Teaching in the Son
It all started with a conversation. “You have to go to Roatan,” said Randy and Maria Newman. And so we (Gary and Charlotte) did. In May 2007 we took our first trip, a cruise, and spent eight short hours trying to experience as much of the beautiful island as we could. We fell in love! And we kept going back.
In June 2008, we made our second trek to Roatan. This time, instead of eight hours, we had a full week to spend in a condo at Lawson Rock. The sunsets were magical and the water was so clear – it was like looking through a rippled window to the world on the ocean floor. Not only did we get to more fully experience the beauty of Roatan this time around, we also were able to make some new friends – new friends who would become our new family. It was during this week in June that we were able to meet the kids at the Roatan children’s home and their house mom, Elsa. We also met our now dear friend, Freddie, who helped us buy groceries for the children’s home. We filled our camera with pictures and promised to return really soon. It was the beginning of an adventure.
Meanwhile, I (Deborah) was busy teaching in a small Christian school in Oklahoma City. I loved working with the kids, building relationships with them, and seeing learning come alive. I knew God had placed me there. I had also been working on fixing up my house. My kids were both in college and it was just me and I was finally getting comfortable. I could get used to this. Little did I know that God had a different plan.
We (Gary and Charlotte) took our third trip in June 2009. This time, we took our 16-year-old daughter Christie along. We spent two weeks at a house on Sandy Bay and went to the children’s home almost every day we were there. We had lots of fun – a zip line tour and lots of new restaurants. We also had our first experience with losing electricity (and no air-conditioning!). But that didn’t stop us from going back in October 2009, this time with our 30-year-old son, Brett, and a friend of ours from church, Deborah.
Life was changing for me (Deborah). God was tugging at my heart and making it very clear that He had a new place for me to be. I fought with Him about it a few times – after all, for the first time in a long time, I was comfortable! – but God proved to me yet again that He’s big enough to handle my doubts and in June 2009, He shut the doors to the school was I was teaching/administrating. Earlier in the year, my friends, Gary and Charlotte , had talked to me about going to Roatan and being involved with the children there. I, of course, thought they were crazy. But then God began shutting doors to the school. I had taken a mission trip to Jamaica in June and found myself drawn to the children there. I also noticed that the hot climate didn’t bother me at all. After a lot of prayer and wise counseling from Godly people, I began to see that I really was supposed to go to Roatan at least once. I needed to give it a try. So I went back to Gary and Charlotte and told them I was ready. They weren’t surprised at all.
In October 2009, we (Gary and Charlotte) went to Roatan for our fourth time – this time with Deborah and Brett. We introduced Deborah to as many people as we could so she could get a feel for the education needs on the island. She would ask everyone we talked to, “What is the biggest need on the island?” The answer was always the same – education! In that short time, God confirmed for all of us that Deborah was supposed to do more than visit, she was supposed to be on the island. God was ready to use her twenty years of teaching and administrative experience in a new place that desperately needed it. We had had a feeling for a while now that God wanted Deborah here, so it was very exciting to see her get on board.
We’re all going back now in February – Gary, Charlotte, Christie, and Deborah, plus our friend from the beginning of the story, Maria, who started it all. We’re excited to see what God has in store for us as we take the next steps toward starting an educational ministry on the island. Keep checking back for updates and we’ll see you all in Roatan!