Short Answer: to one of the first opportunities we were given — the Kekchi people in Guatemala where we will help them start a coffee processing business so they can earn more than just pickers’ wages for the coffee they grow…this will probably take 4-6 years to accomplish.
Long Answer: Although this was one of the first opportunities we were given, we ruled it out as it did seem to require a long-term commitment and because we do not have the language knowledge to go in and start working without language training. When we left for training in June, we were considering two other opportunities: one to help with starting up a milk-processing plant in Albania and one to assist with the Mennonite Guest House in Nairobi, Kenya. At training, we met two other families who are going to Albania to work on that business. Ted spent many evenings discussing with them various aspects of the business and how he might be a part of that. Ted also had the opportunity to meet with several people from EMM and discuss the Guest House and the plans and hopes for that; he even skyped with the current manager at one point. Throughout these conversations, we would go back and forth like a ping-pong ball as far as which opportunity we felt was right for us. (Anyone watching this blog may have noticed the changing header pictures during this time.) Although we could do both of them well, neither of us felt a real peace about either of them. It got to the last week, and then the last day of training, and we still didn’t feel settled. However, something said during one session on the last Thursday sparked a memory in Ted, and the next day he asked Steve from EMM about the Guatemalan coffee project. As Steve began to describe it, everything came together. Julie came up during part of the conversation and felt the same way–finally, there was a peace, a feeling that THIS was the right path. We didn’t even have to discuss it. We had a chance to talk more with Steve about the opportunity later in the day and during a prayer time and other conversations experienced many confirmations.
Ted still plans to be involved in assisting with the Albanian project from this end; as such, he went down to Lancaster County this week to help with a couple of investors’ meetings. While there, he was able to talk more with EMM about our going to Guatemala and switching to a long-term track. Although there appeared to be a roadblock at one point, God continued to be faithful and provide encouragement and confirmations.
At this point, there are a few more steps to the application process we need to complete as part of switching from short-term to long-term. Then we will hopefully be able to get our budget and begin fundraising. As part of being successful in this endeavor, we need to learn Spanish well. To accomplish this, EMM recommends that we attend a year-long language learning school in Costa Rica. Their terms start in January, May, and August, and we are hoping to go in May or August 2014.
We are thankful that we were encouraged to attend the long-term training in June despite our short-term plans. God’s guidance during these last few months has truly been amazing. There is so much more to share about the specifics of how God spoke to us, but we would much rather describe it in person.
Ted and I wish to thank everyone that has been praying for us in this discernment part of the process and ask that you continue to pray as we walk this new journey with our Lord.
I will close with a verse that was given to us during a prayer time at training:
“But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” Isaiah 53:12