House number #330 for Hand in Hand Ministries was built by a group of people seeking to make a positive impact on the community. The group consisted of people from Louisville, Chicago, Denver, and Saint Louis but the majority of the worksite consisted of Belizeans lending a hand to change the life of their neighbor. A few of the locals would join us at the house after work for a meal and to spend some quality time with the group. The strength of the community in Belize City is a model for how we are called to help one another. There were family members, friends, and strangers that came together and held hands with our group every day to pray before working together for hours in the hot sun. The greatest gift we can give to someone in need is to help them learn how to help themselves.
Learning the stories of people like Calbert, Michelle, Kim, and Narada provide a positive perspective for what is important in life. They are living proof that your perspective of your circumstances determines your happiness. Like the majority of people living in Belize City, they live a life of poverty, but their absence of material possessions has little impact on the happiness of their day-to-day life. There is a lot to be learned from someone who American’s believe has “nothing”. The way they value faith, family, and community creates an environment that fosters love and gratitude for what their life consists of.
Having balance in life is essential, so we spent the last two days enjoying the best of what Belize has to offer. We took a riverboat nature tour where we came face to face with a monkey. We climbed to the top of the Mayan ruins at Lamanai. We played a few pickup games of basketball with some kids from the neighborhood. We spent the night on Caye Caulker, a beautiful island off the coast of Belize and we took a snorkeling tour where we swam with sharks and stingrays. We worked hard and we played hard, but the balance of the two created a memory that will last a lifetime.
It’s hard to summarize a week’s worth of memories and experiences into one story. The biggest takeaway from the trip was to be conscious of the way we view the imperfections of our life, knowing that perspective of circumstances determines happiness. I challenge you to take a moment to reflect; what are you thankful for? When you start with an appreciation for people and gratitude for all of the blessings you have, then you have the perfect game plan for a happy and successful life.