We are at the end of our last full day. This is our 10th year of sending STMs to Belize and this one seemed to go by the fastest. (Technically, it is the shortest, since tourism has increased and more flights are available. That's made it possible for us to arrive a half-day early and leave a half-day earlier.)
This year we saw a lot of firsts: we had our first personnel exchange: we sent Caleb Cheng and Michael Zhang, two of our most veteran team members, to live with the BCE team for the week and we took in two kids from the BCE team--Jackson and Samuel. It was quite an experience to add two Belizean-Chinese youth to our team. Both attend the other Chinese church in Belize City, Holy Oil Assembly of God church, and neither had ever spent so much time with a bunch of American-born Chinese people. They fit in very quickly and we were sad to see them go. I think we learned a lot about life in Belize from them and especially learned about how difficult it can be to grow up Chinese in Belize. It reminds me of stories of my parents growing up in Oakland in the 50's.
We also were invited a a team to the BCE base for a dinner and worship time for the first time. It was a powerful experience to see the close relationships our team built with the BCE team in such a short time. These friendships transcended language, race, socioeconomic status, and age. We were all just brought together and bonded together by a common love for Jesus...and isn't that what heaven is supposed to be like? It sure felt like it on Thursday night as we stood around a campfire and sang songs and shared testimonies of God's goodness!
So it was nice on Friday after all the kids had left the park with the end of our VBS and we didn't have to say a permanent goodbye. That's because our team gave up a planned trip to the Belize Zoo (at night, a cool opportunity to see all the nocturnal animals in action) so we could use the funds to invite the BCE staff with us on Saturday's excursion. So today we picked them up on the way to a crazy and exciting day that the BCCC brothers and sisters had arranged for us. 45 of us--our team, BCE and BCCC youth--went ziplining through the jungle, ATV and dune buggy riding, AND cave tubing! It was a lot of fun for all of us and even better because we could share it with others.
As I write, the team is in the process of packing and cleaning the church. We've been so well taken care of by the church family here at BCCC. We've eaten extremely well: one night we had a feast of about 20 fish, another night we had local lobster, today we had homemade shrimp ceviche. Hardly any fried chicken this year! So we're going to do our best to leave the church in better shape than when we arrived. The bus comes to pick up the team at 4am for a 6:30am flight out. My family will stay behind and I'm preaching at two churches tomorrow--Lake Independence Baptist Church at 9am and BCCC at 2pm.
So pray for a safe journey for the team and thanks so much for praying!