When Kasey and I started telling our friends and family members about our plans to possibly purchase a small business in Belize the reactions came from all over the spectrum. Some flat out told us we were crazy. Others said it sounds adventurous. Many thought we were simply looking for a way to diversify our real estate investments. A few simply asked, “Why?”.
Why? That is the question. Buying a resort in Belize and moving our family here for the winters was hard enough. Having Covid-19 wreck the international travel market a few months later makes us look downright crazy. But the why is the same, and it is all that matters.
We decided we wanted to make a difference in the world. And more importantly we wanted to do that with our children. Kasey and I had often discussed someday taking a step back from business work and focusing on humanitarian needs. The problem with our plans was it was always phrased with “someday”. We often discussed various scriptures where we are taught to “love one another”, or “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God”, and “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required”. Our problem wasn’t that we didn’t want to give, we didn’t know how to give. And we were somewhat afraid. We worried that the time wasn’t right and even asked ourselves, “what if we stretch ourselves too thin and lose what we have now?”.
One day, while reading in the scriptures, I read a passage I had read numerous times-the Parable of the Talents taught in Matthew. Two things struck me different than previous times I read the passage. One was that all three servants are expected to do the same thing-invest everything. Second was that they were expected to do so, because everything had been given to them by the Lord. After some deep soul searching, Kasey and I knew this was us. Yes, we had worked hard to build up a small business in Minnesota. And no, we didn’t want to lose that. But we knew we had been helped numerous times along the way and to us the business was a blessing from God. At that point we knew we needed to stop being fearful, get out and help others. So we did. We went to our bank and asked to refinance our business so that we could use the money to purchase a business elsewhere and be able to work and help other people who weren’t as fortunate as us. We were turned down. We asked another bank, and another and another. After 5 rejections we finally found a bank willing to work with us.
This is why we are in Belize, why we spend part of our time here working in the jungle. This is why we work the way we do. Why we have pushed through difficulties and kept going even when things have seemed insurmountable. We are driven by the why. The why is simple, we feel we need to help others. To serve others. Some may look at Cotton Tree Lodge and not realize what is really going on here. Yes, this is a beautiful resort. And yes, we hope to someday operate the business in a manner that makes it self sufficient financially. But what is going here at CTL is bigger than merely a jungle lodge. This is our family’s personal mission to make a difference in life-with our lives. This is our story, our passion and what gets us up out of bed, even on difficult days.