In an attempt to process all that I’ve been a part of after a week-long mission trip to Belize City, Belize, I’ve been encouraged to write again. I hope this makes at least a smidgen of sense.
A FEW KEY POINTS:
Laughter – As the week carried on, my laughter not only became more frequent, but deeper – from my gut, and louder… Soooooo much louder. Usually to the point of tears. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed like that.
Lenisha – My soul’s little sister. It physically hurt to see her walk home on the last day. We traded ”people”. I hope I can hug her again one day. She is proof to me that all little girls share the same joys. We worked on a plastic zipper pull craft that she’d brought with her. I had made those same exact toggles over two decades ago. Mind = Blown. Such a beautiful, bright, fun-loving girl. I miss her so much.
Motherhood – Oh did I mother those children. I held babies, kissed sweaty foreheads, wiped booboos, pretend swatted a few hineys, chased them, washed hands, played “red light, green light” with them, jumped rope, colored the sidewalks a bright pastel of easter egg goodness with sidewalk chalk, painted fingernails about 50 times, shared candy, talked stearnly, hugged, hugged, and hugged some more. I cried (and still cry) over them, have continually prayed over them, shared dreams with them, and did my best to encourage them. I read the Bible with them, talked about family with them, talked about school.
Jaheim – His light is so bright that I’m fairly certain I will know him by his shine when we meet again. God has a great many things planned for this young man’s life. I do believe inside of him is the heart of a world changer. So proud to call him my friend.
David & Dupe – If ever there were a couple whose faith I would like to emulate, it would be theirs. David prays like few people pray, with power and conviction that come straight from the Spirit. Dupe has a heart for others that most would overlook, simply because she does not work for her own glory. She has no flag, no banner that she parades for her efforts. She follows Christ obediently, graciously. She is passionate and vibrant. She has a quiet strength that she uses to encourage and empower others. I’m thankful and blessed to know we are part of the same family. The presence of God is all around these two. David prayed over one of our teammates and the hairs on my arms stood straight up. I knew that at that very moment God was most certainly in the room.
Yolanda – I don’t think she saw me coming. I hugged her every chance I got. Crazy American Girl!!! By the end of the week her smile was wide, her heart was filled, and I hope that God blesses her family abundantly. She taught me how to make tortillas. So much patience. (I may have dropped one on the floor…) She told me about her family, her culture, life there in Belize. We talked about our lifestyle differences, about Jesus, about beans. She serves with her whole heart. Not simply as a means to provide for her family. There’s a difference. She serves out of love. I gave her my email address. I hope to hear from her one day.
Rita – How can I even begin to describe Rita? She is maybe 5 feet tall and 80 pounds, thin and frail but feisty. She’s 73 years young. She rides her bicycle through the ghetto of Belize City and it seems as though EVERYONE knows who she is. She’s the pastor of Alpha & Omega Children’s Church we worked in all week. I think she liked the way I mothered her flock. She has a lion-sized heart and even in the midst of that kind of poverty, she still finds a way to make each child feel rich, to feel like they’re important. I couldn’t agree with her more. She makes me want to learn to speak Creole. Creole is a beautifully tropical, assertive, shortened slang version of English. It’s so neat to listen to. Rita has seen the grass on both sides of the fence, and she’s chosen a life on the side most would rather give up. I have to say I actually agree with her. The ghetto was beautiful. I’ve never felt more like my true self, and never been more in tune with the Holy Spirit than in that city.
Structural Beauty – Chipped paint in bright hues of azul and coral, broken bottles of lime green and cinnamon colored glass line the tops of concrete walls as an added security measure. Rusted galvanized sheet metal hammered against 4×4 fence posts and concrete blocks for fences around yards of homes that house chickens and skinny dogs. Puddled dirt and rock streets stretch in every direction as far as the eye can see. Even homes that appear abandoned still surprisingly bring some sort of support to the neighborhood. There is evidence everywhere of a storm that had come through once upon a time and had taken family homes, only leaving the cinder block pillars as proof. At the beginning of the week I admit that my initial knee-jerk reaction was one more of shock, but on our last day of work and Bible School I looked up and down Raccoon Street with different eyes. Beautiful color, so much story.
Our Family – Kelli Lynn, Mama Karen, Dezi, Jessica, Roly Poly Andrew, his roommate Caleb :o), Tay-Tay, Maddie, Baby Carlos, Apple Jack, my brother from another mother Jonathon, and who could forget Black Karl from Atlanta – he’s an albino. (No, not really.) I came into this group with very little expectation. The dynamic of 13 people from all different backgrounds piled into one (yes, one) Astro van is probably what surprised me the most. With that many personalities, something was bound to go wrong – right? Wrong. Now I don’t know how I’ve ever lived my life without each of them. Their same love and conviction for Christ, their encouragement, their friendship. They are all now a part of my story. I love you all.
My Husband – Even on the home front while Mommy was off trotting Central America, the enemy was attacking. Robert is an amazing man, y’all. The cherry on top is that he’s also my bestie. Can’t beat that with a stick! What happened? In summation, kids are gross. My poor hubby was sick in bed almost the entire time I was gone. Thank the Lord for grandparents! I tried explaining to him during my absence, over Skype, that my heart was breaking, literally into pieces, that I felt different, that it was a spiritual struggle that I was not familiar with. He knew it was hard for me, and always lended a sympathetic ear and encouraging word when we got the opportunity to talk. I called him from the airport in Belize. Away from anyone that knew my name and definitely not within earshot – I poured my heart out to him once again, pleading my case. I told him I didn’t want to come home, that I felt like God wasn’t done with me in that ghetto, and that I belonged there. Oh yeah. That’s exactly what every man wants to hear from his bride. Mmhmm. But, do you know what his response was to all my blubbering? He said to me (and I will never forget this) “I’m sorry that you can’t stay longer.” FOR REAL. I’m not sure if he knows what he’s signed up for. He’s told me countless times that he married me for my thirst for life. Time to put da rubba to da road.
I am not a fan of ketchup and spam sandwiches. But for more of this life, I would gladly eat it.
I have never felt more like my true self. Apparently my heart is Belizean. I belong in that city.
Love is a verb. Bloom where you are planted.