Belize’s toasty climate warmed up my winter in March as I joined Maplewood Academy students on a mission to the tiny tropical country in Central America. There I learned a lot about God and how He provides love and beauty for His people, even amid poverty.
The story begins last autumn, when I decided I would love to go on a mission trip. I never had before, so why not now? When I heard the academy was going, I asked if I could tag along. I learned they were actually looking for teachers who could hold training workshops for the Belizean teachers. Perfect!
The cost of the trip was a challenge, which I placed in God’s hands. Soon I received a statement for a bank account I didn’t even know I had. There was enough there to cover half of the cost. Family and friends began sending money for my trip. Before I knew it, the entire trip was funded from generous donations. And why not? “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19, NKJV).
In Belize, we built the foundation for a new Adventist school in Ladyville. Bending rebar day after day, I began to realize the importance of our job. The steel had to be cut in various sizes, bent in particular ways, and tied together in specific formations. Doing these tasks correctly was essential. We were setting the foundation. Without a solid foundation, the school might collapse.
The spiritual lesson seemed obvious: God is our cornerstone, our foundation. Only through Him can we withstand the storms of life. He keeps us upright. “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever” (Psalm 73:26, NLT).
As we worked on the school, the dusty soil clung to our feet. The first thing I did each day after work was clean them with a wet wipe. This reminded me of the disciples and how Jesus washed their dusty feet. What a humbling act! Our Creator also wants to wash us, not only physically, but spiritually. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5, ESV).
While in Belize, we met wonderful children who adored us the moment we set foot on their school’s soil. They welcomed us with smiles and hugs. As we arrived at the construction site each morning, the children ran to our bus as if we were celebrities.
One student in particular was especially fond of me. When she heard my birthday was coming up that week, she promised to bring a gift. It was touching to see a child with so little want to give me one of her prized possessions.
Driving through the streets, one could see that many people in Belize have very little—yet are willing to share. Shouldn’t we do the same? “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (2 Cor. 8:2-3, NIV).
In addition to working on the new school and interacting with the students, we held a youth rally, visited an orphanage, and presented a literacy workshop for local teachers. We did some sightseeing as well. Touring Mayan ruins, visiting a zoo, snorkeling over a coral reef, and strolling through the streets of San Pedro Island are a few of many memories I will never forget.
The bonds of friendship with the people of Belize and my mission companions from Maplewood Academy will always be precious to me.
Guest author Katelyn Weyant teaches grades 1-4 at Northwoods Elementary in Hutchinson, Minnesota.
The Minnesota Conference and Maplewood Academy coordinated two mission trips, one to Belize and one to Pine Ridge, South Dakota. To read about the South Dakota mission trip, go to http://mnsdayouth-youngadult.com.