My first week in Belize has been so incredibly special. Coming, what my life would look like here was a mere mystery to me, and God has now turned that mystery into a beautiful reality. This life exceeds all my desires for the kind of life that fits my personality best. I have worn shoes only once since arriving, the ocean is more accessible than my shower, and I eat pineapple at almost every meal. I couldn’t even dream all of those things to be a reality, and yet they are. And I am able to find the most joy in these things because I see them as a gift from God. I am truly in my element and I cannot thank God enough for calling me here. I have waited months to finally experience where God called me, as I struggled with not belonging in life at home. And now here I am, and joy is filling my bones and pouring out of my heart.
Nonetheless, I miss my home in Indiana dearly. I miss my friends and my family and my dog. My heart is in two places, and I struggle with doubts of why God called me here, asking me to leave the life I have always known and loved. Yet today as some of my teammates and I took the four mile journey into town, I talked with a girl who expressed the same feelings towards me as I had been feeling in my heart. And I couldn't help but laugh at my own doubts in God. Did I think I was the only one who left home for this little island? Of course not. God called each of us here, and it feels so wonderful to be able to freely express my homesickness because I am not alone here. We're a team, and we're becoming a family.
At home, I know my spiritual gifts are needed. But here, spiritual gifts are so bountiful that I struggle to even see my own, and I'm careful not to allow myself to question my usefulness. However, This weekend I got the opportunity to worship with my team, and it was so wonderful to observe each person’s style of worship. Some danced, some sang loudly, some raised their arms, and some bowed their head and quietly prayed. But each person had their own style of worship; and it is such a blessing to already be able to see each person’s role here in the body of Christ. I am so thankful to be on a team with such gifted and talented people. Even if my part in the body is quiet, it is useful and I love that each person here helps me to see that. Just by my team simply expressing vulnerability in worshipping freely, I am able to see a hint towards all parts of the body. Of course, being in a new place with a new spiritual family, I have to be careful not to allow myself to question my usefulness. At home, I know that my spiritual gifts are needed. But here, spiritual gifts are so bountiful that my place is not so obvious. But I think that the observation I saw during worship really brings our team together in that we’re all here. We aren’t here to just swim in the ocean. But we’re here to know God and to make him known. I see that in the way my team interacts, in the way we dedicate ourselves to our work duties, and in the way we pray out loud for each other and with each other. I see Jesus already in the smiles, laughs, and tears of my team; and I am so excited to see him even more clearly as we learn more and more about God and about each other.
My team has been here less than a week and haven't even begun to learn from God through lectures and classes, but I am able to connect with them and know them already, which I can honestly attribute to our staff leaders. Our staff is so loving, kind, generous, and genuine. I am so excited to get to know them and learn from their faith in Christ. Already they have shown so much leadership, and I can honestly thank that leadership of theirs for the immediate comfortableness we have with our team. During one morning lesson, one of our staff came up to the front and boldly asked for prayer for a physical disability she had been diagnosed with. And she told us, "ask God today what it is that he wants you to do because you don't know how long you'll have what you have" and I was so convicted by her words because I truly desire this time in my life to be all focused on him, and I struggle with that even a place that is all about him. So I have been praying that prayer each morning, and the other morning I noticed that the toilet in our casita wasn't working, which is unfortunately pretty common. If you didn't already know, the bathroom situation in America is a luxury, as the plumbing in Belize is extremely sensitive and something to get used to. So as I was washing my hands I noticed a sheet of paper on our mirror that read "bathroom etiquette" which simply explained water conservation and what to do when the toilet wasn't working properly. At the bottom of the sheet of paper there were instructions to pray for our toilets because "they need a lot of it". And I instantly thought, pray for my toilet? But my heart became instantly convicted and I knew that God wanted me to do just that on that day. So I laid my hands on the toilet lid and began praying that it would flush. So I prayed for a few minutes and tried to flush it...it didn't work. I wasn't disappointed, I mean if I were God I'd be much more concerned with issues larger than a flushing toilet. So I walked away and planned to grab the plumber but totally forgot. Later I walked into my room to use the restroom and the toilet was empty when I opened the lid, so I asked one of my roommates if she had plunged it and she said, "no I came in here and it was just fixed!" And a giant smile immediately formed across my face and I pictured God looking at me with a little smirk on his face because I should've had more faith. Yes, our God cares even about little situations like a flushing toilet. And I hope that becomes a common theme of my time here. Not my toilet flushing (but I would appreciate that), but that I ask God, seek God, and obey God in even the most simple of situations.
"Because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. " - Philemon 5-6
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it. I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." - Isaiah 43:18-19