So, I have been really lousy about blogging lately...in large part because these last few months have been filled with details and planning in preparation for leading our very first team on a foreign mission trip. I know I have written about this before, but just to refresh, this was a long-awaited dream-come-true for me and my husband. Part of our vision for our ministry here in Mexico has always been to awaken, teach and lead a mission-minded revolution- eventually we hope to see this area of Mexico involved in Praying, Giving, Sending, and Going where missions, both local and worldwide, is concerned.
We began to plan this mission trip more than 2 years ago. A missionary family to Belize was sharing with us about how many Spanish-speaking people are in Belize and how little ministry they receive, being that Belize is technically an English-speaking nation. Belize receives many missionaries each year, both long-term and short-term, but very few of these speak Spanish. The Fritzler family invited us to come with a team of Spanish-speakers and minister to the Spanish speaking community in and around Belmopan (the Belizean capital). After months of praying, fundraising, and having people sign up for the trip only to later back out, our team of 13, 7 adults and 6 children (representing 4 different churches), was confirmed in January of this year. Since the middle of January, we began to meet together weekly to pray, plan, prepare, and minister. Monday, July 18th, was the first day of the trip that would change our way of looking at life, and consequently change our lives forever.
Today I'll probably only have time to talk about our trip from Michoacan to Belize (it took 32 hours!), but I will continue blogging this week to share the highlights of our trip with you, as well as the many things we learned on the journey. Some of the details will be boring, but I know some people who wanted to hear all about the trip, so feel free to read as much or as little as you want!
Monday, July 18th, we all met at the church at 7:30am. We left at 8:00am sharp, in two different vehicles, for Guadalajara. During the two-hour trip, one of the vehicles had some problems running, but thankfully, we all made it to the airport in a timely fashion. Everyone was pretty nervous- we were all double- and triple-checking to make sure we had all our papers (passports, IDs, etc.), and the adults were concerned with the inevitable flight to Cancun. Besides my family, only one of the adults had ever flown before, so everyone else was pretty overwhelmed when we walked into the Guadalajara International Airport and the check-in process began. The line was LONG, and when we finally got up to the counter, I was amazed when they didn't ask for ANY identification for anyone in the group (must be a Mexico-thing). However, we made it through check-in and security with no problems. Before we boarded the plane I made sure that everyone had taken their Dramamine, and then it was time to fly! I saw several of the adults hanging on quite tightly to their seats during take-off and landing, but we had a smooth flight, and everyone was quite proud of themselves for having survived their first plane ride.
We landed in Cancun around 4:00pm, and the fun began. Navigating a large airport while taking along 9 suitcases, several backpacks and purses, and 6 children (5 of whom are under the age of 7) can be quite interesting- especially when it is hot and humid. Aislynn lost her shoe (which was later recovered), and Keyli and Claudio (both 4) were crying because they didn't want to walk so far. It was a little daunting, but we managed to make it through the airport to the bus terminal, and on a bus headed for Cancun's main bus station. Upon arriving at the bus station we bought our tickets for the bus trip that night, left our luggage, and walked across the street to McDonald's. There we enjoyed the air conditioning while we ate dinner and let the kids play for a few hours. When we returned to the bus station we still had several hours to wait for our 12:30am bus. It was SO hot (no air conditioning in the bus station), and we were all so tired. We played with the kids as much as we could (with balloons and card games), and I even took my kids to the bathroom for a sink-bath to help cool us off and to pass the time.
At 12:30am we left on the bus that would take us to Chetumal, the city on the border of Mexico and Belize. We were able to sleep a bit on the bus (it was air conditioned...yay!) and we arrived in Chetumal at 6am. At 7am we were all able to squeeze in the same van that would take us to Belize City. We went through Immigration on the Mexican side of the border, and once again in Belize. As we were riding the van through Belize, I was struck once again by it's beauty. Belize is a beautiful, tropical country, and being there with our group, after waiting so long for this, felt very surreal.
Upon arriving in Belize City, the plan was to take the local bus the rest of the way to Belmopan. However we never counted on just how confusing it would be to be in Belize City. I was trying to figure out how to get a taxi to the bus station, and all the Belizeans began speaking to me in English. I responded in English of course, but then our Mexican team would ask me what was going on...and I continued to speak in English. It took awhile to make my brain speak Spanish to our team and English to the Belzean people! We had to change our pesos to Belzean dollars near the taxis, and though I had a ballpark figure of the exchange rate, I was so tired that I could hardly think. I wasn't sure if we were getting robbed or not (thankfully, when I reflected later on the monies we were given, they were very honest with us)! Suddenly a big guy appeared and said he would take us all to Belmopan in his van (his taxi) so that we wouldn't have to take the bus again. The price he asked for was OUTRAGEOUS...but we were SO tired of travelling...