- 98% DEET bug spray
- Cave tubing in the jungle
- Gracious and kind people
- Rice, beans, and stew chicken
- Humidity like never before….107 degrees and counting
- Selfies on the Mayan ruins
- Horses running wild through streets
- Village so remote, no electricity
- GOD’S PRESENCE
What do all these things have in common? These are just a few things that the young adults in SEND North America, the 10-month discipleship training experience, experienced while in Belize, Central America, last month on our international mission excursion. With a partner ministry, CALMS, God revealed Himself in many ways and put countless people in our path to change our lives and hearts forever during our time in Belize!
The population of the country of Belize is about 300,000 — which is about the population of Fort Wayne, Indiana! Because of the compact size of the country, we were able to travel to nearly every region during our time there! We spent most of our days meeting with pastors and leaders in villages learning about their communities, resources, needs, and how God is working there. I watched as the young adults in SEND were able to apply the skills they’ve been learning over the last nine months in a different country while engaging with people of all different walks of life. Some trip highlights included:
- Sarah leading a sports camp for kids! We had about 30 children come to play volleyball, softball, and soccer (aka futbal!). The kids absolutely loved the afternoon and were really good at the sports, too! Sarah led a powerful lesson about God and discipleship that she tied into sports.
- Ze translating a pastors’ meeting from English to Spanish. Ze is skilled in five languages, and it was incredible to see how God uses willing people to serve in challenging, yet fruitful ways! Without Ze, the purpose of the meeting could have been lost, and it was a largely important topic in that community — men becoming more engaged in their faith and in the church!
- Quinn leading a teaching time, complete with reenactments of the story of Jonah, with a group of teenagers. This group of young people was particularly difficult to engage, yet Quinn used his speaking skills and incredible sense of humor and was able to share with them the valuable lesson of obedience to God’s plan for our life, and what a beautiful plan that is!
- Our newest addition to this year’s SEND team, Patrick, building relationships with members of villages we visited. Sometimes it can be difficult in a cross-cultural setting to know what types of conversations to start, as our lives differ in extreme ways. However, Patrick jumped at every opportunity to build relationships and strike up meaningful conversations, and God used that to share with our team many insights into the Belizean way of life and how to better serve their communities.
It was a blessed trip, and we can’t thank CALMS enough for continuing to partner with our ministry and equip us in strategic and effective cross-cultural missions. A huge thank you to all who supported us in prayer and financially on this trip; your efforts were a blessing to us and to those we served! It’s not a surprise, but the importance of relationship was highlighted again and again on this trip and over the past nine months. As this season of SEND comes to a close very soon, we thank God for our many relationships made, lessons learned, and lives changed.
Mackenzie “Kenzie” Ritchie
Leader, S.E.N.D. North America
P.S. Our new favorite phrases include… “You better BELIZE it!” and “That’s unBELIZEable!”