Oh man.... This is the blog post that I always dread writing. How on earth am I supposed to sum up the feelings and emotions of today in a way that will make sense to all of you? Tough call, but I'll do my best.
Most of our day was spent taking in the incredible surroundings in the Caribbean Sea. We left very early this morning to head to the coast and get on our boat. Most of us went snorkelling, and then headed to Caye Caulker (one of the favourite tourist islands around here) for some lunch and shopping. The snorkelling was so great! We went to 2 locations, the first one to look at the coral reef and the second one to swim with sharks and sting rays! I absolutely love sting rays, and we easily swam with about 50 today, as well as a couple of nurse sharks. The team did great. There were a few nervous screams as we first got in the water with the rays, as we got used to them brushing up against our legs. But we soon became comfortable and started diving down to touch them and swim alongside them. How many people get to do something as cool as that? We are so blessed.
We loaded up on the bus once we were all sufficiently sunburned, and headed back to Belmopan to say our final goodbyes at the Children's Home. No one has been looking forward to this day. Trying to imagine it has been too hard until today. So it kind of snuck up on us. Today was not a totally typical goodbye at the home. Our team was of course very sad to say goodbye to the kids, and many tears were shed. That part I was expecting. But the part that caught me off guard was how sad the kids were to see this team go. These kids see a lot of kids come in and out of their house. Saying goodbye is a learned behaviour for them, and they're usually pretty good at it. But today they were hanging on a little tighter, and savouring every last second with this team. I easily had 15 kids come up and ask me when I'm coming back to Belize with this exact team. They didn't want to hear that I'm planning a trip down here in the summer, or that there will be more teams in the summer. They wanted to know how soon I can return with THIS team. They were in love, and it was tough to let go today. Many of the kids shed some tears today as they saw us go, which doesn't often happen. During our final team debrief night here in Belize, we all talked through our feelings and emotions surrounding today. Some feel mad that these kids have to stay here in less than ideal conditions. Some feel hopeful that their presence here was beneficial for these kids this week. Some feel so grateful to have the chance to meet these kids, and they know they'll never be the same again. But I think Sam summed it up best when he said that he can see that God has poured out his favour on this team. That all of our hearts are so strongly connected and we love each other so much. And God has overflowed this love so much in us, that it has impacted these kids in a special way this week. They wanted to be around us because God was showing up in our lives in a real way, and they wanted a piece of that. They wanted to hug us one more time. And make sure we all have plans to return soon. Luke also spoke truth when he said that the moment that we were driving away, when kids were running after our bus and reaching out their hands to our open windows just for one more chance to hold his hand was one of the very most beautiful moments of his life. I just so wish that you could all have been in that bus with us, so I didn't have to try and explain these moments with my words. They come up short. Just know that we are changed. We have seen the face of Jesus in a new and very real way, and we can never go back to exactly how we were. We have taken a glimpse into heaven. God is so real to us, that we can physically see Him and touch Him in the faces of these awesome kids.
Tomorrow morning we will leave the base, and fly to California for our weekend of debrief. We are flying in my good friend and brother Omar Myrie, who spent 10 years working closely with YWAM and the Children's Home here in Belize. These next 3 days will be just as important as the days we have just enjoyed. So pray for us. That we can begin to fully process and understand exactly why we were chosen to make up the Project Serve Belize team of 2013.
We love you so much, and thank you for your prayers and support. I know that leaving here is hard, but we really are excited to see all of you at home.
With overflowing hearts...
the Belize team