Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In Belize - part 1--

My oldest daughter and I went on a mission trip to Belize in February with a group from our church. We spent over a year preparing and praying. There was a lot of agonizing over flying. (I'm not a happy flyer. At all.) We had to get passports, which took way longer than it should have. We took bottle return donations (and financial donations) from friends. We worked and fundraisers at church. We talked and laughed our way through our nervousness. Then? We went to Belize.

(I will tell this story over time. It's way too much for one post and I desperately want to get it all in. I have no idea how long it will take me to tell. I'm sure it will seem too long at some points and short on details in others. Thank you for your patience as I sort it all out!)

I had no idea what to expect on this trip. Volunteering at home is one thing. We do good works and then we feel better about ourselves. It's wonderful. This time, though, we'd be far away. We'd be eating different food, sleeping in a church, working with people we really didn't know very well. Plus, I wasn't sure what we'd see! I knew there would be poverty - that's why we were going! It was better and more moving and crazier than anything I could've imagined.

Our group was comprised of 24 people, not quite half of which were teens. We left very early on a Saturday morning. (My son insisted on coming to the airport to say good bye, at 4am, and cried as he hugged me on the sidewalk. It didn't make for an easy separation!) We were a sleepy group, heading to unknown territory, with cautious adults and incredibly excited teenagers.

The flights went better than I could've hoped. My daughter laughed at me when I got nervous and held my hand as we landed. I got yelled at for taking a picture while waiting to be admitted to the country. All in all, the travel couldn't have been better. 

We were greeted by the organization we'd be spending the week with as soon as we walked outside. I was the first one through the doors at customs and was recognized immediately by the t-shirt I was wearing. (We all wore the same one, which made me feel a little strange. I'm not a big fan of matching the people I'm with!) 

Our first order of business was a group picture and then a bus trip to lunch. We ate BBQ chicken outside a church in the beautiful sunshine. (WNY had a pretty snowy winter, so we were all thrilled to be outside in the sunshine!) This was also when I learned that you don't flush toilet paper in Belize. At least, not in the places we'd be going. (You also don't drink the water. Or brush your teeth with it.)

NEXT STOP: Visit with some kids for a few hours at an orphanage. 

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