I spent a little over an hour writing this for a Tumblr post so I though “Hey, may as well post this on here, too!”
February 11, 2015
Arrival in Belize – Project Serve Belize 2015 Day 2
This day. Let me tell you something about this day.
In my mind, February 10th was always the date to remember. I mean that was the day that the trip began. That was the day I was focused on – literally checking my countdown app multiple times a day. That was the day when I would go to the airport at 5am, check in my luggage, say goodbye to my family and friends and cross through security with just my teammates, ready to journey to new lands together and serve together. February 10th
But February 11th, oh boy February 11th.
I woke up in California bright and early on the floor of a church after only 5 and a half hours of sleep. But I couldn’t be more awake. We headed to the airport, and hopped on a plane to Houston. Up to this point the entire trip felt almost like a dream. This couldn’t be real, that I was actually going on this trip to Belize. Walking down the pier at Huntington beach simply felt like another day of team bonding, only this time the weather was significantly warmer and the sun shone with more intensity than it did at home. But this was real.
From Houston we hopped on another flight to Belize. It’s funny, I’m trying to remember moments from our time in the Houston airport, even what it looked like, but I can’t. And I’m usually good at remembering places. I guess I must have been too excited to continue on to Belize.
And on we continued, into a day that I will cherish forever.
But here’s the thing about the airpot in Belize city. The plane does its whole landing, taxiing and parking by the gate thing as most would assume typical. But there’s no jet-bridge or whatever you want to call it that connects the door of the airplane to the gate. You have to descend down a staircase to exit the plane like what you see presidents do in movies. And we descended into humidity. As we approached our final destination we eagerly gawked out the windows at this new terrain that blossomed with God’s beauty. As soon as we landed – although we were still in the plane – the heat was tangible. This thick, humid air that tickled our skin as a greeting. Sarah Hodson’s curly hair already was increasing volume. We were beyond excited to be here. I was just so thankful to finally have this opportunity to be on the trip after wanting to go for so long. But God is good. And descending those stairs we were in a new world, and it was a land in which we were going to declare God’s goodness.
Going through the airport seemed to stretch on endlessly as we all were so eager to get outside and enjoy the land. Customs, baggage claim, security checks, lines, lines, lines. But eventually we made it through. It was late afternoon and some loitered outside the airport while others loaded luggage into the bus. Laughter, photos, excitement.
We loaded the bus a bit later, though some had to sit on top of all the bags because they took up too much space. Then we began our drive to the YWAM base (Youth With a Mission) where we were staying, just outside the city of Belmopan. Windows down, wind blowing through our hair. We were ready to serve the people of Belize.
I stared out at the beautiful scenery as the bus bounced along. I don’t know how to explain this feeling, but it’s the same one I get as I drive by my childhood home. Everything just is. The trees and shrubs just were. We were all just living, being. This sense of not exactly belonging or normal-ness, but a mixture of the two. The land – though extravagant – did not necessarily captivate me. Maybe it’s because the previous year I had been to Cuba, which had similar geography, and the sights were no longer new to me. This feeling comparable to driving by my childhood home – that Belize was simply the place where I naturally belonged. Maybe it felt this way because I had spent so many hours over the past couple years longing to be in this place, my longing had led to a sense of belonging.
I was sitting beside Bobbi. I just remember her staring intently out of the window with biggest smile on her face as she took in the land around her for the second time in her life. She was like a dog who joyfully sticks it’s head out the window whenever they’re in a vehicle. She was so happy to be back. I hoped that this land would provide me with memories to smile so fondly about too. I hoped that serving the kids of the King’s Children’s Home would bring out the best in me. And I think Bobbi’s eagerness accurately portrayed how much this place would come to mean to all of us on the team. It for sure set the tone for me as for what was to come.
Along the way to the base we stopped for an infamous pineapple Fanta – a signature experience of the Project Serve Belize trips. We continued driving to the base, sipping pineapple Fanta, and getting to know one another even better. Talking, smiling, rapping and laughing. Me and Emma tried to get some songs going as the sun set descended on the team’s first experiences together in Belize.
Eventually at dusk, we arrived at the base. My first experience at the place that I had heard so many stories about and seen so many photos of. I am so thankful and blessed to have gotten to see it for myself. Walking across the suspension bridge for the first time over the Belize River was honestly a dream come true. I’d like to say that I soaked in the moment, but in reality I had to pee. Badly. And so did a few others. We followed Terry as we raced across the base towards the washrooms. I could feel thee gravel underneath my flimsy flip-flops and I clambered along in the dark. Huge tress with massive roots, watch out for fire ants!, a German Shepherd guard dog – whoa. The base was a dark blur but still astounding. Eventually I came to a rest at the bathrooms, out of breath. Thats the only night I ever noticed fireflies twinkling in the grass. It was also my first time ever seeing fire flies. I also looked up as the Belizean jungle cleared to make room for the base. The stars were unbelievable – and different. I’m not a huge astronomy geek but I do know the constellation Orion, which was now almost directly above instead of being near the horizon as I was accustomed to. I was in complete awe of God’s creation. Of His goodness to create this world and desire relationship with us. Of His mercy to hear my cries to Him and provide me with the opportunity to finally be on this trip. This day makes me smile.
February 11th, 2015.
The day I learnt what it meant for home to be where the heart is.