I am a small-town girl. My hometown's population is just over 4,000 people and it has something like 10 churches - at least 6 of which are Mennonite! So, Christianity was more the norm than the exception (at least that's how I remember it). My family was one of many who attended Sunday school and church each week. As I grew up I was a part of the church groups available for me at different stages of life: Pioneer Girls, Junior Youth and Senior Youth. During my junior high and high school days, my group of friends attended two different jr. youth groups. We were excited to hang out together, but also excited to learn more about God. I was lucky enough to end up with one of the most fantastic groups of friends a high school kid could've asked for (and still maintain friendships with some of the old gang). I don't think we had everything right, not by a long shot. But I do think our hearts were (mostly) in the right place. In addition to youth, a large group of us (between 25 and 40?) met for Bible study. We had no adult supervision (unless you count the three friends of ours who were all on their third year out of high school), we did this on our own accord. It was a fantastic, and sometimes frustrating, experience. We even held our own dances in a friend's garage. No small feat for a group of Mennonite kids in southern Manitoba. ;) After high school I went off to Providence College in Otterburne for a year of general biblical studies, and from there moved to Winnipeg where I found work and became a self-sufficient young adult. It was both a challenging and wonderful time in my life! I've always looked for a church to attend, even when I was living on my own away from the influence of my parents. It's always been important to me. When Doug and I got married, we also felt that attending and becoming involved in a church was important. We were a part of a wonderful young marrieds group in Winnipeg and again when we moved to Landmark.
It's interesting to me how often a lesson will be taught to me through my kids. Some days they just don't listen. It doesn't matter what I say or do, they continue to ignore me, disobey me, and often end up hurting themselves as a result. It's completely frustrating to watch! And then, as I reflect on days like that, I see how terribly frustrating it must be for God to watch me do the same thing to him. Kids are great (and humbling!) teachers.
As we get ready to be missionaries with TeachBeyond and the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, please continue to pray for us. We're leaving behind a great community of people and building a new one with fellow North Americans and the local German community. The four of us will be making new friends, and learning how to be the new kids in town. Keegan and Nadia are young and I think they'll adapt fabulously, but I'm not ignorant to the fact that it's also going to be really hard sometimes!