“The wind (pneuma) blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (pneuma).” – John 3:8
We’re going to France for 3-6 months!
Did we lose you there? Here’s the situation:
Once again, the name of the game is flexibility. When we chose the name for our website, we had little idea how true it would be. Our willingness to be led by the Spirit (pneuma / wind) has meant that Brandy has had to grow in the area of letting go of control. Her ability to plan and organize has been a strength for the decades of our married life, but lately it seems that the Lord is working to teach us to trust Him more than ourselves or even our God-given strengths.
In the latest unveiling, we are feeling strongly led to France – and not sailing there. We have an invitation to house sit in the South of France.
There are several reasons that this is a reasonable and viable option. First of all, it is a direct answer to prayer. Our trip north to La Paz was not in our original sailing plan (though apparently it was in God’s). We had intended to be half way to El Salvador by this point. Hurricanes get a (majority) vote in this part of the world. Officially, hurricane season starts in June, but the first one last year was May 9. El Salvador is still technically in the hurricane zone (the very southern edge), but historically speaking, isn’t known for having problems. We were a little anxious about getting there because it meant we would be in a hurry and on a schedule. The saying goes that the most dangerous thing to have on a sailboat is a schedule. Not that laid back is a requirement (though it helps), but when you have to be somewhere by a certain time, you are more inclined to do things you might not otherwise. So, we would be hurrying south for several weeks, pushing ourselves and the boat, racing against the clock with no truly safe locations to hide if a hurricane does form early this year.
As we saw it, we had three options for this hurricane season (officially June 1 – October 31).
1. Stay in La Paz longer and then sail north into the Sea of Cortez as hurricanes get further north. The hurricanes in the western Pacific usually start in southern Mexico/Guatemala and move gradually north throughout the season. Space for a sailboat in La Paz is considered premium and they charge based on that. This is by far the most expensive marina we have stayed in. It’s not something we can afford for an extended period of time. And, it’s still in the hurricane zone.
2. Sail north into the Sea of Cortez. This isn’t such a bad option. There’s plenty of amazing things to see and beautiful places to visit in the Sea of Cortez. The missionaries we spent time with last spring are still in Loreto. Again, it’s super expensive there too, and not somewhere we could afford for more than a month. And, well, Loreto is still in the hurricane zone too.
3. Sail to the top of the Sea of Cortez (hey, our insurance company finally says this is out of the hurricane zone!) and haul the boat out for the hurricane season. Many boaters choose this option, so it is quite common and safe. We’ve spoken to several dry storage places and found one that can haul our boat (really, our friends left their boat there last year and they have a bigger boat than ours, so no issues like last year when we tried to haul the boat in Loreto). The haul out and storage fees are quite cheap and it’s in a very secure location. But, if we go with this option, we need to find somewhere to live for 3-6 months.
During all these discussions of what to do and where to go, Brandy spontaneously responded to a post on World School House Swap looking for a house sitter for a bed and breakfast in the South of France. A few hundred other people did also. I mean, what are the chances?
Well, I guess they are pretty high when God is directing our path.
We were their first choice! We will be at Zocalo Ranch near Oppede, France, in June, July and August, with the possibility (depending on whether or not we are granted extended visas) of staying through September and October. The kids are ecstatic! A 2-acre ranch surrounded by lavender fields (there’s even a lavender museum). Land to roam around. Cherry, fig and olive trees. A pâtisserie just a short walk away. What a change this will be for all of us!
We’ve already reached out to a missionary agency in the nearby town and are waiting to see what God wants to show us this summer.
There are more reasons that this is a huge answered prayer. It solves our hurricane season problem mentioned above. It also allows us to save some money. The storage fee will be less than $300 per month. Since we will not be using the boat, maintenance and upkeep costs will be reduced. What about plane tickets, you ask? Well, one of the benefits we paid for over the past 20 years is free space-available military flights – including to Europe. The money we are able to save will pay for things like new solar panels, a new solar arch, a new dinghy (or major overhaul of our current), cockpit enclosure, and possibly a higher output watermaker (=everyone gets at least one shower/week and maybe some laundry).
In addition, the deadline for Dennis’ Doctor of Ministry project in support of our ministry model is approaching. The plan of working while sailing to exotic locations hasn’t worked out as most of his time in these exotic locations is occupied with fixing the boat. France will provide 90 or more days of a desk and good WiFi (both unavailable out here) to research and write. Brandy will take advantage of this time to gain additional training and preparation for the work ahead.
As flexible and available as we are, there are still bureaucracies to deal with. We are running into some challenges with long-term (greater than 3 months) visas for France. We have been in contact with several French consulates and are gettting the run-around. We haven’t been able to get an appointment and it appears that there will be none until the beginning of June. So, at this point, we will likely only stay the three months, then have to leave Europe. September is still hurricane season, so we’ll possibly spend time with our friends in Scotland before crossing the pond again. We will make our way back to the boat, take care of those big projects, splash the boat and start south again. We have contacts in Guatemala, Honduras and Panama that we will plan to support next year.
We appreciate your prayers as we do all the stuff that is involved in hauling the boat, getting visas (or not), working out details and moving overseas. We are especially excited about what the ministry will look like there. We look forward to sharing the new thing that God is doing.