There are a couple of questions we find ourselves answering often, “How did you know you were called to missions?” or, “When did you first realize you were called?” I don’t think Rob or I can answer specifically on the how or when. It has been a process of God adding to us over the years until finally, a call to full-time missions ministry became the natural next step.
Both Rob and I have had a deep longing for overseas mission work for many years now. Rob served on short term trips in Mexico and Guatemala, where I was serving in Romania. There came a point when we both knew that the short term work was over and it was time to focus on the long-term call. Like I said…a natural next step.
So why Africa? Again, this has been in the works since the beginning. Even early in our marriage Rob and I believed we would someday adopt. In 2005 it became clear it was time to start thinking about it more seriously. In 2006 we turned toward Zambia. Meanwhile, I attended my first trip to Romania where I worked specifically with orphan children. The process of learning about the plight of orphans was capturing my heart and I felt myself being drawn to the work of caring for them. After completing the adoption of Rachael in 2007 (from Zambia), the Lord stirred in us and coupled with our experiences we became passionate about orphans, the vulnerable and the marginalized poor. The revelation of life in a third world country; the visions of overcrowded streets, underfed children and a life wrought with disease… the sights, sounds and smells of poverty… all these things changed us. From those experiences we realized that for us, to pray for the poor was not enough. We became driven to effect change through the investment of our lives and developed a deep desire to walk and live among the poor. We knew we had been called.
For the 16 years leading up to our first overseas mission assignment in Swaziland, Rob was a paramedic firefighter. Firefighting gave him a sense of community and community service, working alongside his brothers in the fire department. He is a language learner, with a degree in Spanish, and he had plenty of of practice at work! Rob loves working with his hands, building, fixing and “gerry-rigging.”
I am a licensed teacher, K-12, and in the years before children, I taught in the bi-lingual education program and trained in ESL (or ELL) elementary education. I also love language, but unlike Rob with the Spanish, I took a degree in French. Since kids, I have been managing the home along with some part-time work in bookkeeping, and in the church missions department.
Both Rob and I would agree, that this strange mix of skills, experiences and education has suddenly come together for purpose on the mission field. Where before it seemed our skills were all over the map, now they all seem to make sense and have become valuable assets to us as we go to work in a foreign context.
We have 4 awesome kids who join us in ministry. They are getting older, and we are about to send the oldest to college! Matthew (18), Luke (15), Will (13), and Rachael (11) have their own stories to tell… you can learn more about them on the “Kids” page.