Lakewood Church decided to have their first ever Men only mission trip and send their guys to Belize. The trip was multi-purpose with some of us doing construction work, others doing ministry outreaches into prisons, and all of us being camp counselors for a weekend. This turned out to be one of the most remarkable/difficult/wonderful/exhausting/action-packed weeks of my entire life!
The action began before the Mission even started, actually, by participating in a Servolution. We went downtown to a shelter and worked in the kitchen and laundry for the day. I mostly worked in the laundry room.
But, finally, the day of departure arrived! We each met at Bush International Airport bright and early and checked in our stuff. A few hours later we were in Belize! Our host Michael Simmons of Cayo Tours met us at the airport with a big van and escorted us (for what seemed to be forever) to the place we were spend the night. I was prepared for something as basic as a cot to sleep on in a barn, but our accomodations turned out to be much better than that! Way better! It was Robert’s Grove Resort right on the Caribbean sea. The rooms were air conditioned and had comfortable beds and hot showers. Each morning we’d gather at the dinning area for a continental breakfast, and then have our devotionals out on the little cabana at the end of a pier.
I’ll never forget our final night at this resort because of a strong storm that blew through. I found a porch with a hammock and enjoyed the balmy breeze while watching the lightning and storm clouds roll across the ocean. It was mesmerizing and very relaxing.
If you ever go to Belize, I recommend staying a Robert’s Grove Resort. Others recommend it too! It has some high reviews on TripAdvisor.
Of course, we were in Belize to WORK… and work we did. Oh wow, it was difficult at times. Very hot and sweaty. A couple of times I had to just stop and rest. At one point, I thought I was going to have to quit working altogther! It was only noon, but I was spent. Suddenly, though, some clouds and rain moved in and I was able to cool off and regain my strength. Back to work I went!
Four days of working on this church was wrought with challenges and set-backs. The equipment we needed to hoist lumber overhead had decided it was not going to work at all. So we had to improvise. Plus, we were working with guys we had just met – a few from Kentucky, and a few guys from Belize and Guatemala. Tempers flared a few times, there was some grumbling and complaining, but there were also plenty of laughs and good moments. There was also an ABUNDANT supply of mangos within reach from several trees. We were eating mangos all day long! It’s a good thing I LOVE mangos.
Ultimately, our goal up getting a portion of the roof up was accomplished!!
Then came the Boy’s Camp. We packed up our stuff and said goodbye to Robert’s Grove Resort and headed to something more primitive. It was all the way over on the other side of Belize (in the Cayo district in the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen (western side of Belize on the border of Guatemala) and at a camp with a few dormitories and a kitchen. What a contrast to where we had been!
We were thrown right into the action as soon as we arrived. I wasn’t too happy about that, and I could tell right away we were being assigned roles as camp counselors (not something we had been told so far). The group about 14 boys that I ended up being assigned too was rowdy and unruly! At first, I thought it was just me not doing a good job, but at dinner time I could tell the boys at my table were terribly behaved compared to the boys at the other tables. After getting out of hand a dozen times or so, I finally went to the main Counselor guy and said, “What the heck is going on here??” He informed me that my kids were from the worst neighborhood and borderline delinquents. Okay, well, that made more sense, but I wish they had told me that earlier!
We survived until bedtime, and – I hate to admit it – I deliberately escaped being assigned a counselor for the boy’s dormitories. I’ve been around summer camps enough to know that is PRANK time. Sure enough, the guys who stayed in the dorms with the boys were pranked nearly all night long. I think they finally got to sleep around 3 a.m.
The grown-ups sleeping arrangement was in a room with no air conditioning, about 20 beds, and a shared bathroom facility. But, honestly, by the time we arrived I was exhausted and had no trouble going to sleep. What’s more amazing about that is the fact I didn’t have a pillow or blanket! Only a sheet to cover the twin-sized mattress. There was also a ceiling fan directly above me on full blast (which I absolutely hate), but none of it bothered me at all. I closed my eyes about 10 pm, and the next thing I knew it was morning! I didn’t wake up a single time in the night.
The next couple of days went more smoothly and was chock full of activities and even a jungle adventure near the Mayan ruins.
We took time out to visit the Mayan Ruins which was just a few miles away from the Camp. What a nice treat! From the top of the ruins you could see into Guatemala, as well as see wild monkeys rambling around in the trees. These were the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins.
Then off we go to our final stay at Banana Bank Lodge. It was dark when we arrived, so I really couldn’t tell what the place had to offer. So I just took a shower (after shooing away the frog that was in the bathroom) and went to bed. The next day… wow! What a cool place! It was like a tropical zoo with peacocks and parrots and all kinds of flora and fauna. At one point a spotted a howler monkey on the stairway by the pool and went to investigate. I thought it was wild, but it wasn’t. It was the pet of the owner of the resort. He was a very friendly guy and said to just be still for a moment and the monkey will probably come sit on you. Sure enough, that is exactly what he did.
There was an awesome art gallery on the second floor, which apparently I was the only one from our group that found and explored. Oh well, you guys missed out.
We also a few hours to go cave tubing! That was cool! You can float on an inner-tube through cave and marvel at all kinds of rock formations. I loved every minute of this! If you are ever in Belize you MUST go cave tubing. Check out a video here.