Britany Cotton

When I applied for this trip in August, I had no idea how much it would drastically change my perspective on life and strengthen my faith. Throughout the week we have been able to visit multiple churches and build relationships with students and teachers. Each of these people displayed a remarkable amount of dedication to their faith, the students, and their congregation. Despite their lack of resources, the teachers provide a quality education for each child; Most teachers have no electricity in their classroom. 

Each church congregation encouraged me. Worshiping God with people who speak a different language is incredible. Despite the language barrier, each person I encountered while here in Belize showered me with acceptance and hugs. The smiles and laughs of each child will be forever etched in my memory. We may have many possessions in the U.S., but we often lack rich relationships. I will forever be thankful for the time spent here because it has challenged me to pursue more intentional relationships at home, both with Jesus and others.

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Nathan Miller

Wow! Time has flown by here in Belize, and I can’t believe how incredible each moment has been. The land is beautiful, the food is delicious, and the work is fulfilling. Yet, it’s the people of Belize that make the difference. Every person that I have had the pleasure of meeting is another highlight to this trip.
John Chuc is the first Maya I’ve ever met. He’s full-blooded Maya-Yucatec, trained to know every flora and fauna, and a new brother in Christ. John is so in touch with God’s creation and the history of his people that to hear him speak of such things is awe-inspiring.

Pastor Kevin Tzib was offered a manager’s position at a local bank, but he refused so that he could dedicate himself to full time ministry. (Full time really means full time. Not just Sundays.) His passion is for the youth of Belize to be wholly committed to God. Also, Kevin is 23. My age.

The children of Belize are especially precious. Gabriel gave me 4 ninja turtle stickers on my second night in Belize. The kids of Billy White taught me as much as, if not more than, what I was sent to taught them. Oscar would continually want to play ‘catch’ or hide and seek, not even wanting to go home to eat lunch. He would always ask, “you want to play?” I miss him now.

Elias, Gringo, Giana, Gordo, Arnold, Herbert, Mr. Landero, Mr. Naphtalie, Sister Becky, Pastor Walter, Haidan, Ethan, the market vendors, Walter, Little John, Oscar, Abner, John n’ Sue Eve, and my team. I don’t have enough words to discuss how each one has affected my life this past week. I know that they have helped me to remember what God says I should treasure. 

Mollie Rozean

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. 
Mollie Rozean  

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

 Today was our second day at the school in the village of Billy White. The goal of yesterday rang true today (love the students and be a light for Christ), but today we added on the new task of building a library. For those of you that might not be aware, the school we have partnered with lacks many of the resources you would think essential in educating students. Most of the classrooms have no electricity, there is no developed curriculum, few manipulatives, even fewer books, and hardly any room to grow. Even with the lack of these “basic” tools, this school is one of the most amazing displays of the educational system I have ever seen. Teachers here care. They care so much that they do not let the lack of resources prevent them from providing a quality education. They are so inventive and wise in how they create and use what little they do have to form lessons. It is a striking difference to the experience I have been privileged with while student teaching this semester. Even my smallest resource of classroom books would truly change the lives for these students. The resources I complain about not having enough of, this school does not even know to dream of. 

Today we also started to work on organizing and building shelves in the library as just a small way to show our appreciation for these people. As we were sorting through the books that the school had, I came across the familiar title of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. This story is one out of an abundance of titles that I selected to read to my kids while student teaching: A classic tale of a man that acquires a peculiar pet that unites his family during a rough season of life. I instantly chuckled at the irony of finding this book among the Belizean culture. The more I thought of it though, the more meaningful this one title became. My students in Missouri might love this book, but they will never ever appreciate it like these kids do. To this culture, this book (or any book) symbolizes hope. Instead of using this story to teach reading comprehension, teachers here will use this book to help impart knowledge. Knowledge that is necessary to bring these students out of their current situations and give them a fighting chance at finding a better life. A simple story that I have taken for granted so many times before will allow these students the opportunity of a future story. A story where they are not limited or confined by their inability to be something more. 
We have only been here at the school for two days now, but already I am leaving pieces of my heart. 


Emily Darter