Today it finally home that I am actually on a real short-term missions with 30+ members of my church (LGCC) and not just going on a retreat with them in some tropical conference center. N or is this similar to volunteering for some random NGO on the Caribbean.
It started with my daily devotions from yesterday which asked us to reflect on why God chose us for this trip….I suddenly realized that I didn’t know why God chose me for this trip. I only knew why I wanted to go on this missions trip to understand what does short-term missions feel like as a family…to my daughter on her first missions experience and to help her understand what a rarefied and privileged world we live in…in the San Francisco Peninsula area. How to remind ourselves to be grateful to God for all we have and to see the needs of people in spiritual and physical needs in Belize. I hadn’t spent enough time in prayer and contemplations before hand to understand to why God chosen me for this trip
I ‘m starting to understand in the course of devotion and today’s events that God wants to show me what He can do with us as a team of his believers and as individuals stretching beyond our usual comfort zones, circle of friends at church and in sharing the gospel in certain customary ways.
At the youth hostel, I was surprised at the friendliness of the youth and the acceptance by the hostel staff…after all this was a first visit by many of us here. I was still preoccupied with the logistics of digging 75 feet of trench to lay network cable connecting the classroom to the internet. I was more worried that our team wouldn’t have the strength and stamina to complete the trench in 1 afternoon…until I saw how big the basketball court that had been built by last year’s team…how far they had to carry their concrete and how many rocks they had to dig out before they could have a flat surface on which to lay the rebar and pour the concrete. This was a big reminder of how powerfully God had used last years team which had less than half the number of members as this year’s team. It is also last years Belize STM team that had built a good foundation for us to work on in terms of relating to the youth and the staff. If I pay attention and watch to see what God wants to show me and let me know where I fit in…rather than identifying for myself where my role should be in the ministry of this team.
Then at Pickstock, the slum area of Belize city where David brings us put on a block party, I find myself utterly unprepared. There’s no food (which totally violates my preconceived notion of a block party)…some of our team members bring suitcases full of toys and art & craft supplies; others bring a basketball, football and soccer ball. The whole event seems really ad hoc and unstructured…plus the people in the neighborhood seem to be watchful and maybe a bit suspicious…but soon as we gather in the front of the Pickstock church…we are surrounded by toddlers and small children who want to see what we’ve brought and whether they can play with them or take them to keep…then as we walk over to the basket ball court…older children and teens gather and are eager to shoot hoops and pass the ball back and forth with some of our teammates. But having problems with my left foot and never having played team sports regularly…I conclude that this is not how I’m going to reach out to any of the kids.
I wonder how the rest of the team will find ways to relate to the kids…I guess that we could just plant ourselves next to a kid and insistently tell them about the wordless book or gospel bracelet…unless they ran away. Pretty soon though I see a colored paper, crayons, face paints and hair clips and ornaments coming out of the suitcases we brought. I think, hmmm, I’ll help with face painting…but the kids I paint all look on with envy on Craig’s kids…they ask me to paint a star or a flower just like their friend’s or a maybe a dragon. A dragon?! What was I thinking of when I volunteered for this activity? I can barely do a decent snail, forget about a dragon…plus I’m about as fast as a snail in my painting…I’m too intent on drawing on their arms and faces to simultaneously chatter with them about their knowledge of God and his salvation plan for them. But having to clean my brush at the local water faucet I get a chance to talk to some of the kids filling up their families water bottles…to ask if they know about God…some of them tell me they go to church…that other church groups have come before to play with them. I don’t get to talk about the wordless book or bracelet…but I’m determined to pray for each kid I talk to whether they come for face painting or I meet them at the water faucet. And next time I look up; every single member of our team is really involved with this block party…whether playing ball, face painting, getting their hair done, giving piggy bag rides, teaching different origami patterns, drawing with crayons. They may be sitting down, standing up, running around but absolutely everyone is interacting with at least 1 or more kids…no one is uncertainly clustering with other team members….off by themselves. It’s amazing…everyone has jumped in and we finally have become a team…something that I doubted could happen quickly just last week at our last planning/training meeting. God is truly doing something amazing and awesome…and if I had anymore doubts…a kid who was disappointed in my artwork on his right arm the first time round…graciously extends his left arm and says to me “now you can do another star on this side.”
1. That the Youth Hostel kids get to know God better and the Sunday Service Tomorrow.
2. That the construction of the computer lab goes well.
3. That the VBS preparation goes smoothly and that the kids will be motivated and get to see God.