This is another of the posts I wrote during my last trip to Belize. If you would like to read more about my experiences in Central America, you may click here.
Yesterday we had the privilege of serving alongside our Belizean friends. During our week together, we have made upwards of 70 blankets and 70 beds to be given to those who need it most in the villages of Belize.
It may surprise you that this is a real need. The houses in Belize are often no more than thatched huts, after all, and the space inside does not seem to allow for room for twin beds. Imagine the alternative, though. We’ve seen families of four or more sharing a tiny pallet on the dirt-packed floor. Now imagine other elements coming into play: rain (we’re in a rain forest, after all) and cold (it doesn’t have to be very cold to be freezing to them) and bugs the size of your hand. Not a great scenario for anyone of any age. To think of children and the elderly making do in this way is heartbreaking.
In any case, we traveled to one of the very most remote villages in Belize yesterday. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive down to Red Bank, an unusually large village that backs up to the picturesque mountains of southern Belize.
We arrived and, after spraying gallons of deep woods insect repellant all over ourselves and each other, we began devising a plan for the deliveries. Soon we were walking into Ms. Rosa’s home and bringing in her bed. We had brought along twin sheet sets from home, one of which I was carrying along with one of the fleece blankets our ladies had worked on.
We squeezed into Ms. Rosa’s home as best as we could. As the men on our team positioned the bed in a corner, I began making the bed. Spreading the sheets…tucking the corners…arranging the pillow…spreading her blanket.
The only word I can use to describe my role there would be “intimate”. While there are many in the world who make beds and wash sheets as a part of a daily job, I myself have never done it for anyone other than family. Before yesterday, I had never done what I did for anyone I did not know and love. Doing that for Ms. Rosa was a personal kind of service I had never done for a stranger that I had never met.
It was powerful. It still is powerful to think about it.
What’s more, I hadn’t intended to even do that. In my mind, when I envisioned the scene as I thought it would play out, we were handing the bundles of blankets and sheets to the families as one would hand over a gift. To be honest, it had never, ever occurred to me that we would actually make the beds for them there in their own homes. The bed I made was in the first house we entered that day, and it really just happened that we spread the blankets and got the bed ready to use. It wasn’t in my plans, but I’m pretty sure it was in God’s.
As I write this today, I am still in Belize but am sick in bed. The jury is out on what I might have: a common Belizean stomach virus or (heaven forbid!) an intestinal parasite of some sort. (I’ve been calling it the Belizean plague…but I’m pretty sure that’s not its clinical name.) Regardless, I am sick today and have been confined to my bed in my room. I looked at my blankets a few minutes ago and had two thoughts.
First, there are thousands of Belizeans (and millions of people all over the world) who do not have the luxury of reclining in bed when they are ill.
Second, though…because of our team and the sacrificial service we did yesterday, Ms. Rosa and many others will have a bed to retreat to.
I take comfort in that…even though I know we didn’t put a dent in the need here. That’s why there are more trips. God isn’t finished yet, and neither are we. Lord willing, we’ll keep going as long as He does.