Dane Caldwell has chased success. Come September, he will pursue significance.
Dane Caldwell has chased success.
Come September, he will pursue significance.
Caldwell, his wife and their two teenage sons will soon embark on a new chapter in life as missionaries working to bring clean drinking water to remote tribal villages in Brazil.
He will leave behind the trappings of his life: home, vehicles, furniture, jet skis, as well as his job with the St. Joe Company to work with a non-profit missionary group that works with descendants of slaves in Brazil to bring them clean drinking water with a touch of faith.
“Our ultimate mission is to reach the people with the gospel and we will do that through clean drinking water,” Caldwell said. “We provide humanitarian aid through clean drinking water.
“There is a difference between going down there for six weeks and going for good. It is a little scary, but all I need is a roof over my head and food on the table. I’m not worried about it. Maybe I should be.”
Caldwell and his family will reside in the state of Maranhao in northeast Brazil. The state is 2 degrees off the equator.
Working with LINCUP Missions, Caldwell will be part of “Project Living Water” in a village of the Quilombola people.
During the centuries of the slave trade, Caldwell said, for every slave ship bound for America there were two ships destined for South America.
The Quilombola are descendants of those slaves and are a distinct people living in government-established villages – akin to Native American reservations in this country, Caldwell said – in remote areas of 23 of Brazil’s 26 states.
Each village consists of roughly 50-75 homes, Caldwell said, and they are typically ruled in part by a witchdoctor and isolated from the rest of Brazilian society.
The Caldwells “adventure” comes after much family discussion and prayer.
Caldwell has traveled on missions for several years, to Morocco and Brazil. His wife Cheryl and sons Luke, now 14, and Elijah, 15, along with daughter Kayla, now 19, joined Caldwell on trips to Brazil.
“I wanted to take my children and my wife because unless you smell it, taste it, yourself, you can’t explain (the dynamics of a Third World country),” Caldwell said.
In 2012 he returned to Brazil with Bobby Alexander, his fellow parishioner at First Baptist Church of Port St. Joe.
“I went more as a business trip and decided that is what I needed to do with my life,” Caldwell said. “I thought about what is my purpose. And I looked back to see the stepping stones, what God has done in my life to get me here.”
Cheryl, he said, sensed how miserable Caldwell was with his life after his return.
He was stressed, working long hours and pondering fundamental questions of human existence.
His options seem to boil down to starting his own business or taking another job, neither of which seemed to make sense.
“What matters after I am gone?” Caldwell said. “What kind of legacy do I leave? I wanted to do something that would matter in eternity.
“I wanted to chase significance rather than success.”
Caldwell became aware of LINCUP Missions and its goal of providing clean drinking water to Quilombola people through the disbursement of earthen water jugs containing a carbon-based filter. The goal of LINCUP Mission is to provide one filter, costing $15, to every household in each village.
Cheryl was onboard after her trip to Brazil.
“Her life was changed when she went to Brazil,” Caldwell said. “You can not go to a Third World country and not be changed. It’s her decision. I didn’t want to drag her down there. My boys were not ready.”
The boys, who have been homeschooled by Cheryl, came around as they transitioned from playing football in the Gene Raffield Football League to youth soccer.
As they embraced soccer, living in Brazil, host of the World Cup in a few years and an international soccer power, took on new meaning.
“They developed a desire and love of the game of soccer,” Caldwell said. “Brazil is the center of the soccer world. They are very excited to go down and play soccer. They developed that love on their own. We feel now that was their stepping stone.
“In April we had a family talk and the boys said let’s just do it and shut up about it. That was a pivotal moment.”
The boys, Caldwell added, also sensed an opportunity for more quality time with dad.
Kayla, with a chance to continue her schooling at Florida State College in Jacksonville, has decided to remain stateside; Caldwell called the decision the “right” one.
His bosses at the St. Joe Company have been “very supportive” of the family’s decision to go, though Caldwell acknowledged that some friends and co-workers have wondered, “Are you sure?”
“There is some anxiety about getting everything done we need to get done,” Caldwell said. “We know we made the right decision.
“Our lives (here) are planned out for us. We are embracing that adventure of what life will give us. We don’t have a plan B. We know it won’t be easy. But we are committed that this will be our life. This is an adventure.”
The Caldwells are in the midst of “getting rid of this life.”
Their home is on the market. If not sold, Caldwell said they would likely rent it. They will also sell their vehicles and most of their furniture, putting keepsakes in storage or with relatives.
“It feels so good to get rid of stuff, it really does,” Caldwell said. “The Quilombola people seem happier than we do and they don’t have all the stuff.
“We may go broke, but we are going to take the boys to a Third World country and let them see how good they have it here.”
The Caldwells will live in a small house on a dirt road with indoor plumbing provided by LINCUP Missions. They have been raising funds to support the project this summer and fundraising will become part of their life.
The family will spend six months a year, from May to the end of November, in Brazil and November to April in the United States to travel to churches and other organizations, shining a light on the Quilombola people and Project Living Water.
“We will be coming back right after Thanksgiving this year so that will give us a chance to learn the language (Portuguese), learn the culture and immerse ourselves in the culture. That is the adventure.”
Anyone wishing to donate funds to support the Caldwells efforts with Project Living Water can email Caldwell.firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the LINCUP Missions page on Facebook.