Today was a rather interesting and packed Sunday. We started off the day meeting our teammates from Alabama for the first time and eating a great breakfast that Aunt Edith & the Kitchen Crew prepared for us. We would end up spending the rest of the day with these Alabamans, allowing us to get to know each other better before we embark on our journey to serve together in VBS and with our construction projects.
I’ve talked to most of the Alabamans a bit, but there was one guy, Marlan, who really stood out to me because he knew Mandarin and studied abroad in Taiwan at Tai Zhong for 9 months. During our free time, I was also impressed by how intense Marlan is. He instantly became a fearful adversary in the game of Ultimate Ninja and was also an invaluable teammate when rallying a volleyball.
The Alabaman group was all from the same small group in Birmingham, and their church played a vital part in planting Belize Chinese Christian Church, where we are staying. In fact, one of their members was a founder of the BCCC. It is such a cool and unique experience to have the opportunity to partner with them as well as the local Belizean ministry, Belize Camping Experience.
Rewinding back a bit, we attended two churches today. Soon after breakfast, we went to Lake Independence Baptist Church together, where Pastor Rocke preached. Before the service started, he went up to me as well as a few new visitors, hospitably welcoming us to the church. Rock’s sermon posed a self-reflective question that at first seemed confusing and rather unspecific: “What kind of member are you?” However, Rocke craftily used this question to challenge us to exemplify the characteristics of a biblical member rather than just a member who had cognitive dissonance of beliefs and character.
Rocke also reminded us that we, as a church, are the body of Christ so must think about “one another/each other” and not just ourselves. With a few different demonstrations that showed how tasks are often more efficient and easier when we are unified as a team, Rock encouraged us to be Biblical members in our church and beyond. Some of the actions we can take to be a Biblical member are praying for one another, admonishing one another, encouraging each other, and carrying each other’s burdens. I thought it was a beautiful message that is applicable to any church and something we should strive for in the here and now, not just hoping to see in heaven.
In the afternoon, we attended our second church service at BCCC, where Pastor Brian preached about remembering our core identity and legitimate questions we can ask when discerning the relationships we have with others. David’s heart-felt reflection in Psalm 139 presents his thoughts of how he relates with God. There are four questions he seemed to answer in his psalm that are applicable to guiding through our own thoughts when discerning relationships:
- “Who are you to me?”
- “How present will you be in my life?”
- “Who am I to you?”
- “How should I respond after answering these questions?”
Ultimately, Pastor Brian’s presentation of this psalm as well as his commentary reminded me to remember my core identity in God in the midst of the many different expectations the world has for me. From previous readings of Psalm 139, David’s reflection that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” has stuck with me and has been a powerful encouragement in my life, and today’s revisit was definitely not an exception. Though, I may need to reflect more of my own answer to the fourth question, I think Pastor Brian’s rephrasing of Psalm 139 into Jeopardy/question form has led me into asking the right question going forward in my life.
One characteristic that made both church services rather special and also happened to be one of the reasons I wanted to go to Belize was that they were multicultural experiences. The first was a prominently Black church that had a different style of worship and service than what I am used to. The BCCC service was also rather multicultural, having Pastor Brian speak in English while our ambassador Jerry translated Brian’s words into Mandarin. I am looking forward to more of these multicultural experiences throughout this trip and hope that the experiences will further shape my world view as well as how I connect with others.
Tomorrow, we are finally beginning our construction projects as well as our VBS. A few prayer requests going forward are for safety from the heat & bugs, being energized to do good work & to handle potentially ~200 kids, deeply connecting with the people we are serving, and being open to small opportunities.