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by Elsie Marston Elsie is part of the 6-Month Caribbean IMMERSION team currently living with host families and serving in San Ignacio, Belize.

Life in Belize has been filled with constant laughter, amazing Belizean and El Salvadorian food, learning to do new things and constantly asking “Cómo se dice ____?” meaning, “How do you say_____?"

I, along with two of my teammates, live in the house pictured above with our host family of 7. Our family is originally from El Salvador, but moved to Belize due to violence in El Salvador. Our papa has had diabetes for 23 years; about 1 month ago he had three of his toes amputated. You can normally find him on his bed in the kitchen resting or sitting outside feeding the chicken or cooking over the fire behind the house. Our mama works during the day, so we spend time with her after we get home from church at night around 10pm. Even though she may not speak English, she is full and over flowing with joy. She goes out of her way to constantly make us feel loved and welcomed.

I spend most of my time with my 5 siblings: Jocelyn, Jenny, Jose, Memo, and Danny. Aside from three of our siblings, our family only speaks Spanish. Our mama and 15-year-old brother eagerly want to learn English, so as I struggle to learn Spanish they are enthusiastically learning English. We’re all learning from each other, it’s a joint effort. Sometimes I feel like my life is a constant game of charades, but it’s fun and we laugh a lot. Throughout my time here I have realized that I do not need to speak the same language as someone to be able to communicate with them or build a relationship. For example, every night before bed (normally sometime between 11:30pm – 1:00am) my mama hugs me goodnight and in Spanish tells me “God bless you, sleep well, and sweet dreams.”

6-Month Mission Trips

Our family has several puppies, 1 cat and 4 kittens, 2 ducks, 2 sheep, chickens, a rooster, and several stray dogs that always seem to be standing in the doorway longingly begging for food. The animals are not supposed to come in the house, but often you will find one of them attempting to sneak into the house unnoticed.

On the very first day in Belize, we were welcomed in and treated like family.

There is a very strong sense of family and community here and you’ll rarely find me somewhere without one of my family members. We do everything as a family. We go swimming at the river, shopping at the market, and arrive late to church as a family (leave no man behind).

6-Month Mission Trips

Life in Belize is... watching your host brother ride his sheep, or your oldest brother juggling a ball of fire. It’s making tamarind candy with your mom at midnight. It’s (attempting) to learn how to make flour tortillas, empanadas, tamales, and pupusas. It’s going to the market with the entire family to get groceries before the tropical storm comes. It’s standing in a circle in the middle of the dining room holding hands with your entire family and praying together every night before bed. It’s daily washing clothes with the family. It’s hearing your little brother yelling from outside, “Ambulancia! Ambulancia! AMBUUUUULANCIA!” only to find him cradling a lifeless kitten in his hands and attempting to do CPR.

It’s being late to church to prepare chicken for a BBQ because you were making cheese at your neighbor’s house and eating iguana. It’s running down the dirt hill as fast as you can to the market to beat the rain. It’s making soap beards while hand washing clothes.

It’s moving the fan around the house wherever you go because it’s so hot. It’s being covered in sweat even though you just got out of the shower 5 minutes ago. It’s stopping at the top of the hill on the way home to take in the beautiful sunset and realizing, “I live in Belize, how cool is this?”

6-Month Mission Trips

It’s your little brother shooting you in the face with a Nerf gun during breakfast. It’s laying in bed at night and listening to the geckos on the ceiling squawking like birds. It’s waking up not knowing what you are going to do for the day, but knowing that you are probably going to have a lot of fun and laugh a lot (and glue your shoes together).

Life in Belize is exciting and unpredictable. Within the first week we ate iguana and made 25lbs of cheese. Pretty much the only predictable thing about life here is that we will constantly be learning or doing something new and laughing. Lots of laughing. Oh…..and that you’ll find me gluing my sandals with “krazy glue” at least once a day (if not more).

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