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Archives A mission journey to Belize and deeper faith

Feb. 13, 2019

By Darcy Fargo

MALONE – “I always wanted to go on a mission trip,” said Meagan Rousell. “I knew something was drawing me Belizeto that work, but I became that person who thought about it and thought about it, even talked about it sometimes, but I never did it.”

Then, hitting her 30th birthday, the Malone resident and member of St. André Bessette Parish said she went through a period of reflection and decided she needed to pursue the idea of a mission trip further.

“I realized I needed to do some research and make this happen,” she said.

Rousell’s research led her to Believers World Outreach, a Christian organization that facilitates short-term mission trips for individuals, families and groups/organizations.

“I wasn’t sure if I was looking for a medical trip or an evangelical trip,” said Rousell, a Registered Nurse. “I prayed about that a lot. Then I found this organization. They do both.”

When she decided to apply, Rousell said she had to obtain a letter of recommendation from a pastor or a church leader, a task she found daunting at first.

“I was never confirmed when I was young,” she said. “When I was young, I was a bratty kid, and I complained about going to church school. Eventually, my parents gave in and let me back out, and I stopped going. A few years ago, I was really thinking about it, and I didn’t feel like a real Catholic. I went back, made my Confirmation and returned to Mass. But I felt weird, uncomfortable, and I didn’t attend Mass as often as I should have, so I felt really nervous even approaching (parish leadership) about this.”

Despite her reservations, Rousell was able to secure the required recommendations, and she completed the necessary forms. It was also around that time that she returned to regularly practicing her Catholic faith.
She was accepted into the program.

“From December 26 to January 2, I went to San Mateo, Belize,” she said. “The town is on land that used to be a marsh. The land was given to people who were in need, but they couldn’t afford sand to fill the marsh, so trash is used for fill. It’s basically a dumping ground with homes on stilts built above it. And the town is separated from the next closest town by a bridge, and there’s a $10 toll to cross the bridge. These people are basically isolated, and it seems almost intentional.”

Rousell said she chose the Belize destination at least in part because English is the primary language there, making it easier to communicate on her first mission trip.

BelizeThe mission trip included over 80 participants, ranging in ages from 7 to late 60s. The group was divided into work teams based on skills and aptitudes. Some worked in sports ministry or vacation Bible school ministry, others worked on construction and projects, and still others worked in ministry and prayer teams.

“We spent a lot of our time focused on kids,” Rousell said. “The kids were on a three-week vacation from school, and they were essentially left to fend for themselves during the days. It wasn’t that the parents didn’t care, but they couldn’t afford to take time off work. A lot of the children only have one parent. Some have no parents and live with a relative. We met one girl who had been living with an aunt, but something happened to the aunt, and a neighbor took her in. And there’s no such thing as affordable daycare.”

Rousell said village residents were extremely appreciative of the help provided by the missionaries.
“They were so grateful for everything,” she said. “We all had lanyards we would wear identifying us as with the mission trip. I don’t know how many times I had a stranger – someone I hadn’t spoken to from the village – just come up and give me a hug. They so appreciated that we traveled all this way to help them. They were very welcoming, very loving. It made me think: we have so much, and they have so little, but in some ways, they have more than we do. They have more joy, more faith. They’re a great community.”

Rousell said she also found support and love from her fellow missionaries.

“I was nervous about working with a team of strangers,” she said. “I prayed about it a lot. It was, ‘God, please let me connect with one person. Let me find one friend there.’ By the second or third day, we were all close, and it felt like a family. I’m not generally an emotional person. Anyone who met me on the trip would probably argue about that. It was just almost overwhelming to have so many people be kind and love you. One day at worship, we were praying and singing songs, and I just started tearing up – for what reason, I have no idea.

People came over and grabbed my hand or put their hand on my shoulder. One woman came up to me and asked if she could pray with me, and she took me aside to pray with me. It was just wonderful. I’m still in contact with people from the team. We Facetime, text, connect on social media. I was uneasy about it not knowing anyone, and it was more than I could’ve expected. It was amazing!”

Rousell said she’s already looking to plan further mission trips with Believers World Outreach and has been asked to consider serving as a medical team leader. She’s working with her employer to determine if she can secure the required time off to participate. She’s also considering more long-term mission experiences.

She noted the experience has helped her deepen her faith and reflect on her faith journey.

“All I can say is I’ve never felt Lord’s presence as intimately and deeply as I did on that trip,” she said. “I went to Belize to give of myself and help others. I came back having gained more than I gave; I’m the one that was served. I was nervous. I was convinced that I haven’t been back at the church long enough to make a difference. There’s still stuff I’m learning. I felt like a hypocrite; I hadn’t been in church full-time for more than six to eight months. I felt unworthy of it. I didn’t know if my faith was enough. But I learned that’s not what Christianity is. We’re all at different levels. That’s one of the cool things about it. There are people ahead of me who can guide me, but there are people behind me that I can help.”

For more information on Believers World Outreach, visit www.believersworld.com.

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