For once I’m not writing in the Air conditioning, away from flies and mosquitoes. I’m staying away from my comfy bed that has a fan blowing straight on me and sitting on a hard bench, slightly hunched over on a too high wood table, a whisper of a breeze and watching tiny ants crawling all over my computer screen. There are plenty of bugs out here that keep landing on my fingers and though I’m in the shade it doesn’t stop the humidity from making me sweat a little. And this is the real thing, the reality that I’m leaving in just a mere 7 days.
Every time I try and tell someone that I’m leaving, not just to visit the states, but to actually leave with a one-way ticket, I feel as if they don’t understand what I’m feeling. This is my second home. It’s like a piece of my heart and I’m ripping myself away from it. The thought of leaving such a beautiful place makes me so sad. But just the other day I was talking to a friend, and she said that we need to rejoice, be thankful and grateful. And I think that totally summed up how I feel. I am extremely grateful for all that I have been blessed with here in Belize. And I while I’m sad, I don’t want it to be everything I’m leaving, but everything I’ve learned, seen and done.
Therefore, this is a post about things I’m thankful for, but also a bit of a walk down memory lane and the little things I will miss, but am so thankful for during my time here. There’s little things and big things, so hop the traveling train through Heidi’s time in Belize. We have no idea where it may take us…
From the first moment of stepping off Tropic Air, I had no idea what I was in store for. Especially since I was dressed in a hoody, jeans and the high heat was suffocating me. The ride to Youth With A Mission Destination Paradise (YWAM DP) base felt so long and I couldn’t stop staring at all everything. We were clearly not in the country anymore. Upon arriving at the base, I met strangers, who are now friends, people who have helped me through so much. I discovered a land of sweat and joy, saltwater and love. A land that I would forever hold deep in my heart.
Living in Belize, on the small island of San Pedro, is not just to nanny two adorable, sweet, carefree children. (Though that’s the main reason I came) Living in Belize is getting up early to catch the sunrise. It’s walking barefoot everywhere that when I go to my home away from home for a visit, I forget to put on shoes when I head out the door. Belize is a culture of joyful people, amazing food, and country like no other where no one else has tortillas that are as good as Belizian home baked ones. Belize is a place where it’s normal to catch a water taxi to get a ride home. It’s a place where I can jump off a dock, choke on salt water and do it another 10 times because of a child’s screams of delight. And there’s so much more.
For me, Belize is so special because of the YWAM DP base where I have learned to step out of my comfort-zone in so many new ways. It’s a place where Christ has show me so much, taught me more then I’ve learned before, and showered me with love and grace that goes deeper then the Caribbean Sea. It’s a place of amazing leaders, people who aren’t scared to get their feet a little dirty, or share their dark secrets. It’s a safe place, a sanctuary where one can run and never be judged, only guided and lead in love. It’s a place where I’ve come to know as home. H.O.M.E : Happiness Outside of Mommy’s Arms. (Yeah, yeah, I know, arm’s doesn’t start with an E) Either way, it’s true. That’s where home always was, where my family was in NY. Then I stood at the edge of the nest, took wing and flew, to discover a new home.
So. The things I’m thankful for the most? The things that I’m going to miss, but will rejoice about getting to experience? The little things? Let’s see what we can come up with, starting with my feet….
I’m thankful for the sand. The white sand that gets everywhere. It sticks, especially when there’s been a rainstorm or if I’m sweating. It comes into the casita’s. I don’t think I’ve ever had clean feet here that was free of sand because the moment I step out of the shower, it’s on the bottom of my feet again. “Dusting” off my feet at night before climbing into bed helps a little, but the little white grains always decorate my blue sheets. Not the best color to bring here. The water, which can be different colors, depending on the day, is always fun to walk in. It cools me down, the waves coming to shore are slow, but calming and relaxing.
I never liked getting dirt on my legs and arms. I am thankful for little hands though. I’m thankful for little fingers that stick their hands in the sand, dumping it, smushing it, stomping on it, then putting their beautiful, sand covered hands all over my back and arms as they trip and catch themselves on me. (eww) I’m thankful for the way they want to sit in my lap, and for the way I’ve allowed myself to let them, though they are sand, water, sweat or food covered. (Well, the food has limits) I’m thankful for foot prints from sand or cement dust that go up my shirt as the kids try to climb me and flip. And from both sand, dirt, dust or food, I’m thankful for a washer and dryer that I can clean my clothes.
I’m thankful for the food. While chicken, rice, beans, chicken, rice, tortillas, chicken, rice, salad or chicken and rice can get boring, I’m thankful that there is much, much more food besides that. I’m thankful for fresh watermelon, pineapple or papaya. I’m thankful for the eggs and pork (oh, I love, love, love the
pork) I’m thankful for food like fry jacks, soup, park tacos, ice cream or freshly squeezed watermelon juice. (It’s totally a thing here…who knew!) I’m thankful for simple things like beans and rice, and complicated things like nacho bar where I have no idea what I’m suppose to do with all the food.
I love the smell of salty air. The mouth watering aroma from the kitchen. Fresh coconut. It may sound weird, but I like the smell of the mosquito fogger (a machine used to keep the mosquitoes away from base.) I love the smell of freshly washed babies after a long swim in the ocean. I’m thankful for the way I can smell so many things and how it instantly reminds me of my Belizian home.
I’m thankful for the bird calls. The unique tweets and calls between mates. I’m thankful for the small crash of the waves as they come up onto shore. I’m thankful for the wind in the trees. I’m thankful for the squeak of the dining palapa door, that is so loud in the morning and I’m afraid is going to wake up the whole base. I’m thankful for the thump of the dock under my feet, and no matter how silent I try and be, the one board always groans under my weight. I’m thankful for children’s squeals, laughter and tears. I’m thankful for their words and manners, and attempts at speaking new words and sounds.
I’m thankful for the hugs of people around me. I’m thankful for the people who know that physical touch isn’t a huge thing for me, and will do it anyways, just to get a smile out of me. I’m thankful for the people who make time to talk to me, joke with me, spend quality time and share part of God’s heart with me. I’m thankful for people who don’t have to say anything but smile at me and make me feel so loved. I’m thankful for the way I can see them helping each other, the way I get to see them selflessly drop everything and do everything they can for others. I’m thankful for people willing to buy me a ticket on the water taxi, people who buy me pizza or write me notes of encouragement. I’m thankful for people who I can do life with, who I can share struggles with. People who I can call more then friends, who I get to call brothers and sisters.
And last but not least, I’m thankful for the way I can see things, the colorful, bright, cheery colors that God has placed all over this island to display his beauty. I’m thankful for the green palm trees at every corner. I’m thankful for red, yellow and green almonds. I’m thankful for brown leaves that make me feel like it’s autumn in summer. I’m thankful for large coconuts, medium and tiny baby coconuts. I’m thankful for one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. (okay, I’ve actually only seen a blue fish….) I’m thankful for large ones like the barracuda, small ones like sting rays that are hard to see, and tiny baby fish like the yellow and black striped that Faith loves to try and catch. I’m thankful for black and white birds, red birds, yellow birds and the way they are different sizes from pelicans to hummingbirds. I’m thankful for flowers that are vibrant red, yellow, pink and orange. I’m thankful for the colorful paint that people use here. Blue, yellow, red, gold, purple. You name it, and it’s probably here. I’m thankful for the green, blue and white in the sea. And of course, I’m thankful for the colors I see when I wake up to watch the sunrise. I’m thankful for color.
I’m sure there is so much more I could be thankful for. There is so much that I can write about and how this place has left little footprints on my heart. But I think that I’ve gotten my point across. In leaving Belize, I’m leaving so much that I’m thankful for, so much that I can look back on in the future and rejoice that I experienced and discovered. Syracuse NY will always be my first home and Belize my second, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a new one. Which is why I’m looking forward to going to Washington D.C in just a couple weeks. I’m so excited to live in a new area, meet new people, try new things, and see what God has in store for me. I may be leaving behind a lot, but I’m looking forward to what I’ve gotten and what God can do with my future.
Until next time,