Wow. I love Belize. Totally love it. Where do even start with all that has happened in the last 11 days??
First of all, it's a whole new show on the discovery channel... it's SO hot and SO humid... but I'm not dying. I don't think I've ever been so tan and sweaty in my life.... but I've already been so blessed not to have died. I thought I was still in Central America... and this has been a quick surprise... that suddenly... I'm actually serving in the CARRIBEAN. I totally didn't get that before.. but with the jamacin food, everyone black with dreads.... the language and culture..... it's just what I'd imagine Jamaica to be. Weird. Wha happened? There are the BIGGEST iguanas here...they're like the deer of Spokane... the geckos are a lot more sociable here.... we have a family of them in our sink that I'm very fond of. I got bit by a tiny little red ant that resulted in a stellar swelling of my wrist and break out of insanely itchy hives all up my arm. There are so many different people and cultures here- I love it. There is a population of muslims- there is even a muslim school here..... almost every little store is own by chinese people that can only count money in english..... there are latins from all over latin america... and then mostly everyone are the beautiful black belizians. I'm still one of the only white girls here... and am constantly reminded... cruizing down the road in my bike and fashion helmet... fighting with my skirt (not an easy or modest task..)... and everyone yelling, "Hey white girl!!!" haha...
When I got off the plane... I was so lost. I felt like I was starting my mission again... suddenly everyone around me was talking a language that I didn't understand. I thought Kriol would just have a funky accent in english... but WOAH. It is a DIFFERENT LANGUAGE. Even their english here is so hard for me to understand... and I wish they would just speak spanish! Please!! We went to the produce market at the canal yesterday... and everyone spoke spanish... and I felt like I did when I found someone in El Salvador at the beginning of my mission that spoke english- such a relief to find someone I could communicate with. - but now it's finding spanish in a world of english that makes me feel at home. Weird.
The culture is so different that what I'm used to. When I started hugging and kissing everyone... they acted really violated and weirded out... so I've been learning the hard way that I am not in El Salvador anymore. Belizians are so nice and so wonderful... they just express it in a different way... and I have to learn how to read them. Yet... almost instantly... I love them. Look at my pictures... could they be more beautiful? I knew I wanted black babies before... but now it's a set determination. I have to have one.
I know this is where I'm supposed to be. I wake up so hot and suffocating... and so happy that the blazing sun has again brought a new day and so grateful for the work I have here. My companion, Sister Rodas from Guatamala, and I have a really special calling here... that I feel so honored and excited to fulfill. President told me before I came, " Your focus, your job, and your calling... is to REACTIVATE REACTIVATE and RETAIN." So we are here working with the english and spanish branches... to hunt out those that have fallen away... and to help them come back into the fold, and to help the new stay. - something I have always had a passion for. We have been here only a week... and yet have already had so many beautiful and special experiences that have repeatedly confirmed the inspiration presidente received to make this calling for us. There are already 2 missionaries in each branch that are working like normal and crazy hard.... and so we really do get the unique opportunity to completely and wholly focus on the hard and complicated, or just forgotten people and families that have drifted off. As we have been visiting these people and families... we have already seen so much pain and such grave consequences of sin.... and my appreciation and love of the Atonement is continuing to grow and grow every single day. I couldn't imagine or dream of anything I would rather do...but to be in these homes... testifying of the reality of the Atonement, the opportunity to repent and come unto Christ again despite the past...... and to sit and cry with my brothers and sisters.... and watch the hope and joy of the Atonement seep into their lives.
The church in Belize is still so new- it just came in the 80s and has been growing. Yet... the leadership and priesthood still need more people and more support. These people are so humble and wonderful... I am again in the presence of greatness. They have been struggling to establish the programs... and so the retention of members has been on the downfall. The culture here... is so opposite the commandments of God- the rampant drugs and immorality in almost every family.... so many "false traditions of their fathers" - that our quest right now is to support the relief society, priesthood, and youth programs... and help the leadership understand and fulfill their roles. We are trying to get creative and follow inspiration to know exactly what it is that the Lord wants us to do. We're definately obsessed with families, and we're gonna work so hard on helping youth get on missions. One of our great projects right now that I am SO SO SO SO SO excited about... is to give temple preparation classes. There are families and people that can go to the temple... but have had the formal preparations. I am SO SO excited to help these families "seal" the deal... and make it to the temple. We're starting to teach the Branch President's wife... and it's so exciting!!
A sweet experience... an example of what we have been blessed with....
A sister that has been showing us around and helping us find houses... her name is Julie Smith. She is my hero. I can't explain all that she has done and is... but believe me... to be half of her would be a big achievement for me. She has a daughter that has been inactive for the last 10 years ago... fell away in her adolescence... and is now pregnant with her 3rd child and is back in her mother's house. She has struggled with having any desire to return to church and hasn't been willing to listen to her mom about "church stuff". She has gone through so much... and when we met her... I felt something SO powerful and SO special... and the Lord blessed me with immediate love love love. We talked to her only a little bit... but to our surprise.. even with her mom on the other side of the country... she came to church on sunday.....alone. She then invited us to her house yesterday.. and we had family home evening with her. She told us that she too felt something so special when we first met... and she found herself with a new desire to come to church. She said that she felt something so good at church... and she knows that the Lord called us her to find HER. We cried and rejoiced together... and had such a powerful lesson on the power of the Atonement... and we are so excited to see all the greatness that comes of her. :)
I am again so honored to be able to work with some of the best missionaries out here. It's apparent that they send the Elders out here that can be entrusted to be 2 countries away. The missionaries here are so great. One of my zone leaders is Elder Holbrook from the Spokane Stake- and though I didn't know him before, it's been awesome working with him. Between my friends and him... it's so obvious that Spokane has spit out some ridiculously good missionaries. :) I'm the nurse over here... so that's a new twist. We just got authorization to take out ingrown toenails ourselves- and I'm pretty stoked. Not only do I get do minisurgery with injecting lidocaine, doing an phenol burn, cutting and ripping out a toenail... we get to save thousands of precious tithing funds. :)
I am loving my mission more and more every day. My perspective of the gospel, the plan of salvation, and the appreciation of family is blossoming. It makes me appreciation every moment of the mission, and look forward to the future with excitement and hope. I love the gospel.
P.O. Box 1123