There was more going on in preparation for the trip than researching landing sites in Mexico. I must also prepare things in Indiana. I'll speak to that now, and hold off describing my trip to Cancun, Merida, Tulum, et. al. for a later post.
The Methodist district office needed to know in order to arrange for a replacement pastor. Besides the office only three others in Indiana knew of my plans. They had to be trustworthy. Not being able to be up front with my church family was hard enough--it would be worse if news of my departure came via the rumor mill rather than from me. That would cause considerable and unnecessary hurt and anger. I didn't want that to happen. Although it was hard to have to hold back and await the signal from the district--it was probably the best thing. So I trusted and waited.
Still, I needed to be able to talk to someone. It was simply too much for me to hold in secret. The three from Indiana would be discrete, I knew. I also told a friend from West Virginia, some friends in Wisconsin, and, of course, Kerry in Mexico.
Telling those in Wisconsin was tricky. I have an aunt and uncle I love and respect in their same town. I wanted to talk to Bill and Dorothy face to face and not impersonally via letter or phone call. As my friends lived close by my aunt and uncle I had to have their pledge of secrecy. This they did readily and I knew I could trust them.
It is not surprising that my confidants were somewhat taken aback. But all, save one, had known me for at least 25 years and knew my choices were not always what one might expect from a "normal" person.
Also not surprisingly each (except Kerry, of course) expressed concern for my safety. (I'll address "the safety issue" a bit later on.) Despite some doubts, to their credit, all respected, if not completely delighted, in my decision.
In late March I had my annual evaluation by the District Committee on Ministry. They were gracious and recommended me for re-appointment on my return. I was also given the O.K. to inform my church family. It was both a joy and a terror to have the time finally arrive. I could share my secret--but I had to live with the consequences!
Next: Telling my church family