Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it .” – Isaiah 30:21.
The year was 2016 and we had just attended the Reach conference in St. Louis. There is a breakout class entitled, “Empty Nesters on a Mission.” The room was filled with disciples in their50s and 60s. I think we all knew that life was moving into a new chapter as our children left the nest and started their own lives. What can we and should we do for the Kingdom of God in this new stage of life?
Our names are Juan and Mary Montalvo. We were converted in the South Florida Church of Christ in 1992. Juan had retired from the fire department in 2008 and then had a paella catering business for six years. I (Mary) had worked at a local hospital as a nurse for many years and had recently retired after treatment for breast cancer. Our two children were grown and off the payroll.
We were intrigued as we listened to leaders from church plantings express their desire for older couples to come and help strengthen these small churches. Could we be used in this way? We are not trained in ministry, but we have many years of experience in marriage, family, and the ups and downs of walking with God. We spent the next week in the Ozark Mountains praying…..could we do this, should we do this? I was not sold on the idea of moving every year. And then the thought came. How about traveling in an RV and staying where we can be used?
So, we ended up selling our home and buying an RV and began our empty nester adventure in June 2017. We have been blessed to reconnect with many relationships across the country and have created many new ones that we also treasure. In our first year, we traveled up the east coast to Maine and enjoyed three months in Myrtle Beach with the Grand Strand Church. The next year we headed out west and enjoyed the fellowship in Grand Junction, Colorado at the Grand Valley Church and then on to the Greater Santa Fe Church of Christ. Each church and stop has helped us in our faith as we see and experience this beautiful country and learn from each unique church fellowship.
This year we left the country and ventured to Nova Scotia. It was a great encouragement to worship with the Halifax-Dartmouth Church of Christ and fellowship with the disciples of Canada. “See you in 2020” was the common farewell. Juan has used his culinary gift to encourage the fellowship of believers and draw in many visitors. One of our favorite stories was the call months after serving a paella party in a Dallas family group’s home. The disciple’s neighbor had attended, began studying the Bible, and was baptized. How encouraging!
So, we would love to connect with other disciples who may also be living on the road, or who are interested in creating their own empty nester’s mission. We look forward to learning from each other and encouraging each other as a group. What other ways have you found to be used by God in this chapter of your life?
And lastly, please contact us if you are a small group that would benefit from the service and love of empty nesters. We are willing to start a group to connect these opportunities with willing servants.