For Salvation Army Majors Darvin and Betty Carpenter, retirement means something different than sipping cold beverages on the beach.
Since the two decided to stop working seven years ago and move from California to be close to his brother in Houston, they have been assigned to and served the communities of Texas City; Odessa; Corpus Christi; Santa Maria, Calif.; and Hendersonville, N.C.
Their next stop on their "retirement" tour is Amarillo. For the first time in their 49 years as officers in the Salvation Army, it's an indefinite stop.
"It’s going quite well," Darvin said. "I’m still on information overload, but we’re getting to know several things going on around the community."
The Carpenters are replacing Harvey and Ann Johnson, who retired from the Army in December and completed their assignment in Amarillo on June 17. Darvin and Betty started the next day.
The Johnsons retired to Florida. As they were leaving town, they mentioned they were taking the rest of the year off but if the Salvation Army needed them in 2019, they might consider jumping back in. (Maybe there is no such thing as retirement from the Salvation Army.)
The Carpenters have served all over the world including stays in California, Hawaii, Australia, New Mexico, Arizona and Washington state. They have served as leaders in various aspects of The Salvation Army: at the training college facility, transitional living programs, adult day care centers, overnight shelters and child preschools.
Needless to say they've learned a few things along the way.
"I’ve learned that wherever you go, the good Lord is there and has a plan for my life and the lives of the people there," Darvin said. "My role as the Salvation Army sends me is to help people understand their role that the Lord wants for them and help them to find it."
Although that mission hasn't changed, it has gotten "more complex," Darvin said.
"It’s the same ballgame; there's good and there's evil in every situation and in every person’s life," he said. "There’s temptation but today it’s complicated because everything is faster. You go on your phone and you can get into trouble or you can find good things. Everything from the Bible to satanism is on there. And you get it from all over the world.
"When I first began (in 1969), there were no mobile phones, no internet. It was a little more difficult to get into trouble, not that you couldn’t but now ... I think that’s the complexity, people can see everything that’s going on in the community and the world they don’t have."
The Carpenters have been assigned to work in Hawaii twice during their almost five-decade service. One of those assignments including traveling and working in the Marshall Islands.
"Most of the people there were poor, but they didn’t know it," Darvin said. "Once the internet and the cable TV came in they realized, 'We don’t have what they have in America. We don’t have this. We don’t have that.' So the suicide rate went up tremendously among young people because they saw a dead-end life.
"So I think it’s more complex because people find out more quickly what they have and what they don’t have.”
Helping those people who see what they don't have and want what their neighbor has crosses all time zones.
"So money, although it might buy choices, doesn’t buy happiness," Darvin said. "You are content, you are happy if you know what you have, live up to that and you make the most of what you have.
"We try to help people understand that we’re all given abilities and opportunities and to make the most of what you have and not worry about what other people have."
Darvin said he sees that every day when people break into someone’s house and steals what they think they should have.
"If they are having difficulties, it doesn’t have to continue. We’re here to help you when you’re ready to change some things, whether it’s education, whether it’s a job, whether it’s a change in thinking. So you can become that person the good Lord wants you to be.”