Kelly Willson cultivated the idea of partnering with Sports Reach because of a previous baseball trip her husband and son took with the organization. She felt led to pursue a similar trip with a group of young volleyball athletes she coached in previous years.
The team was comprised of a total of 22 teenagers and adults, including up-coming freshmen volleyball players who played for Willson, seven adults, and two managers. The team met once a month leading up to the trip to practice and begin getting to know each other. They also used the time to make bracelets for the trip and plan Bible studies. The trip was nearly a year in planning beginning in the Fall of 2018.
While in Belize, they visited several different areas, never staying in one place longer than two nights.
They began their journey in Belize City where they played a 15U National team and treated them to some pizza afterward. The girls were able to spend some time getting to know the other team and had the chance to share The Gospel with them as well.
They left Belize City and went to San Ignacio where they visited King’s Children’s Home. There they spent time getting to know the children through playing sports, reading books, coloring, making crafts, or just sitting and talking. They played a couple of volleyball games outside on concrete courts and despite the conditions were still able to share The Gospel with the teams. A unique experience happened when they played a game against a team that was coached by a Mormon church. However, God opened doors, and despite the different beliefs, they were still able to share The Gospel with them.
Robby, Brad, Kelly, and two players made their television debuts here when they were asked to be on Belizean national television to talk about Sports Reach and their mission in Belize. How cool!
After San Ignacio, the team traveled to Orange Walk. There they visited Mayan Ruins and Pastor Ann, who in Kelly’s words, is “An amazing woman!”. The girls worked with the children’s program at her church for two days; they spent time playing games, singing songs, feeding the children, and telling Bible stories. Sunday morning they attended a church service with Pastor Ann, and Willson says, “I wish all worship services in the U.S were like that one”.
Finally, the team made their last stop at San Pedro. There they served in Hope Haven’s Shine Center Soup Kitchen which ended up being one of their hardest physical challenges of the entire Belize trip.
“The heat was excruciating, but the compassion our team had for the children and families we served was undeniable.”
Children traveled to this center for a hot meal and would bring along dishes to carry home with them a meal for a parent that wasn’t able to make the trip. “It was heartbreaking and eye-opening for my girls to see a life situation outside of their own,” says Willson.
As far as volleyball and their time on the court, the team didn’t win as many games as they had hoped for. However, the experiences, relationships, and the opportunity to share the love of God far outweighed that.
“The girls played hard and worked together. Ultimately, they remembered our purpose for being there, which was to share Christ.”
A moment that sticks out from the trip:
While in Belize, the team was able to create a special bond with one of their guides, Ryan. He was accommodating, funny, cooperative, flexible, and willing to help throughout the trip with anything the team needed. Before leaving Belize, they took up an offering to help Ryan start a business he wants to open to support his family. One week after returning home, we received a message telling us that Ryan had accepted Christ and was baptized! PRAISE THE LORD! Being able to share that moment with my girls was special. Reminding them that sometimes we are just called to plant the seed, even if we never see the harvest, it was an incredible lesson.
-Kelly WillsonBack to blog