Day 1 - Wednesday (August 16, 2017)
Our day started out early by meeting at Harvest Aviation at 5am in Wauchula. You might be thinking to yourself, an airport... in Wauchula?!?! You read right, there is an airport in Wauchula AND we have a mission organization that serves the people of Belize. (More details to come in future posts...)
Once we took off, we made our way to Key West, where we would fuel up, stretch our legs, and use the restroom. Oh, yes, I might have forgot to mention, our plane holds 4 people and some cargo. Our team consists of Pilot, Brian Smith; Co-Pilot, Mike Burch; Anna Dickey, and myself, Jamie Samuels.
Once taking off from Key West around 8:15am we made our way to Cozumel. Here we landed to pay some fees, go through customs and you guessed it, stretch our legs & use the restroom.
Then it was off to Belize. Belize is 2 hours behind Florida (EST) and so we landed around noon. Here we go through customs again and then meet up with the missionaries who are picking up their packages. Harvest Aviation has been serving Belize for many years now and they bring cargo (packages of supplies) to missionary partners who have purchased items that are either very expensive in Belize or items they can't even get here. This is the typical type of trip Harvest Aviation takes every single month. Typically the 2 Pilots bring the cargo, stay a night, and head back.
But, this trip is a little different. SendMeMissions has partnered with Harvest Aviation to see just what else is out here in the way of missionary relationships, missionary needs, and community needs.
Our schedule is packed!!! As soon as we landed, we rented a car (thanks to our amazing driver, Anna Dickey) and stopped for lunch with George Ferrar and Alexander & Leah Perez. We had local Belizian food... fried chicken.
It was here that we heard the hearts of both these men, working to unify the churches, unifying their cities, unifying believers and making disciples.
Before heading to Alexander & Leah's home we stopped to buy a local phone. It's always interesting how the schedule can change with one wrong turn, a little bad weather, or traffick. So this would allow us to communicate with the missionaries better in the days to come and for them to reach us as well.
Once arriving at Alexander & Leah's house we were greated by little Chase, their 2 year old boy, and their daughter. The staff were introduced to us and they begin to very passionately share with us why Belize Camping Experience (their nonprofit) was so important to the City of Belize.
Their focus is to see Belize change Belize, by disciplining children and youth. The youth are able to stay during the summer for camp and help lead and train others in the city. Then during the "off" season (Sep-May) they conduct follow ups with all the children & youth they served during the summer.
They have visions to grow, to see more disciples of Christ, to connect ranchers & farms from the U.S. with those in Belize, to find partners who won't come in to change things or do things for them, but to support their efforts where God is already at work! We can't wait to see what the future holds with Alexander & Leah!
We took a few photos, gathered for prayer and made our way back on the road for church which began at 7pm. But one road led to another, and then another, and then who knows where we were... but we weren't at church. And while I'm super grateful for Anna's driving, it was on this stretch of the trip that I realized I might not have enough Dramamine with me, and that the flight over was more smooth than her driving over speed bumps at 90 kilometers per hour.
As it got dark and we realized we would not make it to church, we headed back to Hopewell, where we would be staying for the night. Mike & Dale made us some chicken, rice & beans, and the best mango cobbler I've ever had (well it might have been my first mango cobbler ever, but it was delicious!
We're all tucked in. Showered up (even though my shower was warm & Anna's was cold - that's what she gets for going over those speed bumps so fast). And tomorrow is another big day as we fly over to Punta Gorda to meet with more missionaries.
As I close, I'm reminded of the struggles we share with our brothers & sisters in Christ. The need for unity and the need for discipleship. It doesn't matter our location in the world, these aren't 3rd world problems, or western problems, these are our sinful problems. They result from pride, from business, from being self centered instead of Kingdom minded. Where do you fit into this equation? Are you the problem or the solution? Are you trying to find where God is at work to serve him & his people or are you worried about the politics of the church, the Sunday morning attendance, the things of this world and not spending time deepening your relationship with Christ?
May we all take some time this week to re-prioritize our to-do lists and make sure God gets our first!!!
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. -Col 2:6-8