Well, here it is. The moment where I have to describe our last moments in Belize. Try and sum up everything that happened on our last day. Where to begin? I'm on the plane right now, on our last flight of the day landing in LAX to start out debrief weekend. We're all sitting together and looking at some of Corwin's pictures from our first day of construction. It was only a week ago, but it was impossible for all of us to remember exactly what the "basketball court" looked like when we pulled up. It was a patch of grass and some cinderblocks in piles. Last night our team and our kids at KCH all stood at centre court and had a time of dedication and prayer for the project we had accomplished. It was my greatest joy to watch the older boys come home and see what was waiting for them. A HUGE and professional court for them to play on for hours every day. Until yesterday they have been playing a make shift game of baseball with a piece of 2 by 4 and some garbage as a ball. That was the only after school activity that was available to them. This morning I talked with miss Leonie, and she told me that those boys were up at the crack of dawn to get a few basketball games in before school.
Taking all of this in yesterday was SO MUCH FUN for our team. There were many (many) moments when we didn't think this goal would be a reality. We wanted to leave having played a game on the court with the KCH boys, and yesterday we did. We stood around and watched Kaden, Scott, Adrien, and Terry take on four of the local boys from the home in a seriously intense game. We cheered, laughed, shouted, teared up, laughed some more. There was so much joy. The sun was setting. There were beautiful moments happening everywhere. Just.... perfect. With the game all tied up, and each country's national pride on the line, it all came down to one more basket to win it all. It was like our own little Belizean Olympics! Who would win? Who would score the final elusive point? Watch this amazing clip and find out!
You may have noticed in the pictures that the boys were playing with a very old looking net. Our brand new professional basketball systems have arrived at the home, and are ready for instillation. They did not quite arrive in time to install into the cement footers and have it all set properly, so for yesterdays game Mr. Stanley (the foreman) went to the old home and brought the old hoop for us to play on. I almost even liked it better that way. The new nets are going to be amazing for the kids. They'll go up next week, and the boys will be beside themselves with excitement. But for yesterday it was pretty cool and symbolic to have a piece of the old home represented and used in such a fun way. Combining the old with the new. During our team debrief last night, Mikayla talked about a moment when she was on the court, and they had just let all the kids out of the yard to come and check it out. She saw them all running towards her, laughing and smiling. It reminded her of the scene from the movie "Field of Dreams", if you build it... they will come. We left Belize today knowing that we were a part of something that will last. Something much needed that will be very well taken care of. It was just such a blessing. Such a God moment. It felt like we were all in the same family.
After the basketball festivities ended, we headed back inside for a little more quality time with our friends before we had to say goodbye. There is never enough time. One last hug turns into 20 last hugs. We're faced with cute little faces looking up at us saying "will you come back?", when most of us have to answer... I don't know. These moments are tough and real. These lessons we've learned are tangible. These relationships we've made have changed us. These emotions run very deep. Saying goodbye at KCH is not easy, never easy. Not for us, not for the kids. But what I saw when we left yesterday was so many kids who felt genuinely loved, respected, cared for while we were there. These kids have an awesome woman who has stepped in as a mom to them. They have some incredible volunteers who are working tirelessly to keep their lives running smoothly. And now they have a whole new batch of Canadian friends. Spending time with them is an honour. Truly. Sharing life with them will never leave you the same. They are so innocent and naive to all they teach to those around them. We will always be thankful for the 10 days they allowed us to share with them.
Be praying for us this weekend. We have arrived safe and sound in California, and tomorrow morning begins our official debrief weekend. There are lots of thoughts and emotions rolling around in our heads, and our good friend Omar has flown in to help us sort them all out.
For now I leave you with a simple thank you. We had a private time of prayer and worship on the court last night as the kids were eating supper. We were reminded that though we came with the intent and determination to serve and be a blessing, we have left with so much more than we have given. This trip was made real because of you, our supporters and family. And thank you doesn't cover how we really feel.
I will keep you updated on how our debrief weekend is going... until then.
Freezing cold in California,
Kristin and the team