Hand in Hand takes on Belize

 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."" (Jeremiah 29:11)

This bible verse jumped out at me a lot during my trip in Belize with Hand in Hand Ministries. I went with a group from my church, St. Meinrad Catholic Church, and friends from St. Boniface Catholic Church. I was sent to Central America in search of the reason why I was called to do God's work. By the end of the week, I knew it was to change the life of someone else and to understand other people's way of living. 

The experience I encountered about the Belizian way of living is something that can't fully be put into words. Their way of living is a day-by-day, don't take what you have for granted, enjoy each moment as it comes, and to cherish the little things!! It made me wish we as Americans lived this way; without wanting more than we need, rushing around being busy, and worrying about the things that don't matter rather than appreciate the loved ones we have around us.

While in Belize I experienced a Belizian Catholic church, built a house in 2 and a half days, helped build the new Hand in Hand Outreach Center, visited a daycare, toured an HIV center, watched traditional dancing, toured the Mayan Temples, snorkeled in the Caribbean Sea with the sharks, stingrays, and the coral reef, walked through the rainforest, ate iguana, got homemade donuts from a local house, got sunburned, enjoyed my first plane ride, got countless bug bites, encountered a new culture, ate beans and rice everyday, ate fresh mangos, and saw a new way of living.

Going out of the country has always been a dream of mine. Getting a passport and traveling to Central America with 15 other people who I have always simply seen as people in a pew in church and becoming a close family with them in a matter of a week is beyond anything I could have wanted!!

The 16 of us came into another country to build a house - a 16 x 16 house! It's incredible to me how someone could live in such a small area, but that's what brought me so much joy. The fact that they love their life and the people in it that it doesn't matter what they don't have. The 2 and a half days it took us to build their house was spent getting to know each other and learning about the family, Rita and Collett, and their daughter Karen. As we constructed this small house, it became a home as the family helped us build it. I became really close to the daughter, and by the time the building was complete and we had the house blessing ceremony, it meant more to me than just 2 and half days of building. It grew to be a home and they amazing family grew close to my heart and they repaid me in the joy they brought to my life!!

If I was asked a few months ago about my faith, I would have said that I follow God and I believe in him wholeheartedly, but today it would be so much more than that!! My faith has grown more than words can even say!! My experience in Belize is one I could never forget and one that will carry me through life and lead me in a new path that God has chosen for me to follow!! The family we all helped might not be able to repay us physically, but what they did for me is so much more than they will know!!

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