The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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July 15, 2007

Couple sells all to join Peace Corps

Passion to serve opens new chapter for Nelsons

MANKATO — Some might consider a 27-month commitment to doing Peace Corps work in Nicaragua to be enough of a sacrifice.

Greg and Carol Nelson see it another way. The Mankato couple decided the trip was a reason for a kind of rebirth, a good time to cleanse themselves of the material ties to their lives before Peace Corps.

For one, the house had to go. They put their home on the market and are hoping for a bite before they leave at the end of August. They’re also selling their cars and have already had a handful of moving sales to clear out many of their possessions.

“We’re downsizing to what can fit in the smallest storage unit,” Greg said. “That’ll be the fun part is to come back and not know exactly what it’s going to be like and building from the ground up.”

The couple also had no choice but to leave their jobs, Greg as clinical director of Lutheran Social Service and Carol as a fifth-grade teacher at Monroe Elementary School. Carol will return to teaching following the mission, but Greg isn’t sure what that next chapter will hold for him.

That’s really not the concern right now, anyway. Emerging themselves into their work and their new lives in Nicaragua is what the couple is looking forward to.

“For me, it comes back to a passion,” Greg said. “My passion is to still serve people, but it’s just in a different arena now. ... We believe we’re doing what we were created to do.”

On Christmas Day the Nelsons submitted their application to join the Peace Corps. They had thought about doing it before they were married 34 years ago, but it wasn’t the right time. All these years later, on Christmas, they thought it was the perfect day to commit to giving a gift in return for the gift they believe Jesus gave to mankind.

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