Even as we were preparing ourselves for this trip several weeks ago, I was developing my own expectations of what our time in Belize would look like. However, now that I am here, I realize that my expectations were rather extreme.
I was told “many of our students will be living in poverty,” so I prepared myself for children who were sadly deprived.
I was told “our school would have fewer resources,” so I prepared myself to work in a minimal classroom.
I was told “the mosquitoes will be vicious,” so I packed a gallon of Deet.
Though my expectations of the insects are correct, what I had prepared myself to see and experience in the classrooms of Billy White are now proved opposite.
Yes, I encounter children who come from impoverished homes, but I did not anticipate their abundance of affection. Though I have shown the student that I care for them by teaching them and playing games, they have showered me with a love that I did not anticipate.
I thought that I was coming to this village to show Christ’s love, but in truth, they have given me an unprecedented and unconditional love. This is only our second day, and already I have received two gifts from the students I teach. I never thought a coloring page and ribboned necklace could affect me so personally; these students have very little, yet they give to me freely after only one day of knowing me. It’s such a wonderful reminder of God’s love.
Yes, I have encountered classrooms that are under-resourced, but they only lack in material resources, not in instruction. When I first entered the classroom, I expected that the teachers were grossly under-resourced and the students were in desperate need of intervention. However, after only the first few moments of watching the teachers interact with their students, I graciously realized that I was gravely mistaken. The classrooms are decorated with colorful knowledge; the students’ work hangs off the wall and is strung from the ceiling, celebrating their accomplishments. I have nothing but praise to offer these incredible teachers who work with the resources they have to provide these students with their best chance at a bright future. I’ve watched many classes, students ages four to fourteen, working towards expanding their learning and mastering the English language. The teachers consistently encourage their students towards excellence.
When I envisioned myself being a part of this missions team, I expected that we were here to revolutionize the community’s education system by building their library and teaching in their classroom. However, I now understand that we are only a small component to God’s overarching plan. The school is self-sufficient; we are only here to help them improve by providing books and resources. More than anything, we are here learning what if it truly means to be steadfast. It has been such a privilege to work with this school and my team. I am beyond excited to see what the remainder of our week holds.