When I was in college, I had the opportunity to go on a few overseas missions trips. This really opened my eyes to the world around me and the physical and spiritual needs people have. I remember feeling what can best be described as a “tug” toward missions and it scared me so badly that I ignored it. The thought of leaving everything I was comfortable with and serving somewhere outside of the home I was used to was not something I was willing to do at that point. I did know at that time that God was calling me to full time ministry and I soon learned it was in the capacity of minister’s wife.
In December of 2002, I went on my first mission trip to Haiti. Matt also went on this trip though we did not know each other very well at this point. We had quite a few opportunities to talk on this trip and I think each knew we liked the other one. Matt and I started officially dating in March of 2003 while I was in my junior year of college finishing up my education degree. We quickly realized that God intended us for each other. Both of us had a heart for the Lord and serving Him. Early conversations in our dating relationship included discussions of adopting internationally one day down the road and our desire to serve God wherever He may lead. We were married in March of 2005 and immediately jumped into youth ministry together learning how to serve as a married couple.
For the first 6 years of our marriage, we learned how to be a married couple. We went through very happy times and very sad times and God used each of those times to strengthen us as a couple. In 2011, we both began to allow God to work in a way we never had before. Through diligent study of His Word and prayer, both Matt and I found ourselves in the midst of a personal revival with our amazing Lord. God led us to two books that changed our lives. The first was Crazy Love by Francis Chan in which we learned about the crazy love our Savior has for us and how we should have that kind of love in return for Him and others. The second was Radical by David Platt. God used this book to challenge us to set ourselves aside and look to the needs of others. Our eyes were opened up to the excess of material possessions we had in our lives and the lack that so many others had. Throughout the next year of our lives, God chipped away at the worldly things we held dear in our lives and showed us the intense physical and spiritual needs of the world around us.
In December of 2011, we made our first trip to Haiti since 2002. We were immediately drawn to an orphanage in Gressier, Haiti. The kids in the orphanage were full of love but lacking in so many other essential things like daily meals and clothes to wear. We came home and prayed about how God would have us react to the things we had seen. I had been asking God to break my heart for the things that break His and now He had. The question now was what to do with the broken heart. We decided through God’s guidance to begin a sponsorship program for the orphanage. We went back in March of 2012 and gathered information on the kids for the sponsorship program. By May, each child had a sponsor that would pay $40 a month. This $40 would pay for food, school, and medical costs. In the midst of this, God was creating a love for these children in my heart like nothing I had ever felt before. We went back in June and then again in July just needing to check on the kids and make sure they were ok. During these months, God was creating a love in both of us for these precious children that would change our lives forever.
Each time we would return from a trip to Haiti, I would long to be there more and more and so I began to pray about this. I remember mentioning it to Matt in passing one day last spring and we both laughed at the thought of moving to Haiti to run an orphanage. As we laughed, I remember thinking that this is truly where we were supposed to be. Once we returned home from our trip in July, I felt without a doubt that this is where God wanted us. When I told Matt, he I am sure thought I was crazy but agreed to pray about it. We both did for the next couple of months. We went back in October and once we returned from this trip, both knew with certainty that this is what God had for our lives. God was calling us to leave behind the things we were used to and serve the children in the orphanage full time. He was asking us to set ourselves aside and look to the needs of others. Saying yes to God and surrendering myself to Him was the most freeing moment of my life.