Four years, three partnering educators, two family teams, and one dynamic, fearless couple have fostered a strong relationship with A.C.E.S (Ambergris Caye Elementary School) in San Pedro, Belize. When Steve and Jodi Sikma dreamt about what missions could look like as educators, serving other teachers, and being the hands of Jesus, they never imagined the many ways God would open doors to make Himself known through them. Over the past four years, Steve and Jodi have led two family trips to Belize that laid the ground-work for our partnership and outreach with A.C.E.S. The past two years they have been allowed to work directly along-side teachers and students, sharing their expertise and the love of Christ simultaneously. This year, they took three additional educators, Emily Van Dam, Sara Dekker, and Whitney Housinga to serve with them and continue building a partnership with the teachers and students at this school.
“When God laid this idea on our hearts to serve the staff and students at A.C.E.S, we formulated a loose idea of what it would look like and feel like. In true Heavenly Father fashion, our expectations and experiences were blown out of the water within the first 24 hours!”-Steve and Jodi Sikma
This year the team took over classes of the Lead Teachers so they could enter end of year data, write report cards and create next year’s curriculum plans. Our team administered exams, created fun ways to help students study, taught art, music, and P.E. lessons. For Emily, it was exciting to share her love of art with kids in another country and culture, who also enjoy practicing art. Emily says, “I left feeling very emotional and a little overwhelmed at how amazing God really is, and so very grateful that God let me see a little more of His creation and His people outside my day to day West Michigan view of life.” Sara spent the week with a lively 2nd grade class that quickly captured her heart and made her smile every time she heard the phrase, “Teach, look!” Sara recalls, “Every smile, tear, laugh, and ‘no’ I heard and saw this week reminded me that the heart of Jesus overflows with love for His children and He longs for them to know Him and His love for them.” Whitney enjoyed building relationships with both the teachers and students. At the end of the week, after exams were finished and she confidently won the plank challenges, Whitney was singing along to music in the background when a student shouted, “Miss Whitney! You know this song!” A phrase that demonstrates the way she connected with the students and used every opportunity to widen their perspectives and cross cultural barriers. The time at A.C.E.S exceeded all expectations and left the team forever connected to this community in San Pedro, Belize.
In addition to serving at A.C.E.S, the team had the opportunity to connect with our church partners at Shalom Church, attending worship services, pouring into their worship team and connecting with church leaders/pastors. Our church partners continue to make Jesus known in their community every day and it is a privilege to worship and serve along-side them.