Personal: Ambergris Caye, Belize | Analisa Joy Photography | San Diego, CA Photographer

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Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” -Isaiah 6:8

Wow, where do I even begin? A few months ago, Trent and I were sitting in church reading a handout about mission trips. We have always wanted to go on one, but it was always one excuse after another… time, money, work, etc. We found Believers World Outreach (BWO) through The Rock Church and when we read about their trip to Ambergris Caye in Belize, we knew that it was time to put our excuses aside and sign up. We told a few people about the mission and before we knew it, our friends Chelsea and Wes became our travel buddies. Belize is a beautiful country filled with broken people. It’s your dream honeymoon destination with gorgeous beaches, warm sunshine, and crystal clear water. However, if you take the time to walk a few blocks behind the waterfront resorts, you’ll discover places that they don’t showcase in the vacation brochures. In Ambergris Caye, most of the homes are built with sheet metal and their foundations are surrounded by swamps, sewer, and trash. Neighborhoods have been flooded due to the rainy season, fresh food and water is scarce, and you’re surrounded by hundreds of children who are usually alone, shoeless, and independent by the age of five. You are instantly humbled and you quickly realize that your everyday problems are nothing to complain about. I asked God to use me on this trip to serve others and to make a change, but little did I know that He was also going to use the people of Belize to serve and change me.

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I loved the crystal clear water. The sea life was beautiful!
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It was hot and humid. I was always thankful for the spontaneous tropical rains.Pin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimage

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 I loved seeing life by the water, but nothing compares to walking into the heart of Belize.

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Cars are not common in Belize. Most people travel by foot or by golf carts.

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Houses are often built in the swamps. If they aren’t raised, they often sink/flood during the rainy seasons.Pin thisimage

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When a new church is being built, the entire congregation comes together to help build it.  I loved their teamwork!

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Trash is often discarded throughout the streets.

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Kids were always walking around the island without shoes.

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The colors in Belize were beautiful. The land, the people, and the homes were so vibrant!Pin thisimage

When their pathways are flooded, they build these walking paths with scraps of wood.Pin thisimage

I’m always complaining about doing laundry. This gave me a new perspective.
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The locals are so hospitable and friendly. Truly, some of the kindest people I have ever met!
My favorite memories were just being able to meet new strangers, sit on their porch, and spend the afternoon talking.
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We were constantly being attacked by mosquitos.
My heart ached for all the little delicate skin that was being bitten.
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I noticed that many children had teeth that were rotten to the gums.
It’s easy to take small things for granted.

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She sure is beautiful! Pin thisimagePin thisimage

Walking through town was a favorite activity with our group. We loved checking out the food!Pin thisimage

The children in Belize are so filled with love. They would wait for our group by our hotel and walk hand-in-hand with us around Belize.
They were constantly smothering us with hugs and kisses.

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Our Belize team had a variety of mission teams. I was on the media team with my new friend, Greg.
Greg is a reporter, photographer, and news anchor at NBC San Diego.
We spent our days photographing the mission teams, filming testimonies, and capturing the life and the people of Belize.

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When you feel a raindrop in Belize, you only have a few seconds to find shelter because the downpour comes so quickly.
We often had to improvise with our rain gear with shirts and/or grocery bags.

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We had a sports and crafts team. Everyday they would play soccer, basketball, and paint faces in between. They spent their afternoons in the hot sun, running around for hours with little to no breaks. Even when they were exhausted, they didn’t turn down a game when a new batch of kids showed up. They witnessed and prayed with little ones at the craft station and they provided so much joy to all the children. I loved watching the kids show up at the park before they arrived and stay until the team packed up.Pin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimage

We also had a cosmetology team. They spent their day washing hair, giving haircuts, cleaning hands/feet, painting nails, and giving massages.
It’s not uncommon to find lice, but these women never flinched. They truly served and loved these people like Jesus. I was very humbled by this team.Pin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimage

We had a construction team that we called, “work dogs.” These people provided manual labor with their blood, sweat, and tears everyday. They spent their afternoons working the hot sun and in rooms filled with paint fumes. They didn’t have the luxury of playing with the children and meeting the locals like the other teams, but they always had optimistic attitudes. They cemented, wired, painted, cut, sawed, dug, and lifted without complaint. I loved being able to watch them silently serve others. They were great examples to all the neighbors and passerby’s with their selfless acts and strong work ethic.

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We also had a hip hop team. They danced to worship music in the streets, in the park, and in the neighborhoods.
New Years is a huge celebration in Belize, so the girls choreographed a New Years dance to worship music and performed it in front of the locals.
The kids had so much fun with the hip hop team. I loved seeing the hours of joy that they provided to them every afternoon.
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On Sunday, we headed down to the local church. The church is in a movie theater and it is ran by Sagebrush Community Church.
Sagebrush is located in Albuquerque, NM, but they provide satellite services around the world.
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After lunch, we would head down to Central Park for Vacation Bible School (VBS). The VBS leader wasn’t able to make it to Belize due to flight complications, so Trent stepped up and became our team’s VBS leader along with our new friend, Lauren.
I loved watching my husband spread God’s message to so many people throughout our trip. I am very blessed to be married to a man who loves and serves Jesus full heartily.

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VBS consisted of worship, games, a drama skit and a message.
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Chubby bunny was always a big hit with the kids!
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Trent was an awesome VBS leader. He was very into it… ha!
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At the end of each message, team members surrounded the children, prayed with them, and helped them accept Jesus!
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After VBS, we played in the park until it got dark. These were some of my favorite memories.
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Mothers in Belize usually work all day and many of their children are often cared for by their younger siblings and/or unattended.
Our team was especially fond of this little baby. He was always being held and loved on so that his siblings could participate in VBS.
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Rafael is a man we have all come to know and love. He was saved last year when BWO came to Belize.
He was so excited to share the miracles that God was performing in his life. He was also the world’s greatest hugger.

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The kids were so much fun to play with. I just wanted to pack them up in my suitcase and bring them home with me.
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On our last day, we held a carnival. Clowns, games, balloons… you name it!
We passed out flyers all around Belize and we celebrated God’s love with a ton of men, women, and children.Pin thisimage

Our youngest and cutest BWO member. She was in love with Trent.
She would always walk up to me and say, “Trent is mine.”
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My heart was forever changed on this trip. I often feel that I am an introvert when it comes to my faith. I have always admired my husband’s boldness. God challenges you on mission trips. He helps you overcome your fears and He makes you confront tasks that help grow in your faith. We spent every morning having private devotions, we journaled to God, we witnessed to strangers, we saw adults give up their addictions and accept God’s love, and we saw children turn their life to Jesus. We had a man mock us for being missionaries and within hours, he declared that Jesus was his savior and he became baptized. You can’t get through life without God and without relationships. I’m thankful for my new BWO and Belize families and for all the changes that they instilled in me on this trip. God works miracles… Sometimes their big and sometimes they go unnoticed, but He is always working in us and through us. Pin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimagePin thisimage

At the end of each day, we would pack our golf cart and drive kids home. Our record was 13 people in one cart.Pin thisimagePin thisimage

You meet a lot of people who touch you on mission trips, but I have three that truly captured my heart. Meet Rodell and Ryon, they are brothers. They are 14 and 16 years old. It’s easy to go on mission trips and love all the little ones because they are so affectionate and cute. However, it’s even easier to ignore the teenagers on the side. Chelsea and I met Rodell and Ryon on our first day and we asked them to play a game with us. They were not allowed because they had to watch their wood stand and work. I went on this trip thinking I would be playing with the little ones all day, but God had other plans. Every day, we sat until sunset and talked the randomest things. I loved hearing about their lives, their hopes, and what they want for their future. They want to be soldiers and better their country. They want to work so that they can take care of their grandma. They want to one day visit America so that they can go to Disneyland. Being a Disney lover myself, I hope I can help make that dream possible!

Rodell and Ryon work all day and they are each rewarded one dollar a day by their father. They receive very little, but they still pool their money together to provide for their family. It cost five dollars to go on Facebook so they make sure to save money on the side. They try to log into Facebook at least twice a month. That  is something that they look forward to every other weekend. For Christmas, they each got $10.00 and they used it to buy a New Years Eve shirt. They are humble and so, so sweet. When we left, they called Chelsea and I their sisters and we both realized that we gained two amazing younger brothers. We prayed together, hugged over and over, and cried when we had to say goodbye. Hopefully, we will be reunited with them again one day!

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Last but not least, Bayron. I never thought I wanted boys until I met Bayron. I met him on the first day and I instantly fell in love. We were attached at the hip throughout the entire trip. He’s only 8 years old, but he’s fully independent. He works all day, he takes care of his baby brother, and he is the kindest child I have ever met. Every afternoon, we would hang out and talk about his favorite things. His favorite food is burritos, so I bought him a burrito. A few minutes later, it was gone because he gave it to his cousin who didn’t have lunch. On movie night, I bought him popcorn. He took a handful and then he gave the bag to the kid in front of him because he didn’t have any popcorn. The next day, I gave him my bracelet with a bible verse on it. I watched him walk over and give it to his sister. The bracelet said, “God keeps His promises” and he said that his sister deserved it more. This was a constant occurrence throughout the trip. This kid has little-to-nothing, but whenever he received anything he would find someone to give it to. He is blessed with the gift of giving and he has a servant’s heart. He is pure hearted and he changed my life with every kiss and hug.

Bayron usually showed up dirty and shoeless. On our last day, he was showered, dressed nice, and he had his hair slicked back. I asked him why he was looking so sharp and he responded, “my mom told me to dress nice so that you and Trent could take me home and give me a better life.” My heart was broken! I told him that he has to many siblings that would miss him and that he needs to love his family and all the little ones in Belize. We gave him Trent’s captain hat and proclaimed him captain of the island. If we could, we would adopt Bayron. That would be a dream come true! For the next week, he was in my dreams every night. I still miss him, but I know he is and will be doing great things to the people of Belize. I’m thankful that God introduced me to such a loving boy.

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God is a beautiful creator. I’ll miss the sunrises, the sunsets, my BWO family, and the wonderful people of Belize. They taught me to do more and expect less.
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