Well, today's story isn't really continued from yesterday, but I promised that I would let you in on what we learned in Belize, so here goes. I wish you could hear it all from each person, in their own words, but I will try to paraphrase and summarize the best that I can!
1) We learned that raising money for the kingdom of God is the best investment a person could ever make! When we realized months ago that we were talking about raising over $6,000 US dollars to take our team to Belize, it sounded like an impossible sum of money. I assured everyone that God would provide, and we went to work selling food and just about anything else we could get our hands on. God provided every cent...and everyone on the team said that it was all worth it. We don't feel like we spent money on the trip- rather, we invested it into something with eternal value.
2) We learned that when we are willing, God equips us to get the job done! This trip was filled with "firsts" for all of us. For many it was the first time on an airplane, the first time travelling out of the country, and even the first time seeing the ocean. For others it was the first time sharing a personal testimony in church, the first time doing a drama, and the first time teaching a VBS. Although we tried to prepare the best that we could before arriving in Belize, there are some things that are impossible to prepare for (things like homesickness and "stage"-fright). In preparation for the trip, Noe and I reminded everyone several times that the work we would do in Belize would be God working through us. You can't do something you don't know how to do in your own strength, and thankfully that leaves room for God to do His work in you. We could have allowed fear of the unknown to rob all these experiences from us- but instead we moved forward in faith, believing that when the moment came, God would carry us through. He did!
3) We learned a new appreciation for all the comforts we have. The Mexican members of the missions team were struck by the poverty they saw in Belize. There were so many things that they "missed" while we were in Belize, and it helped us all to gain a new perspective on the daily blessings that God gives us, which we so often take for granted. May God help us to always be thankful!
4) We learned that so many ministries need HELP. There are so many projects to be done all over the world (Bible schools, churches, orphanages, hosptials,etc.), but so often there is a shortage of help and/or financing. In just a few days we were able to help finish the bathroom, the driveway, and some of the landscaping at the Bible school in Belmopan. We all wish that we could've done so much more. Everyone on our team is now more aware of the work that is necessary to make things happen, and we are all ready to serve more, whether it be locally or internationally. And everyone has already commented that the next time we go on a mission trip, we should take more things along with us, or at least more money, so that we can help out even more!
5) We learned that MISSION and fulfilling the Great Commission is daily life. God commissioned us to reach the lost- to be His hands and feet on the earth. Meeting practical needs, loving people, lending a helping hand, encouraging others with our personal testimony are just some things that we can live out no matter where we are. The interesting thing is that Jesus Christ told us all to, "GO!" Some of us stay, and many of us will spend more time here than there, but all of us learned the importance of GOing. There's a lot of truth to not being a prophet in your hometown- and it seems that a special missionary annointing is released when you get out of your comfort zone and trust God to lead you to an unknown destination. I think of Abram, and how he left his homeland just because God told him to. He didn't know where he was going, but he trusted God to get him there. I used to think, "Wow, that would be really scary. Abraham must've had a lot of faith." Now, I think, "Wow, that really is the only way to live. Abraham knew something that most of us never figure out." Allowing God to lead you through and to the unknown can be a little scary...but it is always worth it. Living by God's leading is the most incredible adventure ever!
I could keep going on, but I will leave you with these last thoughts. The mission trip to Belize was not just my dream or my husband's dream- it was God's dream. God dreamed it, and He brought it to pass in His perfect time. It was more amazing than we could've ever expected, and we learned more than we ever imagined that we would. Most importantly, this trip opened our eyes to the great spiritual and physical needs of people- in Belize, in Mexico, and all over the world. We returned home from Belize with greater compassion, more love, and a stirring passion to do more to reach those who are hurting and in need around us. We have already been brainstorming several ministry opportunities here in Michoacan as a follow-up to all we learned in Belize. However, now we are no longer content to stay in Michoacan. We are eager to GO wherever God leads...even to the ends of the earth!
P.S. This blog series on our 2011 mission trip to Belize is done...but be assured that there are greater things still to come!