The Decision

When 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.  

When 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, thanks alot.

To 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 lives.

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 program.  

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).

Quetzeltenango, Guatemala 
(about 150,000 people)

We are incredibly excited!  Over the placement weekend, we had grown close to the mission coordinators in Guatemala.  Their names are Joe and Selena Keesecker.  They are a phenomenal couple.  They will be our "mentors" for the year.  Though they may be a 12 hour drive from our final assignment spot, we are sure to learn a lot from them during the year.  We look forward to growing closer to them.

Until then, 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.

If you have any questions, comments,
or advice for us, drop us a line!.