God’s faithfulness and provision has been astounding all through this journey. The list of things, large and small, that He has done to direct and provide for me is what has kept me at peace knowing I am following His lead. The job I thought would be part-time/temporary until I moved here, I found out would transfer with me here; my house sold in one day; my good friend Gail bought my car; Gail & Jefferson agreed to accompany me and many other things just “fell into place”.
But the most recent provision (which will answer the question many of you have asked about where I am staying) is my sweet landlady, Maria. My original plan was to stay in the small hotel that is next door to my development and where a few of the others that are building there are staying. When I contacted one of the lot owners that was staying there to find out details, he also mentioned there were other options, including a lady named Maria, with a place to rent. But I dismissed it thinking it would be better for me to come here first and get the lay of the land, before I decided on any other place to rent. Then, several weeks later, I emailed another lot owner that I’ve been in touch with since the beginning to ask his advice about a visa question. At the end of his response, he told me that if I was looking for a place to rent while my house was being built, he had a “new friend” who was from the same county in Florida that he and his wife are from, and she had a place and was flexible on the rent. He described her as a “lovely compassionate lady” and said he had already asked her if he could give me her email address. Had that much of the way not been paved for me, I probably would have dismissed it again, but his description of her (and a nudge from the Holy Spirit) made me think I’d better at least check it out. So I emailed and told her I was interested and asked her to tell me a little about her place. I also told her I had a cat and would understand if she did not want someone with a pet. She responded that she loved animals, cats were her favorite and her daughter had 37 of them! She then told me that her place was just a mile from where mine was being built and she would rent to me for the same price the hotel would charge (which is much less than a small apartment in the states) for a 3 bedroom, two bath condo with fridge, stove, microwave and full-sized washer dryer – and it is on the beach! This whole email exchange began just 2 days before I was moving out of my house in Dallas! On top of everything, she arranged a van to pick us up at the airport, and rode with it the 2 1/2 hours each way to come meet us (at 12:30 a.m.!) so we would not have to stay the night in Guayaquil.
Maria was born in Ecuador, but moved to the U.S. when she was 13, married an American and has raised a family. But many years ago she fell in love with Puerto Cayo and always dreamed of living here. Ten years ago she bought this property and her condominium (with duplicate units on top and bottom) was finished this past May. She is the best of both worlds – she speaks fluent Spanish and is very savvy in the ways and customs of the Ecuadorian culture, but is also very used to the customs and expectations of having lived in the U.S.
It wasn’t long into our email exchange that I sensed she was also a woman of faith, and once I got here and met her, I felt blessed beyond measure! We are truly spiritual soul sisters – it would amaze me statements she would make about her beliefs and faith that were exactly like things you would hear me say. And there are a myriad of other things we have in common, including the fact that she passionately practices aromatherapy (I bet many of you don’t know that in my “former life” I became a certified aromatherapist in 1995, but I had gotten out of practice – I am grateful to have someone to rekindle the passion!)
For now, Maria is back in the states visiting family until February. She had been worried about leaving her place unattended and was grateful to have someone here while she is gone (although I am not alone, because after she agreed to rent to me, she met a sweet Canadian couple, Bill & Elaine, who needed to rent a place until their house in another development is finished in February – so they rented out her condo upstairs). Although I miss her terribly and cannot wait until she returns and we can spend more time getting to know each other, me learning from her, and us getting to praise God together (and she loves to travel, so hopefully we’ll do some Ecuador road trips as well!), I do see God’s wisdom in this time apart. After a very intense past two years, I believe God wants me to take some time to rest and likely if she were here, I would want to “go, go, go” with her. I also might have become too dependent on her, and although God may provide people to assist us, He always wants us to rely on Him. But once again, without any effort on my part, He has provided for me “immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20) – thank you Jesus!