Every set of classes here at MOVE ends with a student-led mission trip to the Mayan villages in the southern part of Belize. This classes’ trip was very memorable. The trip ended up being cut a day short so that we could spend more time with some visiting family members from North Dakota. We loaded up the bus and left home at 4:00 am Tuesday morning. Despite the rainy spells, all was going well. That is, it was going well until about 9:00 am. The bus had no more power to make it up and down the mountains. We pulled over on the side of the road to see the damage. The guys worked on the bus for about an hour before we pulled out. However, it was only about two miles before we stopped again: no power. Unfortunately, this time the work wasn’t going to be just one hour. The fuel pump had to be removed and worked on before we could move. The first time Rubén took the pump out, he finished the work in nine hours. This time, he was able to do the whole process in less than three hours! We were finally able to get back on the road and head south. 13 hours after leaving MOVE we arrived in San Jose. The last nine miles of the trip took an hour and a half because of the condition of the road.
All week the students had planned activities for reaching out to the Mayan people. I truly felt like we were blessed with having knowledge above our own capacity because we fixed things we never knew how to fix before. We truly saw what God is willing to do for those who are willing even if unskilled. Much to our dismay, it rained everyday. Nevertheless, we continued as much as possible. Walking, working, and living in the rain are uncomfortable. However, there was a problem much greater than temporary comforts: the rain causes the river to rise. The original plan was to leave Sunday at 4:00 am from San Jose to return home. The guys went Sunday morning to check the condition of the road out only to find that a bridge was completely underwater. With waist deep rushing water, there would be no way to cross the bridge. (There is a road that goes out the other way from the village and connects to the main road. Instead of 9 miles to the main road it is only 2 miles to the main road. However, the road does not have bridges to cross over the creeks and is therefore unusable for vehicles.) Sunday was quite challenging for many people due to the fact that we did not know if or when we would be leaving. If the call came to leave, it would have to be an immediate decision with little time to get ready. The day passed without news of a trip home. Some cried while others rejoiced at the chance to stay longer.
Monday morning was met with new hopes. Although we were running low on food, God continued to provide. Certain students had decided to embrace the situation and make the best of what time they could spend in the village. A number of us started going from house to house to visit. As we were walking back to camp to retrieve some items, a man drove by us and asked if we were going to be leaving. He had just crossed the bridge and was immediately leaving before more rain came. We practically ran up the hill with excitement. The guys decided that it was a now or never chance to leave. They blew the bus horn as the signal that all MOVE members needed to return to camp and pack up. (Afterwards we joked about how we felt like the children of Israel who we always a moments’ notice away from fleeing.) The whole camp area was torn down, cleaned up, and packed in less than one hour.
The cleanup was fast, but since the road was still a terrible mess, we would not be driving fast. Prayers and hymns were going up constantly as we passed over holes and mud. Finally, we arrived at the flooded bridge. The water had definitely gone down, but there was still doubt. The passengers had to stay on the bus so that it would have enough weight. This was scary because that also meant that if the current were too strong, all the passengers would be swept downstream as well. The time was ticking to make a decision. The rain clouds looked as if they could burst open at any time leaving us stranded on the wrong side. With some holes newly refilled, Jeff barreled into the rushing water with Ruben fast behind in the grey truck. Tears of joy were cried as the rain began to fall just minuets after we crossed.
God is faithful to us. Sometimes we don’t always understand God’s timing, but we can trust that He knows best. Maybe we needed to be in San Jose just one extra day so that one person could come to know God. Maybe the man from the village getting a ride out in the bus felt God’s presence and therefore wanted to know more about our all-powerful Protector. Maybe we won’t ever know on this side of heaven the reason why, but we can be certain that God was with us all the way.