"Forever Changed" Belize blog post by: Annalisa Joy
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” -Isaiah 6:8
Wow, where do I even begin? A few months ago, Trent and I were sitting in church reading a handout about mission trips. We have always wanted to go on one, but it was always one excuse after another… time, money, work, etc. We found Believers World Outreach (BWO) through The Rock Church and when we read about their trip to Ambergris Caye in Belize, we knew that it was time to put our excuses aside and sign up. We told a few people about the mission and before we knew it, our friends Chelsea and Wes became our travel buddies.
Belize is a beautiful country filled with broken people. It’s your dream honeymoon destination with gorgeous beaches, warm sunshine, and crystal clear water.
However, if you take the time to walk a few blocks behind the waterfront resorts, you’ll discover places and people that they don’t showcase in the vacation brochures. The homes are built with sheet metal and their foundations are swamps, sewer, and trash.
Neighborhoods have been flooded due to the rainy season, fresh food and water is scarce, and you’re surrounded by hundreds of children who are alone, shoeless, and independent by the age of five. You are instantly humbled and you quickly realize that your everyday problems are nothing to complain about. I asked God to use me on this trip to serve others and to make a change, but little did I know that He was also going to use the people of Belize to serve and change me.
The children in Belize are so filled with love. They would wait for our group by our hotel and walk hand-in-hand with us around Belize.They were constantly smothering us with hugs and kisses.
Our Belize team had a variety of mission teams. I was on the media team with my new friend, Greg. Greg is a reporter, photographer, and news anchor at NBC San Diego. We spent our days photographing the mission teams, filming testimonies, and capturing the life and the people of Belize.
We had a sports and crafts team. Everyday they would play soccer, basketball, and paint faces in between. They spent their afternoons in the hot sun, running around for hours with little to no breaks. Even when they were exhausted, they didn’t turn down a game when a new batch of kids showed up. They witnessed and prayed with little ones at the craft station and they provided so much joy to all the children. I loved watching the kids show up at the park before they arrived and stay until the team packed up.
We also had a cosmetology team. They spent their day washing hair, giving haircuts, cleaning hands/feet, painting nails, and giving massages. It’s not uncommon to find lice, but these women never flinched. They truly served and loved these people like Jesus. I was very humbled by this team.
We had a construction team that we called, “work dogs.” These people provided manual labor with their blood, sweat, and tears everyday. They spent their afternoons working the hot sun and in rooms filled with paint fumes. They didn’t have the luxury of playing with the children and meeting the locals like the other teams, but they always had optimistic attitudes. They cemented, wired, painted, cut, sawed, dug, and lifted without complaint. I loved being able to watch them silently serve others. They were great examples to all the neighbors and passerby’s with their selfless acts and strong work ethic.
We also had a hip hop team. They danced to worship music in the streets, in the park, and in the neighborhoods. The kids had so much fun with the hip hop team. I loved seeing the hours of joy that they provided to them every afternoon.
After lunch, we would head down to Central Park for Vacation Bible School (VBS).
The VBS leader wasn’t able to make it to Belize due to flight complications, so Trent stepped up and became our team’s VBS leader along with our new friend, Lauren. VBS consisted of worship, games, a drama skit and a message. At the end of each message, team members surrounded the children, prayed with them, and helped them accept Jesus! After VBS, we played in the park until it got dark. These were some of my favorite memories.
On Sunday, we headed down to the local church. The church is in a movie theater and it is ran by Sagebrush Community Church. Sagebrush is located in Albuquerque, NM, but they provide satellite services around the world.
New Years is a huge celebration in Belize, so the girls choreographed a New Years dance to worship music and performed it in front of the locals. On our last day, we held a carnival. Clowns, games, balloons… you name it!