Looking Back on Belize

I went on a week long mission’s trip to Belize the summer after I graduated high school. It’s been two years now, and I’ve learned so much since then.

I went along with my youth group to Belize through and organization called Praying Pelican Missions. (btw I love this organization)

Looking back on this trip, I wonder what impact we really made.

My youth group was in charge of leading a VBS at a small church in Belize for three days. We also packed together some meals and distributed them to homes throughout the community. I enjoyed spending time with the youth so much, and I really did form some great relationships…. but what now?

I’ve been thinking that what we did was so temporary. We gave the youth one fun week, but we didn’t give them anything that would allow them to continue improving their lifestyle. Nothing was sustainable. We didn’t do anything that would’ve led to us coming back to Belize a year later and seeing growth and improvement in the community.

Actually, I realize I didn’t and I still don’t know in what areas Belize needs to improve on.  What was their “problem” anyway? Why did we go to Belize and not some other country?

Now of course, Belize has their poverties, and I’m so happy to have served there.

However, I would have liked to know more. Prior to students or anyone going on mission’s trips like these they should be taught about the specific culture and what sort of poverties the people may be experiencing. Are they malnourished? Experiencing the aftermath of a natural disaster? Or are we just there to talk about God?

Too often, Christians go in helping blindly.. thinking they can save they day without ever asking what the problem is.

 

A Question of Minimalism and Faith

I’ve been thinking about the relationship between minimalism and faith this past week.

“There should be no comfortable Christians.”

This is the phrase that ignited this spiral of thoughts in my mind. I immediately believed this statement to be true, but it challenged me in ways I did not expect.

(Let me add that I am not directing this towards anyone or telling anyone how to live their lives, this is simply how my thought process has happened)

With all the hurt in the world, no Christian should be living comfortably. First, it should not sit right with us having all sorts of luxuries while others have nothing. Our hearts, minds, and souls should not feel comfortable in that sense. Then secondly, if the first is true, should we not then do something about it? We should not be staying in our comfy homes simply wishing circumstances would get better for those suffering.

Luke 14: 26-27 says:

“If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life! Whoever will not carry the cross that is given to them when they follow me cannot be my follower.”

God asks us to give up everything to follow Him. Even leave our families! Personally, it scares me just to read that. Doesn’t it then seem apparent that we should probably give up all material items as well?

Matthew 19:21 says:

“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

So the answer is yes, we are to give up our material possessions as well. This is what lead me to the question I am currently fighting with.

Is it a sin to have money, a nice home, an expensive car, a closet full of clothes?

Am I really following Jesus if I am living a comfortable life?

I feel like many Christians live like the rich man in Mark 12. The rich man gave a large amount of money to the church as an offering. Just as many well-off Christians today would donate money to a charity or to church in order to do their part. However, Jesus was unimpressed by the rich man. The poor woman who gave her only cent did the right thing in this story. She gave until she had nothing left. She gave up her comfort, and Jesus said that she was the honorable one.

So minimalism… giving up our luxuries, even the simple ones, and living off of only what we need…  trusting in God to sustain us… Is that how, as Christians, God has called us to live?

 

Summary of My Time in Bolivia

This summer, I was blessed to have gone on a two week service trip to Bolivia. Through my college, we teamed up with an organization called Food for the Hungry who led us during our time in Bolivia.

We spent time in La Paz, Cochabamba, and Toro Toro. Most of our service work was based in the small community of Toro Toro. For this trip, our team brought seven microscopes and a hundred water filters from the U.S. to Bolivia in order to distribute them in the schools and communities.

Our team had prepared a lesson plan on how to use the microscopes for the professors to first learn by and then teach their students with. For two days, we had biology teachers from seven different communities meet in Toro Toro where we had lessons on the microscopes. The teachers were so excited, and it’s crazy to think some of these biology teachers had never used a microscope before. They got a hang of the microscopes quickly, and we had them then teach us how to use them in order to be sure they were ready to bring the microscopes to their students.

For the next few days, our team traveled to the different schools where we presented the microscopes to the faculty and students. We also supplied the schools with water filters, soccer balls, jump ropes, and other toys. We almost always had to end our time at the schools with a game of soccer which I loved.

Although we were able to serve in a few other ways, teaching the professors about the microscopes and the communities about the water filters were our main focus. This provided a more sustainable positive impact then building a house or something along those lines. Now the professors can learn about nutrition and clean water by looking through the microscopes, and hopefully over time they will contribute to preventing malnutrition in their communities.

Basically, we helped plant a seed, but it is up to the community to make it grow.