Final Entry – Reflections of Belize

Below you will find comments and reflections from all the students and staff about their specific experiences here on this mission trip. Over the course of this 10-day mission trip, we have blogged the details of the trip in order for all of you to follow the trip, but the most important aspects are really captured on the individual stories and testimonies of the students. It has been a privilege and a blessing to spend these days with such a fantastic group of young adults! I have seen each one of them grow in different and important ways.

Really special thanks go out to Wil, Lazarus and Allicia, who looked after all of us, and shared their lives so openly with us. It is amazing to me that no matter where one travels in the world, when we share faith in Jesus, we are brothers and sisters reunited!!

And finally to all you students, thank you! Thank you for your commitment to love God and to love others. Thank you for working hard and for praying hard. Thank you for wanting to learn more about each other and for wanting to meet new people and listen to their stories. Thank you for stepping out in your faith, for turning to our heavenly Father with your questions and fears. Thank you for the amazing and wonderful stories of lives transformed. You are all fantastic!!!!

David

 

Samuel: My stay in Belize was very fun and full with a lot of lessons, adventures, and emotional and spiritual moments. One thing that I learned is that you don’t need to be rich to be happy, happiness is not found in money. One thing that I really liked from staying in Belize with my class mates is that I built good relationships with them, example: there are some people that I would not talk with if it wasn’t for our stay at Belize together. So I think that Belize was, is and will always be a great blessing for my spiritual life and me. Thank you Belize!!!!!!!!!

Samantha: Before going on this trip, Belize simply represented a country on the map somewhere near Mexico. Now, it represents so much more (apart from me knowing its geographical location of course). Belize represents the place where my faith was taken to a whole different level, as I learned how Jesus’ love transcends any circumstance, no matter how dire, and that, through Him, our lives and others’ lives can be totally transformed. It represents where I learned how happiness and beauty are found in the most unlikely places. It’s where I was able to build friendships with my classmates and to strengthen my relationship with friends I already had. It represents where I made some new Belizean friends as well. It’s where I was able to have an amazing adventure as I got to know stunning Belize better, appreciating its beauty, food and culture. I feel so blessed to have been able to go on this mission trip! Before saying goodbye, I have to make at least one pun (even though I’ll probably regret it once I read back on this)… What an UNEBELIZEABLE adventure this truly was! Love to you all from the seat of our delayed flight to Montreal, Sam.

Chelsea F: Before this trip, I had never even heard of the country of Belize, other than my geography test. I’m so happy that God gave me this opportunity to go on this mission trip and help the kids. When I first arrived in Belize I was just expecting to see some kids, to experience some tears and laughter. But over the last 10 days, I’ve been blessed to experience something not many people in this world can experience. And it’s true what people say, money does not buy you happiness. Seeing all those families that can barely afford a meal for their family, those families who don’t have any devices and honestly, these families are happier than the richest person in the world. Words cannot explain how thankful I am for my life, because this mission trip has made me realize that I can be living on the streets but if I only had God in my life, no family and no money, I will be happy for the rest of my life no matter what. That is why I chose to be baptized again, to be re-born and to renew my faith with God. This experience is something that I’m never going to forget!

Chelsea S: The past 10 days have been amazing! Something about the warm breeze and the bright sun changed us! My classmates and I have certainly grown closer together and created bonds that will hopefully last. When I woke up this morning, I dreaded the idea of leaving and I’m still not sure how I managed to. I couldn’t imagine waking up to anything other than the sound of that obnoxious rooster and the world’s two loudest dogs. But now that I think of it, if it were any longer, it wouldn’t have been as special. It was an un-belizable experience to say the least!

Ryan: This mission trip really helped me to reflect upon how I can help people around me whether I am a Christian or not. I also learned a lot about the people around me and have learned to appreciate some of them more and just remember how awesome the others are. It was quite appealing to me because I empathize a lot but almost never act upon it and this has given me the chance to do exactly that and more. Thank you Mr. Lulussier, Mr. Traytray and Panamela so much for supporting me through all this.

Carol: If you know me, I like to over think… sometimes. Not to mention, I love to be in control, when it comes to what I do. Once that happens, it becomes a little hard to trust God with my life. Some parts of my life are for me, which means God can comment on it or intervene. During this trip, I was able to let go, let God. There are so many ways to describe the situation that I was in. I would probably go with the one where I was half with God and half with my old ways. Anyway, those days in Belize made me more willing to be fully with God. I decided to get baptized, I just knew I wanted to do it to reestablish that I am God’s and I wish to follow the plan that he has for me, in front of everyone. That was one of my favourite moments in Belize. I am glad to be coming back home, even though I will miss being in Belize. Thank you to all my team members and the people who have been with the team through the journey. There is so much too say and so little time, so I will be seeing you all in Montreal!

Christian: I am really happy that God gave me the opportunity to go on a mission trip in Belize. This trip has taught me what happiness really is. Happiness is not having the biggest house or the most money. Seeing the kids who had almost nothing but were still smiling and welcoming, seeing the orphans running and playing, seeing the elders who could barley stand laughing, really showed me that as long as you have God’s love with you, you will be happy.

Zach: Belize was an amazing experience of a lifetime! I learned a lot about faith and what God wants for our lives. I’m very glad to say that I would like to go back one day. I’ll always remember what I lived and use these lessons for the rest of my life.

Adriel: There is so much I could say about our mission trip to Belize. So many things have happened during this trip that will affect me for the rest of my life on a spiritual level. I finally got to experience what and how the love of God is present in our lives. Working with the natives of Belize was really touching, especially with those who lacked love and care from others. It also showed me that His love never fails, never gives up and will never give up on me. I’m very glad that I was able to participate in this year’s trip as I’ve grown so much spiritually and I am thankful to all those who helped make my learning possible.

Eddy: Staying in Belize was amazing. All the things that happened were a blessing for all of us. From people getting scared by the monkeys at night to praying and singing for people who didn’t have much, we all grew in different ways and got closer to God. One thing that I learned is that to be happy, generous or comfortable, you don’t need to have much. The people in Belize didn’t have much but most of them had lived through much and had a heart greater than most people living comfortably in another country. I have learned a lot and I plan to remember.

Byanka: During these past 10 days we had our ups & our downs, laughter & tears but at the end, this experience was a blessing for all of us! This trip helped me to get closer to God. Before going to this trip I thought I wasn’t qualified to be a real Christian because of all of my mistakes. However I learned that this is not true. I now know that Jesus’ love is unconditional and all I must do is surrender to him.  Another moment I truly appreciated was when we were at the orphanage: I was talking to one of the kids, and he was telling me how he didn’t have much but he’s really thanks God because it could have been worst… this was a breaking point for me! By his story, I learned how amazing God is! Hopefully this will not be my last mission trip. God bless you all xxx

Haley: So for me to give an accurate representation of what this trip was for me, I would need multiple hours to write. However, I will say this: I was able to grow on this trip. This trip made me realize not only my potential, but also how God wants me to use it in the right ways. Yes there were some low points, but I think it taught all of us how to deal with them as a team. I think spiritually, we all grew. Remember the part in the Grinch when his heart grows like 6 times its original size? That’s the best thing I can compare us to. Giving to the community not only blessed them, but also allowed us to be blessed 100 times over. Like It says in Romans 12:2, we were all transformed by the renewing of our minds. Lastly, I think the biggest thing I learned from being stuck to 14 other people for 10 days was this: We all have different opinions on a lot of things, and accepting each other for who we are is hard, but achieving this acceptance is the most amazing feeling. I experienced that with a couple of people and I’m eternally grateful for it. Overall, this entire trip was a winning experience and I’m 100% sure ministry in Belize is something I plan on doing in the future. It was unbelizable 😉

Pam: Hello everyone!! What an amazing trip we have had! I can hardly believe we are soon boarding our flight back to Montreal. It has been a pleasure getting to know each individual on the team; to see relationships be strengthened and the outpouring of love shared to a community in Belize hungry to be shown compassion. One of my favourite moments was when we had the opportunity to give food to the most needy people in the village of Armenia. We sang for them, cried with them, prayed with them and left them with hope in Christ. To see this team be the hands and feet of Jesus was amazing to watch and be a part of. I know they were a blessing and were blessed themselves. My only complaint is that I wish we were able to spend more time at the orphanage. The children were clinging to us yearning for attention and to be hugged. We only had a few hours with them, but I am pretty sure there is at least one child we all left with their face imprinted in our minds that will be with us for a long while. So much more can be told, and I am sure you are excitedly waiting for all the details from your children. Many blessings to you all, we will be home soon!!

JD: Going into the trip, my prayer was that God would do a great work in the lives of our students. I could not have imagined how powerfully He would answer. Saturday we began to tangibly see God working in us and through us; however, this was only the start of greater things. Over the past days, many students have decided that being a fan of Christ was not enough and that they needed to make the decision to follow Him whole-heartedly.

Part of the outflow of this process has also been evident in students’ desire to serve and care for others. We have been able to bless many members of the local community, young and old alike through love, time, and finances. It is amazing what God can do through us when we allow Him to do so.

The country of Belize has also blown me away. The scenery with its mix of palm trees, jungle foliage, and rolling hills is breath taking. The people of Belize have been so welcoming and demonstrated what it means to have a servant’s heart. I have also enjoyed the various activities that are found in nature.

Part of me is looking forward to returning to the comforts of Montreal, such as my own bed and warm showers; however, there will be another part of me that remains in Belize.

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Day 10 – Belize – the return home!!!!!

We are all now at the Miami airport, waiting to board our last plane home. The students have been writing their final reflections and impressions, which I will upload onto the blog on the weekend!

We can finally upload some photos, below is the whole gang at the base just as we are setting out, and the other is the Pop family: Lazarus, Allicia, Jason, Julie and Duvon, our amazing hosts for the past 10 days!!!

We are all looking forward to being home, see you at the airport, we are on flight # AA2476.

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Blessings,

David

Day 9 – Belize (Thursday)

We were up early on Thursday morning, as this was our beach & snorkelling day! It was about a 90-minute drive into Belize City, where we then took a water taxi for about an hour out to the tourist town of Caye Caulker. We enjoyed about three hours of snorkelling, and saw nurse sharks, stingrays and so many amazing colours and types of fish and coral! The water was beautiful, and it was a first experience for many to have an opportunity to see another piece of God’s creativity up close!!!

A lunch and tour of the small town followed, where the students were able to look at a plethora of souvenirs. Some small bargaining took place in order to purchase some of these items.

We returned to the base for a late supper. After supper, we spent another amazing evening at the river, under a canopy of stars, and we all marveled at ‘how the heavens declare His glory!!’. This was the second opportunity we had for the evening visit to the river, and both were very special and unique moments in all of our lives!

We spent the rest of the evening packing and cleaning up, and had a few hours of sleep before heading to the airport on Friday morning.

See you all tomorrow!!

Blessings,

David

Day 8 – Belize (Wednesday)

On Wednesday, after breakfast, we set out to Alton Ha, just east of Belmopan, where all the students were able view the jungle from two different perspectives: from above the canopy of the jungle on a series of zip lines, and then from an inner tube, floating down a river through a massive cave. The zip lining was great fun, as we were at the site early and able to go together as a small group through six different zip lines. We then grabbed inner tubes, walked through the jungle for about 30 minutes to the entrance of a cave, through which a river meandered. We had flashlights and were able to see stalagmites and stalactites, as well as a number of very interesting rock formations in the limestone cave. This was followed by a buffet lunch, however, the food was not as good as Allicia and Lazarus had been preparing for us all week!!!

We headed back to the base, where we sent some time working though the devotions and journaling before dinner.

We then headed out to Kings Children Orphanage, located just outside of Belmopan. The students presented some songs, their skits, and played games with some of the 84 orphans that live here. It was really heart wrenching to hear some of their stories. The students were able to connect and encourage some of these young people, as they listened and played with them.

Tomorrow is our last day; it is hard to Belize it has passed by so quickly!!!

Blessings,

David

Mission Belize: jour 9

Nos élèves à Belize ont passé une autre excellente journée aujourd’hui, incluant une activitée de plongée en apnée (snorkeling).  David n’a pas eu d’accès à l’internet et ne pourra pas bloguer ce soir.  Il planifie nous mettre à jour demain après-midi lors de leur escale à Miami.

Looking forward to being reunited with our loved ones tomorrow!

Bonsoir à tous,

Teresa

Home missions Day 9

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Today we went to deliver lunches to the homeless in downtown Montreal. The students got to see some of the harsh realities of those who do not have a home. I pray these lessons would stick and that the memories would teach the students a better way to live and serve others in the future.

Tomorrow we celebrate together the end of home missions. I’ll leave you with the students’ thoughts.

Blessings, Laura

Alana: today we went to downtown Montreal to feed the homeless. We prepared 50 bags, in which there was a sandwich, cookies and a juice. We were then divided into three different groups. Each group went to different locations in the downtown area. At the end of the day, we gave away every single bag.

James  We went downtown and gave out lunches to the homeless. I really enjoyed it and I saw how the people were grateful and it really moved me. I loved helping other people and having conversations that could make their day.

Emmanuel: today we went downtown to feed the homeless it was a really fun experience and I loved seeing the smiles on the people’s faces when we gave them food and they were really grateful and they are really nice people.

Anthony: When we went to give these 2 homeless men sandwiches we noticed that they had 2 dogs, when we told them that we had dog food for them, they told us that no one has ever showed care for their dogs and they were really grateful.

David V.: Today, Day 9 of our mission trip, we went downtown in order to feed homeless people. However, something special happened: My group & I prayed with & for Fernand & Gilles, 2 homeless people. It was such a special moment for me, since who knew that homeless people were that nice?!?! We also gave food to homeless’ dogs. Wow! It was such an amazing & unforgettable day!!!

Day 7 – Belize (Tuesday)

Our day started as all the others have here at Loforna, the base of the In His Footsteps ministry in Belize. Pam, JD & David sat on the upper balcony with Wil Kamphuis, the man to whom God gave the vision to start this ministry. Each morning, very early, before the students are up, we start the day by reviewing the previous day’s activities, planning the logistics and challenges of the day ahead of us, and sharing our thoughts and insights into the various things the students are learning. We end our time together in prayer, as we pray over the day, the students, and for the various people we will meet during the day. All of this is done looking out over a beautiful sunrise, in the middle of the jungle in Armenia, Belize. And the cherry on the sundae is the fresh brewed Starbucks coffee that Wil had brought in especially for the leaders!!!

After a breakfast of fresh fruit and three kinds of banana breads, we finished the cement slab that we have been working on, by removing the forms and adding some finishing touches. The students worked in two teams, one group watching the DVD devotion we have been using, Fan or Follower, while the other completed the work project. We then switched the groups to complete both activities.

We then headed into Armenia where we spent some time with the students at the elementary school. What was a huge blessing it was to see Edourdo, Juanito, Daisy & Joanna were in school today!! These are some of the students that received shoes, backpacks and supplies on Monday! We had connected with this family on Saturday and had spent some time with them, praying, singing and learning about their situation. The kids were not able to attend school, as they did not have shoes and supplies! Our students were so excited to see them, and this has been an important part of what God has been doing here through our group.

Alicia and Lazarus, the couple who are the base leaders here, really have a heart to serve the community. They have been concentrating on completing the facility and with our arrival here, have now started to reach out into the community to share in significant and intentional ways the love of Christ, and to help them in whatever situation they may be in. Alicia and Lazarus know the community, and it has been through their connections that we have been able to help. Please ask your kids about this when you are talking about this mission trip with them. This has been new ground that God has blessed this ministry with.

We then headed to a Mennonite community where we purchased 20 fruit trees that we are planting on the Lorforna base. Others will enjoy the fruit that these trees will bear; a great testimony to how we can invest into other’s lives.

In the afternoon, we returned to the elementary school and led a phys. Ed class with the grade 8 students. We had a very competitive game of ultimate Frisbee!

We were back at the base for supper and then returned to Armenia for a soccer challenge; Belize versus Canada! A city team of 14 year old boys played against us in a tough game, we managed to hold them to a 1-1 tie by the end of the first half, but they opened the flood gates with 7 goals in the second half to completely annihilated us! It was great fun however, and again was a connection point into the community as we spent time connecting with the boys after the game.

An evening trip to the river to cool off after the game was a very special moment; we will update you about this later. Suffice to say, God richly blessed us all!!!

Your kids are doing very well. We have had no serious medical or health issues, and continue to be able to meet, connect, pray with and serve the various people and groups we are meeting. All parents can be very proud of the character and love that these kids have been sharing, and special thanks and shout out to all the teachers who have been preparing these students.  You have all  have invested well in them!!

David

 

PS  I will try to blog again later tonight, we are going to an orphanage and will be back late.  Tomorrow we will not have internet access, so the next blog update may be Friday morning from the airport.  We will try our best to update you all!!!

 

Blessings

 

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Today we went back to Kahnawake again where we went on a tour of the large church which dates back nearly 350 years. We went to see some Mohawk artwork also. We returned to finish some jobs we started yesterday. We ended with a short service led by the pastor of the church. He told us that God has a plan for each person’s life, that even Abraham in his old age was used by God and was the father of many. Our teens led the worship time.

Tomorrow we head downtown to feed the homeless. We have learned much about street life from reading: Under the Overpass. Pray for us as we go serve.

Blessings, Laura

Alana: Today we went back to Kahnawake and helped out in the community. We also went to the hospital in Kahnawake where we met Dorris. We talked to her and interacted with her. The last thing we did was to get a tour of kahnawake. All in all it was an awesome day!

Samuel: Yesterday we helped clean up the church. Things were pretty calm back there.  We did a small visit around Kahnawake which was fun and we learned things about the Mohawk and I think it was interesting (after all I am Native American). We’ll see you guys back home.

Tony: Life in this neighbourhood is calm and easy! It’s nice over here! Everyone in this town knows each other. We had a tour around this town and it is pretty nice and safe.

Home mission: day 7

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Today we went to Kahnawake Mohawk reserve. We were taught about the history of the reservation and its people. We even got to see a 500 year old canoe! Tommy Deer spoke to us about language as well: keeping the native language alive has been a struggle.

The church leaders of the area showed us two churches where we would work. There are many symbols of the native culture in the church buildings. For instance, crests will be done with beading. There’s a cross made of sweet grass given to the church for its 64th anniversary. Sweet grass is an ancient remedy for Mohawks.

The students are excited for tomorrow. We will get to visit with some church members and possibly the hospital.

I’ll leave you with the students comments.

Blessings! Laura

Kalista: Hey guys! Today we went to the Kahnawake aboriginal reserve and learned so much about their culture and lifestyle. We helped organize and clean in their churches and learned a lot about their historical territories as well as their political and social hierarchy. It was fun to help serve the two churches  there and the people there were very nice and welcoming 🙂

Moustapha: I learned that this is a really small city so everyone knows each other! They’re really friendly and we saw some really nice houses.  It really surprised me, I didn’t know that I would see nice houses! I learned about their culture too!

Jason: I learned about the culture of the Mowhaks and about the history of Kahnawake. We worked in the basement of a church moving things.