Cost: $1700 per student
Location: Punta Gorda, Belize
Partnership: LOL Ministries
This past January, I had the opportunity to go back to Belize with a team of students from Gordon College. We spent most of our time at the orphanage, helping out with construction, painting, cooking, and basically whatever was needed. We also got one day off to enjoy the beautiful country of Belize, and we spent one day in a village working with students.
Going back to Belize, my expectations were really high. The trip had changed my life the year before and I was thrilled to be going back. I was surprised to learn that we wouldn’t be working with the kids in the orphanage this year nearly as much as we had the year before. At first I was disappointed, but this turned out to be the best possible thing for me, my entire team, and all the children and staff involved. I learned a really important lesson about selflessness. I learned that this trip wasn’t about me, the experiences I would have, or even my effect on the children I was with. God really worked on my heart and I developed a new mindset of wanting what was best for the kids at the orphanage, whatever that looked like. It makes sense that the organization we were working with wouldn’t want short term missions teams to bond with the kids too much, as they already have abandonment issues. Instead, we were able to help in ways that gave the kids at the orphanage their best shot at life. While we did get to spend some time with the kids, we mostly did work projects that the long term staff would normally have to do. This opened up the staff’s time to be able to bond with the kids. I realized that the staff are the ones who need to be able to have time to invest in the kids, not me. This realization really affected the way I looked at the whole situation and helped our team to work even harder on the tasks that we were put on.
While this work was really tiring and the days were long, it was also really enjoyable. I was able to bond with my team and it was really cool to see all our hard work coming into completion. One of my favorite experiences of the whole trip was the day we went to the village. We got to go into a school and work in the classrooms with the students and later just run around and play with the kids for hours. Being an Elementary Education major, I loved being able to see what the classroom looks like and how a class works in the country of Belize. It was so cool to be able to teach a lesson in such a different place and see the kids learning and enjoying the work. Later, we were able to enjoy recess with the students. All the kids were so happy to have our team there and it was so cool to be able to have fun and share in the simple joys of running around and playing games on a beautiful day. The kids were jumping on us, asking for piggyback rides, and simply loving on us, which was definitely one of my favorite moments of the trip. It sounds cliche, but to see kids who have so little, have such infinite joy, was eye opening to me and really did change my thinking entirely.
This trip was not at all what I expected, but it was in so many ways even better than last year and I learned so much more than I ever could have anticipated. Belize and LOL ministries will always hold a very significant place in my heart and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve and learn among these very special people.