Notes from afar: preparing for Belize

I’m sitting alone on the rooftop of a dear friend’s apartment enjoying the first quiet moment I’ve had in weeks.

Life has been a blur of appointments, errands, vaccinations, lists, emails, painful goodbyes, rewriting lists, franticly packing bags and hunting for reservations.

But tonight I get a chance to be still and take one last look at a town that has become my home over the last two years. Directly across the street, floodlights bathe the weathered grey stones of Wayne Presbyterian in a soft glow. The occasional hiss of a passing car blows by on Route 30, carrying with it a sense of normalcy.

Tonight greets me with a much needed feeling of familiarity in the midst of all this change. As I sit here in silence I realize that I’m caught in a stampede of competing emotions. Excitement blurs into fear; anticipation dovetails into reluctance.

Leaving isn’t going to be as easy as I thought it might be.

In three days I will leave for Belize, a country that, up until six months ago, I couldn’t have found on a map (or perhaps even accurately associated with the correct continent). Yet I find myself a few days away from the experience of a lifetime.

I will travel over 1,200 miles through four countries by way of chicken bus and pick-up truck, sleep in hammocks and butcher the beauty of the Spanish language. I’ll scuba dive with sharks, hike a volcano, take a raft down rapids, explore ancient ruins and possibly even dive out of a plane. Then the actual semester will start.

I plan on sharing my journeys and experiences as I take part in Creation Care Study Program, Belize. I and several other Eastern students will be challenged this fall as we consider and strive for an appropriate Christian response to our modern environmental crisis.

We will listen to our teachers as they construct a biblical exegesis that embraces responsible stewardship over reckless domination of natural resources, and also learn about sustainable development through hands-on activity and face-to-face encounters with indigenous communities.

We will face new, deepening challenges on our personal travels and individual internships and find a more enriched respect for the complex diversity of God’s creation in tropical ecosystems.

I want to share this experience with the Eastern community and give you periodic glimpses into God’s unfolding plans for us this fall in Belize. Please keep us and all Eastern students abroad this semester in your daily thoughts and prayers. Pray that God allows us to truly be where we are in a profound way and that he keeps us safe in a new environment.

Nick O’Ryon is a junior majoring in English writing.

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