What does it mean to follow where God leads? For Dr. Belinda Forbes, it means using her dental education and skills to serve the people of Nicaragua.
Her call began in her early teens when she heard a missionary pray at a local church. “I want to speak to God in Spanish!” she thought. After years of studying both Spanish and dentistry, she went to Nicaragua to serve as a missionary for one year. Nearly 30 years later, she continues to work with dentists and other health professionals with Acción Medica Cristiana, caring for a whole host of needs.
Listen as Dr. Forbes shares some of what she has learned about short-term and long-term mission work, learning to listen more deeply, and how God sometimes calls us to do things that are very different from what we had planned or expected.
Listen and Subscribe
Dr. Belinda Forbes
- Watch Dentist Called to Mission in Nicaragua, a UMC.org video about Belinda’s work.
- Read Belinda’s bio from United Methodist Global Ministries, where there is a place for you to support her important work in Nicaragua.
- Learn more about and support Acción Medica Cristiana (AMC), the organization with which she serves.
- Keep up with her blog and her Facebook page.
- Check out Belinda’s "I Am Called" video, where she discussed what it means to be called to ministry.
- Email her.
- Are you feeling called to ministry? Our Board of Higher Education and Ministry can help help you explore your call
Popular on UMC.org
- More GYSIS conversations with missionaries:
- UMC Missionaries Share Their Lives with Thomas Kemper
- Faith, Love and Marriage with missionaries from the Democratic Republic of Congo who serve in Côte d'Ivoire
- Watch African American Woman’s Incredible Life as a Methodist Missionary, an inspiring story from our history.
- Watch Thomas Coke: A Father of Methodism, a video about an early Methodist with a passion for missions./li>
- Are you wondering, How many missionaries are there? Ask the UMC has the answer.
Join the conversation
- Email our host Joe Iovino about this episode, ideas for future topics, or any other thoughts you would like to share.
Help us spread the word
- Tell others: members of your church, coworkers, and anyone else might benefit from these conversations.
- Share us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
- Review us on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you download the episode. Great reviews help others find us.
More Get Your Spirit in Shape episodes
- Get Your Spirit in Shape and other United Methodist podcasts
Thank you for listening, downloading, and subscribing.
This episode posted on June 25, 2019.
Joe Iovino, host: Welcome to Get Your Spirit in Shape, United Methodist Communications and UMC.org’s podcast to help us keep our souls as healthy as our bodies. I’m Joe Iovino.
My guest today is Belinda Forbes, a dentist and missionary serving in Nicaragua. When she stopped by our studios during her itineration in the United States where she visits churches who support her ministry, we talked about her work and so much more. She told me about her call to being a missionary, which she traces back to a time when she heard a missionary pray when she was just a young teen, and she thought, ‘I want to speak to God in Spanish.’ She told me about some cultural differences, how she’s learning to listen more deeply, and how God sometimes calls us to go against the current.
It was a privilege to meet her and an honor to have this opportunity to introduce her to you today. Meet Dr. Belinda Forbes.
Joe: Dr. Forbes, welcome to Get Your Spirit in Shape.
Belinda Forbes: It’s great to be here.
Joe: You are quite a global citizen. You were born in Northern Ireland, raised in Massachusetts in the United States and now serve in Nicaragua as a missionary who’s trained as a dentist. Does that three continent background inform your faith and your ministry?
Belinda Forbes: That’s a good question. Yes, it does. I’m currently itinerating. So visiting supporting churches here in the United States to interpret and update churches on the reason I’m involved in Nicaragua, and I’ve been seeing more and more in this particular itineration my immigrant experience. I haven’t really said much about it in the past, but I’ve realized over the years that I do know a little something about what it means for a family to uproot themselves and leave a particular place. In our cast it was Northern Ireland during the 1960s when there was a lot of conflict and issues going on…and economic issues. My parents made this very courageous decision to move to the United States where they didn’t know anybody, and really started a new life for all of us as a family in the hope that it would be a better, more stable life, like what most immigrants are looking to do at any time in history and anywhere in the world. So I think that’s given me perhaps slightly more credibility with certain audiences and certain church groups that I’m talking with because I don’t look like what people normally think of as an immigrant. I’m white. I speak English like a person from the United States. So I think it’s important to identify that background. And yes, it has informed my faith because I understand that very courageous call to go to a new place. And then as an adult I did that very thing by being called into mission, and my mission opportunity ended up being in Nicaragua. And I’ve been there now for almost 30 years.
Joe: Your primary work is listed as the…. I hope I get this right. …The International Liaison for Community Health for Accion Medica Cristiana (the AMC) which translates into English as the Christian Medical Action. What are some of the things that AMC does and what’s your role within that organization?
Belinda Forbes: Yes, that’s a very fancy and long-winded title to say that I do just about anything I’m invited to do as a missionary, use my diverse skills in any way that’s appropriate, and try not to do what I’m not invited to do. So yes, I am the international liaison. What the agency does…. It’s a Nicaraguan Health and Development Agency started by Nicaraguans, founded by Nicaraguans in the mid-1980s with the purpose of serving with the Nicaraguan people. My colleagues are health professionals, now multi-disiplinary professionals. They’re not just doctors and dentists when it first started. They’re now sociologists and educators and psychologists and agronomists and disaster prevention experts and HIV experts. And they are Nicaraguans that use their education and skill to serve communities in very remote parts of the country. Many of those communities are indigenous or Afro-descendent and most of my colleagues are Pacific Coast Miskito. So there’s a lot of cross-cultural understanding and work that goes on. Basically the purpose of improving the conditions in health, but also in other aspects of a community in these remote areas, what the actions and new direction can happen to help improve their lives. The agency has 3 main strategies. One is community health which is anything from clean water and sanitation to maternal/child health, access to healthcare, building health infrastructure. So in a place where there isn’t a health post, helping to build it so that the Ministry of Health can then run it, community pharmacies, youth leadership, creating a community plan that incorporates health priorities whether it’s, again, water or any of those kinds of issues that I’ve mentioned. So that’s…dental health, as I was saying there, too, which is a specific area I work in. The second strategy is food security and nutrition which is a development term which basically means people having the right kinds of food on an on-going basis so there aren’t any gaps in their access to food, and appropriate food and the right kind of food for them in their setting. Nicaragua is largely an agricultural country. Most people survive by subsistence farming. So the strategy there has been to focus on how to help local farmers do better, make their crops more diverse and have better yields and adapt to the changing weather patterns that we have that are impacting some of the planting cycles, to store seeds for future use. Those kinds of things. The third strategy is disaster prevention and mitigation. This emerged at the same time as the food security experiences of hurricanes blowing through and washing out not just people’s crops, but also the 90 latrines that got built along the river. So to start working with communities, AMC leadership started asking different kinds of questions, like where are the most insecure places in the community? Where does flooding happen? Where should we be building the health center or where should we be planting our crops? And how can we be more prepared for when a disaster is imminent. So early warning systems so the people upriver can radio down to the people down river to say, Hey, the river is growing. It’s time to evacuate. Where would people evacuate to? Let’s build some refugee centers or organize a school to serve that purpose. So that kind of preparedness is part of their strategy. AMC is just starting a new five-year plan. So because we work in a non-profit world and we like to have more work we’ve added two more strategies.
Belinda Forbes: One is called Culture of Peace and Violence Reduction And this is related to, again, learning over the years that you can build those latrines and health centers and things like that and have any kind of nice development intervention or gradual project, but if the relationships in the community are not stable and harmonious and working in a seamless way, chances are those projects are not gonna be successful. So culture of peace is really looking at right relationships. How are decisions being made in the community? Where are women and children as the most vulnerable populations, or indigenous groups, how are they having a role and a place at the table in those decisions, and how are development projects, whatever they might be, serving a purpose to improve the life of the community and not serve as a point of contention or of competition or argument. The fifth strategy is about climate change adaptation. So I do have to get that word out there. Some people are controversial about climate change. In Nicaragua it’s alive and well. Farmers know that something is changing. They know from the cycles of planting. They know that crops…when crops wash away or draught happens that things are changing and that they need to adapt. And that could be changing their seed type. It could be planting at different times during the year and learning what the impact of climate change will be. In health with more rain comes more mosquitoes and more vector-borne diseases, really practical things like that that are important to take into account and prepare for. So even though Nicaragua doesn’t contribute to the climate change problem, as a poor vulnerable country in a hurricane corridor they are subject to the consequences of it.
Joe: You and I had a conversation before you were here to record, and you mentioned how your understanding of mission has developed over the years. You’ve been in Nicaragua for 28 years, did you say? Tell me about the change that you’ve experienced and how it’s different today that it was 28 years ago.
Belinda Forbes: I’m very, very privileged to have gained a dental degree. I use that profession in different ways. And I really enjoy my profession. But early on I felt like God was calling me to a different path than just basic private practice, which is very noble calling. But I was leaning towards something else. I went to Nicaragua for a year. And it was to develop a dental program with a local church partnership from the New England Conference and a local church in Nicaragua called the Iglesias de Cristo. And that was great. We did a lot of really good things. I learned a lot and hopefully developed new programs and empowered some teachers and schools and children to take better care of their teeth. Out of that I grew to understand a little bit more about partnerships since the context and the vehicle that took me to Nicaragua was a church partnership, I learned more about how churches in the north and churches in Nicaragua…Christians in Nicaragua, could understand each other better and do better ministry as a result, in the places where they are. So churches in New England that were inspire and motivated by what they saw in Nicaragua could come back to New England and share those stories and be motivated and help their spiritual growth happen in a new way. And Christians in Nicaragua could be motivated and feel taken into account and accompanied. Often in impoverished countries there isn’t a long-term relationship. It’s often kind of drop-in mission or the few donations or some material aid or maybe a little program and then that’s it. And this partnership was really about a long-term relationship through thick and thin. Somehow we’re gonna figure it out and accompany each other in this journey. Longevity in a place gives us a certain perspective that allows us to understand the people that are conversing. So my understanding of the United States, my culture of origin, my European background and also the United Methodist Church that I come from, but also understanding the context in Nicaragua. I’ve been there for long enough I’m still scratching the surface on some days, but most times I have a grip on when Nicaraguans speak what are they really saying. And when the church groups from the north, VIM teams, conferences, individuals or other donors or other partners, people coming to look to be in partnership with people in Nicaragua, what are they really saying when they talk? So to help people interpret not just language, but really what’s the value, what’s the context behind what they’re saying so that they can discern together what God is calling us to do in partnership. What is the ministry we’re gonna be about that makes sense, that’s mutually beneficial, that has something for both sides. It’s not just a mere exchange of goods or financial support.
Joe: I like that idea of ‘discern together’ because that works not only internationally, but that can work in anybody’s community. Is there anything you can tell us about how you do that? How do you facilitate holding those conversations?
Belinda Forbes: I’ll start with my email contacts. So, say a church or a person writes to me by email… And I’m pretty visible. I’m not too hard to find as a Global Ministries missionary. And maybe has some interest in coming to do something in Nicaragua. So some of my first questions are what their expectations are, what are they looking for. What I’m looking for on behalf of AMC and the Nicaraguan people, really, that I’m there to serve, is a group that’s interested in Nicaragua, that really wants to know about this particular country in this unique place and the agency that I’m assigned to. If they want to partner with AMC and work together with them, with what they’re already doing on the ground, with what God is already doing on the ground, and engage in that and not necessarily come and do their own mission project.
Joe: It seems like one of the things you’re trying to do is take the resources and the needs and make a match because if they don’t match I imagine it can make a mess.
Belinda Forbes: It can. And it also dishonors my colleagues on the ground who have tremendous knowledge and experience and capacity. They know these communities inside out and they can help a group coming from the north to learn and grow. So that’s kind of what I’m looking for.
Joe: And that’s said of these two, right? It’s not one has the resources and one has the needs. There’s needs and resources on both sides.
Belinda Forbes: …on both sides. Exactly. That said, it is kind of an uneven playing field. Most of the financial resources are still here in the United States in our churches. And those are very important. I never want to underestimate the importance of financial support for projects in Nicaragua. It could be, for example, some groups have supported the construction of a community health house or a school and maybe it’s gap funding that AMC has a grant for but there isn’t enough to actually complete project. But the groups that we’ve tried to cultivate partnerships with are very aware that they’re partnering with a group on the ground that has worked with a local community to develop this whole idea of what project they’re doing, if it’s a school or a house or a bridge or something concrete like that, or some training or education that’s going on. And it’s an appropriate relevant action on the ground. So that church can engage in it and feel like they’re a part of something that’s already happening there. And when they leave they know that someone’s there to carry it out, bring it to completion and then follow up on it and make sure that it’s sustainable so that in a year’s time if they come with another team or they get a newsletter from me they know, Wow, that initiative the we took and that contribution that we made is still doing something for people. That’s the essence of partnership that you continue the communication and the understanding of what your contribution has meant.
Joe: In a previous conversation, again, before we record for the podcast I took a note that just said that you had learned not to insert yourself into situations.
Belinda Forbes: A lesson learned is a missionary who has been around the block now for 28 years and has had the great blessing to be among Nicaraguans who have embraced me and encouraged me and helped me learn and have enough trust in our relationship now to tell me where I might not be getting something right or stepping on someone’s toes, so my lesson learned in one sentence is to try and do what I’m invited to do and do that well and then give my gifts and skills in that place but to try to not butt in where I’m not invited to do things and to hold back. Sometimes that just means doing nothing. And when we come from a northern culture where we’re task oriented, you know, sometimes our whole identity is wrapped up in what did we do. And so to not do anything, to just be, is a very difficult thing. You can’t write about it in a newsletter. I went to a meeting and I just listened. I heard a lot in the Bicentennial of the Methodists in Mission in Atlanta, which was a really fine event, about listening and listening deeply, that one of our primary roles as we’re called into any ministry, if it’s mission or if it’s a pastorate, or anywhere we find ourselves, is to really stop talking—very hard for me as an extrovert who’s very vocal and word-y—and to just really engage in observing and listening and really trying to hear what’s being said and understanding, again, the value and the context behind the words that you’re actually hearing. So those are the challenges for me. They still are after 28 years. You should ask all these questions to my colleagues and my husband, who’s also Nicaraguan and a colleague, if I’m on track, if I’m doing well. They have definitely been my teachers and the people that have inspired me to learn and grow. Mistakes have to be made along the way. And we can learn a lot from failure, too. We shouldn’t be afraid of failure. When we do put our foot in it there’s hopefully always a chance for redemption.
Joe: As somebody who’s done my ministry in the United States throughout my life, I know that there are times when someone is saying something to me and if I don’t listen deeply I’m not really hearing them. It’s not just a cultural thing, it’s just kind of a human thing to hear what’s really being said. Do you have examples of times when that’s been done well or maybe when it’s not…
Belinda Forbes: Yeah. The cultural trait in Nicaragua called ‘the pause.’ In the U.S. often our culture is, even before the person you’re talking with has finished their sentence we already have the sentence we’re go… We’ve already thought about what we want to say and we’re not genuinely listening to what they have to say. Sometimes we even talk over the end of their sentence. In Nicaragua there’s a pause at the end of whatever people say. So they’ll say a little something and then they’ll stop and then they’ll wait. Well, I didn’t know about this. So I come running in with my big explanation about something… (And I’m also from New England; so we’re very fast talkers and we’re very…we just move and talk and do everything quickly up there in the Northeast.) …so I’m rushing into what I’m trying to say and pa pa pa pa, and I say it and then there’s the pause. I interpreted that to mean they didn’t understand what I said. So I jumped right back in and used that pause and went on and on and I said it a complete different way and probably not very good Spanish at that time, and said it all again. And then stopped and looked expectantly at the person. And there was another pause. So I jumped right in again, for the third time. And then finally I said, well, they’re just not understanding it. So I did stop. There was a pause. And then the person spoke. They were waiting for me to stop talking, as a cultural trait of being polite. They weren’t gonna start talking until they were sure that I was done, even though I had explained the same thing 3 times, because I didn’t interpret what was going on. It’s a small cultural trait but an important one to remember that it’s important to listen. If you’re gonna pause it means you’re genuinely listening for this person to conclude their idea and what they’re saying before you offer your idea or your response. A lesson learned. I’m probably still learning, although I think I’m pretty good at that one now. But I had to put my foot in it a few times to realize what was going on. And Nicaraguans are incredibly polite. They aren’t necessarily gonna tell you, Will you just stop talking, please; I’m trying to respond to your extroverted explanation.
Joe: One of the other places where we need that pause or when the pause can be frustrating is in call. And people who listen to the podcast regularly know that I love call stories. And so I want to hear a little bit more about your call, how you went from dentist to missionary.
Belinda Forbes: It goes back a little farther before becoming a dentist. And I was just reminded in a conversation just this week of a time in my teenager years when I was friends with a girl in middle school (or junior high as we called it) and she belonged to a Pentecostal church. So I went along because she was my friend and I thought this would be a good place to hang out with her. And I ended up going to this Pentecostal church for probably a year and a half or so. It was an interesting experience, not one that I stuck with in my faith journey, but I learned a lot. I learned the books of the Bible. And I also remember one particular time that a missionary family came through and were on the …presenting in the church. And this pastor got up and raised up his hands and cried out to God in Spanish. And he said “Ayuda, me Señor, si, Señor.” And I remember thinking, I want to do that. I want to speak to God in Spanish. How can I do that? And I was just starting to learn the language. And it really opened a lot of doors for me. And I loved it. It was something I really…. I got degrees in. And it helped me even as I was on this path of science and becoming a health professional. That was also pretty clear for me, that I really wanted to become a dentist. My mother was a dentist and was a great inspiration to me. And it came with a good profession and a good calling and one that I don’t regret at all. It was really a good choice. But Spanish and something about serving the church or being in a relationship with God in another language. That was very appealing. Jump up a few years. I majored in Spanish in college as I was taking other science courses. I went on to dental school in Boston. And a small slip of paper came around when we were starting to move into the clinical side of our training. And the training said, If you speak another language will you accept patients of that language? And I had maybe 8, 10 years of academic Spanish, but I never really spoke it. I’d never been to a Spanish-speaking country. I’d never spoken Spanish in a dental setting. And I was so nervous. And I prayed over this piece of paper. And I said, Lord, what should I do? Are you calling me? Can I really do it? And I wrote down, ‘Yes’ on the piece of paper.
Joe: A big step.
Belinda Forbes: A big step. And I handed it in. I was inundated with patients. I got my requirements done for dental school way ahead of anybody else because there were only two Spanish speakers in the class of 120 people. So I was called. It didn’t make much sense to a lot of people. Who’s this North American, United States gringa person speaking Spanish and having all these Spanish patients? I learned so much. My patients were gracious and wonderful. Any patient in dental school, but these ones in particular, they had all kinds of amazing stories of where they’d come from and really served me well to not only train but also help my cultural sensitivity start to grow. I graduated from dental school, moved into a practice. But by then…even towards graduation, was already feeling something different with me. I’m not feeling called to go practice with Mom. I’m not even really feeling called to be in private practice fulltime. There’s got to be something else. But our whole context at that time was grooming us to be in a high end private practice, make a lot of money and work only in that particular capacity as dentists, which is very good and noble and wonderful. And I have lots of dental colleagues that have followed that route and it’s very fine, but I knew it wasn’t for me. But there wasn’t a lot out there that was an alternative to that. There were no community health programs or public health programs. And I didn’t even really know what I was being called to. I didn’t have a name for it. I think God calls us through a process of elimination. Sometimes we have to know and figure out what we’re not called to first, to then clear the way to see what we are called to. As it turns out, by then I was a member of a United Methodist Church in Boston, and the big step that I took after learning Spanish was to say to my pastor, “I’m feeling called.” My particular pastor was wonderful. And he and his wife had had many years of missionary experience and found ways for me to get connected, what could a dentist do in a Spanish-speaking country, and how could we help that happen. As it turns out, at that time the southern New England Conference and the New Hampshire conferences…. (This was before the merger in 1993.) They had a relationship with this local church in Nicaragua, who were open to receive a dentist. There was a house to live in, a community house that was purchased by the New England Conference. There were people to work with, a community of people that were there on the ground, a church partnership that was more than ready to take me in to get me started. Accion Medica Cristiana, AMC, had a dental clinic, a private practice in Managua. So there’s a place to practice dentistry and see patients. And it all kind of came together. So off I went for a year. For a year, that was in 1991. I think we also had to be careful with our calls that God may call us into something that we really can’t imagine, and may occasion us to swim against the current. I certainly used my dental career in a very, very different way. It was not what was expected of me. After… The first year people thought what I was doing was very noble. And then after a couple of years I started to get the question, “So are you done with this Nicaragua thing yet?” You know, when are you coming home, you know, to go into a private practice and be a dentist like everybody understands? And so I think part of the call is also not just saying yes. You have to be prepared to say ‘yes’ but also being prepared that your choice may be unpopular with some people. It’s not gonna…. You know, you need to find your mentors in people that will support you. Now after all these years I think people can see, Yes, it was a career and a calling and the place I’m supposed to be. There’s no doubt about that, that God continues to call me as a missionary. Of that I’m quite certain. But it doesn’t mean your call just stops when you decide to say ‘yes’ to it, too. It can evolve and grow and teach you new things, and even in the same place where you’re serving you can be called into different areas of service.
Joe: You said that in a moment. How long of a time period was it from when you first had that initial like signing ‘yes’ on the card nervously to the place where you had moved into Nicaragua?
Belinda Forbes: For me? If you go back to my junior high school or the experience in the Pentecostal church that was, you know, in the mid-‘70s. So probably 8 or 9 years really. But when I was really starting to feel the call in dental school, that would have been the late ‘80s. And then I skipped over an important part of the call which was applying to Global Ministries as a missionary. When I understood in Nicaragua that this was what I was being called to, to use my health professional skills in a different way, to serve people, I was among Nicaraguan colleagues who also were using their health profession to serve their own people. And how could I not be motivated by that, to be in a group of people that felt the same way that I did? And here was an opportunity to actually do it. It was remarkable. And I came back and looked for other opportunities to make sure I wasn’t just focusing in too narrowly. In everything God kept pointing back to Nicaragua and this particular place to be. The General Board of Global Ministries trained and commissioned me as a missionary and saw fit to send me back and assign me there fulltime. And that was also a very part of the blessing. But if you want to talk about a timeline, I wasn’t commissioned until 1997. So we’re talking almost 10 years from when I was feeling the call to when I actually was then affirmed and sustained and stable in Nicaragua as a missionary.
Joe: Talk about that ‘cause sometimes our understanding is you’re called and then you go and it’s instantaneous.
Belinda Forbes: Not at all.
Joe: But it’s been a journey.
Belinda Forbes: Yes. And it requires a lot of patience and a lot of prayer and a lot of…. I did a ‘My Call’ video for the Higher Board of Education a couple of years ago. They had a little contest. That’s online somewhere if you want to find it. It’s called #I am called. Something like that. And it talks about the characteristics of a call. So being prepared to say ‘yes,’ being prepared to swim upstream, that it’s not gonna be popular. Prepare for your mission call. If you know where you’re going, well, read up on it. Find out about it. Don’t go into it blindly. Find out what the new context is. And also share your call. Remember to share it. There are some other characteristics on the video that I can’t think of. But those are the main ones. Also, elimination. Find out where you’re not called to first. All of those things. It’s not just I wake up one day and I’m called and I’m gonna do something. It can often be a feeling that God places on your heart that’s there for a long time. And you can’t ignore it. You can try to put it on the back burner, but it’s constantly there and it’s something you need to act on. And it may not play out exactly the way you think. Oh, the other thing is, whatever your skills are…. I mean, I was trained as a dentist. But I don’t use my skills in the way that even I thought I was going to. You need to be prepared for that. You may use them in very, very different ways.
Joe: But in some ways, too, the dentistry and the Spanish came together in this really unique way. And knowing that you were not…. I like that thought of knowing what you’re not called to.
Belinda Forbes: yeah. I didn’t feel called to be in it day in and day out. I love practicing in an AMC clinic. But I love the other aspects of the work, too—to be out in communities and doing mobile service, to be training people and working on developing programs that would empower the people. There are so few dentists, really, anywhere in the world. There are just not enough of us out there. We can’t do it all. And so my first year I thought I was there to solve all the dental problems in Nicaragua. That was a lesson learned. I’m really not. I can’t. So what better way than to use the model AMC has been using for years which is to train local people with capacity to do dental services in their community, or to train teachers and schools to have oral hygiene programs so kids from an early age are already taking better care of their teeth so that we don’t see them years later with all the problems that can ensue from not having that education and that access, to even something as simple as a toothbrush. Those are … just seem…. They make so much sense for me. And it was a place where I wanted to use my profession. And I couldn’t if I was just gonna be fulltime in a practice. So I want to re-emphasize, there’s nothing wrong with private practice. It’s great and it is a noble calling. And, again, a lot of my colleagues have done it and done it successfully. It’s a great way to serve their own community. I just felt there was something more that I could be doing…
Belinda Forbes: …and process of elimination, and really acting on that, as difficult as it was, because the expectation was that’s not what you’re supposed to be doing. And a call can be about that. It’s about swimming against the current sometimes. So we have to be courageous, too, and trust. Put our trust that God has great things in store for us.
Joe: One last question I ask every guest on Get Your Spirit in Shape is: What do you do to keep your spirit in shape?
Belinda Forbes: Well, beyond the daily practices of reading Scripture. I have some terrific reflections that come in my email. So I do it in the digital age. But it means it’s right there and accessible. And a reflection that comes in from a local church member in a church in western North Carolina. Monday morning devotionals at AMC, our church community, Bible study with other missionaries. So it can sometimes come in pieces, but it all comes together. And particularly a group of ladies that I’m connected with in my book club. And we choose books that are from other places in the world. Sometimes Latin America, but other regions so that we don’t get too focused and narrow in the context that we’re in. We remember to step outside and celebrate other places and other countries and cultures that are having issues. We learn and grow from that. We have great conversation and support one another. We’re actually secretly a food club. So we actually talk a lot about the food we’re gonna eat ‘cause we try to align it with the culture of the book. So, you know, eating different foods and just enjoying each other’s company are some of the practices that help sustain me.
Joe: What a great image of you getting together and doing those things. Thank you so much for this conversation. I’ve deeply enjoyed it.
Belinda Forbes: Thank you so much. Grace and peace.
Joe: That was Doctor Belinda Forbes, dentist and missionary in Nicaragua. To learn more about her and her work click on over to UMC.org/podcasts and look for this episode of Get Your Spirit in Shape. We put links there to a couple of videos that feature Belinda, links to her bio and her newsletter, and a link where you can support her work in Nicaragua.
There are also links to other episodes of Get Your Spirit in Shape, the Compass, United Methodist Communication’s podcast for seekers and other United Methodist podcasts that you might enjoy.
Thanks for listening, downloading and subscribing. I’ll be back soon with another conversation to help us keep our souls as healthy as our bodies. I’m Joe Iovino. Peace.