We awoke to the quintessential tropical downpour Friday morning; rain pummeled the tin roofs with a deafenig thunder.
As we set out to Billy White for another day with the kids, we shared stories and laughs along the muddy roads. Our driver, Elias (the BEST in Belize!), maneuvered with ease as the bus fishtailed across the pothole-laden road at one point! The trip back to the school was exciting, but the best was yet to come.
When we arrived at Billy White, kids came pouring like the morning rain. We were barely off the bus when they pushed through for welcoming hugs and cheerful embraces. Their excitement invoked such a pleasant feeling in our hearts; as much as we want to love them, I think they’ll always love us more! The hearts in Belize are so BIG!
I had the joyful (yet always difficult) task of sharing Jesus’s love with these big hearts Friday. We learned about the four relationships for which we were made, and how they’re broken with our sinful condition.
Five boys held hands in a circle, representing our relationship with others. Sin, however, breaks that relationship, so the boys let go of one another’s hands. But Jesus came and healed that relationship, so the boys joined hands again!
One young man held his own hands together, fashioning a circle with his arms. He stood for our relationship with ourselves. Sin, like in our relationship with others, breaks our relationship with ourselves, so he broke the circle made by his arms. Again, Jesus came to heal that relationship, and the boy’s hands came back together!
God also created us to be in relationship with His creation. Here, a young girl stood with a palm branch in her hand. She threw it down, representing how sin has broken our relationship with creation. But Jesus heals even this relationship, and she took up the branch again.
Finally, and perhaps most deeply, God created us for relationship with Himself. One young volunteer stood with arms and face toward the sky. Yet sin has even ruined this precious relationship, so his hands and face fell. But Jesus, in His great love, has healed this relationship, too. Praise God! And the boy’s hands and face returned in worship–an offering of thanks.
After this amazing time of sharing Gospel hope with the kids, we enjoyed a delicious meal of fresh fruit (WAY better than “fresh” in the US) and, of course, PB&J! But the kids’ patience began to wear thin as the soccer field beckoned.
After a long, hot, competitive game, the reigning champions lost the title, and the US took the cup! The match was exhausting, and there was a bit of bickering and name-calling amongst the boys and girls, but the kiddos played a great game. For only half our size, they put up quite the fight!
Life slowed down dramatically after the game. We arrived back at Cahal Pech after enjoying some delicious, fresh icecream, then we relaxed in the pool. After dinner, we took some much-needed time to debrief in our small groups, praying for areas where we felt mournful today. Then a group of us cooled down (Actually, it was quite warm and humid!) with some hacky-sack. We finished off a great day with a beautiful view of the distant night-life scene at San Ignacio and a great conversation about relationships!
As I write this, I’m reminded of Andrew’s challenge this morning: think about some area in which you mourn today. I found one, and it hurts a bit to recognize. I know thousands of people have attended these short-term trips and experience the same thing, and I’ve been warned many times it would happen. But today I realized how challenging it is for these kids–who were so excited and welcoming and loving–to live with a variety of groups of people. They are so quick to trust, yet most still don’t know my name (and I can’t remember theirs!).
Friends and family, please pray for us that when next week comes (so quickly!) we will have both peace and longing as we depart. Thank you for your prayers already, and God bless you richly in His Grace!
-Caleb Schaefer

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