One of the many benefits of working on the BYX National Staff is that we operate on the academic calendar, which influences our workload. When the brothers are not in school, we get to move at a more leisurely pace. However, the semesters are anything but leisurely. Each summer since I joined the staff in 2010, I have felt a compulsion to leverage my flexibility to take advantage of ministry opportunities that I don’t have time for during the semesters.
For the second consecutive year, I joined a group of fellow 20-somethings from my church to serve at My Refuge Christian Radio Station in Belize. Positives and negatives stemmed from the fact that this was my second year. On the bright side, I knew what to expect. Because one of the consistent struggles I combat is fear and a desire for control, it helped put me at ease knowing I had already been there and done that.
The down side was that I was coming into the trip with expectations. The trip last year was incredible on so many levels. Our team was exceptionally close and a ton of fun. We had a tangible impact on both the service and ministry levels. Trying to make this trip measure up to the previous could have been a huge stumbling block.
Our 2014 team was thrown a curve ball when a member found out two weeks before the trip that he would be unable to attend. When asked if I knew of any replacements, I called up National Advisor Kyle Yarborough, who wasted little time getting involved at Christ Chapel with NA Dean Tzobanakis and me. After minimal persuasion, Kyle and his Chubbies were on board.
Kyle proved to be a valuable piece of the puzzle with the energy and work ethic he brought to the table. Many car trips were improved by the two of us breaking it down to whatever was banging in our ear buds or through the bus speakers. There was no shortage of violent high fives, and we introduced the team to the monster claw, made famous by my beloved Houston Astros.
The trip consisted of two main responsibilities for our team. First, we would work together on manual labor projects on the property and around the city. Second, we would host local youths in the evening and minister to them through worship, teaching, testimonies and small groups.
When we rolled up on Saturday afternoon, my eye immediately went to a wooden frame held up to the second story of one building by a number of long tree limbs. This wasn’t there last year. There was little doubt in my mind that we would be working on that portion of the building.
I was right. On Monday morning, we tackled that project by mixing, moving and pouring cement into that wooden frame to create a ceiling for the platform below. The thing about cement is it dries, so we had to pour it all at once. The thing about ceilings is they are above the ground, so we had to get the cement up there through primitive methods.
Everyone had a role in the system to pour the cement. The first group would shovel gravel and mix it with cement in the mixer. From there, team members ran 50-to-75 pound buckets of cement over to a group of us, including Kyle and me, positioned on a scaffolding. That’s where it got fun. We would pass these buckets upwards to a pair of team members on the platform, who would pour the cement and toss the empty buckets down. Shovel, mix, carry, lift, pour, toss and repeat for over three hours. It made shoulders day at the gym a little easier the following week.
Initially we thought we would have to move people around to keep the folks doing the literal heavy lifting from wearing down. Instead, everyone committed to their role and grinded it out for the entire project. On the scaffolding, the four of us really fed off of each other. We were dead set on finishing what we started. We would keep our spirits and energy up with brief stretches of dancing and an abundance of high fives and monster claws.
It was exhausting to lift bucket after bucket from the height of my knees to the height of my head, but rewarding to see our team bond over the project. Everyone worked with diligence and in unison with one another. It flowed about as smoothly as it could have and helped set the tone for the week.
On the ministry side, the missionary we work with, Richard Smith, would go pick up kids and teens from around the city and bring them to My Refuge. Both Kyle and I had the opportunity to teach and share the Gospel from the front. From there, we broke into small groups for more discussions. The team continued to impress me during the small group time by emphatically speaking truth to these kids and intently listening when they would divulge intimate details about their lives.
As I prepared for the trip, I had to preach to myself that the Lord had plans for me in Belize. More than that, the only plans he had for me that week were in Belize. The Lord had nothing for me to accomplish outside the country of Belize. It was a joy to once again walk in the works that the Lord had for me in Belize.