impact of our time in Belize. I’m finding that to be very true.
God can and does do more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). And whether our own actions seem large or small to us, our Father sees the end from the beginning, and He knows how far into the future our simplest acts and kind words will reach.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
There is not enough space to mention every person who impacted my life during this trip. God has a way of putting each one of us where we are needed. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and getting to know so many awesome people. This was a life changing experience for me. I would ask you to pray for me that I’d be a good steward of God’s work in me as a mission volunteer.