Everything turned out differently than what I had expected. Late in the morning, we had church at the youth hostel. Arriving there, the youth were all leaning against the porches waiting for us. To my surprise, they weren’t nearly as scary as I imagined them to be. During worship, most of the youth were engrossed in the new songs we taught them. Uncle Craig’s message felt really powerful toward everyone and most of the youth were really attentive. In the middle of his talk, his tooth fell out LOOOOL, but it didn’t stop him from delivering such a magnificent message. After, we broke up into six groups and had ice breaking games followed up with discussion. The ice breakers were successful, as everyone was able to learn each other’s names, which smoothly transitioned into the discussion. The youth were actually a lot more into the gospel and seeking God than I had thought. Apparently, every Monday and Friday, some of the youth gather together to do devotions or Bible study, very similar to what we do at youth group. All of them even had a dream of what they wanted to become in the future. As the discussion progressed, they started to open up and shared deep stories, as well as asking us interesting questions themselves. Lunch was PB&J sandwiches and other food which I don’t remember, because I tend to only remember what I eat. Shortly after lunch, we picked up volleyball games with the youth while other people began working on digging trenches for the computer lab. I felt that I should start helping them, and stop being “lazy” and playing volleyball with the youth, so I also whipped out a shovel to dig. Digging the long ditch connecting the houses was really tiring but felt really rewarding. Someone found a tarantula in one of the houses and it was SO SCARY because it was hairy and was crawling on the wall. Despite my trepidations for spiders, I still kept on digging. The ditch was impressive.
Yesterday, we were told that we were going to play with little kids from the slums, armed with sidewalk chalk, crayons, construction paper, face paint, and sports. The fun and friendly connotation of that task definitely contrasted from today’s seemingly daunting task: to visit the youth hostel, full of native teenagers convicted of both petty and heavy crimes, and hold a Sunday worship service there.
David Ing asked Isabel and me to sing for the worship session, and I stood slightly nervously in front of a crowded room of intimidating faces, some uninviting, and others simply confused and unsure. We found out that we wouldn’t have a projector, so would be singing in front of a room that didn’t know the lyrics to sing along with us. Last minute, we changed our first song from “Lord I Lift Your Name on High,” to “Everyday,” so that we could incorporate dance moves to make it a more interactive and exciting experience. At first, the youth didn’t really imitate our dance moves, but eventually a few caught on and others followed. It ended up becoming a really loud room of jumping, dancing youth, even though they didn’t know the lyrics. Around the time when we started singing “Amazing Grace,” a small sprinkle of rain came down outside, almost like a little shower of blessing, as Uncle Craig put it in his message. While he spoke, the normally stuffy room was cooled by frequent breezes and gusts of wind, enough to blow the curtains up and around. It was kind of a beautiful moment, as quite a few youth really paid attention with eye contact and signs of interest, instead of slouching and looking bored as a few others did.
My discussion group had 4 team members and only 3 hostel members, but we had a great time. We played a name game by throwing “Iggy the Iguana,” a small stuffed toy, to each other, which resulted in a lot of laughter over mistakes and stray iguanas. Leona was significantly more talkative than Erica, but they both wanted to leave the hostel and go home. I think it’s a connection to the outside world they truly desire, so hopefully this computer lab will be a real blessing to them. Olive, a counselor, shared that two of her children were killed in the same accident five years ago. Olive already believed in Jesus and in living a godly life. Leona and Erica seemed to know a lot, but seemed more hesitant to profess any faith they might have. Please pray for the youth at the hostel, that they would truly live out the lives that they have constantly been told to live, and that they would become comfortable enough with us to open up.
So far I had been lucky to get only one mosquito bite, but I neglected to use mosquito spray and got six itchy, red mosquito bites. Fortunately, Mrs. Poon gave me some itch cream from Hong Kong which worked to finally bring the irritating swelling down. Please pray for all of us with skin sensitivities to sunburn, bug bites, and heat rash, as discomfort can be a frustrating, unceasing distraction from our work here in Belize.
We are starting to be able to count how long we’ve been working but the contrast of our new tan lines – whether from our tank tops, t-shirts, sunglasses, watches, shorts, or shoes. The truest and best encouragement comes from each other, as I can see the unity grow among our team. When tonight’s dinner was spicy fried chicken and soda, both of which I cannot handle, we swapped food and shared some vegetables. We help each other apply sunblock, share body wash, and swat flies and fan each other with our now-wrinkled devotion packets And I know if we can bond this much within our team within two days, we should be able to bond just as much with the people of Belize in these ten days.
1. That VBS goes well
2. That Computer Lab finishes.
3. That we have an opportunity to connect to the youth hostel kids.
4. Pauline’s workshop on nutrition.