Vacationing With a Purpose

One of the great things about being a missionary is connecting people who want to make a difference in the lives of others. Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of coordinating an outreach for Ciudad de Angeles orphanage for Zumba instructors, Melissa Mace and Holly Rose. The children were so joyful and full of smiles, asking if they could could back tomorrow to teach again, and if not tomorrow how about the next day.


If you would like be part of making a difference in changing lives,  please pray for us and consider doing an outreach in Cozumel, Mexico. We are happy to help coordinate all your needs. Thank you for your continued support in prayer and financing.  If you would like to make a monetary donation to support our efforts in spreading the word and sharing the love of Jesus,  please do so through Pay Pal’s secure system at the link below, or email Eric at for more details. PayPal.Me/7dayheromexicoImage



Before The Gym….

I’m impatient and stubborn. I suppose it is something that I was born with. As I child, I remember sitting in the car, stomping on the horn trying to rush my mom to go to the beach. Mind you anyone that knew my mom, knows that she was always an hour late. I think it was God’s way of trying to teach me patience back then. But as often happens, the lessons you refuse to learn you get to learn over and over.
There are certain things that you just can’t rush, like the tomatoes in my garden that have not turned red yet, or baking a cake (when you try, the outside burns and the inside remains raw).

Yet still there are those things in life that your dream about, then put on a shelf, or maybe even forget about entirely. Then, several years later, you find yourself doing exactly what you said you wanted to do. That happened to me. When I was a young mom I used to wIMG_4884ork out to Denise Austin on T.V. She was an instructor from my hometown who would go to different resorts around the world and teach fitness. I remember saying, “I would love a job like that.” Three years ago, while on my very first Fitness Vacation Exchange, I was walking down the street in Playa del Carmen and the light bulb went off; God had put this dream in my heart 20 years ago and without even knowing, He brought it to pass. I was teaching Aqua Zumba and Zumba at a resort in Cancun, Mexico and sending other instructors to resorts to do the same.

Isaiah 30:18

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Thirteen years ago, my husband and I were walking the beach and he shared with me his dream. He wanted to have a bed and breakfast for “burned out” pastors. A place that pastors and their wives could come to rest, reflect and recharge. As a pastor, he’d been there and understoIMG_6115od the demands of the position and the need to get away and connect with the Lord. His dream, like mine,  was put on the shelf, and then God, in his glorious timing has opened the door.

A few years ago we moved to Cozumel, Mexico to serve as full time missionaries. We fell in love with the people. God has given us a passion for them that rivals our youth ministry days. We train up local pastors for ministry. We serve the local congregations in various ways,  train and love people in the gym and dance world, practice and teach sustainable agriculture, aquaponics and soon beekeeping.  We have chickens, turkeys, parakeets, a dog,  tilapia, fruit and vegetable gardens and as mentioned above, bees. Like many things that one delights in, we want to share our world with others. The Lord has put it on our hearts to welcome pastors and their wives for a retreat that will hopefully serve as a spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual catalyst.

There are several different options, but they would all begin with a delicious, homemade breakfast with ingredients straight from the farm; eggs, turkey bacon, fresh fruit, breads IMG_5636and coffee. After breakfast, you can chose to relax at the pool, take the bikes to the beach for a snorkel, paddle board, workout at the gym or do aqua Zumba. All activities are led by members of our Christian communities.  You can go on a historical excursion, tour, scuba dive, take a Spanish class, assist in an outreach, help at the orphanage or Sober Living House, learn aquaponics, sustainable agriculture techniques or do nothing at all. This retreat is designed for you to learn and experience something new.  It is our goal is to help meet pastors’ needs, and provide an environment for them to rest, recharge and learn something about Mexico and its greatest treasure – the people.  Please contact Eric at for more info.

In the photos below: Turtle Rescue, Horseback Riding, Pool, Outreach, Snorkeling,Beaches

ImageThank you for your prayers and continued support!

The Turkey Diaries

“You’re such a chicken!” I find myself saying to the little chick, as she frantically clucks and waddles at full speed trying to catch up with the other chickens who have wondered down the drive. IMG_4965Sometimes, I can’t help but feel as if I am living in a Golden Book Story.  Our chickens act exactly like the characters Henny Penny and Chicken Little, well they did that is, until we got the turkeys.


My family and I arrived back to Cozumel in September. We have been busy building a training center and farm for humanitarian aid workers on sustainable agriculture and aquaponics.

As part of the project, we have planted a variety of vegetables, flowers for the bees, and local fruit trees.  We purchased 10 chickens, 50 tilapia – to use in the aquaponic tanks, and 5 queen bees. Recently, my husband came home with 3 baby turkeys, which changed the dynamics of the farm forever (or at least until Easter).


You ask, “What can three baby turkeys do to change the dynamic of the farm?” Well, let me enumeration the ways.


  1. The turkeys have taught the chickens bad behavior. IMG_4968The once scared chickens  have found their bravado. They follow me, clipping at my heels and standing on my feet as I work in the garden. They even try to get inside the house, where our 150 pound mastiff patiently waits to eat them.
  2. Turkeys are crafty escape artists. We have built them a 12 x 12 foot yard, which they share with the chickens. The shade cloth roof has proved to be the wrong material to use. When the wind shifts or when it rains, the turkeys find the smallest flaw in the saturated fabric and climb onto the roost, plotting their escape. They  jump onto the shade cloth, using it as a trampoline of sorts. Then, bouncing up and down, they get enough lift to gently sail to the ground. The chickens have followed their leaders.
  3. Turkeys are like locusts. The life of the turkey and the chicken is all about food. We feed them twice a day, plus give them scraps from the table. However, no matter how much you feed them, they always want more – thus their desire to escape into the garden. I’ve seen them as they walk by, they look at me and then nonchalantly snip off a leaf from my cucumber plant.
  4. Turkeys are insolent. They have no regard for the rules and areIMG_3749 completely unabashed. I open my curtains in the morning, and at my sliding glass door, the turkeys and chickens whistle and sing when they see me.
  5. Turkeys have weaseled their way into the heart of my husband. Every morning my husband comes back from feeding the fowls with a big smile on his face and the same statement, “Those turkeys are so cute. I don’t know about eating them.”

Keeping this in mind,  I left to Riviera Maya for a week. It rained the entire time. The turkeys and chickens escaped and proceeded to eat every plant right down to the stem.The garden was gone. The bees flew away, and 30 tilapia jumped right out of the tank and committed suicide. We had to start all over, almost from scratch.

The next Sunday I flipped open up my bible, and beaming off the page in pink highlighter, the words from John 4:35 stood out at me,

“Don’t you have a saying, “It’s still four months until harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” “Even now those who reap draw their wages, even now they harvest the crop for eternal life so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.”

The Lord is good and He showed us to focus on the people. That is His ministry. Oh, the farm is still here…..11 chickens, 3 turkeys, 50 new fish and tons of beautiful plants, but our hearts are turned to serving the Lord’s people. The moment we stepped out in faith, He opened up the doors of church ministry again. Eric is now the executive pastor at the church we helped plant. He is teaching a men’s bible study and doing one-on-one discipleship programs. The Spanish Pastor’s wife and I are beginning a women’s bible study as well as a youth group program at the start of the new year. God has big plans for the people of this island.

In closing, I’d like to finish by telling you a little about how we celebrated Thanksgiving and how we are going to celebrate Christmas, as God has orchestrated so much.


Although Thanksgiving is distinctly an American and Canadian tradition, our friends in Mexico, both Americans and Mexicans, helped us to celebrate this year. We had over 50 people at our house, many of whom do not know the Lord, and who think Thanksgiving is merely a time  to be thankful to one another. We were excited about the opportunity to share with them the true meaning of Thanksgiving ~

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
Psalm 118:1

Christmas Eve Blessing

Christmas in Cozumel is such a beautiful celebration. The children have concerts and dance recitals in the square,and the music from neighborhood parties can be heard into the wee hours of the night. However, when I think of the people in the squatter village of Las Fincas and what Christmas looks like for them, I pause. They are poor and their Christmas Eve meals will not even look close to the abundance we are used to in the U.S.

Here is where God shows up! Several weeks ago I was contacted by email from a woman in Arkansas. She wrote that she and her family will be vacationing in Cozumel over Christmas and would like to help us with our  ministry. They are available to help on Christmas Eve. I tell her about the squatter’s village of Las Fincas and ask her if she would like to bring rotisserie chicken meals to bless the families there. I envision going door to door handing out the chicken meals. She loves the idea so much that she seeks others to donate towards the cause.

Last week, I received yet another email from another family who will be vacationing in Cozumel over Christmas, asking how they can help. God takes my plan of going door to door and creates something grand. With over $900.00 US to purchase about 150 rotisserie chicken meals, we have decided to have offer a Christmas blessing to the Las Fincas community. We will be setting up at the park, and inviting the families to hear the Good News of Jesus and the Christmas story. We will have games for the children and pass out the chicken meals to 150 families.

ImageHere’s where you can help. If you would like to be a part of this ministry and mission, you can donate towards more family meals. The meals cost $6.50/family and 100% of your donation will go towards meals. Please click on the link below to donate via paypal, or email Eric at for more info. If you are on the island and would like to help in the Christmas blessing please contact us via email to find out all the details. May God bless you during this Christmas season and the coming New Year!

The Back Story

What would motivate someone to sell their home and business, leave their friends and family, as well as, the comforts of the United States and IMG_6244trade it all in for living in a Third World Country, albeit a beautiful tropical island smack dab in the middle of the Caribbean?

For years my husband and I have had a dream to dash off to some remote island and live out our days planting our own botanical garden and spearfishing for our dinner in a tropical lagoon. Our quest took us to some amazing places like Rarotonga, the Hawaiian Islands, Puerto Rico, St Croix, but the Lord brought us to Cozumel. In the short 8 months we have lived here, we are asked almost daily, “So, why did you move to Cozumel?” Our quick, compulsory answer is ever the same, “We love it here. We love the people. We love the culture.” But the real reason is deeply personal and requires a longer explanation. And so, without further ado, here is our “back story.”

Gia’s Back Story


For those of you who know me, you know that I’ve always been a person who deeply believes that if you set your mind to something, you can do anything in this world. I suppose it is my tenacious nature that leads me to believe that the world is indeed my oyster. A little over a year ago though this belief of mine was challenged. I was standing in the hospital room where my mom lay half-sleeping in her bed, and a quiet truth crept into my thoughts – even if my mom decided to change her life right now, she would not be able to.  She simply couldn’t get out of bed. She had but one path she could take. In my mind’s eye, I saw a long, straight road, there were no curves, no intersections, no forks in the road, no places to make a u-turn, just one path. It was then that I realized that life is too short to keep putting off my dreams.  I must live the life that God called me to live, not tomorrow but right now.

I met Donna Douglas (you may remember her as Ellie May from the Beverly Hillbillies) when I was 13. In the short conversation that we had, she imparted to me a piece of wisdom that I have held on to throughout the years. She said,  “God wouldn’t put a dream in your heart if he didn’t want it to come true.”

As a teenager, I dreamt of having a church camp for youth. God gave me an orphanage with 40 children to work at. In my 20s I envisioned having botanical gardens and a butterfly sanctuary, God gave me a community garden in Las Fincas to teach people how to grow their own food. It amazes me daily, that the dreams that I have God always improves upon. I am blessed.

Eric’s Back Story

IMG_7243For me, I had always enjoyed the camping and Missions aspect of ministry. When Gia and I  married, I wanted to provide stability with my new stepson and needed to find a job in the area. The gym has been such a blessing, but to do the same thing daily, well I was getting a bit worn and not growing into a better person. Two years ago, my right arm went numb, years of sports and stupidity had caught up with me. My lower back had been horrible for decades but this was different. My arm started to atrophy. After four months of tests, and 6 epidurals,  I underwent neck surgery and a month later, lower back surgery. Typical hyper fool that I am,  two days out of the hospital, I was clearing plants with my machete and mopping the floor on my hands and knees. The next day, I was back in the hospital for a week with blood clots on my spine and close to death. It was a wake-up call.

Even before the surgeries we knew we were called to come to Mexico. My heart and passion has always been here. The result of the surgery though was a realization that life is too short to live passionless lives, to read about adventure and men of God but not experience it. I want to serve completely, in love with my Saviour. Was it scary to sell everything? No. Were there detractors, either scoffing at our decision or throwing fear our way? Yes, and from sources unexpected. Yet this is what we have been called to do for this season of our lives.  For me there was no other choice. Thoreau once wrote, “if a plant cannot live according to its nature it dies and so a man.” When your nature is a Christ-follower you have to heed the call or you whither, you do not stay the same. You atrophy.

Ciudad de Angeles

As I ride on the back of Eric’s scooter on the dirt road from the orphanage, my heart is so full. I am indeed “living the dream.” We have a little routine now. I teach Zumba a few mornings a week at the local gym, and Eric trains some friends from the church, then we head out to Ciudad to work in the garden with the children. Eric carriers his paint bucket full of tools and I pull the hose over to water the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, basil and other veggies we have planted. The kids are the true blessing. They help by using the machetes to weed or take turns watering. IMG_7253 IMG_7256 IMG_7263 IMG_7265 IMG_7268 IMG_7270Well actually, watering turns out to be more of a playful water fight than feeding the plants and weeding has taken on many forms, including but not limited to, a new game we call frisbee weeding. We stand together in the garden, throw the frisbee into the air, then whoever catches it uses it to dig out the weeds by their feet. It worked well until they ran out of weeds and dug up the jalapeño seedlings. In any event, it worked to our advantage, as we have found that raised garden beds are more productive than planting directly in the ground. The garden is beginning to take shape.  We have four raised garden beds, thanks to donations from David Rapp and a Zumbathon with Instructor, Wren  Tidwell as well as some of my wonderful Cozumel friends and Zumba students on the island. The garden boxes are filled with a variety of herbs and vegetables, some donated and some grown from seed. We have even begun harvesting the tomatoes and basil!

Las Fincas Community Gardens

Las Fincas continues to be a special oasis for us.  The work here is different from the Orphanage, as we literally broke ground on this project and it is our “baby”.  We have over thirty different plant species growing, still determining what will survive in this harsh climate.  The difference here is this is truly a lost area.  Many people want to help and serve orphans, there is a plethora of help from the States coming down and rightly so, there is need at Ciudad.  The problem is you drive through the outlying areas of stick houses, squalor, etc. to get to Ciudad.  These are people that work 6 days a week,  12 hours a day making on average only 70 pesos each day,  less than six American dollars. Then on Sunday, after Mass, they try to build a house. One cinder block costs only fifty cents, but do the math, after food, clothing, etc. they might be able to build a few bricks a week.  For us to grow crops, give haircuts, help clear their land, it shaves off a few pesos to provide for bricks  It is small but it is something.  Every Saturday volunteers come out for a few hours and basically, weed, clear stumps, break rock.  This allows Gia and me to get to other tasks.  It is not comfortable work.  I have been doing this for a bit so I am a bit immune, or leathery as Gia says.   For many people, this is hot, hard, stuff yet those two hours of volunteers not only enlivens us but helps so much.  Every small rock removed is one that I do not have to do. People from the community come by and ponder that a bunch of gringos are sweating in the sun, they are used to seeing them drinking in the sun at the beach, but not working hard in a garden.  It also teaches our kids to serve, even when it is a bit uncomfortable. To get their eyes off of themselves and onto others, to help because we are commanded by Christ.  We are not in charge, He is.   In just a few months, the garden will become a place of teaching.  We will be hosting compost classes and gardening classes. The insects and soils are a menace but every day we are a bit closer and remember, no one has done this ever, breaking ground literally and hopefully spiritually after we prove ourselves.  The hard thing with Island life is it is so transitional. In Hawaii, we hired people hopping for two years.  Here, so many come for such a short season. For us, we hope to be here for as long as we can be used.

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One last fun thing..A company called Southern Grind is sponsoring me (Eric) with their new
machete line.  I am the only model with all the fingers in place.

As always, we are so thankful for your prayers and donations. If you would like to be part of this
wonderful ministry there are many needs. Here are just a few: Raised Garden Beds, New Fence
For Ciudad, Picnic/Work Tables for Las Fincas.  To donate please click on the link below.