It feels like an eye-blink ago when we started preparing for summer ministry and the goal of having as many camps as we can have this summer. The challenge was placed to reach out to the kids of the country with the good news of the gospel, despite the reality of the day *sigh- Covid restrictions and all. And while there were hurdles along the way, bumped and bruised and tired, we can finally say we made it to the end. We had new team members come in and together we pressed forward. Now, we get to unfold and tell it all about this incredible journey we have all been on together.
At the beginning of June, we jumped right into our first camp. We packed our van and we headed up north for a week of camps in Blue Creek in Orange Walk. We were met with rolling hills of pasture and lush green farmland. Much like the splendor of the community itself, the people were hospitable, welcoming us and providing for our meals and a place to lay our heads down to rest. We quickly got to work preparing for camps in the community park. We had around 80 kids attending camps that week. We got to work alongside the youth from the church to minister to the kids of their church. The afternoons were spent fellowshipping with the youth and kids of the community swimming, visiting farms, and other laid-back activities. The four days of camps quickly came to an end as we had a blast playing water games under the rain on the final day. Bidding our farewells to our newfound friends in Blue Creek, we moved on to the next challenge.
On our next route, we headed west to San Ignacio to do camps at my home church, Omega Ministry. This was a homecoming of sorts for me as I was excited to see two worlds in my ministry life come together as one. San Ignacio is known sometimes to be ridiculously hot from time to time. So this week God decided to throw this challenge our way too. Along with leading also 80 plus kids in camps, and a new area for the team at BCE. Despite the struggles, we did just that. The kids here were a bit rowdier- I’ve known them for a while- but we manage to wrangle them in as they enjoyed the five days of camp. Our afternoon was spent visiting the home of the children and volunteers we had the opportunity to meet at camps. It was a new experience for the team, one which I think they will cherish for a while to come. But a highlight for me and from what the team shared was meeting my spiritual mother, Pastor Eugenia Salazar. “Pastora”- as she was affectionately called by all the children, inspired many of our team members to keep doing the good work. She was grateful to have us and even threatened to kidnap us if we didn’t return for camps next year. Filled with encouragement and our calling affirmed by Pastor, we headed on back to the city.
Our next camp was with Ms. Shannon at the New Beginnings Club in Belize City. She had been working with the children for some time. But having recently moved out of the city meant she had to wake up early to start traveling and to make it in time for camps. We were inspired by Ms. Shannon’s passion to keep on reaching children as she faithfully made her way every day. We had a stellar week with the kids of that area playing football almost every day and getting to connect with the preteens of that area was a highlight for me.
For our next week of camps, we stayed in the city. One camp in Albert street with our long-time partner and friend of BCE Ms. Julie at Water Walkers Kids club. Ms. Julie shared how God had moved her heart to use what was first her business space, to convert it to an after-school club and also a feeding program after constantly being nagged by kids on their way home with nowhere to be or a plate of food waiting for them. This year, like many before, we joined forces to remind the kids of the good news. We also joined our partner, Ms. Shannon, from the June Usher area in southside Belize for the afternoons. Ms. Shannon at Shepherd sheep has a dedication and passion for reaching the youths and children of the area, despite the notoriety of that community. We were honored to come alongside her too. This was our first taste of two camps in a week and it was intense. With only an hour to have lunch and rest, our team quickly sprang up to afternoon camps. What was a bit strange is that we saw some of the same kids we saw in the morning at Water Walkers, return to camps in the afternoon at Shepherd Sheep. I kept thinking why are they going to two camps which is pretty much the same thing? The only conclusion I came up with was that they loved camps. And that’s a good thing. With this testing week coming to an end, we were a little bit battered but still on our feet, anxious about the next challenge.
I headed out for a week of serving on a short-term missions trip, also doing camps with some of the same kids I met in the clubs but now with the help of international friends. The team headed for a week of ministry in the southside of Belize, partnering with one of our intern’s home churches. Pastor Natalie at Kingdom Living Ministries was so grateful that she decided to have over for lunch for the next week to come. And we gladly obliged.
For the next week of ministry, we headed down to Ladyville and Hattieville villages in the same week. We Joined Ms. Debbie at Hattiville Faith Methodist. We had the opportunity to share the gospel with about 30 kids from that area. We also met our good friend and helper for the week Wilfred aka ‘Willie’. We were inspired by Willie’s willingness to serve the children and youth of his community. In the afternoon we headed over to Ladyville for afternoon camps with Ms. Tavia and her crew. Camps at Victory Assemblies looked a little different from the rest of our camps since all the elements were carried out in the sanctuary due to covid restrictions being a little stricter but we still manage to carry out an impactful week of camps. After almost a full month of honing our camp skills, we improved in every way and were able to call this a good week.
Our last and final camp saw us back in Ladyville for a week of camps at Fuente de Poder Ministries. Our friend and former intern- Esly Guerrero was ecstatic to see us back together serving. This week would come along with a hint of Spanish flavor and culture, as we worshipped and taught some of our lessons and other elements of camps partially in Spanish since many of the younger children only spoke Spanish. My favorite moment was dancing and worshipping to Spanish song the kids knew well and were excited to show us how it is done. A perfect way to end our summer of camps is being able to also share the good news in another language, one that for me hits closer to home for a Spanish boy like me.
Our summer is done, but our work is not quite finished. Even during the busyness of camps there was still work being done behind the scenes as our directors are preparing the way forward for another year of ministry fundraising through the various outlets and partners we have. Many things were up in the air as we started our summer ministry but we can safely say God was faithful to us in allowing us the opportunity to serve throughout the country and give the opportunity to serve our country. For a moment- that now seems fleeting- we were the hands and feet of Jesus in every community we had the privilege to minister to. We brought the Good news to these children we planted the seeds of hope and encouraged the leaders to keep up the good fight and keep being a light in their respective communities.
As we come to a close in this chapter of ministry, there is a lot still happening. The airing of our episodes on most major tv stations is currently underway. Another way to keep spreading the good news to the entire country. Our Interns and Missionaries are heading back to their homes for a time of rest and refocus, but also a time to minister in their own homes and churches. Pray for as things might look different as make our way back from the break, but yet we are tasked with continuing the spread of the good news everywhere we go and of course, being Belize changing Belize.