While walking in the village and running errands for the team, I met a young boy named David. He wasn’t at the school where the other children were gathering. In fact, he was walking the opposite direction from there. I stopped him and encouraged him to go and join in on the fun, the crafts. coloring, bible stories, the football (soccer) game…He couldn’t do that. He was heading to the bus stop. As we visited, I shared my name, ‘Mr. Bill’ with him. His eyes lit up as he said, “Mr. Bill is the man’s name that I work for.” “Really? You work for someone? What do you do?” I asked. David told me he raked and whatever else he says.
The job of raking is very important in Belize in the areas where there is beach sand, such as along the peninsula where our team goes. It’s believed that raking the sand (daily) helps control the sand flea (jigger) population. The thought is that raking reveals some of the eggs to the sun and kills them. So, David has an important task for his employer. What’s hard of course to accept is that an 8 year old, has to work. Yes, “has to” work. His pay is needed for his family. This trip was during their summer break from school and I do not know if he attends school or just goes to work year round. While elementary school is considered compulsory in Belize, there are many who do not attend, and for a multitude of reasons.
We cannot relieve most of the physical struggles the peoples of Belize face. But, we can continue to go there and seek to bless them and support them as we are able. The Belize Mission Society (BMS) monetarily sponsors several students that they may attend school. Once there, they also sponsor the feeding program that provides (at current about 50-60) kids with a hot lunch at St. Alphonsus in Seine Bight, and breakfast program that feeds 20+ kids each day. We go as missionaries of various congregations, but under the auspices of the BMS.
God has called congregations from around the states to come together to serve. We go there to find ways we can continue to give help in physical and spiritual ways. As we go to bless them, we return more blessed for having been there. It is certainly a two way gift from God.
Back in Belize City I met Simeon, a security guard who is from Punta Gorda (the opposite end of the country). He left there to find gainful employment and too escape a bad lifestyle, even ganginvolvement. He is trying hard to be a good person, reading the Bible and is learning about the Christian faith. He struggles but is open about those struggles and his desire to be the child of God that God desires. He asked for continued prayers and specifically that he would be able to avoid temptations and being drawn back into old ways trough pressure from his brother and others. We spoke for a long time and prayed together before having to stop because his supervisor came and did not approve of our visiting.
These are only two stories of new connections I made. There are dozens more by the many members of our team on this trip alone. While not everyone can go to Belize, everyone can be a part of this ministry through your financial support and more importantly your prayers. As the saying goes, “We cannot all cross the seas, but we can all see the Cross.”