It has been two months since my husband and I packed up and stored most of our earthly belongings, gave as much as we could away, placed what was left into four suitcases, and flew to Belize, Central America. As we said goodbye to friends and family with much reminiscing and tears, we were reminded of just how amazing and supportive our community was.
We arrived in Belize, full of mixed emotions, but ready to start a new chapter of our lives together, running a Christian environmentalist study abroad program - Creation Care Study Program. What an exciting chapter it has been!
After an intense time of training, staff preparation, Orientation with the students, and the first week of classes, we decided it was time for a short vacation. I was eager to get to our destination--a beautiful casita on one of the nearby islands, generously lent to us by my aunt. We woke up early on a Sunday morning and by 6:30 a.m. were walking the mile and a half to the bus stop. We headed down our long driveway under jungle canopy to the open dirt road lined with trees inhabited by parrots and other tropical birds.
A gift along the way.
As we waited for the bus (which was later than expected--par for the course here in Belize), we watched the little town, Santa Elena, wake up. Roosters crowed, dogs barked, the corner store lifted its iron gates, sleepy-eyed children ran down the hill into the store, women rolled out their food carts where they would sell tortillas and other Belizean specialties (salbutes, panades, fry jacks), families in their Sunday best strolled to church. Despite my impatience for the bus, I couldn’t help but enjoy the scene unfolding before my eyes.
A gift along the way.
The bus, a retired American school bus, now brightly painted Belize-style, finally arrived; we both found a seat, though the bus was quite full. Josh, my gregarious husband, struck up conversation with a woman he was seated next to, while I looked out the window at the beautiful landscape. I love the ceiba trees, huge majestic trees in the midst of farmland and jungle. The Maya used to believe that these trees were sacred, connecting earth with heaven, and it is easy to see why. The bus began blaring a local Christian radio station from its speakers. Worship songs, both Belizean and American ones I’ve heard at home, filled the space. I found myself unexpectedly enjoying prayer and worship in the midst of the morning bus ride.
A gift a long the way.
We made it to Belize City and jumped in a taxi driven by a man from Haiti. He spoke French with me, a language that I have missed speaking in a country dominated with many other languages: Spanish, Creole, German, Garifuna. He got us to the water taxi just in time to catch the boat we needed to get to the island. On the water taxi, Josh again chatted with a Belizean woman, and played games with her adorable four-year-old son. She complimented me on my Belizean-bought earrings, and asked me if I like Belizean jewelry. A few moments later, she said, “I have something for you,” and handed me two small gifts, wrapped in pieces of paper towel. I unwrapped them and found beautiful purple shell earrings and a conch shell necklace. She told me they were handmade by her aunt, and she wanted me to have them.
A gift along the way.
After a good six hours of traveling, we made it to Ambergris Caye, the largest of the Belizean islands, and to my aunt’s casita on the beach. It was beautiful. We relaxed all afternoon by the pool. Another, huge gift!
But sometimes, we need to be reminded that the journey can be as much of a gift as the destination. We can be in such a hurry to get somewhere--a physical place, a spiritual place, a career goal--that we forget to enjoy the process of getting there.
In our process of discerning whether God was calling us to Belize or not, we had a very difficult season. We had already prepared to go, but were not able to leave as soon as we planned; we had a six-month delay. But looking back, I learned so much in that season. I can see how God used the waiting time in our lives to prepare us for where we are now. I can see the many gifts that we were given in that time.
The road, paved with unanticipated and at times frustrating detours, still led me to Belize, this culturally and environmentally rich, beautiful place, to have the privilege of leading a group of seven college students in their semester abroad. I am now thankful for that journey, even some parts that were not easy.
Sometimes, often even, the journey itself is a gift.
Micalagh Beckwith Moritz is a social worker, writer, wife, sister, daughter, community member, continually learning how to do a better job at each of these roles. She is always contemplating how to love others better and to enjoy the small things of life; to see God in everything and everyone. She is passionate about caring for the environment, experiencing new cultures, and also important, eating cheese. She currently lives in Belize and has the privilege of teaching and learning from college/university students! She works with a Christian study abroad program: Creation Care Study Program (CCSP). Micalagh blogs at Only Small Things.