After escaping my life here in the states for over a week while in Belize I find myself in a scramble to get caught back up. There are forgotten bills to pay, laundry and gear clean up, forthcoming seminars and all the myriad other trivial pursuits that all easily melt away while on expedition. It has not been easy readjusting to a way of life that charges at a far more rapid pace. In Central America it had taken some time to adjust to "Belize Time" a way of life that followed a more natural and progressive rhythm. Communication is sparse, timing approximate, and priority is based on true necessity.
It took a bit to understand that if someone did not show up for a meeting or was hours late, it was not that they did not care about our activity. Rather, something more important had come up. It's a simple way of operating. If you go to town with someone from the village and they fall ill, you go with them to the clinic and stay with them until they are able to return. If no transportation is available, you wait with them until some can be arranged. If this means you miss a meeting, so be it.
This is but one small example of the type of commitment people of Belize have to one another. One night while deep at rest I awoke to the trumpet like moan of a horn. The next day I learned that it was a distress call. The men of Aguacate arose from slumber to go search the "bush" for a teenage boy who had not returned home. Unsuccessful in the dark, the search was resumed again the next morning and continued until he was found. Hilaria, the village health worker and I were asked to evaluate the boy for injuries. We found him at home surrounded by dozens of concerned community members. It was clear to me that although they were uncertain of what to do, they were ready and willing to help with whatever was needed. It was a powerful moment, one that I was honored to have been invited to join in.
Over the next several weeks I will attempt to share in greater detail more stories from working with the people of Belize. My hope is to combine my journals and pictures here on this blog to better outline the amazing time we spent together sharing cultures and ideas about how to live. As my last few days in Aguacate slowly but steadily passed by, I found myself holding back tears at the thought of having to leave. My new friends in Aguacate taught me much about living each day with a commitment to community, to family, and the desire to live a whole and happy life.
I am certain that our presence in the villages as well as the trainings we did with the community health workers contributed substantially to the improvement of health care there. I am also certain that as missionaries of health education we have brought back as much, if not more, knowledge as we had delivered. This is the beauty and necessity of cultural diversity; the opportunity to share across borders different perspectives of life that will hopefully allow us to find a middle ground. My hope is that experiences like this will lead us to discovery a healthier, more balanced, and sustainable way of life! Thank yo all so much for making this mission a success! -Bryan