Playa Perdida

Playa Perdida (PLY-uh / purr-DEE-dah) emerged after living overseas during my adolescence and then later with my wife and kids, when I pastored international churches. I got to meet a wide range of people from all over the world who enriched my life, and gave me seeds for many stories. They also helped me realize that no matter where you’re from, where you’re going and how you travel matters.


Fading fast after a decade of serving troubled churches, a desk-bound pastor heads south for a break. When storms force his plane to land early, Gray Albright unexpectedly finds himself in a remote Central American town on the Pacific coast. Somehow, people there who want a church in the area know about him. They ask him to stay, but Gray says no.

Then, back home after the failed vacation, he gets sacked by his grumpy congregation. So at the urging of his wife Moira, Gray relocates his family to Playa Perdida, where there’s an array of intriguing expatriates—like Slot, a one-armed vet who shepherds lost causes; Bert, who covers her religious bases; Arthur, a refined British gent; and, the dowager Charlotte Pipe. As the Albrights settle in, a cynical journalist heckles, a surfing instructor offers insight, and a barista with a predilection for knives brews killer cappuccino.

What does it take to form a church in a place like this? While trying to figure that out, Gray deals with a suicide, entrusts worship music to a garage band, counsels in a bar, conducts a wedding barefoot and helps catch a puma. He also finds himself on the receiving end of grace more than he had expected.

With dry wit and laconic pacing, Playa Perdida introduces a lively, off-beat community of saints and sinners. Washed up on shore from all over the world, almost everybody in this tropical paradise needs a second chance.

Dan Schmidt has a terrific mind and a gift for language. In Playa Perdida, he has drawn on a world he knows well to craft a tale you will not forget.
John Ortberg, Senior Pastor; Menlo Park Presbyterian Church
What better summer beach reading could there be than a book about a beach? Really, Playa Perdida is a great read for any season. It deals with the quiet drama of spiritual growth – through endearing characters and an engaging story in a captivating setting.
Brian McLaren,  Author/speaker
I began reading Playa Perdida as a favor for a friend. But I soon discovered that I couldn’t put it down. Not only has Dan Schmidt created interesting and believable characters, but he has presented them in lively, witty, and insightful prose. His well-wrought writing creates empathy for his protagonists: a pastor and his wife dealing with the frustrations, tensions, fears, joys, and blessings of the vocation. This novel will ring bells of recognition for those in the pastorate; it can also help congregations understand the often unacknowledged roles played by any earnest pastor: public relations guru, arbitration specialist, theatrical director, pedagogical theorist, marriage counselor and coffee connoisseur.
Crystal Downing, Author How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith


Available as a paperback or e-book.

And check out an mp3 audio download of chapter 16.