Back in the States

Back in the States

I have officially been back in the States for a week. My time in Belize flew by and I can’t believe that two months passed by so quickly. Overall, I really enjoyed the trip. I feel like God was able to use me in many ways while I was there. One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to help at the school in the village of Georgeville. I spent a lot of time assisting in the classroom of the teaching principal and worked with the students that have special needs. The school lacked the resources to have a special needs program so it was a blessing that I was able to assist with tutoring those children outside of the classroom.

I also really enjoyed getting to know the families from St. Andrews church in San Ignacio. I was able to spend a lot of time with some of those families and even share details about my faith. Some people I met were surprised that I would go to church every Sunday, especially since I live on my own and have no one to make me go. I explained to them that I go for the community/fellowship and that I really enjoy going to church. While I worked mostly with people that were involved with the church there, it was still an opportunity to minister to them because not everyone goes to church for the right reasons. This is also a problem in the States that I have seen in the churches.

During some of my difficult times there as I was struggling with culture shock or missing friends and family, I really learned how to rely more on prayer and my time with God. I became a much more avid prayer during my time there and really experienced the joys that come from spending time daily with God. I was very blessed to have a host family that truly made me feel like a part of their family and that helped in many ways.

One of the biggest lessons I learned in Belize was about my future. My time in the schools has especially helped me to discern that God is calling me to be a teacher. I think that God is calling me to be a teacher somewhere abroad. I am not sure where he is calling me but I will continue to pray for God to reveal what his plans are for me following graduation in 2 years. I deeply appreciate all the support I had from my senders during my time in Belize and I ask that you also pray for me and for God to show me the ways he wants to use me in the future.

Leaving Belize

Leaving Belize

As I begin wrapping up my time here I cannot believe that 2 months has flown by so fast. The last few weeks have been incredibly busy. One of my goals in coming here was to use my time to build relationships with the people and children here to bring them closer to God.  One of my biggest events while I have been here was the Vacation Bible School at St. Andrew’s Church here in San Ignacio. The VBS went very well.  It was Monday through Friday for 3 hours in the morning. We had about 36 to 46 children come each day. The VBS was run by an almost entirely Belizean team made up from members of the church and some other locals that were able to help out. I really enjoyed working with the director of Children’s Ministry at St. Andrews, Ms. Perla, to help plan and complete the VBS. I helped run the Bible story station during the week. I enjoyed getting to teach the children all about the Great Commission and ways they could go out and make disciples. VBS was a great opportunity to serve the children and the families of this community and to show them God’s love, as well as teach them about God. One of the my favorite parts was the last day of VBS where everyone played sports and had a water balloon fight. After VBS was over Friday all of the volunteers had a lunch and another water balloon fight which ended in all of us throwing buckets of water on each other. It was so much fun.  

Soaked from water balloons!

Water balloon fight! We are soaked!I was also put in charge of doing something fun for the children that attend church regularly at St. Hilda’s in Georgeville. I planned a day at the zoo for about 10 children. It was the first time many of the children had been to the Belize Zoo. We had a lot of fun getting to see the animals. The Belize Zoo exists of animals local to Belize and were rescue animals. We got to see really cool animals but my favorites were the jaguar, the tapir, and the toucan.

 

I got to plan a fun day at the zoo for the VBS children.

 

The weekend before VBS I was blessed with getting to show my parents around Belize. David, Mary Beth, and I met my parents for a couple of days off in Caye Caulker. I got to go snorkeling with my parents and we swam with manatees, stingrays, and nurse sharks. After an incredible couple of days in Caye Caulker, we all drove back to San Ignacio. I was able to take my parents to my favorite restaurants in town and introduce them to my host family and some of my new friends here.

Blessed to meet new sisters in Christ.

This past week has been a bittersweet one. I have started to say goodbye to some of my friends here. I went to the fair last weekend with one of my friends, her boyfriend, and her younger sisters. I rode a kiddie roller coaster with one of the sisters and even won one of the carnival games. I think my favorite part was driving back with the windows down and singing along to Despacito. I went to a pool and spend an afternoon with a few of the girls in youth group that I worked with in VBS. I will be very sad to leave these people in a few days. I have also been getting excited to come back to the States. I am looking forward to getting to see my friends and family. Overall I have loved my time here and hope I am able to come back to visit all the people I have met here.

Rain in Belize

I am loving rainy season here! The weather has cooled off a lot compared to when I got here. I am adjusting more to the different culture. I spent one afternoon with my host family dancing to YouTube videos. It was hilarious for my host brother to try and teach his mom how to do the whip(the dance move). These past couple of weeks have been very busy here. I assisted a mission team from Florida that held a Vacation Bible School  at the school I am helping out with in Georgeville. I was put in charge of one of the younger classrooms.  Once the kids finally started listening to me it was a lot of fun. I led the classroom with an older lady from Florida. The theme of the VBS was the Armor of God. We did a bible story time, crafts time, and sports time, with all the activities centered on different pieces of the armor of God. We went on house visits that week and one of the younger lay ministers joined me, Father David, and Mary Beth. The home visits have been a lot of fun. I am starting to be able to understand Spanish more, thanks to my Spanish lessons and visiting houses that only speak Spanish. We go on house visits in San Ignacio about twice a week and in Georgeville about once a week. Going on the home visits has allowed me to experience a lot of different aspects of Belizean culture.

 

It has been a great experience getting to spend time in the classrooms here. I have spent most of my time in the Infant 2 classroom at St. Hilda’s. This is similar to our 1st grade. The way they teach is pretty different. The students don’t respond to just talking to them so I have had to yell a lot because that’s what they are used to. But I am loving my students in that class and they listen to me much better than they did when I first started out in their classroom. I have also been working on the VBS for St. Andrew’s Church with a lady from the church. It has been coming together well. The VBS will be in a week and the theme is the Great Commission. I will be helping to lead the Bible Story station and I am looking forward to it. It is hard to believe that the time is flying by and I will leave in a few weeks.

 

A couple of weeks ago Mary Beth and David took me to Flores, Guatemala. It looked so different than it does here. I saw some chain restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King and I can’t believe how excited I got about seeing these restaurants considering I don’t even eat there when I am in the States. Now I can’t imagine how weird it is going to be when I get back to the States. I also was super excited to go to the mall! When I got on the escalator at the mall, I tripped getting on so David said I should write about how I have been here so long I forgot how to ride an escalator. We also went to see a movie, they don’t have movie theaters here in Belize. The movie we saw was Everything, Everything in Spanish so I didn’t always know what was happening but it was worth it just to sit in the air conditioning. My time in Flores was a lot of fun but I realized I actually missed being in Belize and was excited to get back even though we were only gone one night.

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Flores

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Mary Beth and I in Flores

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Xunantunich Mayan Ruins

Life in Belize

I can’t believe I have already been in Belize for two weeks. I have loved living here! My first two weeks have been very busy. The first few days here consisted of David and Mary Beth showing me around San Ignacio. We also did chapel services for the three different schools that David is chaplain for. I loved seeing the young children at St. Hilda’s so involved in the worship music. On Thursday of my first week here I began to join David and Mary Beth for home visits. We typically go to visit members of the two churches around two or three times a week. We have visited about 15 homes total since I have been here. On Saturday night St. Andrews held a choral festival service where Mary Beth’s youth choir performed, the congregation listened to readings from the Bible, and sang songs to prepare for Pentecost. On Pentecost Sunday, I joined David and Mary Beth for the two church services they put on. The first service was at St. Andrews Anglican Church, here in San Ignacio, and the second one at St. Hilda’s in Georgeville.

I was able to start working at St. Hilda’s Anglican School during my second week. I spent my first morning helping teach a young girl with special needs. The other day I was there I was able to observe and read stories the children in a Standard 1 classroom, which is equivalent to second grade in the U.S. One of my favorite parts of my second week was attending the youth choir party. Mary Beth’s youth choir that she leads at St. Andrew’s had a party for their last rehearsal before their summer break. We played youth group games and ate snacks. It was so much fun to see how competitive some of the girls were during the games we played. I had my first meeting with the lady I am working on Vacation Bible School with. We are currently working on creating the curriculum for the VBS at St. Andrews in July. I plan on using this curriculum to have VBS at St. Hilda’s the week after the VBS at St. Andrews. We went on more home visits and have started taking a couple of other members of the church with us each time. One of my favorite home visits was to a family in Georgeville. Their children go to St. Hilda’s school and church. The daughters were so cute and one of them picked up Mary Beth’s phone and tried to take a selfie with me. It was so adorable!

Since I have arrived in Belize I have tried many new types of food. The local fruit here is so amazing! It is currently mango season and there are mangos everywhere. I have discovered that Belizean’s are in love with mangos. When I arrived in Belize I was very surprised to see that their oranges here are green on the outside. One the the most interesting fruits I have tried here is mamey. It was good but very strange. It had an avocado like texture but was a bright reddish-orange color and tasted like a cooked sweet potato. One of my favorite things I have tried has been soursop juice. I get it at every restaurant that has it available. Another one of my favorite new things is fresh coconut water. I have tried coconut water in the States and I was not a fan but my host family insisted I try it here. I am so glad I did. It is so so delicious!

This week a mission team is coming from Florida to hold a free medical clinic in Georgeville and I will be helping them with their VBS they are holding in the mornings at St. Hilda’s school. I am excited to continue helping out at St. Hilda’s and building relationships with the children and families in the area and hopefully this will help encourage more involvement in the church. Belize is a beautiful country and I am looking forward to see how God will use me during the rest of my time here.