We landed on the runway at Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City, Belize and I could feel the heat radiating off the tarmac as the plane made it’s way to the gate. There was no jetway, rather a set of sturdy stairs was wheeled up to the door upon arrival. As we stepped out onto the top step, the sun’s rays beat down on me reminding me in an instant that that’s what light does. It shines, it heats, it radiates. How fitting, because after all we were in Belize to shine our light for Jesus.
Our friend and sister Sylvia surprised us at the airport. We planned to rent a car and drive to her hometown, about two and half hours away. Once in the car we navigated towards one of the three major highways in the entire country. Once on the Western highway, it was smooth sailing…except for the many unmarked speed bumps. The scenery flashed by, mostly agricultural scenes with intermittent houses. The highway passed through small towns consisting of just a few stores in a few short minutes. The rest of the towns weren’t visible from the highway. Having completely bypassed the capital, Belmopan, we never saw the beautiful capital building. We saw so many horses and cattle and even a few goats. We saw people with tiny roadside stands selling all kinds of fruits and vegetables and a few of the more enterprising ones had a grill set out to barbecue tiny chickens for any hungry passersby.
As we neared Sylvia’s hometown of Benque Viejo del Carmen, the highway ran alongside a river with shallow parts that revealed smooth rocks where women were washing their clothes. We were to stay at the home of Oscar and Emma, both teachers at La Immaculada RC school in Arenal village. A day later, we visited the school with the intention of giving out backpacks to the 180 children who attended the school. When we arrived at the school, only 6 children were there. I was a little worried since we had bought a backpack for every child in the school and we wanted them to have them. Sylvia asked a little boy on a bike to go through the village and call all the children who were supposed to be there. Word of mouth traveled fast because within minutes children were coming from everywhere. As we unpacked the backpacks, children were materializing from the bushes and packing into the school room. As they sat on the floor, one little girl wandered up to the front of the room and just stood there grinning. She had bright, wide eyes and a gap where her front teeth hadn’t grown in yet. She was eager to get her backpack. In another post, I’ll tell you her story in detail, because of all the children, she’s the one who stuck in my spirit the most. Once all the bags were given out, I looked around and wished we had brought something more than a few little bags to give these kids. Their lives are poverty-stricken one. Most had shoes to wear, but some did not. Some hadn’t shown up to the school because their families needed them to work on their farm. The road to their school and village was bumpy and hard to drive on with anything but a pick up truck so not many strangers came to the village. The principal told me that while many other schools close to the area hosted missionaries or received donations from organizations, this school did not because of their location. It was just physically difficult to get there. Others who came before us had turned away from that road, from that village, and from those children to find some place easier to get to.
It would be easy for a non-believer to say: “God, why would you allow little children to suffer so? What kind of God are you?” I was once one of those people. Now it’s so easy for me to say: “God never wants to see His children suffer. So He sent us to be His hands and feet. He sends us with the charge to feed the orphans and comfort the broken. He sends us to show others His grace and mercy. He sends us to bring hope and love to those who have none. He sends us to pour into others. We are but vessels made and shaped for His glory. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth and we are here to shine His light in dark places.” I’m confident in what I say because I know God made a way for us on a road less traveled by to bring us to a place that needed Him. We would have never been on that road, in that place, at that time if it wasn’t for God’s call upon our lives.