In order to avoid creating a whole extra series of posts, I won’t go into the details of the events leading up to December 2011 when Jeff moved on from his job he’d had for the previous 16 years. I’ll start a couple days before Christmas that year, when he left the company, on very good terms. We had no idea what was next, but had peace about our decision that could only come from God. The decision meant he was giving up the stability, income, and medical insurance that his job had provided. But it also meant he was happily giving up the involuntary overtime and 12 hour shifts, graveyard, swing shifts…) We began to enjoy a new, refreshing type of daily life in California.
With Jeff off work, he was able to help with the kids and grocery shopping. We had plenty of time off together in the evenings and weekends, which was a blessing we had not enjoyed much over the years. Living on just my income was a stretch, but God always provided. Summer of 2012 found us backpacking and camping a lot since he was not working for the first summer ever, and the idea of opening an outdoor gear retail shop was born; a local retail shop out of which we could sell adventure gear and guide people on trips. That decision would certainly change our daily life in California.
With a lot of help from special family members and close friends, we opened the doors of Jaunt Adventure Gear in April 2013. Jeff ran the business full time, while I helped out in many ways and also kept teaching full time. Beginning in fall 2013, I began to have doubts that I wanted to keep teaching in the same capacity that I was, or in the same place that I was. I thought of applying for a job working with homeschool parents, where I would have flexible hours and be able to help Jeff more with our business, and be with our kids more. I even created a resume and a cover letter for a particular position, but quitting the job I’d held for over 15 years didn’t feel right at the time. So we went on, status quo with daily life in California.
I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied at work for lots of reasons, and then the stress of running a family business was added onto that. I see looking back now that God was putting a lot of things into place, in our hearts and in our circumstances, to bring us to Thailand in 2016!
We poured our heart and soul into our business, but after 2 years of trying to keep it afloat, we had to close the doors in June 2015. We do not regret it at all; we know it was exactly what God had in mind for us and our family, and we learned a lot from the experience. Most importantly, we met lots of amazing people, and are still close friends with a handful who have become very special to our family.
In January 2015, we knew the business was struggling and weren’t sure what we’d end up doing. One Sunday at church, a fun couple came to speak about their life in Thailand. Carl & Karen do various ministries in Bangkok, one of his being the facilities manager of a school that sounded fabulous and looked wonderful in the photos he presented. When he stated that “they are always looking for teachers” Jeff and I looked at each other and said, “Let’s go.”
We were always saying those words. When Taylor was a baby we thought we’d move to Washington. Even took a 2 week road trip to check it out. More recently we’d discussed Idaho, where we have a friend and we’ve visited there and love it. But without jobs lined up, these were never truly serious conversations. As the months passed and we were closing the business, “Let’s go” became a more serious idea. We felt like we had no reason to be tied down to Modesto. Except for the people there who were/are a large part of our life – I’m planning a photo post on that in the future as well. In fact, if you have photos of any of us with you, or just of you that we could post to show that you are part of our life, please email to me.
Throughout spring of 2015 we met with our awesome Pastor of Missions, Ted. He brainstormed and prayed with us as we explained that we thought we wanted to work somewhere in the world at a cool school like Carl had talked about. But honestly, Asia was not on our radar, but Carl’s talk had spawned the idea. South America sounded great – I speak fluent Spanish. But, dead ends as we researched Ecuador and a couple other ideas on the western side of the world. Alaska sounded incredible – we LOVE the outdoors and mountains. Dead ends here, too. We realized if we were going anywhere, it was probably Thailand after all. IF we were going anywhere. We figured we could dream about this like we had about Washington and Idaho. We could go to Thailand “some day”. When the kids were grown? Maybe before. When they’re both in high school? Sure. Sounds great. Meanwhile, go on with daily life in California as usual, moving far away could happen some day.
Pastor Ted decided to connect us up with Carl, who had spoken at church and initiated this whole idea in the first place, and I had a lengthy phone conversation with Carl one evening. A few days after talking, he emailed me saying he’d spoken to the headmaster and they said I could submit an application to have on file for the future. “Okay,” I thought, “I may as well do that. When I have time.” It was a few months before I decided to think any more about it.
Stay tuned for the rest of the story: later 2015 to July 2016.