An ATA Instructor Trainee humbly describes her experiences sharing good news and safety skills with children in dire poverty.
By Dana Rodriguez, 2DB, Certified Specialty Trainer
Our trip to Belize was amazing. We taught a Vacation Bible School for four of the days in Punta Gorda and two nearby villages. We had around 300 kids total in various age groups. Every year our church holds a clothing drive in which we collect clothes and shoes to ship to Belize. This year we gave out clothes to over 250 families! It was incredible to see these family members pick out an outfit – they are so thankful!
On the last night we hosted a family celebration night complete with music, games and our songs from our Vacation Bible School. Victor and I brought along a printer and took pictures of families from 4 to 9:30 pm, printing them out right there for them to take. Most of these families had never had a family photo before so they were very excited.
Lastly we taught Kidz 'n Power techniques to around 100 kids! The first session we had about 45 kids. They had never seen anything like it before. They loved hitting the pads and yelling. We then ran a session right after with 45 kids plus another 30 joining in! I opened each session with a prayer.
The second day we ran one session and had over 80 kids start out with us and about 20 who joined in later. (You have to understand they live on "Belize Time" – they don't follow a set timeline for things for the most part.) Therefore when we opened the doors to the sports complex, kids just came. Some played basketball but when kicking of the pads began they jumped in line! I gave out medals for things such as loudest answer up, biggest kick, etc.
During Vacation Bible School, after the first day of Kidz 'n Power, the kids would come up to me and ask "Miss, we have karate today? Miss?" They couldn't wait to do it again! I shared this story with them:
When I began Taekwondo I wanted to find a way to use my talent to glorify God, but I didn't know how. After a few years I figured all I could do was just be me and hopefully show God in all I do. Of course I would talk with others about my faith, but nothing out of the ordinary for me was happening. I was just being me. Then when the talk at church was about Belize, I called Kevin (mission coordinator) and talked to him about doing a Kidz 'n Power fundraiser for the mission. He asked if I was thinking of going to Belize, and I said I didn't think I had anything to offer. He said I did – I could present Kidz 'n Power there!
I had to raise money and come up with some cash on my own. I didn't know if that was possible, but I kid you not – I went into ATA Martial Arts that day and my Instructors offered me a job cleaning up the school! They knew nothing about what I was thinking of doing, and all I could think was "God wants me to go to Belize." So I began fundraising and money started coming in, so fast in fact that we decided we could raise enough for my husband to go as well. (Victor is a 1st Degree Black Belt.) Again I knew God wanted me to be in Belize!
Then when ATA donated equipment there was no question I was jumping in, and no matter what God had in mind for me, I was going! I'm so glad I did. If I touched one life it was worth it. Those kids definitely touched mine. I don't know if I will be able to go back next year, but the equipment is with the police department if I do. I wish I could have stayed longer to teach more kids.