Remember the song, “I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again…”

We’re leaving on a jet plane, November 11, 2010 bound for Cuenca, Ecuador!  We’ll be back though, after we’ve gained a full picture of what the Lord desires for us to do in Cuenca.  Once that is settled, we may be in Ecuador for a longer assignment than we have been able to conceive.

So what led us to this point? 

For one, missions and the word “missionary” has been a seed planted in our hearts for a very long time.  Gary has served on mission committees in the past.  He has also been on a number of short-term mission trips.  And Sue once left all to attend a Bible school with the thought of being a missionary.  While the timing of that was “off,” she still found herself taking some of those short-term mission trips with Gary after they were married.

We like what someone said is their definition of a missionary:  “A missionary is a person who ministers to whoever is currently “in their face!” “

In that light, we’ve all been and are missionaries.  Yet the timing for us to go to Ecuador seems so right.  God has certainly confirmed this.

We took our first trip to Cuenca, Ecuador back in June.  In a short, two-week period, God connected us with a number of people to be in relationship with both personally and for ministry.  You could say “it was love at first sight” for both of us!

Cuenca is becoming a favorite retirement spot for North Americans.  Canadians go there too!  And Aussies!  “Ex-pats” tend to be a little adventurous and very friendly.  We have already begun to establish relationships.  Our hope is to begin an English-speaking Bible study and worship.

One of our connections is with Unsion Television, a secular broadcasting station with a Christian counseling emphasis.  There is a ticker at the bottom of their regular programs (i.e. cooking, sports, talk shows, etc.) that gives an 800 number for them to call if they desire prayer.

The counselors operate much like the Billy Graham organization using volunteers – they listen to the caller and then are leading many to faith in Christ.

We had an opportunity to speak to a group of these counselors this past June.  We also went with the President of Unsion Television, Bill McDonald to a church where he preached two a.m. services.  Gary gave a greeting and welcome and Sue was asked to sing a special, “Will You Marry Me.”

The same need for every person exists everywhere in the world:  To know God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  And…that He loves them.

After our two week “tour” in Cuenca, Ecuador this past June, it was obvious God was leading us, that when we returned home, we were to put our house on the market.

Within a week or so after coming back to the States, our home went up for sale.  Inside of six weeks, we had an offer on our home.  Actually, we ended up with two offers the same day and weekend.  The offer we took was the one for cash BUT what a story behind it – that’s another blog!  To us, it was a bonafide confirmation that God did indeed, wanted us to take this step.  But also, it was a bonafide miracle that our house sold in such a repressed real estate market.  We are so thankful.

The packing began, but it was more than usual “normal” packing.  Normally, you box it up and take it to another house.  This time there was no “other” house to take things to.  The course was to either store it, sell it, or give it away.

We ended up with two 10 X 10 storage units of our belongings.  We sold many of our things, not to mention spreading out some of our clothes and such among our friends (they wouldn’t fit in the storage unit!).  Hey, there’s a couple of things at our former home with the couple who bought our house!  That’s pretty special!

Our home closed on September 28, 2010 yet on the day before, Gary had outpatient surgery for a hernia.  We had already planned to leave for Cuenca the first part of November.  However, the surgery ensured that we could not leave until he had recovered nicely.

We had another sweet, sweet provision of the Lord when we sold our home.  Our dilemna was to find a temporary place to live until we left for Ecuador.  The word was out.  One day the phone rang with an offer to live in a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in North Asheville. 

This was not only a perfect provision to us but an exciting one.  For the people we are staying with are just so dear and happen to live in a neighborhood that is one of our favorites for the fall season.  Every tree exudes with color as you drive down Kimberly Avenue. 

What a precious memory for us now as we realize we got to celebrate Sue’s favorite season (Gary’s 2nd favorite), enjoying immensely, God’s creation and fellowship with our hosts.

There’s another question:  What about our dog, Stover?

Answer: Stover’s going to Ecuador!  He has been dubbed as “EquaDog!”  We are looking forward to taking him, although the process to learn what all needed to be done was quite extensive and laborious.  Gary spent hours on the phone to find a qualified person to give the exact details of what needed to be done.

It’s fine now and Stover has his “checker number” along with our reservations and tickets!  And we are almost finalized in our plans.  Packing is the last thing we need to do.

So to recap:  We are departing from Asheville on November 10, 2010.  Our flight departure for Ecuador is the next day at 2:00 p.m.

We believe God will unfold the complete picture to establish us there and how long we are to dwell in Cuenca.  When we return in a few months, it may be that we’ll be holding a big sale of belongings in our storage units.  It’s all right though.  We are grateful for all of God’s grace and leading!

Our email is:  garyandsuegaither@gmail.com

Website:         http://www.thegaithers.org/

Magic jack phone no. where you can call us in Ecuador – a free international call!  Free call period if you’re in the 828 area code – otherwise it’s just a regular long distance call for another area code.

                         828-367-4321

Would love to hear from you!

Thank you too so much for your prayers as we go.  Thank you for your SWEET friendships and love of Christ! 

Cuenca here we come!
Sue & Gary Gaither

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