This is a rather long post, but I realized not long ago that I’ve never fully told the details of how I ended up exactly where I am. I’ve given the general background information of what caused me to leave the U.S. on the Story page of my blog. And in an early post, I highlighted some of the reasons many people choose Ecuador as a relocation spot. But for me, it wasn’t my choice. I moved here on faith, and today, on the 3 year anniversary (can you believe it?!) of the day I arrived here, it seemed fitting to finally fully share how it all happened.
As detailed in my Story page, at the beginning of 2009, the Lord began revealing to me that the U.S. was the Babylon of Revelation 17 & 18. At first, just as Ezekiel said after his vision in chapter 3:15, I was “astonished,” “overwhelmed,” and “distressed.” I shared it with no one for many months, but agonized over what the Lord was showing me and continued to question Him and ask for confirmation (which I continued to receive). I couldn’t imagine what He wanted me to do with this information and why He was revealing it to me (although I was confident He was revealing it to others also, and since then I’ve found out there were many). After several months, He highlighted to me the verse, “Come out of her my people.” I asked Him what He meant by that, and specifically what He was saying to me. It was then He began to tell me to, “Get your house in order, I’m going to send you somewhere.” It all seemed so unbelievable and yet He continued to confirm it to me. I sat on it for 2 years without making any plans, and finally at one point in essence told God, “I believe what you are telling me, but I just don’t see how it can happen. There are three things standing in my way of preparing to leave.” I told Him I had a husband who wasn’t on board with what God was telling me. I had an aging (but healthy) mother, who was widowed, and I was her only child. I knew that God had told me years earlier I was to take care of her until she died. And I was also serving many people in a very busy volunteer inner-healing prayer ministry, that took up a lot of my time. These were the things that kept me from being motivated to make preparations to leave.
At some point, I shared with my (former) husband what I was hearing, and of course he didn’t believe it. But eventually I asked him to just humor me and if we were to move somewhere outside of the U.S., where could we go? There were several specific criteria on the list (including a low cost of living), that narrowed the field considerably. I bought a few books and subscribed to a few publications written for people looking to repatriate. As I processed and prayed, several options dropped off the list and Ecuador kept coming to the top. One particular daily email publication gave a variety of information about Ecuador, and I specifically began paying attention when properties were advertised for sale, to get an idea of the values.
After some time and to my surprise, my husband actually suggested we make a survey trip to Ecuador. I remembered there was a missionary couple supported by a church where we had previously attended, who had lived in Cuenca for over 20 years, so I began by contacting them. She said they would be happy to host us and show us around that area. I was also exploring other areas for us to look at. I was more interested in living in the mountains, but my husband was more interested in the beach. Of course, ultimately I trusted God would lead me to where He wanted me to be.
In the Spring of 2011, I was narrowing down plans and approaching making travel arrangements, all the while praying whether this was God’s timing. I was feeling some hesitation, so was proceeding with caution. When I contacted the missionary couple again about scheduling a time, she informed me that just a few days prior, the doctors had discovered her husband had a large mass in his stomach. They were already in the states for the birth of a grandchild and were now planning to stay indefinitely while he received medical care. This caused me to begin to re-evaluate the structure of our trip. But just as I was coming close to nailing down alternative plans and arrangements, my mother’s health crisis began and in the middle of it, my husband left.
Later, as I sat beside my mother’s bedside while she was dying, I literally said to God, “You really are serious!” In just six short months, my life had taken a watershed turn and everything that I told God stood in my way, was wiped from my life. (My prayer ministry came to a screeching hault the day my mother fell, and the Lord never allowed me to pick it back up after she passed away.)
After my mother’s death, I finally began the process of “getting my house in order,” which of course first meant cleaning out her apartment, selling her things and dealing with her estate. I also had my husband’s divorce to deal with, which was finalized in June of 2012. With all that behind me, I began to ask God the question, “Is it still Ecuador?” Somehow moving to such a country alone felt even more intimidating, than if I had a spouse to accompany me.
But literally every time I prayed that prayer, within 48 hours someone would randomly bring up Ecuador in conversation! This country I’d never really heard anyone mention previously, was turning up everywhere! Whenever I’m wrestling with whether I’m really hearing from God on something, I’ve always asked Him to confirm things to me by “the testimony of two or three witnesses,” (2 Corinthians 13:1) and He has always been faithful to answer that request (with three). He did that with the Babylon message, and He did it with this as well.
First, I met a new girl at the church I was attending and felt compelled to reach out to get to know her better (some may think that was a common occurrence for me, but actually it was not – it’s the only time I can think of that I did that). She had a very busy schedule and it actually took us several months to finally meet for breakfast, but when we did, it was just a normal opportunity to learn more about her. She was engaged at the time and attending seminary school, and I asked her to share with me the overall journey of her life until then. Imagine my surprise when she shared that she had lived in Ecuador! I quizzed her more about it and discovered she loved her time there. I then hesitantly shared with her that I believed God might be calling me to move to Ecuador and that I had just been praying for Him to confirm it.
The next time this happened, I’d gathered with all the ladies from my former home church for a reunion of sorts. We all met at a restaurant to catch up with what was going on in each other’s lives. When we turned to one of the younger girls, who was a speech therapist in a school, we asked what she was going to be doing for her summer vacation. She replied, “Not much – visiting my family, relaxing…oh yes, and going to Ecuador!” My response was, “What???” She then shared with us that her brother and sister-in-law had recently sold almost everything because they felt led to move to Ecuador! I can’t remember what I shared with the group at that point, but did tell her I had been feeling a similar call. She told me she would send me their blog and I followed it the whole time they were here. They didn’t get to stay as long as they had hoped, but have been back to visit and have a huge heart for Ecuador. I was later able to meet them, we’ve stayed in touch, and they even visited with me right after I arrived, when they returned to visit the orphanage they’d worked with here (which, incidentally, is only 2 hours down the coast from me).
The third and final confirmation came when I learned in the fall of 2012, that my nephew (by marriage), an atheist and who I hadn’t seen in some time, was in an internship at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. This was a place I’d visited many times for conferences and spending time in the prayer room. It was earlier in April of that year that I attended the “Passion for Jesus” conference with friends, and received my life changing prophecy. I was so anxious to hear first hand about the turn of events in my nephew’s life, and how he went from being an atheist to interning at IHOP-KC. But I had a very busy November and December coming up, with a trip to Arizona to visit family for a week at Thanksgiving, then with only a few days turn around, a trip to Israel that would get me home just a week before Christmas. So I asked my nephew if I could fly up for one day and visit him. I took the first Southwest Airlines flight of the morning, rented a car, picked him up for breakfast, spent the day with him (including dinner with him and another friend from my church who was also interning at that time) and then drove back to the airport and took the last flight home. As we were driving to breakfast, I told my nephew to start at the beginning and tell me the whole story of what turned his life around. It is an absolutely incredible testimony of how God broke into his life in a dramatic way! But at the beginning of the story, while still an atheist, he told me he had studied the history and patterns of the rise and fall of civilizations and saw the handwriting on the wall for the U.S., so he was making plans to move to ECUADOR!
Keep in mind all of these within a six month period, were on the heels of a prayer 24-48 hours before, “Lord, is it still Ecuador?” At that point, I finally knew without a doubt I had my answer.
My trip to Israel that December was very providential as well. It had been a longing in my heart to go for many years. In 2010, I was trying to put together a group trip (ironically with my friend’s brother that later came here – he takes tour groups to Israel. My spiritual twin brother actually went on one with them earlier this year). But then my husband decided to leave me and squashed it (he later returned, but the trip never got planned). After my mom died, someone mentioned going to Israel and it resurrected the desire in me. I asked, “Lord, would it be in your will for me to go now?” Once again, the heavens answered and shortly afterwards, I got an email from a group I’d never heard of and to this day don’t know how I got on their email list. It was headed up by a lady wanting to host a “Global Day of Prayer” in Israel on 12/12/12 (interestingly enough, they had hosted their first Global Day of Prayer the year before on 11/11/11). I looked at the itinerary and the purpose of the trip. They didn’t just want to go as tourists, but as prayer warriors and worshippers to all of the sites. They were also visiting several houses of prayer, in addition to broadcasting the Global Day of Prayer internationally from the CBN studios in Jerusalem. I showed a friend, who had been to Israel several times, the itinerary and he said, “I cannot see anything it is missing and the price is unbelievable.” So I contacted them and signed up within less than two months before the trip.
The trip felt like it was a “kiss from God” and a sweet present from Him at the end of one of the hardest years of my life. But I also sensed it was to inspire me towards the next journey God had for me. I felt, even before I went, that it would be a line of demarcation in my life and that things would move quickly after I returned. I was the only one in the group who did not have any connection with anyone else in the rest of the group. I made friendly acquaintances and people were kind, but this aloneness allowed the trip to be a very personal and healing journey for me. As I was being symbolically re-baptized in the Jordan river, I told God that my whole life was His and I was ready to do whatever He was calling me to do – I was closing the door on all my past and if He would open the next door, I would walk through it.
Also on that trip, I can remember when we visited Caeserea by the Sea. As we stood at the ruins and our guide gave us an overview of the history of the area, I was mesmerized watching the waves of the Mediterranean ocean. After the guide dismissed us to have our own time to explore, I couldn’t seem to tear myself away. I remember saying to him, “I love the ocean – I could stand and watch it all day long.”
On the heels of returning home from Israel, I sat in my living room that following Saturday morning and earnestly prayed to God. I once again reiterated that my whole life was His, that I was ready to close the door on my past and walk through whatever door He opened for me. I had no idea what that would look like, but I vowed not to search it out, but wait for Him to bring it to me. I trusted that He would leave no doubt in my mind that it was His door. I even remember saying, “It might even be some random email, like the one I got that led me to Israel.” Shortly after praying, I checked my email (only as a matter of course, not expecting anything). I saw a message from a publication I was subscribed to about Ecuador. I had gotten to where I deleted most of what I received from them by that time, because it was redundant information. I especially paid no attention to anything about real estate. But a funny thing happened that day – my mind purposed to delete the email, but my hand opened it. It was there that I read about a development with beach property for sale. Having been looking at property prices for the previous few years, I knew the asking price was good. I began to follow a breadcrumb trail of research about the area, developer, etc. This led me to discover the blog of Steve Watkins, who was literally arriving in Puerto Cayo just as I was reading his blog. The details of that day and the first contact I made with him are chronicled in this post.
The following day, Sunday, I went to church. My mind was reeling with the impact of what I was apparently about to step out to do. I wanted prayer from spiritual elders. There were two men in my church who I looked up to and had specifically confided in over the years what I believed the Lord was showing me about the U.S. and that He was calling me to leave. One of the men was frequently absent from church at that time, due to travel and other commitments. But that morning, in a rare convergence, both men were there and when the pastor asked for those who wanted to pray with people to go down front, both men went down and stood together. I made a bee line straight for them and said, “I think God is opening a door for me to move to Ecuador!” They looked at me and smiled and said, “Let’s pray.” Their prayers were powerful and confirming, and I felt all the more confident that this was it.
So as the calendar clicked over to 2013, I was making the arrangements to buy my property and build my house. And as I sat at home with my part-time job taking “bee calls,” my full-time job was cleaning out and sorting through all the things from my childhood that my mother had left stored in the closets of the house where I grew up and was presently living in. I also had many antiques and collectibles from my parents there as well. It took lots of research and selling things through eBay, collectors and dealers, as well as to friends and family, to dispose of all that was in my home. Not to mention photos, memorabilia and heirlooms to sort through and pass on to other family members. Imagine going through everything in your home, not just to move it somewhere else, but to totally dispose of it down to a few suitcases! For 9 months (the same amount of time a woman waits and prepares to give birth), I was literally sorting through and purging my entire life, in order to prepare for a new one.
As the months ticked by, I was growing anxious because I wasn’t getting the “green light” for the timing of when I should leave. I desperately wanted and felt that I was to be gone before the end of the year. But as chronicled in my post “The 11/11 Story,” the timing finally emerged, and after I booked my plane tickets on faith, believing that God had set that date, with less than 8 weeks to go, everything rapidly fell into place. My house sold the first day it was on the market, a friend said she wanted to buy my car, another friend offered for me to stay with them after my house sold, etc. It was amazing how many things wrapped up in a less than two month period of time. I was walking through a door into the unknown – a country I’d never been to before, where I knew no one and didn’t speak the language. But I knew Who was leading me, so I knew it would be good.
After moving here, I heard story after story of people who traveled the whole coast of Ecuador and when they found Puerto Cayo said, “This is the place.” It wasn’t until after I moved here, that God reminded me of that statement I’d made in Israel. He knew, despite what I had thought, that the ocean was the place for me. But not only that, He brought me to a unique place where the mountains meet the ocean. I literally have an ocean view in front of me and mountains on the sides and behind. Every day on my morning beach walk, I walk looking straight at the mountains of Machalilla National Park as they spill into the ocean in front of me. God is so good! (In addition, the predominant food on the coast here is, of course, seafood, which I love. The predominant food in the mountains of Ecuador is “Cuy” – roasted or fried guinea pig – YUK!)
More and more I see the reasons God brought me here (not the least of which is the rapid decline the U.S. has taken since I left). Those who are not people of faith, will likely find the details of this account hard to believe, and even some who are might doubt. But God made sure, through all the providential events that led me here, that no matter what might happen, I would never doubt that He was the One who orchestrated it all, and I am confident that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be!
PS – in reviewing this post, I realized I left out a key component. Some may wonder why did God call ME to leave? I’m sure there are several reasons, most of which I probably won’t know on this side. But I do believe part of them were a culmination of two things. 1) The HEAVY burden on my heart for many, many years regarding the spiritual direction I saw that our nation was headed; and 2) some years prior, God drew my attention to one of the very few prayers Jesus told us to pray. I figured if He told us to pray it, it must be important. So without fully understanding what I might be asking for, on faith I began to pray, “that I might escape all that is about to happen and that I might be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36) As the Apostle Paul says, we don’t always know what we ought to pray for, but the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us. (Romans 8:26) I believe in praying this prayer in faith, it was applied towards what was coming on America, and God in His mercy called me out to escape (and to be a voice to warn others). But just so you know, I still pray that prayer. 🙂