A Final Warning – Worth The Watch

Hello Friends,

Yes, I know I haven’t written anything in an unprecedented nearly 4 months.  A few of you have checked in to make sure I’m still on the planet – thank you.  I’m just fine, actually.  I have just been doing all of the same kinds of things I’ve written about before (including a trip to Cuenca and Salinas).  Plus, for some reason, my inspiration just shut down.  I started a few blog posts, but never finished them.  I just can’t write unless I really “feel it.”

But in all honesty, I’ve been watching the “signs of the times” with much sober mindedness.  A few of you will know what I mean, but most of you probably have no clue.  There is so much I could have shared, but quite honestly it’s been overwhelming to see so many things coming to fruition and a head.  I’ve been warning that we were headed for the “last of the last days” for some time, but even as they bare down on us, I’m still blown away at all that I see.  God highlighted 2017 to me years ago, because there is a long list of prophetic fulfillments that fall this year.  And since then, He’s just added more things to the list.  It’s truly a time to be “looking up,” as Jesus told us to.

Below is a video that packs a lot of astounding information in its short 22 minutes, but still just scratches the surface of all that is going on right now.  I hope you have “ears to hear and eyes to see” what is happening all around us.

And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides.  People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26)

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.  For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth.  Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able (KJV “counted worthy”) to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)

Dana’s Guest Perspective

When my friend Deanna came to visit, I asked her to write her guest perspective after she returned home.  I requested the same of Amy & Melanie, but they got thrown back into their busy lives and never got around to it.  So I warned Dana early on that I wasn’t going to let her forget to write her reflections from their trip.  Here is what she had to say about her visit to Ecuador:

Hello all – first let me say I am a terrible writer, but Mary asked me to give my thoughts of my visit, so I will try my best to give a visitor’s perspective of Ecuador for the first time.

I was so excited to be able to finally get to visit.  I have been wanting to go ever since she moved there, but year after year something big had been going on.  I knew that I wanted to go in February, and I knew I wanted to have plenty of time there.  So finally around November, I looked at the 2017 calendar, checked with my husband, Mike, and determined it was a “Go.”  I called Mary and the timing was perfect.  God was good to us during this trip, and I wanted to give you my thoughts on Ecuador and Mary’s life there.

I loved Ecuador, the people, Mary’s house, the food and her community.  It was just a blessing to be able to go and visit. Mary was so wonderful to carve out the time for us, and she was a wonderful host.  She had everything perfectly planned, and God gave us perfect weather.  I felt like I was in a luxury hotel, the view was gorgeous with the beach and the sunsets, and then the mountains on the other side to see beautiful sunrises.  It was peaceful from the very minute we arrived.  I loved the little restaurant in Mary’s community – everyone knew everyone and it was like family.  They just hung out, laughed and talked, and the food was fantastic.  Since Mary’s water was filtered, we could drink and shower without fear of getting sick.  I got to meet all of the people in her community, and got to visit her good friends, Bill and Elaine, the second day.  What a great couple, and they treated us to dinner, pool time, beach volleyball and great stories.  Over the time we were there, it was so amazing to see all the connections that Mary had made, and the respect that people there have for her.  She has a great balance of respecting the culture and differences, and then bringing in her own influences.  It was so fun to see Mary speak Spanish just like a pro.  One of the days we went into town, we ran into Duver, who was riding on his motorcycle.  It was a fun atmosphere to be able to just run into people on the street that she knew and just talk and visit, like we had all the time in the world.  Also we got to meet Sam and see his place in town – we just stopped by and played cards during the day.  Mary had us try all the local foods there, and the lunch specials that gave a taste of the culture.  The food was fantastic, and the fresh fruit was amazing too.  Such a variety of different tastes that would grow in one of the neighbor’s yards, or would come on a fruit truck.  One of the other people we got to meet was Edwin, who had lost his transportation in the earthquake about a year ago.  We got to listen to his first hand experience on how scary it was, and how he was so blessed with the donations from everyone.  He was able to continue his business and make money to provide for his family (I was also able to meet his precious wife and daughter).

I was so excited when we found a church in Cuenca because the city has tons of Catholic churches, so I was not sure if there would be one there.  But again God prepared the way and gave us our desire that day.  One of my favorite songs, and was so appropriate for Mary, was the “Oceans” song.   They were singing in Spanish and I was singing in English. We were all in one spirit, just different languages.

Mary planned our trip out so well, that we got to experience so much in such a short amount of time, yet didn’t feel exhausted when we got home.  I loved that it was the same time zone, and that we had quality friend time with people, but experienced the big cities and “tourist” spots, as well as hanging out at the beach with friends.

If any of you reading this has the opportunity to go and visit, I would encourage you to do it.  It was such a blessing.  If you love Mary’s blog, the trip makes everything come to life.  I would say just go if you can – you will love it!

Twice Blessed

Thank you to all those who commented here or sent emails expressing sympathy at the passing of my birthfather.  In some ways, this has been even more difficult than when my adoptive father passed away in 2005.

Although I loved my adoptive father, sadly he was from a very unhealthy family, and was an alcoholic who battled many demons.   Although I have some very warm memories of him in my younger years, as I grew older, his inability to relate in any healthy way left a big void in my life.  This brought predictable consequences in many ways.  Eventually, as an adult, I sought my own healing and was able to feel compassion towards my father and the brokenness of his life.  I loved him, but due to the circumstances, was never able to have anything more than a superficial relationship with him.  Although I know in his own way, and to the best of his ability, my father loved me, not once in my life did he ever tell me so.  I was sad and grieved when he died, but what I mourned most was the loss of not ever having a real relationship with him.

In contrast, I first met my birthfather 21 years ago this month.  The first time he flew my husband and me to Denver (not where he lived) to meet him, we had never even spoken or corresponded.  Everything had been arranged and communicated through my birthmother.  After we arrived at the hotel, he called the room to see if I was ready to come meet him.  In my mind, I was meeting a total stranger and expected to shake his hand and say, “Nice to meet you.”  But surprisingly, as soon as I saw him, my heart said, “Daddy!” and I gave him a big hug.  And not long into getting to know him, I came to realize that the emotional and demonstrative side of me, that didn’t quite fit with my adoptive parents’ personalities, found its home in him.

Although I can count on one hand the number of times we met in person these past 21 years, those episodes are burned into my memory.  In addition, we had countless phone and internet conversations on a regular, sometimes weekly basis.  He always sent beautiful birthday and Christmas cards.  My birthfather was generous with praise and affection for me, two things I never received from my adoptive father.  Obviously, due to his family circumstances, our relationship was less than ideal, but I am still so grateful for the time that I was able to spend knowing him, learning about his life, and discovering some of my personality traits that came from him.

On one of the first visits with him, he took me to my first performance of “The Phantom of the Opera.”  (I’ve since come to love this musical, not only for its haunting melodies, but it’s deep, spiritual symbolism.)  Sometime later, he sent me a “Phantom” musical snow globe as a gift, and we both felt the song, “Think Of Me,” was a poignant reflection of our relationship.  I remember after one visit with him, coming home and listening to it over and over.  Below is a rendition with the lyrics (and even more ironic, my birthmother once told me she thought of naming me Christina!)

As hard as it is to lose another parent, I count myself very fortunate.  For although I’ve always considered the ones who raised me to be my “real” parents, I’ve been doubly blessed to have been given, as my birthmother affectionately calls it, “A pair and a spare.”  The fact that I’ve suffered more loss, just means I’ve had more love in my life – and for that I am truly grateful.

Transition…

There are many ways I could have shared this news with you, but I choose to do so this way.  I’ve chronicled here, and mentioned many times, the significance the number “11” has taken on in my life.  It wasn’t until well into the phenomenon of it showing up everywhere, that a friend enlightened me to the fact that it was the Biblical number for transition.  During the time it began for me, there was much transition happening in my life.  Ever since then, I’ve continued to steadily see it in various forms (usually 11:11), to greater or lesser degrees.  When it escalates, it always signals more transition.

So when I saw 11:11 four times within a 24 hour period over New Year’s Eve/Day, I knew it meant something was coming.  Transitions often happen for me around the first of a year.  I can remember many, many years ago when life seemed to be going along just fine, but as the New Year approached, I had a foreboding feeling I could not shake.  Very shortly after the calendar changed, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, while simultaneously my father was hospitalized with a mysterious heart ailment.  It was a very stressful several months before things “normalized” again.

Of course, for the past five years, as the calendar changes, the dates begin reminding me of the approaching anniversary of my mother’s death on 1/11.  As I noticed the date the day before, I made a conscious decision that this year, I would briefly acknowledge the day and move on.  No memorial blog post or time of going through remembrances.  But later that day, all of that changed.

As I recounted in my Thanksgiving blog post, just 7 weeks ago today, my birthfather had been diagnosed with cancer at the same age my mother was when she passed away.  He then finally revealed my existence to his oldest son, my brother, who has since been keeping me informed as to my birthfather’s treatment and progress.  I spoke with my birthfather just one more time on December 3, following the Thanksgiving weekend they had called.  It was before he was to begin his radiation treatments.  Although the doctors were quite optimistic that the small sizes and types of tumors meant a good prognosis, my birthfather didn’t feel the same.  When I asked him why, he said, “I’m just so tired.”  But he said he felt such a relief and weight had been lifted, now that he had told my brother about me.  Although I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be our last conversation, I still told him how much I loved him and how grateful I was that he’d wanted to know me and that we’d had a relationship all these years, despite the less than ideal circumstances.  He apologized again that it had not been more, but told me how much he loved me and was proud of me.

The updates I received from my brother the past several weeks were mostly positive.  There was a setback at one point when the doctor doing the radiation on the three tumors in his brain, decided “on the fly” to do them all at the same time, instead of spacing them out as previously planned.  That was too much for my birthfather’s body and it threw several other things out of whack, causing him to have to be hospitalized for several days.  But he rebounded from that, tolerated the rest of the radiation treatments on his lung well, and was making good progress.  He had entered a two month pause between treatments, at the end of which, they would re-scan everything and see what progress had been made.

This past Tuesday, I had gone shopping in Manta and was riding back with Mesfin and Elaine.  She asked how my birthfather was doing and I gave her the updates I knew.  I told her my brother had been very gracious to keep me informed and although I’m sure my dad had not had any time alone to call me, I missed talking with him and hoped during this recovery period he might be able to call.  But when I arrived home, I saw I’d missed a call from my brother.  Up until now, he’d been sending email reports, so I thought the call, along with not leaving a message, was not a good sign.  I sent a text message and anxiously waited to hear back.  Shortly after, Craig called to give me the news that although my birthfather had continued to make very hopeful and positive progress, he’d taken a sudden turn for the worse a few nights prior.  They were not certain what happened (possibly a tumor ruptured), but he was no longer conscious, not eating or drinking, and they had him at home on hospice, who said it wouldn’t be long.

I spent all day yesterday grieving all of this, along with the flood of memories it brought up surrounding my mother’s death.  Then this afternoon, I received another call from Craig to let me know that my birthfather had passed away – just one day after the five year anniversary of my mother’s death, at the same age of 87.

And remember the number “11” that signifies transition?  Not only did I see it four times over New Years (and plenty of times since), but yesterday while working through all of this, I booked a bee call job and when I was given the address, it was 1111 and the appointment was for 11:00 on 1/11.

When talking with my good friend Rissa yesterday, she reminded me how often what is happening in our individual lives, is happening to others too.  She shared with me that she knew of several other people who have been thrust into a time of sudden transition at the beginning of this year.  Not to mention that America and the world are in a big state of transition at the moment as well.  As I’ve said before, I believe all this transition is rapidly leading to the ultimate transition, when…

“The kingdom of the world (becomes) the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15)

Until then, I will miss you, Jerry.

Moving Right Along

Well, here we are at the start of another year – unbelievable!  As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to be deeply reflective regarding a New Year.   At the end of every year, as I look back and evaluate, I can always see a theme.  In the three years since I’ve been here, each one has been very distinct.

In the first year (2014), the Robert Story was the primary focus of my time.  It was an incredibly intense, but profound journey.  However, in 2015, I spent much of the year struggling to get the details of my house finished (even though I had already moved in the previous November).  It was a season where I found myself frustrated and “leaning on my own understanding” in dealing with some of the obstacles and people I was working with.  In addition, some other happenings in my life that year really served to show me how much I had allowed myself to become preoccupied, distracted and off track – “forsaking my first love.”  But God, in His mercy, brought the gentle correction I needed to realize my loss of focus.  By the end of the year, I was disappointed in myself in all the ways I felt I had failed.  Which is why I was so thankful I was invited to join in the customary New Year’s ritual to symbolically burn up all the “fret and regret” I wanted to let go of.

This past year has been one marked with “staying the course.”  It has been an exercise in quickly recognizing those times and tendencies when I would be tempted to take my focus off where it should be.  Most of the year was rather routine and uneventful – except, of course, for the earthquake!  But even in that, the Lord showed me that I was keeping my eyes and focus where they needed to be.

So this past year felt like it was a chance to “put into practice” the things I learned from the previous year.  And for the most part, I feel like I can say I’ve stayed on track.  God has always seemed to deal with me in calendar years, and I have no idea the highs and/or lows in store for this next year.   But my prayer is that the ground I’ve gained (or at least maintained) will serve to prepare me to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

Feliz Año Nuevo!

“Dear Mommy…”

Today would have been my mother’s 92nd birthday.  Of course, I thought of her this morning and wished her picture a happy birthday, then went on with my day.  But later, after priming my well pump to fill my cistern, and then changing out my big 5 gallon jug of bottled water, my mind began to reflect.  I don’t know how much God allows our loved ones in the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) to peer into our present lives, but I still found myself compelled to offer up this brief message to her, just in case:

“Hello Mommy – first off, happy birthday!  And secondly, look at me!  Can you believe where God has brought me and what I’m doing now?!  I think back all those years ago when we moved to Iran, (at my age of 13) and the example you set for me then.  You showed no fear, even during the intense times of political unrest, but you portrayed the whole thing as one big, grand adventure.  You showed me how to embrace a new culture and way of life with gusto.

I watched you tackle all the insurmountable tasks of getting our things packed for shipping and others to be stored, renting out our house, finding homes for our dear animals, coordinating our move, and everything that it entailed – and all of that by yourself, because daddy had already gone ahead of us to start his new job there.  I watched you learn how to adjust to life without a car, learn new ways of doing things (like boiling our water for drinking and washing our vegetables in Clorox), and with changes in food options and altitude, having to learn to cook for your family all over again.  And when the political situation sent us back home prematurely (at first without daddy and before our tenant’s lease was up), I watched you, with only a few short days notice, negotiate “Plan B” of us being evacuated and moving in with your sister in Tennessee for several months.

Through it all, you just accepted and dealt with things as they came, never getting flustered or complaining – just doing the “next, right thing” of whatever had to be done.  You were such an amazing, strong lady, and I think I am just now fully realizing how watching you do all of these things, helped give me the strength I needed to follow through with what God called me to do.

And believe it or not, I’m even starting to cook! 😮  I’m not nearly the incredible cook you were, but I’m finally learning to make a few tasty recipes, and I’m actually starting to enjoy it.  (I even made my own sour cream the other day!)

Thank you again, Mommy, for your many sacrifices and all you did for me in my life.  You were the strongest lady I’ve ever known, and you are a huge part of what has shaped me into who I am today.  I hope somehow God lets you see it and be proud.”

The Whole Story

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.

My morning beach walk view

My morning beach walk view

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. 🙂