Warning: If you don’t like Belize, my kid, or lots of photos, this post is not for you. If you only want to see things that might be on Etsy, Pinterest, or Style Me Pretty, then just scroll for a while and you’ll get there. :)
Our trip kicked off with Eli trying to convince me on the way to the airport that he could get small enough to fit into my suitcase.
1. He could.
2. I still didn’t try to. I think the TSA frowns on that.
We landed in Belize and got to do those cool stairs off the plane thing. I always feel like I’m important when I get to do that. The truth is, it just means I’m in a janky airport.
This was the church/school we stayed at for the week.
This was the gecko that greeted me when I went to the bathroom to wash my hands.
We spent the first night going over our plans for the week and inflating 20+ basketballs.
Bright and early the next morning, we started mixing concrete and doing construction work. This is Cameron. Cameron is a sophomore in high school. He is a haas. He is my hero.
Meet Crystal & Zach. They have been married about 2 months and instead of spending their money on a honeymoon, they came to Belize to build a basketball court and teach kids about Jesus. They are my heroes.
Once we arrived in Belize, we found out there is a concrete shortage in the city, so we would not be able to finish the court. We went ahead and put up a goal anyway in the back just to have something to use for the week. It was heavy. Rather than try and lift it, I stood off to the side and took photos of those men lifting it.
At nights, our team would play a charades game of sorts where they told Jo the movie and he would act it out. I’m not sure what movie this is. His hands are up in the air… My guess would be Leap of Faith but that’s probably not it.
These next two photos/moments might be my favorites from the trip.
It was our first full work/VBS/basketball camp day. We had already finished the work portion and were having lunch around 1:00, when Cassi & Colton received the news that their great-grandmother had passed away. They were super close to her and it really shook them up. They spent about an hour or so crying / talking / grieving together. When it came time for us to head to do the VBS/basketball part of the day, they joined back up with our team. No one forced them or made them join in. They just did. I looked over and saw Colton leading a group of about 15 boys in the story of when Jesus calmed the storm. I broke down crying at how perfect this image was. Colton might have been the only person those boys would have sat and listened to that day, and he could have easily stayed back in the room. Yet here he was. Teaching them about a man who did something so many years ago and also just minutes ago in his life. Those boys had no idea the pain Colton had just been dealt, they just know he was there loving them.
This is Cassi (right). she played college basketball and was in charge of setting up all our drills, stations, and groups for the week. She also had every right to be in her room grieving about her great-grandmother. She could have chosen to be alone. She could have chosen to hide. Instead she chose to do what she came to do. She came to love kids and teach kids. So here she is; two hours after learning of her loss, full of life and joy and being re-energized by serving others.
If there is one thing that made those little kids from Belize happy, it’s crushing us in soccer.
On one of our outings, we passed through an Old Order Mennonite community. It was like traveling through time.
Mennonite Home Depot
Once you hit the pink, yellow, and orange laundry, it means you are out of the Mennonite community.
Almost everywhere we went, Jo felt like he should be in front of the group. Which is interesting, because he is the youngest and typically had zero idea where we were going.
Sometimes I see signs that make me laugh and I take of a photo of them like a 7th grade boy would.
We climbed this Mayan ruin. It was steep.
This one was less steep. I was still tired at the top.
It does not matter if you are in Haiti, Belize, or America, kids are super cute. Take a look.
Once we realized the court was not going to get finished, we headed to a hardware store in town to get supplies to build some soccer goals. The owner of the store got excited about the project and offered to donate these super sturdy goals when the court is complete. That was a huge deal.
I also met this girl who is getting married next year. She wants me to be her wedding photographer. I did not have a business card to give her.
This is my friend Beckie. Her thing is going around the world holding tiny humans. She is good at her thing. She is my hero.
This toe belongs to Abby. She probably broke it playing soccer the second day on our trip. She still loved on kids and never complained all week long. Abby is my hero.
Our last day was a beach/play day. We headed out to a little island.
Remember my friend Beckie who likes to hold tiny humans? She apparently also likes to sit in the back of the boat and get pelted by the waves. :)
This is Jo’s victory cheer when he had a hamburger after a week of less than his favorite food.
Our trip leader Irv. He spends his days holding hands with his wife while walking along the coast and… being held in Spongebob’s arms.
Our group went snorkeling… more details to come….
Hashtag island life.
So Beckie, the tiny human holding one, did not want to snorkel, but wanted to conquer her fear of it. So she tried it anyway. She jumped in and swam around for about 45 minutes. All the while clutching her father’s hand with a death grip.
Jo, also did not want to snorkel, but we decided to try it anyway… after about 10 minutes, he still didn’t want to and it was clear that the situation was not going to improve. This is us swimming back to the boat.
These two photos are what parenting is about. It’s about knowing your kid and knowing when to push them and holding on to them and encouraging them to keep pushing through. It’s also about knowing when to bail on an idea. Knowing when something is just “not for us” and being willing to back out.
This will look different for every family and each kid during various stages of life. But the sooner we figure it out, the easier our job becomes.
A little while later the boat drove us to this spot and they said… “We are gonna toss out food and sharks and sting rays are going to come. You can swim with them if you want.”
Remember Cassi? Last year she gave Jo the nickname J-Money. It’s how he introduces himself to people on mission trips. All I can do is shake my head. Thank you for that Cassi. Thank you.
My favorite part of heading home is counting down the minutes till we are greeted at the airport by my people. I always miss my people.
Part of the reasons I love taking Jo on these trips is to show him how much bigger the world is.
That the world is not just Playstations, Lego sets, and Tolkin books.
That the world is full of beauty and hurt.
That there is sadness and joy in unexpected places.
That the world is bigger than the next Marvel movie.
The thing is… every trip Jo has been on, he has turned around and shown me how much bigger he is.
That he has a heart that can love a stranger.
That he can do work I assumed he was too small for.
That he is bigger than Playstations, Lego sets, and Tolkin books.
Every time we’ve gone somewhere together, I leave thinking I’ll be so proud of what we do, but I always return more proud of who he is becoming than anything else.
I can’t wait to go back.
I can’t wait to take him with me. He is my hero.