by Joshua Robertson
In the hustle and bustle of this thing called life I found myself going through the motions. I felt like I was a good husband, a good father, worked hard, went to church, did the right things, and quite frankly things were going smooth. I knew there was more to life, more to my faith in Jesus, and honestly I may have been a little scared to challenge my faith because things were going smooth.
2013 was a wonderful year for Project 4031 as the organization was able to strengthen the end of life journeys of people around the world and support the loved ones around them. 4031 went international, as we were able to send equipment and supplies to the Hospice and Palliative Care team in Belize. After our November fundraiser the same organization that helped us get the needed equipment to Belize invited us on a vision trip to Belize to explore needs and how we could assist in the future.
My wife and normally the conservative one in our marriage didn’t even hesitate on going…she knew in her heart we were supposed go. A million things crossed my mind of why we shouldn’t go – our son, my full time job, meetings, etc.; however, everything fell into position and silly excuses quickly were just that “excuses” as the Lord truly opened up my schedule, made provisions for our son, and it just made sense. By New Years we were only a couple weeks away from our trip and a peace and excitement overwhelmed my spirit. Kristina and I didn’t know what to expect, but a great piece of advice was offered to us and I am glad we took it, “Don’t go expecting anything…go with an open heart and let God do the rest.”
January 11th finally came and we were off to the airport for an easy 2.5-hour flight. We landed with no issues and were able to zip through customs with our group (2612 Foundation, Word at Work, Accolade Home Health and Hospice Employees, and a wonderful lady named Judy who was is an labor and delivery RN at a local hospital). Most of our group was clinically focused (Nurses, Doctors, and Social workers mostly focused on hospice and palliative care). Most of our team were rookies, led by a few veterans who had been to Belize on several occasions. Tim Tam and Kenny from Word at Work (our host for the week) greeted our group just outside as the heat hit our face (which was nice since we left a frigid TX climate); they know everyone and know the country better than Google maps.
By the time we arrived to our hotel the day had already escaped us so we took this time to get to know each other. It was pretty neat to see how the Lord hand picked us and seemed like all of us were supposed to be on this journey, to explore the current and future needs of the Belizean people and other organizations already in the country. We shared a wonderful meal with each other and simply learned about each other’s story; Kristina and I went to bed excited about the week ahead.
Day 2 started early as we went and worshipped at a local church and other medical missionaries… pretty amazing experience to worship the Lord in a whole new place. After church and a quick lunch we drove 3 hours to visit one patient. At first I was a little frustrated that we were only going to see one patient; man was I selfish and wrong! We were able to bring a geri chair (reclining chair on wheels) as the 40-year-old patient wanted to be able to go outside with her Family and newest addition to her a family a Grandson. This patient was in tremendous pain as cancer engulfed multiple parts of her body, so not only did the recliner enable her to go outside, but also have additional comfort. The doctors and nurses in the group evaluated her pain and walked the family through the stages they can expect as her illness progresses; although difficult this was a beautiful time to see the power of hospice care in its purest form (100% volunteer team).
Day 3 we were able to spend a couple of hours at a local nursing home; visiting with patients, staff, and getting an overview of future needs of equipment and supplies. The nursing home was very clean and made the best of every resource they had; however, we look forward to upgrading their equipment to hopefully give more comfort to the patients. After this visit we were able to explore different ministries already in place, meeting with the leadership of Mary Open Door (helps women and children) and then we had a personal tour from the founder and Chairman of the Kolbe Foundation, which is the central prison for Belize. Mr. John Woods and the Kolbe Foundation completely turned around the renovation and philosophy of the prison. I could write another post just on our experience at the prison; bottom-line, very powerful experience to see how hope and truth was instilled on these men and women confined in the prison for years or for some the rest of their lives.
Day 4 we were able to see more patients, one in particular we were able to set up a hospital bed so he could rest comfortably. Day 4 also marked our final night, which quickly became a beautiful time together as a group to share how we were impacted and what our next steps will be. One of the men in the group encouraged us to be quiet for a couple of weeks when we got back to seek the Lord and not to get discouraged by the “noise” of all the needs in which we saw. I am glad I heard these words because I wanted to help everyone.
Belize is a beautiful country filled with some of the poorest conditions I have ever seen. Men working grueling hours only make between $8 and $15 a day. Everyone we encountered were so pleasant and displayed a true sense of joy…this is where my sucker punch came. The littlest thing can be annoying (the internet is running slow, my dinner reservation is late, or my iPhone just died). All of which are so circumstantial and these amazing people find tremendous joy in their faith and are not bogged down with the things of this world. This short trip opened my eyes to the realities of this world and I pray the Lord guide us and show us the way…show us how we can help impact His Kingdom. Kristina and I were so blessed to be able to spend a week seeing the Lord move in a whole new way…renewing and expanding our faith in Jesus.
Project 4031 is honored to join Dr. Beatrice Thomas and her team of volunteers as they bring hospice and palliative care to Belize. Please stay tuned as we are working with Dr. B, Word at Work, and the 2612 Foundation to bring hospice solutions to Belize. Please pray and consider donating your time, resources, or expertise so we can help strengthen the end of life stories of patients and their families across the beautiful country of Belize.