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The holiday season is over and we've been here almost a month. I am feeling the itch to be productive! I want to show our supporters that we aren't just lazing about in the sun. I want to show Belizeans that we came here to add value to their nation and we have skills to bring to the table. I want to prove to myself that I can make this work and prove to God that He didn't send the wrong family.

Progress is being made in meeting government officials and local pastors, connecting with churches and getting settled in. As we look ahead to 2020 and the decade to come, there's a draw to build something here. I want to build something substantial; something that makes a statement and makes a difference. Something that, at the end, will be a monument to my hard work, faith and perseverance. Sound familiar?

The Bible has a story about people who decided to build a tower for their own fame and renown. Genesis 11: 4 says: "Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves...'” Long story short, it doesn't end well for the tower of Babel or for those looking to build it and thereby exalt themselves.

It's not necessarily a bad thing to build a "tower." We may even ultimately have a building or leave some other tangible mark on the country. What I need to check is my heart's motivation. There are tons of opportunities to plug-in here and make a difference. All that will come with time, as God opens doors and partnerships for us here. What I need to keep centered is that my success is measured by my obedience, not by the monuments I build.

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Our family has a very special friend named Dennis. Fifteen years ago, when I lived here in Belize for a year, Dennis was one of my students. Dennis comes from a large family with 9 brothers and sisters. Out of the 10 kids, Dennis is the only one with an intellectual disability. His siblings have all married and started families. Dennis works on the family farm and lives at home with his aging parents. Our family calls Dennis the mayor because he's friendly, chatty, and knows everyone. Over the years when we couldn't visit Belize as much as we'd like, Dennis was our source of village gossip. Dennis would periodically call us and ask us when we were coming back. Now that we live here, he checks in daily to ask when we will stop by. Dennis is an excellent friend.

Another family here has a special place in my heart. Sixteen years ago, they had 6 kids under the age of 10; one of which was born with pretty severe physical disabilities. That summer, the dad fell from a tree at work and was instantly blinded from the impact. I drove him to the hospital and later home. The family's only source of income, who was a manual laborer, was suddenly incapacitated. For weeks I visited the family, prayed with them and played with their children. Two months after the accident, the dad's eyesight returned. What a miracle!

Their youngest daughter, Jenny, is now 18 and the size of a second grader. Her health has improved since she was younger, but she periodically has to return for a stay in the hospital. Since moving back, Jenny has reached out repeatedly for us to visit. After seeing her last week, she asked if she could come stay with our family for a few days.

It hit me the other day. While we have lots of friends in the village, these two have been the most insistent on spending time with us. Both Jenny and Dennis, while having loving families, are hungry for friendship. Belize does not have the kind of supportive programs for special needs adults that we find in North America. Dennis works on the farm, then goes home to his parents. Jenny stays home all day with nothing but her phone to keep her occupied. They are hungry for more than that. They want to be known and appreciated. They want to have fun and feel seen.

John 15:12-13 says, " My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."

This morning, I will be picking up Dennis, Jenny and 4 other kids from the village and bringing them here for the day. We will play games, eat good food, and have fun. Instead of spending the New Year focusing on me, I'll do my best to lay down my priorities and give these friends a day to remember.

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I'm someone who always likes to try a new adventure. I get bored by status quo and new projects and ideas are exciting to me. I look forward to mixing things up and seeing what happens.

Like a hermit crab, I am quick to shed the old, with my eye on something bigger and newer to take its place.

Luke 14: 28-30 says, Which of you, wishing to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has the resources to complete it? Otherwise, if he lays the foundation and is unable to finish the work, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This man could not finish what he started to build.’

In a life of faith, we are sometimes asked to leap; to take a step off the ledge not knowing how God will sustain and protect us. But we must first count the cost of that obedience. There are costs to living by faith- loss of relationships, loss of reputation, financial instability, to name a few.

Before coming to Belize, we literally spent years praying, researching and dreaming. We had counted the cost and come up with solutions. We had ideas for ways to contribute and looked at property for those projects. But even as we were excited about these potential projects, we increasingly felt that we needed to take a step back. In our enthusiasm, we were running ahead of God's leading.

So, what if God's adventure for me means shedding the old and living exposed for awhile? Not having the shiny new shell to slip into quite yet? Leaving one role and waiting for Him to reveal my next one? This is not comfortable. This is vulnerable. This will cause greater growth in me than immediately donning my new shell and luxuriating in my new digs.

We're here in Belize and I feel exposed. I don't have a ready-made job and life waiting for me here. Those comforts will come in time and until they do, I will be growing in the discomfort.

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