Abigail Sorrow

How One Belizean Boy Made My Summer

By Abigail Sorrow, Aug 25, 2016

This summer I went on a mission trip to Belize, which is a country that I had actually never heard of until I signed up for the trip. I readied myself as best I could, not knowing what to expect, but when I arrived with my team, it was more than I ever could have hoped.

Though it was hot—our room had no air conditioning, —and our job was strenuous, especially in the heat, the trip changed my life. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I learned a lot of things, but one thing really stood out to me, and it dawned on me when I was playing with the sweetest children you'll ever meet.

Getting out of my comfort zone
I learned that, in ministry, it's best to just be yourself around those who you're trying to teach. People can see through someone who thinks they're too good to lose to a six-year-old at a game of chase.

Let me explain: I began the week as I usually begin a new experience, especially with kids—shyly. I didn't know if the kids would like me. I didn't know if they liked the same things that American children liked. I didn't know if I could relate to them, which is key in ministering to children. After the church service on Sunday where my team and I shook hands with everyone in the church while they sang a welcoming song (I'm not exaggerating), I became more comfortable. So on Monday I felt that I was ready to interact with more kids and show them Jesus through my actions and words.

Monday rolled around, and things were not going too well. It seemed like just about everyone had a child attached to them, and I did not. I would try and talk to them, but it wasn't working. I understood that it works this way sometimes, and I understood that I had all week, but I was a little downtrodden. Wasn't this the reason I was in Belize? Wasn't this what God had called me to do? I know I'm not gifted in manual labor, so wasn't this my purpose?

That's when it hit me that part of the reason that I was on that trip was to get out of my comfort zone. I was there to have a new experience and learn from it. That was my calling and purpose for the trip. So I did just that. I joined a game of hide and seek, and that was that. J (I won't use his full name for privacy purposes) and I teamed up, and I channeled my inner kid (not hard to do).

Every day, as he would arrive at school on the bus, he would sneak up behind me and take my hat off of my head (often taking with it what felt like a chunk of hair), and he would stand a safe distance away from me, begging for me to chase him, dangling my precious hat in front of his smiling face. At first, I was hesitant. It was extremely hot (I live in the South, so you know that if I'm complaining about the heat it must have been like Satan's stovetop), and I was tired from even the small amount of work I'd done that day. However, I did it. I don't know how, but the Lord gave me the strength to chase this child around a small churchyard for twenty minutes in the melting heat, and I enjoyed it. I felt energized afterward. I felt that I was in my happy place, and I never wanted to leave. This was it. This was me baring my soul to these kids who are thirsty for attention, and it felt great.

Becoming confident enough to be silly
That behavior continued for the rest of the week, and I tried my hardest to be confident enough to just be silly. I tried to, again, channel my inner kid and run around like a crazy person trying to retrieve my hat. There were other kids that came along, but J really stood out to me for many reasons. Along with the fact that he was the first kid that really became attached to me (even in the small way that we clicked), it was also his pure child-ness that caught me off guard.

I met this kid on Monday, and on Thursday I had to say goodbye. I tried and tried to get him to take a picture with me so I could remember him (even though I already had one), and then I tried to say a real goodbye, but his bus came, and he was gone. I yelled goodbye to him, and he said it back as if I was coming back the next day and the next day and forever. I wish I was.

I came to teach, but they taught me
I think that this is a wonderful metaphor for another lesson that I fully realized on this trip. I realized that oftentimes the people to whom you're ministering will teach you more than you teach them. I know that a lot of people say that, but you really don't know that fact completely until you've actually seen the extent to which it is true on the mission field. I see how I tried and tried to make myself an example of the gospel and teach these kids, including J, the Word of God, but then the kids just lived it. They taught in a much more effective way than I did: through genuine actions. Though they were only young children, they were selfless and kind, and they were truly children. They did not try to grow up too quickly as many children here do. They were just living day-by-day, and if they saw their new friends again, it would be great, but if not then it would be fine.

It was hard to leave the church that day, but it's even harder now that I think back on the kids who I loved so deeply and the church who loved our group so well. At the end of our trip, we consumed our final meal made by the sweet women of the church. These ladies cooked two meals a day for 30 people for four days. They are bosses. We were told that the reason that the food was so delicious was because it was made with love, and I believe it. There was more love in that church, as well as the school J attended (which was affiliated with the church), than I have seen in a long while.

As we ate in the pavilion of a home belonging to a church member, one of the church leaders who spoke English told us that we were greatly appreciated and whatnot, but the hope that he had was what truly spoke to me the most. My favorite thing that he said all week was this: "If we don't see you again here in Belize, we will see you all again in heaven." How someone can have so much hope is beyond me. Here I am being sad about leaving this place and probably never seeing these beautiful people again, but this guy has the greatest hope.

Thank you Belize! I am forever changed.

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Give thanks for those who participated in short-term missions this summer. Pray that God would continue to encourage them toward missions. 

Pray for participants going on short-term missions this summer, that God would use the trip to encourage, strengthen relationships, and build a foundations for missions.

Pray that God will give churches a vision to invest in their youth by taking short-term mission trips. Pray that youth would grasp a heart for missions as a result.

Pray for those who God is calling to missions, that God would clarify their call, and equip them to serve Him.

Pray for students considering going on summer trips and internships as they make decisions. 

Pray for college students to participate in global missions. Pray that they would a catch a vision for missions that would stay with them long term.

Pray for those returning from mission trips to stay engaged with missions. 

Pray for those going on mission trips this spring and summer as they raise finanical support and prepare for their trip.

Pray that churches would care well for missionaries on home ministry assignment, and that missionaries would tangibly feel God's love. 

Pray for a new parish-style church in Bangkok, Thailand, where the missionaries and church members are able to live in close proximity to one another and more easily minister to the community around them. 


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