Goodbyes are always hard, but often necessary. We are now in Belize City for a couple of days before heading home to the States. I’ve been excited to come to Belize City and see the ocean here since we’ve been inland. I’ve also been excited to see what the mission of the SOLT parish is like here in the city. Despite all of the excitement of coming to a new place in Belize, leaving Benque was still hard. We had to say goodbye to some amazing people we have met; long-term missionaries, sisters and priests living in Belize, and local residents. A few locals really stand out to me. Their names are Rolfy, Gian, Emil, and Michele. We met these four amazing people here in Benque through their connections to Mt. Carmel High School and the parish as well as to Fr. Mark and Br. Dave. Since meeting them, we have served along side them in Arenal and Calla Creek Schools doing catechesis and making home visits to families. We also just spent time to just enjoy each other’s presence. We shared meals, visited Xunantunich Mayan Ruins, and floated down the Mopan River. We really formed authentic friendships with these four individuals that really made saying goodbye to them after mass extremely difficult.
However, I always try to remember that every goodbye opens a door to brand new encounters that are also very important to the personal and spiritual development of humans. Since arriving in Belize City, we have already made some visits to people and have made similar encounters to ones we made in Benque. Not on the same level as the four I mentioned since these are one time, but still very deep and authentic and beneficial to all involved. We sang songs together, acted out a skit about the Parable of the Good Shepherd, and played simple games like tag and Red Light Green Light. I found the joy I experienced in Benque here in Belize City as well. Had I only been to Benque, I wouldn’t have encountered these new families and also wouldn’t have gotten to meet the priests and sisters here at Divine Mercy.
Looking ahead, I’m excited for our short time ahead in Belize City. We are going to be doing some door-to-door evangelization (a whole new experience for me), waking up at 5:30 AM to go serve breakfast to the homeless, and visiting a nursing home to spend time with the older members of society who are often forgotten. Although our time here is much shorter than the time we spent in Benque, we take advantage of what we are given and let God work in even the shortest acts of service and love. The Father willed that we come to Belize City just as He did for Benque. He has people picked out for us to encounter just as he did in Benque. Also, when we go home (which is soon), we will have to try to make encounters in people we meet everyday and love and serve them just as we have the people of Belize. In a way, this switch to Belize City is ultimately preparing us for the switch back home where family, friends, work, and school await. We will soon have other responsibilities to which we have to tend while still trying to love and serve. The comfort of being with our group will be gone just as the comfort of being with Rolfy, Gian, Emil, and Michele is gone now.
So, on this Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven, we pray that as we celebrate Christ’s rising up to Heaven, may we be lifted up to new challenges which will help us to grow in holiness so we may one day share in Christ’s presence in Heaven.