Young Adults Spend Spring Break Serving in Belize
By: Laura Poff
Seven young women from across the Southeast traveled to Belize City, Belize, to spend a week serving alongside fellow salvationists as a part of the territorial Youth Department’s short-term missions program.
Arriving Saturday, the unintentionally all-female team settled into their rooms at the Coningsby Inn, a modest seaside bed and breakfast across the street from the main corps. After taking a few pictures and getting oriented, they immediately began preparing for their role in the next day’s youth councils, rehearsing a song and skit about the importance of including everyone in the Body of Christ.
The councils, though geared toward teens and young adults, included salvationists of all ages and was open to members of the community as well. After the meetings concluded, delegates marched through the streets of downtown Belize City in full Salvation Army uniform.
“It was inspiring to see people our age take pride in being in uniform and making a presence,” said Jovanie Smith, territorial young adult and mission deployment coordinator. “And starting with youth councils was a great way to open ourselves up to what we were getting into.”
The remainder of the week included manual labor projects, including house painting and general maintenance, and visits to different Army programs and facilities to help the team better understand the community and how the Army fits into it.
They visited with a retired female officer who responded as if she had won the lottery when the young women offered to repaint her house. While there, she spoke with them and shared her gratitude for their time and attention.
“It was clear that she felt valued, seen and included,” Smith said.
The team and their host officers, Majors Joliker and Fidaliance Leandre and Lt. Guillermo Démon, also visited a hospital. This experience jolted them back to the reality of daily life in Belize, where inadequate staffing and outdated equipment exaggerated an already difficult and dreary environment. The officers pushed the young women to sit with patients, listen to their stories and pray with them.
“It was good, but so hard,” Smith said.
Other experiences boosted their moods as they met with students at The Salvation Army’s primary school and attended an unconventional Home League at the home of a house-bound corps member.
They built community with the corps and with each other. Each morning, the women gathered in their hotel dining room, sharing fry jacks – deep-fried Belizean breakfast dough – and preparing for the day ahead.
“They showed me what I want my community to be like,” Smith said. “Laughter, hard conversations and belonging.”