BELIZE — The universal language of love, laughter and smiles helped a Northmont High School graduate communicate during a summer work adventure in Central America.
Channing Marvin, a 22-year-old senior at Anderson University (IN) and 2012 Northmont grad, spent more than two months in Belize, organizing work projects and transportation schedules, assisting Belizean trip leaders and producing social media content for Thirst Missions, a Lake Forest, MN, nonprofit organization that specializes in short-term missions trips to that nation.
Short-term, perhaps – but the impact of his time in Belize will last a lifetime.
“The first trip I led was to San Luis, a small village of 80 adults and 150 children,” Marvin said. “Their homes were made of timber logs as walls, with huano leaves as their roof and dirt floors. The village was made up of sugar cane farmers and hunters; they lived simple lives and were close with their families.”
Marvin, who attends Salem Church of God in Clayton when at home, raised his own funding for his time in Belize, seeking support through a letter-writing campaign and gofundme.com.
“Outreach organizations have always interested me, and many of these organizations are nonprofits,” said Marvin, who is studying business management nonprofit leadership at Anderson. “After graduation, I would like to find a position with a global outreach organization. I’m not entirely sure of my, or God’s, plan for my life right now … I’m just doing my best to listen and follow.”
As a trip leader, Marvin lived among the people of Belize, residing with a local pastor’s family. Belize is a coastal nation with a population of less than half a million.
“I absolutely fell in love with San Luis, especially spending time and playing with the children of the village,” Marvin said. “The beautiful people of Belize are so easy to fall in love with – their families, culture, way of life and their simple gestures of hospitality. Having opportunities to share the gospel while building relationships was a gratifying experience.”
So rewarding, in fact, that Marvin is hoping to be involved in more outreach opportunities in that part of the world.
“I have a passion for working with countries in poverty,” he said.
The Northmont graduate admitted the language barrier while in Belize was a challenge. Though English is the official language, Belizean Creole and Spanish also are commonly spoken. Often, the local pastor served as a translator, with varying degrees of success.
“Even though there was a language barrier, we were able to communicate through love and smiles,” Marvin said. “Meeting these other brothers and sisters is Christ warmed my heart and gave me a glimpse of how heaven is going to be. Love has no barriers …”