Day three has been an unforgettable day. After a day and a half of worshiping with our sister church - The Evangelical Quest Church - today we launched out into various ministry/mission teams in the local community.
As we concluded the day just an hour or so ago, we gathered for a time of worship and reflection. Members of our team recounted stories from the last two days in Belize. It became very apparent that every member of our team has a story to tell. Here are just a few of them ...
One member of our team, Cindy Keszler, is working with the Women's Ministry. Every day a busload of women and their young children arrive at the camp where we are staying. The Women's Team from Quest has been teaching these women to sew dresses. Yesterday, Cindy met a woman who needs a new Bible. Cindy gave this woman her own Bible that belonged to her late mother. The woman was very moved by this act of generosity and continues coming to the camp daily. She brings the Bible with her every time she is here.
Another member our team, Ron Hartshorn, is building a cross for our sister church while he is here. The cross will be "commissioned" later in the week. Ron thought he'd be working on this cross alone, but as you can see from the picture above .... Ron has a partner in this endeavor. Noah is a local 17 year old with a very rough past. Without a father, he is the man of his house earning money for his mom and siblings. We're not sure about Noah's faith, because the first day he kept his distance. But he keeps showing up for worship and other events. He met Ron, and a friendship was struck. Ron asked him to help him build the cross this week. Noah immediately agreed and the two spent today gathering the wood and beginning to work on this project. As they gathered the wood, Ron was explaining to Noah how they would take the old, blackened wood ... and scrape away the rough exterior to reveal the beauty inside. He then explained how this is what Jesus does in us when we give ourselves to Him. Noah has taken to Ron in an amazing way and a beautiful friendship is emerging. Can't wait to see what the remained of the week will be like as this one story continues to unfold....
Our medical team headed out to a remote area of town to hold a medical clinic. They shared amazing stories tonight of the people who came to them with unbelievable medical needs. Linda Smith (pictured above) described how these people with such intense medical needs were coming to to them ... instead of a hospital. Our team is all that is available to them. They also discussed how we really can't understand poverty and struggle until we see it in this new way. Wow. Again - another amazing story. Our medical team has done outstanding work in just one day, and are ready to take on the rest of the week.
Several other teams and events happened today as well, but let me conclude with just one more quick story. Just before dinner, we gathered up around 20 of us and headed to a local orphanage where 38 kids of all ages are living. As we got off the bus at this orphanage we were immediately struck by the condition of the orphanage. Old, decaying, dimly lit. This was their home. As we walked in, though, the darkness became brighter by the smiles and lives of these beautiful children. They immediately began jumping into our arms and hanging out with us. They LOVED that we came by for an hour or so. We played guitar, blew bubbles, played on the playground, and just hung out and talked. Getting back bus afterward was a pretty somber experience. We'll never see those kids again. There are still without moms and dads. They are still going to be living in these conditions. And in just a few days, we'll be going home.
But we won't go home the same. We're going home changed. How can we not? We have seen God and His people in the beautiful country of Belize. We must bring this home with us.