Minister retires with a mission
When the Rev. Charles Kindle retired last November after 331/2 years as pastor of the Mecca Community Church in Cortland, he started raising money so he could go to work.
The money he was raising was to pay for his flight and lodging in Coban, Guatemala. The work he was planning to perform was building a pastor's house.
"We build churches mainly," he explains. "But this time we were finishing a parsonage."
"You're retired," I reminded this humble servant.
"You won't find the word retirement in the Bible," the Rev. Mr. Kindle informed me.
So this July, Mr. Kindle, 63, and his wife, Jackie, took a team of like-minded servants on a short-term missions trip to Guatemala. It was Mr. Kindle's 31st missions trip -- his first in retirement.
"We've been to Guatemala the most," he shares. "But we have traveled to Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Belgium, West Africa and Alaska."
With every trip, they build, minister and leave an unforgettable impression of Christian love.
"His first trip was after the Guatemalan earthquake in 1976," Jackie shares. It was the beginning of Mr. Kindle's love for missions. "It leveled a little town where [an American missions group] had done a lot of work."
"After the earthquake, the only thing left standing was a church and pastor's house," Jackie remembers. Those two structures were the ones built by the missionaries. "They went down there and built a new house for every member of that church. They were simple homes with one room, one door and one window. But that was about all they had before the earthquake."
That two-week stint changed Mr. Kindle's life.
"He's been going ever since," Jackie says.
Jackie has traveled on about half of the trips with Mr. Kindle and his teams.
"The ladies cook and clean and keep us well," Mr. Kindle says.
"We were feeding 30 to 35 people every meal," Jackie says, as she explained the role the women played on their July trip to Guatemala. Along with cooking, the ladies do all the laundry. "The Guatemalan people are modernizing, but it is still like stepping back in time."
"People realize what they have at home," Mr. Kindle says of the short-term missionaries who join him on the trips. "They don't take it for granted. It's an experience that they talk about forever."
"When you witness the impact that our work has made in their lives, it's a blessing," Mr. Kindle says.
On one project
He remembers one church building project in particular.
"We built a church on a banana plantation. It was a simple wood structure with a mud floor," Mr. Kindle recalls. "The people were so delighted to have a place to worship -- not just a lean-to against a tree. The night we dedicated the building, we couldn't fit all the people inside. They were standing outside and peeking in through the windows."
Pausing to remember the moment, Mr. Kindle continues, "It was so special to see their joy."
While the Kindles have shared the joy of helping others with the hundreds of volunteers who have traveled with them, they also have had the privilege of traveling on these trips with their children and five grandchildren.
"Our grandchildren have said they don't have this or that," Mr. Kindle says. "They come home from Guatemala and say they are not poor at all!"
Amazing what a little perspective can do for the soul. And that goes for age as well.
"I'd like to be younger," Mr. Kindle admits. But he is quick to reference to others who made an impact in their later years. "Moses and Joshua were in their 80s when they began their work."
I guess that makes the Kindles a couple of kids on the missionary field.
"As long as I have good health," this retired pastor says. "I'm going to keep going."
Next year, the Kindles are planning a mission trip to Cochabamba, Bolivia, where they will be building structures for a church camp.