My story is a little different from Scott’s. I grew up in a Christian home, and accepted Christ when I was three years old. Growing up, I never had any crisis of faith, or any extended time period when I wasn’t actively trying to grow in my faith. When I was in middle school, I decided that I wanted to be a youth pastor in the United States. My gifts are much more geared towards discipleship, and so I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. In high school I co-led a girls discipleship group, was on the leadership team for my youth group, and mentored 5 middle school girls (most of whom I’m still in touch with).
My high school has one of the best Spanish teachers in the state of Indiana, and I loved the fluency I gained under his teaching. I also went on 3 mission trips to Mexico. Although I loved these trips, and read a lot of missionary biographies, I never even considered going into oversees missions. The dream I had in middle school of being a youth minister was still my focus. Then, I met Scott on a blind date to my senior prom. He is the cousin of one of my best friends, and she set us up for fun. I liked Scott a lot, but immediately wrote him off as anything more than a friend because I was committed to stay in the United States!
Scott, on the other hand, was pursuing me, and we deepened the friendship until we were almost dating. At this point we finally realized that we needed to do some serious praying about what God wanted us to do about our relationship. It was a really hard decision, but with the counsel of my parents, we decided that we should not talk to each other for six months in order to seek God and His will for us. I started praying about missions, and the more I prayed the more God started revealing to me. Growing up, I was in a lot of unhealthy church situations, and I started to realize that much of my desire to do youth ministry was rooted in a prideful “I can do this better” spirit. As I worked through those heart issues, I started loosening my grasp on youth ministry, and the doors to other types of ministry started opening. I knew that full-time missions work would be much different from my 10-day Mexico trips, so I arranged to go to Costa Rica to do a missionary trip for 6 weeks that summer.
While I was in Costa Rica, I began to fall in love with the gospel, and the beauty of leading people to the Lord. I loved the culture, the people, and the work. It wasn’t always easy, but it was always worth it. I remember the moment I decided to be a missionary. A team of youth from Costa Rica along with a group from the US came up to Tipitapa, Nicaragua to do a joint mission trip. My time in Nicaragua was my favorite part of the summer. The people we worked with were so open and receptive to the gospel. I made many friends, and the church we worked with was so hospitable and open with us. At the end of the week, the church had a thank you/farewell service for us. It was so hard to say goodbye to a place where God had done so much in my heart and in the hearts of others. Unfortunately, eating the local food for a week had taken its toll on my body, and during the church service I got very sick. I threw up 5-6 times in the next 2 hours! As I was sitting in the van parked outside the church, I realized that even though I was sick, sweaty, and miserable, I would rather be sick doing the ministry of the Lord than sick back home living the life I had grown up with. God had turned my heart completely around.
That happened in July 2006. Scott and I started an official relationship the day after I got back from Costa Rica, and we got married in July 2007.