Roberto and his wife, Elena, are awesome. That sentence was actually written about 5 times, each more sappy than the previous one. So, I will just say they are awesome! Seriously.
Before officially meeting him, I had seen Roberto around church from time to time. You can't miss him. He really stands out in a crowd. Every time I see him, he always has a smile on his face and is talking passionately about some new recipe he is trying out. Even more, he always seems to have a group of 5-6 people around him, trying to talk with him about this and that. My son, Quinn, loves him to pieces!
I had never met Elena before we joined Leo's group. She is one of the sweetest, least pretentious people I know. She complements Roberto well. Their love for the Lord and each other is displayed for all to see, and I love them both dearly, though I have only known them for a few months. This friendship has never felt forced. We have all just fallen into a groove that seems to have been cut specifically for us. It just won't be the same if we're not all doing life together in France.
That being said, we went to Roberto's house with a map of France to pray over it, to dream about what could be, to see how each other is feeling led. So far, we all seem to be on the same page. Roberto is a natural at planning the "breakfast" side of the business. We talked about sustainable food, growing our own animals, fruits, and vegetables. The ladies committed to hospital corners and folding of fitted sheets. That's when I was told that I'll be in charge of the "bed" side of the business (Leo refers to me as Bed and Roberto as Breakfast. HA!)and let me tell you, I was suddenly in that dream where you're standing on stage in front of a full house and you suddenly realize that not only have you forgotten your lines, you never even saw the script in the first place!
In one evening of dreaming and scheming, suddenly, I'm looking for the brake pedal. Let me be clear, I... CAN'T... HOTEL!! I've stayed at the Holiday Inn a few times, but I couldn't tell you the first thing about booking guests, managing reservations, managing a hospitality staff, balancing books, managing laundry service (I can't even manage my OWN laundry!). So I do what one always does when they're looking for information they don't have. I Googled it.
I started looking for B&B management software. I found a software company that seemed to have good reviews. I read their testimonials and discovered that one of the properties is only about 5 minutes from my apartment. So, I called them and left a voicemail saying I'd like to talk with them about running a B&B. Yeah, they haven't called me back.
My dad called me on my birthday which, in itself, is amazing. I told him about our mission and he suggested I look at the local college. I thought, "What a great idea!" Sure enough, the local college offers both a certification and an associate's degree in Hospitality Management. There's only one problem... I have NEVER been a great student.
I'm not kidding, I slept through Algebra class in high school. Some of you may remember that. In fact, Coach Westmoreland sent me to Mr. Bell's office for snoring... in Study Hall. I woke up in History class one day and Coach Saxon was writing on my face with my own pen! To this day, I'm not sure that I passed my classes so much as my teachers just didn't want to deal with my snoring and desk drool for another year. So yeah, college is probably not my best option, but it did get me to thinking. What if I found a local B&B that will let me intern (volunteer) on weekends for 6 months to a year and learn the business. What if I apprenticed as an innkeeper? I have ALWAYS learned best in a hands-on environment. My friend, Earl, constantly tells me how freakishly quickly I can pick up on anything that I take a genuine interest in: music, computers, automechanics, vocational ministry, customer service, sales. God seems to have gifted me with some crazy aptitude skills.
Anywho, my wife and I were visiting with some other friends, the Coleman's. We have become THAT couple who cannot stop annoying you about the thing that has us all switched on. (I promise you, we WILL bore you with all the details of our mission in France when we see you next!) We laid out the vision, from beginning to end. I told them how I am looking for an inn to apprentice with and Mrs. Coleman stopped me to tell me that they had stayed at a bed and breakfast just outside of Fredericksburg recently. She told me how it is also a ministry for church pastors to come and be ministered to and that the owners are looking for folks to come and help them run the business! She is going to introduce us via email and see if we can make this happen.
So there you have it. You know almost as much as we do. We have looked at properties for sale. We have sent inquiries on a couple properties and have received responses from mortgage companies and realtors who are eager to meet us. The 4 of us will be embarking on a vision trip over Spring Break.
Our only ask at this time is that you be in prayer for us.
- Pray that we do not become so wrapped up in the business that we let the true heart of the mission, the ministry, become lost.
- Pray that God will continue to make our next steps as obvious as they have been. Seriously. I'm not bright enough to see subtle hints. I need neon signs and burning bushes.
- Pray that the 4 of us continue to be knit together in unity for this mission.
- Most of all, pray that we continue to seek God's will in all of this.
If you're reading this, it is because God is calling you to hold us accountable. Stop us and ask us how things are going, where our hearts are, what our next steps are. He may also be calling you to serve with us as a summer/winter intern. He may be showing you that when He calls YOU into the mission field, that He is providing a place for you to come and rest, to be loved, to be heard, and to be encouraged.
Make no mistake though, if you are His, you are being called to something greater than yourself and He will lead you every step of the way.
All praise and glory be to God!