I was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio where I grew up in a family that encouraged me to constantly strive for a relationship with Christ. For the first 22 years of my life I lived a life of relative ease. I wasn’t the most popular, the best looking or the most athletic, but nothing major happened in my life to shake my faith in God.
In September of 2003 that all changed. My father passed away and for the first time my faith was tested. It was very hard for me to rely on God when I couldn’t understand what the purpose was for my dad to die at such a young age. Within the next year God led me to Maryland to teach Middle School Science. I was spiritually lower than ever before and I took advantage of that to do whatever I felt like. Mostly this involved not going to church, ignoring God and completely destroying my health.
In 2007 I weighed over 400 lbs. and I started to have some major health issues which resulted in two near-death experiences within four months. In January of that year I went in to have my gall bladder removed and while in for surgery they discovered more was wrong with me than was first thought. After a week in ICU they said I had a 50% chance to survive. My health issues didn’t stop there, for the next three months I was in and out of the doctor’s office getting test after test. In April they found that I had a blood clot which was impeding the blood flow to my small intestine. The lack of blood flow resulted in the doctor removing two feet of my small intestine. From that moment on my health improved.
Despite the health issues, during those four months I was filled with a peace that I had never had before. I knew that there was a purpose to all of the pain. I then realized that I am nothing without God and I needed to rely on Him for everything and all that was happening to me was planned to prosper me not to harm me (Jeremiah 29:11). With this new realization, over the next few years I started to get my life together, both physically and spiritually, losing over 125 lbs and seeking God’s will in my life while developing a better personal relationship with Him.
In August of 2009 my friend and co-Bible study leader asked me if I had ever considered full-time work in a ministry. I couldn’t get the word no out of my mouth fast enough. I had no intention of ever going into full-time ministry, no matter what the opportunity was. That was just not my plan.
About a month later that same friend asked me if I could look up some short-term missions opportunities for our Bible study. She sent me links to different missions organizations and I began to sift through all of them to see if any opportunity looked like a good fit. Mid-way through looking up short-term opportunities I got bored and decided to look up long-term positions just to switch things up a bit. I stumbled on an instructional designer position with Greater Europe Mission that was located in Germany. This intrigued me for two reasons; first my Master’s degree prepared me to be an instructional designer and secondly I took German for five years in Middle School and High School. However, I wasn’t intrigued enough yet to do anything about it.
For the next week I could think of very little besides this missions opportunity. I didn’t want to move to another country, I didn’t want to be a missionary, I didn’t want to leave my family and yet I couldn’t get it out of my head. I knew then that I needed to pray. I asked a few of my close friends to pray as well and within a week or so I knew I needed to look into it more. I got in contact with the supervisor for the position and immediately I felt at ease. She told me that the little town where I would work was the same town I had visited, a few months ago, on a vacation in Germany. We drove three hours out of our way just to go to this town because my friend had planned on being a missionary at a school there.
I began to realize all of the things God had put in my life to prepare me to go to Germany and be a missionary with Greater Europe Mission. I took a trip to meet my future co-workers and immediately knew this is what I needed to do, but also it became what I wanted to do.