When Elena and I first got married, we discussed our future plans together. Elena had spent some time in the Dominican Republic, and I had lived in Mexico briefly. So we both were excited about the idea of returning to Latin America. But at the same time, that is, during our engagement or around January or February of ’06, a Sign Language group was established in Harrisonburg Va, the town we were living in at the time. One of our elders approached us about joining. As they say, the rest is history. We stayed with that group, until it became a congregation, and with the congregation till we left to come here. Most of you already know this, so I won’t rehash anymore. Shortly before we became a congregation we again began discussing our future goals. Like most of the United States, we were in debt. This severely inhibited our options, So our first goal was to erase our debt. We had gotten close, and knew within about a year or so we could be out of debt. Our goal was January or February of 2013. We made that goal, and began saving. We knew we were going somewhere, we just didn’t know where.
In February of this past year we took a trip to Patterson Bethel with our friends Matt and Rachel Prisco. Check out their blog at http://mattnrachprisco.blogspot.com . Our motivation was to visit our good friends Sonny and Melody Mcdowell. The McDowell’s were our former Sign Language Circuit Overseers. They had been reassigned to a circuit that streches from the Canadian border in Montana to the Mexican border in New Mexico. They were in Patterson for Traveling Overseer school. The visit proved to be most encouraging. While there, Matt and Rachel had a brief meeting with a brother in the Theocratic Schools Department. His advice to them was, “If you want to be a missionary, go do it.” He gave them three examples of countries that treat their need-greaters really well. 1)Ecuador 2)Dominican Republic 3)Peru. He told them to stick around the school and meet the brothers and sisters attending Gilead, we did, and got some great advice from them, and we even got to go into Gilead School during a break and see the class rooms! As you would expect, the ride home was full of discussion about going where there was a greater need.
After a couple weeks, we all decided on Ecuador as our destination. As we were all in sign, we were wondering about the need. Matt and Rachel had met a Missionary a few years ago that was assigned here, so they wrote them a letter. The letter included two names of brothers in sign language that were serving at the branch. So we called the branch here and got in contact with one of the brothers in the letter. We began exchanging emails. One of the first places he recommended was Loja. He gave me the contact info for the Circuit Overseer currently serving the southern part of the country. We wrote him. One of the first places on his list was Loja. Finally, all 4 of us wrote the branch. The branch responded with a letter that gave us two choices: Loja, and Machala. It seemed that Jehovah was pointing us to Loja. We wrote the brothers here and contacted the branch again. They gave us the name of a brother from the US currently serving here; Anthony Sensari. (See Arrival in Ecuador part 3) Anthony helped us a lot, including helping to find an apartment.
After a while Matt and Rachel began expressing doubts about going to Ecuador. But they continued to simplify. We told them “Your not going to get a sign from Jehovah”. The next day Bethel called. The were inquiring about there availability to help with the Warwick project. So much for not getting a sign. It was clear Jehovah had something else in mind for them. A few weeks later they got the word, and were invited to come the middle of July. This was very hard for all of us, some tears were shed, but it was clear what Jehovahs direction was.
During all this time we began simplifying. We bought a lot of things for here, including clothes, backpacks, and other supplies. We wanted to get the best things that were durable, easy to use, and functional (And in trademark Jeremy and Elena style). We also began to advertise in craigslist, and eBay many unneeded things. Probably the hardest thing for us was to get rid of our cats. Elena still misses them. We thought we would post a few videos here that document the process.
In April we bought plane tickets and it was official. We prayed to make our money back for the tickets in one week. At the end of that week we had made almost EXACTLY the amount we spent on tickets. That was probably the most faith strengthening thing that happened to us during the whole process.
In the beginning of June we had a yard sale, and a sister in a nearbye hall organized a clothing swap, and gave us the proceeds. Around July 1st we moved out officially, and ended up being nomads a bit. Thanks to the Pogreba family, my sister, Elena’s mom, and my parents, we never went without a bed. July 27-30 we said our final goodbyes. Its not an easy thing to leave all your friends and family for an indefinite amount of time. But with Jehovahs help we know we will get through it, and have the support we need as long as he wants us here, whether its 3 months, 3 years, or more.
I know this a long post, but we wanted all of you to understand what we went thru, and hopefully see how much Jehovah supported us, and build your faith that he will support you too, whatever trails your going through, or whatever goals you may have. Hopefully from now on we won’t be as long winded, except for maybe special occasions:)
Love to all of you that supported us through this journey.