Beginning on Sept. 7, Lois Wetzel will be in paradise. Not on the beaches of Hawaii or snorkeling the coral reefs of Australia, but in Belize working through the program YWAM, a Christian volunteer program that equips and prepares people to help others and spread Christianity, for the project “Destination Paradise.”
Wetzel’s 9-month trip is separated into three 3-month segments. For the first part, Wetzel will be living on a sailboat in the Caribbean sea off the coast of Belize with 12 other people. This portion focuses on discipleship. Every week there will be homework and papers responding to Bible passages, but a majority of the schooling will be training over things such as the Old Testament and other passages. The schooling isn’t focused on grades but on teaching the students about God and helping others.
Other than schooling, Wetzel and the others will go tubing, water skiing and swimming. Living like this will be an adjustment for Wetzel because of the material they’ll be studying and the living conditions.
“You’ll never be alone,” Wetzel said. “Every day it’ll make me appreciate my room and my own space.”
The 12 teens will spend Sunday evenings through Thursday mornings on the boat studying but will be on land during the remainder of the week.
The second 3-month segment is called “Outreach.” Wetzel and her group will choose from a long list of countries where they will go to do volunteer and missionary work. It could be anywhere from Paris to South Africa. Wetzel could be helping impoverished children at an orphanage or comforting patients at a hospital.
Wetzel’s first choice is to work at a hospital, trying to comfort those who know they don’t have much time left, because it would take her out of her comfort zone. Just letting that dying person know that someone cares about their life is significant and important to Wetzel.
The final three months will be the most like an actual job. Wetzel’s team will once again choose somewhere to go and intern at a missionary organization. The group will learn the business aspects of operating a missionary program. Wetzel is excited for the experience and what it will teach her.
“I know I’ll come away with a better outlook on how to live my life and living to love,” Wetzel said.