From: New Ulm, Minnesota
Arrived in the Dominican: Arrived August 15, 2020
Current Financial Support Level: 100%
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Freedom International Ministries, Inc.
2905 E 46th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46205
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I was raised in a home where we went to church on a fairly regular basis. I believed in God and Jesus and tried my best to be a good person. However, I was mostly interested in sports and that was my motivation in a lot of the things that I did. I felt that if the good things I did outweighed the bad (and I didn’t do anything really bad) everything would be okay. A friend of mine growing up had become a Christian in high school, and he witnessed to me and mentored me in understanding what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus, and just after my 18th birthday, when he was home from college for Christmas break, the Holy Spirit convicted my heart and I accepted Christ as my personal savior.
Initially, I had a tremendous desire to grow in my faith. However, I eventually went off to college and struggled to stay committed to my faith. I was kind of on a roller coaster where I went through periods of commitment followed by periods of indifference. I had become a lukewarm Christian. After graduate school I met my wonderful wife Susan, whom God had thankfully placed in my life. As our relationship progressed, Susan helped me re-commit to my faith and relationship with Jesus. When we eventually moved to the small town of Elbow Lake in West Central Minnesota, we found a church with some wonderful people and became more involved in ministry and the community. However, I still felt a need for “safety” and security. I wanted to know what was going to be happening in my life and when it would happen. Change was not my friend. I felt comfortable in my job as an environmental geologist and living in our small town where we knew most everybody. However, the Holy Spirit moved in my heart in a way that I could not avoid which led to significant changes in our lives.
In 2006, after much prayer and discussion (and a lot of fear and uncertainty) I returned to college (in my 40’s) to work towards a degree in Special Education. I had felt God moving me in a direction that would allow me work with youth and have a positive impact on their lives for Him. In 2009, I started my first full-time teaching job in a small town in West Central Minnesota. This was obviously a big change and I was really nervous about it. My goal was to make it through the first year and have my contract renewed for the next year. Through God’s grace and guidance I made it through the first year and had my contract renewed. However, by the spring of that year, Susan and I had begun prayerfully considering a much bigger change. We eventually felt God’s direction to move our family to Cap Haitian, Haiti, to work in a ministry to help provide Haitians with clean water and for me to teach in a small, international Christian school. We moved Haiti in the fall of 2010.
Living in Haiti was very challenging for me personally. I’m an introverted person and I was so far outside of my comfort zone that I couldn’t even see it anymore. Susan was incredible, our kids adapted well, and I learned what it truly means to allow God to be in control and to live my faith. That was a challenge for me because I struggle with uncertainty and change. We experienced some extremely challenging events as a family but God was always faithful to us, never left us, and guided us through every day.
I have learned through my relationship with Christ that all things are possible with God, because I could never have foreseen the changes that have occurred in my life over the last 20 years. If you had told me everything that would happen back then I would have just laughed and said “no way.” Now, I am simply planning to continue studying God’s word, seeking and sharing fellowship with others, having a positive impact and mentoring / discipling those I work with, and prayerfully seeking God’s will for my life and asking for His strength and courage to follow it.
I was born into a loving family in Minneapolis, MN. In second grade, we moved to another community and it was there I began attending Sunday School. In 4thgrade, my Sunday school teacher really emphasized not only knowing the Bible stories about Jesus, but also recognizing that we all have sinned and need forgiveness and because of what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross, we can now know Him as our personal savior. This had a profound effect on me and so one night, alone in my room, I asked Jesus into my heart. No big drama, no huge life change, but a definite decision that I was now a follower of Christ.
As I grew older, I also grew in knowledge. Somewhere around fifth or sixth grade is when I started to think about missions and becoming a missionary myself. The call was strong and so after graduating early from High School, I went to a Bible College and studied Theology and Missions. I learned a lot and was challenged in many ways. I spent time overseas in several countries.
However, as often happens, life began to throw curve balls and my dreams of being a fulltime missionary were put on hold. I went through quite a few years of essentially being in survival mode to get through, but even so, God was working in my heart and I never felt abandoned. There were many trials and yes, some tears and tantrums on my part, but God was faithful.
I am so very thankful for Doug, my wonderful husband. He has the most honor and integrity of anyone I have ever met. We lived in several places and grew our family. At one point, we ended up in a small town in rural Minnesota, and God began laying on our hearts that change was coming. We had looked into different missions opportunities in different countries, several places expressed interest in us coming, but there was no clear direction from God. Then on January 12, 2010, the earthquake in Haiti happened and a Christian relief organization called and asked if I would respond. (I was a Public Health Nurse and had Emergency Preparedness experience.) I spent 3 ½ weeks in Port au Prince and saw pain and devastation that is indescribable, yet under a tent, stood side by side with about 1000 Haitians praising God and singing a song in Kreyol that said in essence, “Even though the sky is falling, yet I will praise you.” It was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
When I returned home, another Christian organization asked if our family would move to the North of Haiti and facilitate a well drilling, well repair, water program that would bring clean water and health education to those in the North and those who were migrating North following the earthquake. Doug and I prayed about it and knew this was the open door. I returned to Haiti a couple of months later and began preparations for our family to move to Cap Haitien. My role was to facilitate the water project and develop the Haitian team and Doug taught at a school and was a technical resource for the water project. We experienced many challenges but also developed deep relationships with Haitian friends and youth that continue to this day. Our team is incredible. Even with very limited resources, they work so hard every day to bring water, education and Jesus’ love to their communities.
It has been very difficult for me to be back in the United States, I did not want to leave Haiti, but God has provided for us since we have been back. We have maintained close ties to our Haitian friends and I have had to learn to be a stronger prayer warrior and supporter rather than just a doer when it comes to missions. Our visit to Freedom in January 2019 brought back many emotions to me and confirmed that the call I had as a child was still there. God was moving to get us back on the field and I am ready to go.