From Car Pool Lines to a Belizean Farm

10:41 AMHeather

I am a mini-van driving mom to three.  I've been married for nearly twenty years to my college sweetheart.  I am a home body at heart.  I am infamous for telling my then-boyfriend that I could be spontaneous if he gave me time to plan.  Yep.  My now husband.  He loves to tell people that story.  

So in other words, I like things safe.  I like my routine.  I like things to stay the same. I like my morning ritual of tidying up the house before I read my Bible and my nightly ritual of a cup of hot tea with my husband.

It is thus no small thing that I am leaving for Belize in ten days. Not for vacation with my husband or to stay at some resort on the beach.  I'm not even going with my extended family or a group of friends.

Okay, well technically, I am going with a group of friends, I just don't know most of them yet. I'm going with a team of ten to work at Hopewell House in Belize.  A team of ten people from four states.  Going to Belize to do things like harvest tilapia, help with some construction, iron clothes, help cook, and hang out with some kids who are living in a family setting with house parents, having been rescued from some hard places.  


Listen, you may be some globe trotting adventurer who thinks nothing of throwing some clothes in a backpack and heading off to third world countries.  

Oh, yeah.  That actually describes my friend who is the one person I already know going on this trip with me.  She doesn't bat an eye at doing things like heading off to Ethiopia with a backpack and no itinerary to explore ways to help the kids there.

Me?  Not so much.  I do things like type up packing lists after researching the weather forecast at my destination.  And I consider it really shaking things up when I grocery shop on a day other than Tuesday. 

So, why am I packing up my bag and heading to another country to serve with people I don't know and do things I've never done and leave my babies and my routine and my Tuesday grocery shopping day?

  
Because of these kids.  In this picture.

In case you didn't know it, it's a dangerous prayer to ask God to break you heart for what breaks his.  Because he will.  And he will do things like make you realize that your career in adoption has been much more self-serving than it has been about the real cause.  What begins to come to light is that you have seen the kids as a means to an end instead of really seeing their plight.  Because you have lived on the happy surface of children coming home.  And you sorta tune out the sad history because it's half a world away and you can just bury your head in your little suburban American dream. You can sorta ignore the ones who never have a home. 

Until you ask God to break your heart for what breaks his.  Bam.  He answers.  Here's my example of what happened. 

An old work friend started a non-profit and I was in awe of her commitment to help kids in other countries.  Born out of her own adoption story, traveling to bring home her baby girl.  But while there, her heart was stirred for those children she was seeing first hand. She was meeting them in person, as they survived.  And she had the guts to think she might do something about it to help these kids thrive.  

This all led to my admiration of her.  And to be honest, a complete sense of being overwhelmed.  Because I wondered--where do I start?  What can I do?  After all, I'm no back packing mama with wanderlust.  So, as I wracked my brain, and then I realized.  DUH.  

Don't reinvent the wheel--just jump on someone's bandwagon.  And hey--I may not be up for the nitty gritty, but I can organize and plan like nobody's business.  So, I organized the first annual Swap and Shop last April to benefit my friend's non-profit, One Together, Inc. 

Check.  I've done my part, right?

Um, nope.  In hindsight, I can go back and pinpoint exactly where I realized it wasn't enough to stay in my comfort zone and contribute from my cozy home.   It was when I got the pictures.

Those pictures that I still can't get out of my mind.

These pictures.

As I prepared for Swap and Shop, I realized that I wanted the participants to actually SEE and experience what this was all about.  So my friend send me dozens of photos from her recent trip to Ethiopia.  

And I saw this. 

THIS bathroom.  

In an government orphanage.  The ONLY working bathroom for over 200 boys.  Except it's not really working.  So these boys live like this.  Washing their hair or bodies by splashing water from the sink.  

And I couldn't get these images out of my mind.  Because they broke my heart.  

Oh, oops.  Yes.  Break my heart for what breaks yours.  And God did.

My friend came for the Swap and Shop and we had long conversations and I knew from the minute I saw her that despite the fifteen years since our last visit, my heart was knit to hers.  I told her I was all in.  I'm throwing my weight behind what she's doing and going to do what I can, when I can.

Thus, Belize. So, this mama who loves my tall dress boots when the temperature dips below 90 was recently shopping for muck boots.  To wade in the tilapia ponds, I think?  I'm not totally sure.  I really don't know the details of how this whole five day trip is going to go.  I just know I'm supposed to go.  I just know it's time to leave my safety zone and take a tiny leap.  And the truth is that Belize is a tiny leap.  I'm not even trudging off to those boys who use that bathroom in Ethiopia.  

Nope.  Going to experience slumming it with air conditioned rooms for sleeping and a guest lodge with hot showers for teams who come to help Hopewell.  Meeting some amazing kids, making some new friends, taking an international trip all by myself like a big girl.  Doing whatever needs to be done.  Scared one minute and excited the next. I may be unsure how this is all going to go or what all I'm going to experience, but I feel sure that I will be glad that I went.

So, I'm doing it.  I'm going to do this hard thing.  Because I'm learning that I can actually do some hard things.  I can actually do what God asks me to do and be assured that he will help me to do it.  I can take a leap off a cliff of comfort and ease and jump into God's grace and strength and look at a bigger picture.  Experience a bigger world.  

And I get to take you all along on my journey.  Not just here on my blog.  I've been asked to do some blogging about our trip on the website for Hopewell House.  I'll be journaling during my trip and posting the blogs after I come home, due to a lack of wifi while there. (See what I mean?  Out of my comfort zone!)  

You see,  I've felt an urge to tell their stories ever since I saw those pictures from Ethiopia.  I tried to tell their stories through  Swap and Shop and the huge posters I created from the photos.  

Now, I've literally been granted an opportunity to tell the stories of some beautiful children in Belize.  

So, deep breaths.  Here I go!  October 3 through 8th.  I'll be filling you in a little bit more between now and departure and then after I get home.  

Say a prayer!  For me and our team and these kids.  And if you dare, say a prayer and ask God to break your heart for what breaks his.

You never know what might come of it?  I've got a feeling that this is just the beginning for me.  And I'm determined to keep pushing on.   

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