A Christian family tired of government interference in their lives set sail for a small Pacific island to start anew – but got lost at sea.
The Gastonguay family of northern Arizona decided they would place their faith in God and go where He led them. They packed up with their two children, their father-in-law and a few belongings and steered to the island of Kiribati in May.
But just a few weeks into their journey to Kiribati, the family ran into a series of severe storms that damaged their small boat. They were left adrift for weeks before ultimately being rescued by a Venezuelan fishing boat. After the Gastonguays spent about five days on the fishing vessel, they were transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and taken to Chile, the Associated Press reported. The flight back to the United States was arranged by US Embassy officials.
During an interview with AP about the failed excursion to Kiribati, Hannah Gastonguay, 26, deemed the experience both a “little scary” and “pretty exciting.” They chose the small island because of both its size and the fact that it was one of the least developed places in the world. Kiribati is a series of small islands near the international dateline and the equator, between Australia and Hawaii.
The islands are also the focus of a new television series entitled, Missionary Wars. The docudrama will follow missionaries on the island and is being developed by Rob Underhill and Captain William Simpson. The pair of men became friends after being interviewed and introduced via Off The Grid News. The extreme poverty on the group of islands has prompted missionaries to travel to the area to offer aid for decades. Approximately 100,000 people currently call the tropical locale home.
Before setting sail for their new life in Kiribati, Sean and Hannah Gastonguay and their family relocated from Arizona to California to purchase a boat and get ready for their trip. Their youngest child was born aboard the boat while it was docked, before they left for Kiribati.
The family considered using a sail called a genoa after their boat took a huge beating in the storm, but were afraid that doing so might cause the mast to snap and they would lose the ability to use their radio and call for help.
They were hit by “squall after, squall, after squall,” Hannah told AP.
“We were in the thick of it, but we prayed,” she said. “Being out on that boat, I just knew I was going to see some miracles.”
The storms dispersed, and “next thing you know the sun is out. It’s amazing.”
When asked what initially drove the Christian family from the United States, they cited the “state-controlled church” and government actions in regards to abortion and homosexuality. The family also stated that the family was upset about being forced to pay taxes that covered the cost of abortions.
“Churches aren’t their own (anymore),” Hannah Gastonguay said. “Jesus isn’t the head of the church (in the U.S.). God isn’t the head of the church.”
Before they were rescued, they were down to just a little honey and juice, but were able to catch fish to feed the family. Although the Gastonguay family was in danger, Hannah stated they did not fear they were going to die. They continued to pray and felt God would protect them. During a recent interview Hannah recalled feeling like she was going to see some miracles while out on the boat. The Christian family plans on going back home to Arizona and coming up “with a new plan” to achieve the religious freedom they had envisioned when setting sail for Kiribati.