The Weekly Photo Challenge is like a mini-lottery game to me. You never know what might pop up as the topic of the week. But unlike the lottery, at least in my experience, there is a winner every time with the Weekly Photo Challenge, you just have to peruse the photo archives.
I wanted for years to travel to do mission work with my church. In about 2010 or so I finally got the chance as we traveled to the gulf coast of the United States to work on a church roof that needed to be replaced. I have been to the tourist areas in Florida like Orlando, Saint Augustine and Melbourne, but this was my furthest trip into the western side of Florida.
In 2012 I joined a team of 10 others on my first international mission trip to Belize. This picture is from Old Belize, the most tourist centered place we visited and it was only for lunch on the way to the airport on the last day. Most of our time was in and around the capital of Belmopan.
I hope to take in the breath taking beauty of our 50th state this fall as my wife and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. There is an ever-growing list of places I want to see and this seems a great starting point.
Do you ever take time to immerse yourself in an activity? Sure you do. I certainly do. Reading, writing, working outside in the garden or with our flower beds, spending time with my wife and kids, the examples never end. When we immerse ourselves in any activity we set aside all other things to concentrate on a single pursuit.
To be sure the example I will share today is nothing like the experience or commitment of men and women around the world who take on the role of being a missionary that shares God’s love and truth of his Word around the world. No, my limited experience, a grand total of 23 days in a foreign country is only a small sample of the commitment of those I have so much admiration.
In 2012 the first opportunity to immerse in another country came to me as I joined another three individuals from my church along with nine others for a mission trip to the country of Belize. Now hold on, don’t get all judgmental on me thinking of the resorts and tourist traps of the beautiful country. Our time was centered around the capital, Belmopan, and the greatest experience for me was meeting a missionary that I have become very good friends with in the time since.
When I met Carol Heath on that day in December of 2012 I was just another American visiting the country she has adopted as her new home. What she did not know was that for weeks before I had asked God to show me some way I could affect good in the world. I asked him to lay a burden on my heart when he showed me this truth. When I stepped off our old white Bluebird bus to see Heart House, the place where Carol changes the world for the children of Maya Mopan, the village surrounding, I could feel God telling me to pay attention.
Beginning that December the immersion changed with knowledge about what could be done to assist in growing Heart House and the ministry involved. Heart House has changed remarkably, which I ascribe as a testament of following God’s direction in faith. My Christian experience has been enriched by extension. Knowing that my church through our efforts are helping share the burden for Carol and Heart House is some kind of wonderful way to further God’s kingdom.
Looking ahead it is my hope and prayer I can make my fourth journey to this place in December. My first try to immerse was exciting for a different reason. But this time it will be so familiar and anticipated I expect to have a great time.
Acts 1:8 Ye shall be witnesses…unto uttermost part of earth
Mat.28:19,20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations
Some of my favorite verses in the bible talk about going into every nation and sharing the love of God with all you meet. Of course this verse says nothing about involving the children of your church. This is no job for children. Or is it? Why not teach them early about sharing their most precious gift with others?
My family got involved with wrapping shoe boxes with Samaritan’s Purse and their Operation Christmas Child several years ago. Even as young as my children were then they could appreciate the effort we put into blessing others in countries around the world. For many countries targeted by Operation Christmas Child it would be the first mention of Jesus. That shows we have either failed to go everywhere in this world or stopped spreading the word in every way possible.
First of all we worked with shoe boxes that would be sent to any area of the world. This was a less exact process because we had no idea where the shoe boxes might go The kids were willing to pack whatever was before them so it was up to the adults to put the best things in front of them. That is one of the things about kids, their enthusiasm drives them to complete the process much quicker than adults.
Then a couple of years ago we got a chance to go to Belize and establish a one to one relationship with some missionaries that can better direct our efforts. It is important to me to reduce the distance between our church and the missionaries as much as possible. If they know them by name they are more likely to care about them.
WE were blessed this past summer by a visit from Tim and Carol, not only to our church but to our home where we got to know each other on a more personal level. The connections moved our interaction to another level and will pay great dividends in knowing how to minister to Heart House in the years to come. Already with that possibility in mind I am trying to ge the kids to identify as well.
When I was at Heart House last in December of 2013 I had the HH kids stand in front of a whiteboard with a thanks to the kids at my church for all they had one to stuff back packs in the preceding 3-4 months. I felt like it was a great way to “make it real” to our kids.
Some of you will remember a fad a couple of years ago called Bandz where kids wove together colored rubber bands to make bracelets. I felt like this would be another way to connect the kids and had 3 or 4 of the kids at my church make about a hundred to take with us to Belize. On the day we gave them out their was a lot of buzz about it. This last picture shows everyone in attendance sporting their friendship bracelets.
As I prepare to take my daughter on her first mission trip to Belize this year I am laying out more plans to connect the kids. I know she will find this experience as rewarding as i do because as my wife says “She has a heart like you do.” We all want our life to matter and serving God while searching for that end is a wonderful adventure.