Did God feel like this on Day 4 of creating the world? So much to get done, I just need a few more hours in each day!
We’re another week closer to leaving for Ecuador, and so much has been done in the past few weeks. Here was my thought process going into what I knew had to be done: garage sale (or actually a walk-inside-my-house-into-any-room-you-want-and-just-buy-something-from-that-room sale), move out everything that didn’t sale in that “garage” sale, pack and store some the more personal items, say goodbye to our pet (golden retriever named Sadie), console our broken-hearted daughter, pack the luggage for Ecuador, don’t forget to leave some of that out for New York, drive to New York/almost Canada from Atlanta, and attend a training that might get us prepared for life in Ecuador. I was excited to be getting it done, but in the whirlwind of immediate progress, it was hard to process everything. Now that we have a few minutes to reflect back on the past few weeks, here’s how it really happened.
In January we moved into a house for which we signed a 6-month rental agreement. Nice house, plenty of space, beautiful views, great area for our dog - and we only had to sign a 6-month agreement. That’s kind of unheard of in our market. It’s typically a 12-month minimum, but God had plans for us that we didn’t know about at the time. A week after moving in, we found out about an opportunity to serve in Ecuador and thought it might be an answer to 2 years worth of prayers...seriously. Fast forward, that 6-month agreement is allowing us to leave for our new journey without having to break our agreement and literally “pay” the consequences. Even more, there was a family waiting to move in, so we moved out mid-month and only paid for the time we were there. In a time when every penny counts, half-rent is a pretty sweet blessing.
The process of trying to sale all of our stuff was a little different. It’s funny to look at it now and see just how much we were able to raise off of that sale. Looking at all of the stuff that was still left at the end of the weekend made me feel like we hadn’t sold very much at all, however, the reality was that we had sold all of our larger items and quite a bit of the smaller stuff. But the biggest blessings through the whole process were the people that helped and the people we met. Without a few of the family members that showed up and worked hard to help us clear out the house, I’d probably still be there trying to figure out where the “thingy that was sittin’ on top of the black shelf over there by the TV” goes. And then there were the two Latino men who came in, purchased a few small things, and then prayed over my wife in Spanish before they left. I have a suspicion that they were Ecuadorian. I just see God working that way in our lives right now. And I can’t forget about the lady who bought a few things after telling us that she had driven by each day of the sale but hadn’t stopped yet. So the last day, after driving by she felt a strong feeling to turn around and come to our sale. Without knowing why, she obeyed that feeling. It turns out that her husband is a minister and she became very interested in our mission. But the wildest blessing was from the gentleman who walked in while I was sleeping in the only chair that hadn’t sold yet (true story, and yes I’m extremely grateful for my wife and the other family members that were there to greet him and show him around). He didn’t buy anything, but I woke up just in time to see him give a sizeable “donation” to my wife to help us out. God is amazing!
So after selling all that we could, we finished packing everything else and cleared the house. It took some serious work to get it all done in time (2:15am on move-out day), and some serious helpers with trucks and SUV’s - and a God that could hold the rain off until the truck was covered on the last run - and some other serious helpers that could move boxes into a guest house before they got wet while everyone else was loading up the next load. And it all happened.
Finally, we got everything out, some things stored, some things ready for us to sort when we get back. And we got on the road headed for Pre-Field Orientation in New York. All the while I was thinking, “what is Pre-Field Orientation...exactly?” We split the drive into a few days, because we had time to do so. Along the way, we decided to stop and do a few things we had never done before. So now I can officially say that I have seen and stood in Lake Eerie (cool for us GA folks), been to Canada and paid way too much for American food there, and visited Niagara Falls. Truly an exciting day.
In the middle of all of this, God was at work in other powerful ways. The single biggest dilemma we faced to this point was figuring out what to do with Sadie - the amazing golden retriever that was Madeleine’s gift this past Christmas. The deal is that we cannot fly her down to Ecuador with us for now because she is not trained as a service dog, therefore, she cannot fly in the cabin with us. Also, it is too hot in the cargo area of the plane during the summer months, so the airlines won’t fly pets down there until it gets cooler. So we have been praying for a family that would be willing to take care of her for about 6 months and then give her back when we return at Christmas time (assuming we feel that she would be ok after a half-year of evaluating the country and our lifestyle in Ecuador). Sounds like a crazy a prayer for sure, but guess what?! There just happens to be a crazy awesome family who offered to do just that! So God provided again, as He always does. Sadie is now with a great family who is fostering her until we can decide if she can live a good lifestyle with us in Ecuador. And if the answer to that is no, then they are happy to adopt her into their family. Thank you, Jesus.
At this point, it’s time to head to the PFO (Pre-Field Orientation) and figure out exactly what this trip is all about. And it’s everything I thought it might be and so much more. So I’ll try to sum up our experience over the past week in a few thoughts.
First, WE’RE NOT CRAZY! Some of you thought we were, but we’re not. It’s been incredible to spend the week with so many individuals and families alike that are all in the same boat (living out of my car, waiting on my visa, and headed to a place where I can’t speak the language because I think God told me to). There are people here who range from just graduating college and accepting their first teaching position to people who are retired from a long career and entering the mission field for the first time in their lives while quickly approaching 70 years of age. There are single people, people who have been married for 1 week (yes, 1 week), married people with kids, and married people with grandkids. All leaving the comforts of the lifestyle they have grown up in to head to something very new, very exciting, and yet very unknown. Every meal has been spent with a person or couple and sharing everyone’s experiences to help encourage one another.
We have had the amazing opportunity to meet several people who will also be working at Alliance Academy International in Quito, Ecuador. There is the Peachey family from Ohio. The husband/dad will be teaching at the school and their two kids will be students. There is Ms. Crim from Alabama who just graduated college and is accepting her first job (missionary teacher in a foreign country). Talk about a true step in faith. And Mrs. Wells is here. She is one of the directors of the school, and it has been such a great experience to spend the week with her. She has been such a big help in getting us prepared specifically for life in Quito.
The training here has been beyond my expectations. Much of it at this point has been centered on cross-culture life and mission. We have had extensive training on learning more about ourselves and our own culture/sub-culture/deeper sub-culture/etc. that we are leaving, the culture we are headed into, and trying to make that transition “successfully”. We know
that this transition won’t be easy, but I feel much more prepared mentally than I was a week ago. One of the best thoughts I have heard so far is week is to “fail your way forward.” Basically, we’re going to make mistakes as far as the new culture is concerned. I’m certainly going to make mistakes in learning a new language and testing it out on some of the locals! But the point is to try. Don’t expect to be perfect in the transition, just try your best. Make mistakes and learn from them. Fail your way forward.
To sum it all up, this has been an amazing few weeks of being constantly reminded by our all-powerful God that we are being obedient to His call and He will take care of every need we have. Not a bad few weeks. written by: Scott
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