I tried to retire - God had other plans
Three years ago, Brian and I left the United States and headed to Guatemala to enjoy our early retirement. We knew we wanted to retire in Guatemala after so many short term mission trips. We would always go to a town called San Marcos, in the Department of San Marcos. This town is in the north western highlands and the climate is perfect for us. During these trips we always served at a local orphanage called Canica. We fell in love with the kids and the people of the town and the church Palabra en Acción. Each time we came home from a trip, we had the same discussion. We should move to Guatemala and retire early. Then time would go by, the discussion faded and nothing more was done. As the next year would roll around, or the next trip (sometimes we went twice a year) our retirement dreams would be reignited. Finally we decided we needed to either do something about it or quit talking about it. The plan was obvious and we had overlooked the most important ingredient. Prayer. We had each prayed, a little, but we had not taken this to prayer with our Lord together. This would be a life changing move and all we ever did was make small talk about it. Once we got serious and really decided to include God in our plans, duh, things started changing and moving fast. Doors started opening and retirement was in our sights.
We sold everything, packed our car and a trailer and on Oct. 1, 2018 we were off. On Oct. 6, 2018 we were safely in our new home in San Marcos, San Marcos, Guatemala. Now there is a whole lot to this story that I am not writing at this very moment, but this blog is to set the stage as to how we went from retirement to essentially the mission field. While in San Marcos it was nice to be so close to Canica. We could visit the kids, help out at the orphanage as needed and attend Palabra en Acción for worship. We enjoyed this small town and loved our Guatemalan family. Sure I missed my American family and friends and would get homesick occasionally. But in our hearts, we knew this was home. Of course the Covid pandemic didn't make things any easier, that was for sure. But we made things work. We were still able to visit the kids, most of the time.
As we were nearing the end of two years of living in San Marcos, restlessness started to set in for me. I have no doubt that Covid had a lot to do with it. But I also missed the modern conveniences of living closer to a bigger city, as well as many of the cultural things that were offered in the larger towns. So we made the very difficult decision to move an hour and a half away to Quetzaltenango (the second largest city in Guatemala). Locally, Quetzaltenango is know by it's Mayan name, Xela, pronounced, Shay-La. The nice thing is that Xela is still in the north western Highlands and we still had this wonderful mountain climate that we loved.
Even though we made this move, we still chose to return to San Marcos once or twice a month to visit "our" church and "our" kids. During this past two year period, one of the kids at Canica became the first to graduate high school with a desire to attend college. So we invited Luisa to live with us. For her first year of college we were still in San Marcos. When we made the move to Xela, she decided to come with us. Here in Xela she switched colleges and now attends a college that is known more for its studies in Physical Therapy (her career of choice) and she enjoys it so much more. Over the years, I had often said that I wonder what the kids will do when they graduate. I have been watching Luisa grow and come out of her shell, especially after we made the move to Xela. Now it was becoming evident. God was working in my heart to offer a similar opportunity to some of the other kids as the are approaching graduation.
And just like that, I had a job again. My pastor had told me that there was no such thing as retirement in the Bible. But I had no idea I would be working full time for the Lord in such a different way. I needed a house and way to pay for it, I needed to help these kids get an education. I felt a call to show them that the world had more to offer them. I needed HELP!! With a lot of prayer and a lot of conversations with God, He provided. His avenue included so many people in my life that are faithful to Christ. I could not have done it without them. Once I started to move, pray, listen, wait and move again, things just started happening. So now here I am, no longer totally retired, working for God, and helping young adults fulfill their educational desires. Also though, they are learning there is more to life, there are choices they can make, they really can pursue their dreams not just dream them.
This is most definitely the "Reader's Digest" version of this journey, but I needed to get something going so that I could share about the birth of XelaHouse with all of you.
Thank you so much for all of your prayers, thoughts and monetary support. I did not do this alone. God put the desire in me, but all of you helped make it happen in this earthly realm. A huge shoutout to my husband, Brian. He has been along side me the whole way, he keeps me grounded, slows me down, makes me think and also builds me up. He has worked every bit as hard to bring this vision to fruition.