we got off the plane in Louisville, we could tell that this weekend
would be a change from the norm. We had arrived for our
"Mission Placement Event," the weekend conference
where we would finally find out which country we would be living in
for our mission work in 2003-2004. We were greeted by a slew
of recent college graduates who had each just finished their own
year-long mission service term. When everyone started asking
us, "So, when do you graduate?", we knew that the Young
Adult Volunteer Program of the Presbyterian Church is skewed toward
the low end of the advertised 19-35 year old age range.
Gabby answered the question by saying, "I graduated college in
'93." the looks on the hosts' faces said it all. They
realized that we were LEGALLY drinking beer when they were still
struggling with long division. Their response was,
"Wow... you don't look THAT old!" Thanks kiddos,
be honest, that's about as far as our semi-experienced egos would
take us. From that moment on, Gabby and I came to realize that
these people, young though they may be, had recently transformed
themselves through mission work. Every one of them had an
amazing story to tell. They were stories of growth...
suffering... joy... frustration... enlightenment and change.
We had a tremendous amount to learn from them. Each had gone
abroad to change the world, and found that, instead, the
change occurred within. God had truly worked miracles in their
Sure, some folks have called us
crazy for "checking out of the real world" for a
year. Here, it was different. It was refreshing to be
among dozens of people who had the same "wacky idea" that
we did. Granted, doing mission work straight out of college is
different than leaving behind a career to embark on the
journey. Still, these were bold people. Heck, some of
the girls looked fresh out of high school, and they were talking
about spending a year in Egypt BY THEMSELVES! There is an
amazing power working in those folks.
During the weekend,
we had the chance to talk with mission coordinators from all over
the globe - Kenya, Egypt, Thailand, The Phillipines, Argentina,
Northern Ireland, and India to name a few.
After loads of prayer and discussion, we decided that Kenya and
Guatemala would be our top two choices, with Guatemala having a
slight edge on Kenya. While you might be sitting there
envisioning Gabby and me wearing loin cloths and living with
Massai tribesmen, the Africa program was actually metropolitan,
based largely in Nairobi, Kenya. The Guatemala program is more
rural. There, both Gabby and I would tower over the indigenous
Mayan Indians. Wherever we go, we are sure to be outsiders, so
either one is just the cross-cultural growth experience we were looking
for. We wrote both locations down on a sheet of paper
and turned it in. Now, it was up to the Mission Service
Recruitment Office to place us.
On the final night,
we were told that the decision had been made. We would be
spending our next year in GUATEMALA!
We depart on August 19th
for Guatemala City. Immediately, we'll take a bus to a city
called Quetzaltenango where we will live with a host family for 5
weeks while participating in a language immersion
After the 5 weeks,
we will leave Quetzaltenango and move on to our full-time
assignment. We're not sure what our official jobs will be yet
or what village we'll be living in for the remaining 11
months. We should find out by mid-June. To be honest, we
don't have much of a preference. We're happy to just put our
faith in God and trust that we'll be doing what we were meant to be
doing. We HAVE requested that we are in a place with
electricity and plumbing, and we've been told that we should have
those two things (most of the time).
(about 150,000 people)
Gabby and I are working hard to get ready to leave. I've
already sold my truck. The house is up for sale, so we're
spending a TON of time keeping it clean for any potential
visitors. You never realize how wonderful it is to leave a
pair of underwear laying on the floor until you can't do it
anymore. Cherish every opportunity you have! As far as
jobs go, my business is officially taking off. Luckily, I have
worked a deal with Character
Of Excellence, the consulting firm I am associated with.
I'll be transitioning my existing clients to them. And
Gabby? She will be leaving Dell on July 4th after 6 1/2
years. She's sad and excited all at the same time.
Beyond that, we
will soon start fundraising for our mission. It will cost
$13,000 for both of us to participate in the program. Our
church has already pledged generously, but you can bet that we'll be
hitting up all of our family and friends for any handouts and
prayers that might help our cause. Check back here often for
updates! Maybe we'll keep a running tally like the Jerry Lewis
Telethon or something!
We can't wait to
share this experience with all of you. It promises to be a
time of incredible growth, both personally and spiritually. We
feel like we've learned so much already, and we haven't even left
the country! We truly thank God for all of the blessings He's
given us, and just hope to be able to pay Him back in a small way by
doing His work (whatever that may be) in Guatemala.