Missionaries who spent years in another country are now back in East Tennessee. They've decided they can carry out their mission better from here.
An adoption process that took longer than expected opened their eyes to conditions in Guatemala.
"The first time I got to meet our children was in 2005. And when I got there and saw the needs God just really started tugging and He's like you've got to go," Carla Parker said.
Carla and Mike Parker saw a need so they left their comfortable life in East Tennessee.
"Unlike here in the States, we can go to places and get help. In Guatemala, if you don't work you don't eat. And so for a lot of kids there they just don't have an education, they're getting tossed into children's homes, and basically just being thrown away," Mike said.
The organization they started is called Clubhouse Guatemala. It supports 14 ministries that house, feed, and educate children.
"When we first started in Guatemala we were thinking we would be ministering to just a few kids. We now have feeding programs feeding over 700 kids three days a week. And now we're getting ready to open a school with an additional 400 kids," Mike said.
The Parkers came back to Knoxville last spring because Carla was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I was very angry with God because I didn't know what was next and I was scared that I was going to lose my mate," Mike remembered.
Carla said, "I told Mike that everything was going to be fine. God had a plan and purpose for it."
They now recognize God's plan in bringing them back here as they stand in a donated warehouse space filled with 5,000 pairs of donated shoes and more.
"It's time to be here to do the back side of the ministry to keep it going because if we're not here and had we not been here the stuff that's in this warehouse we would not have been able to get," Carla said.
They just got a donation of school supplies they didn't even think they needed.
"And then just this week we acquired a school in Guatemala so it's just the way God's kind of worked it all out," Mike said.
Their 21 year old daughter is running the Guatemala mission.
Their adopted sons are on the honor roll in Seymour.
And Mike and Carla Parker are settling in to new roles.
"I see that there's no point in sweating the small stuff. And to me the cancer was the small stuff because I serve a big God," Carla said.
Mike said, "If we're going to break the cycle of poverty, we're going to do that through education."
And they're going to do it from East Tennessee.