I never thought I’d be a missionary. From a young age, I was known for my creativity and was always coming up with ways to entertain people. This manifested itself in obstacle courses in the front yard, haunted garages and basements, and even light shows synchronized to music in my bedroom. I feel very fortunate to have parents who allowed my creativity to flourish!
At the age of 15, I decided I wanted to be a Walt Disney Imagineer – the creative folks who dream up, design, and build the Disney theme parks and attractions. I eventually went to school to become an engineer, but that ultimately didn’t work out. Instead, I finished my college degree in Tourism, Conventions and Event Management.
In my professional career, I’ve held operational and management roles at all of the “fun” places: The Indianapolis Zoo, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and, for a brief time, Walt Disney World in Florida.
In 2007, I was going through a particularly difficult season in my life. This season involved many of the plans I had made falling apart, and I was in a bit of despair. Through the invitation of a friend, I began attending Traders Point Christian Church on the northwest side of Indianapolis. One of the first messages I heard after attending was called, “God Messes Up My Plans.” It was a moment when I felt as though I was the only person in the room, and I was very moved by the message. In fact, after that, I never stopped attending church there! I was baptized there in 2009, and got heavily involved in leadership of the young adults ministry for a time.
In 2012, I felt moved to join a short-term mission trip from Traders Point that was heading to Nairobi, Kenya. The visit introduced me to the Mathare Valley slum, and the unimaginable extreme poverty prevalent there. I also learned about two organizations that are trying to make a difference there: Missions of Hope International and CMF International. These two organizations formed a partnership (the Hope Partnership) and utilize a strategy called Community Health Evangelism (CHE) to help people living in extreme poverty utilize their resources and learn how to help themselves. The goal is to break that cycle of poverty.
After returning from that trip, I had a changed perspective on life and what is important. I left my 12-year career in the tourism/hospitality industry and went to work at the CMF International home office in Indianapolis. My job was to lead the child sponsorship program through a time of transition toward greater efficiency and future growth. As rewarding as that work was, I quickly realized that I’m one who finds my motivation by seeing the results of the things I’m a part of – by being close to the front lines. In this case, the front lines are on the other side of the world!
So, after two years of working for CMF, I started to think about what else I could do that would allow me to be closer to the action. I started down the road of returning to the tourism/hospitality industry by planning to return to work at Walt Disney World in Florida. I got far enough down the road that I sold my house and was able to pack up and go anywhere at anytime.
But, just like He did seven years ago, God messed up my plans again – but for the better. Ultimately, my plans to move to Florida fell through. Instead, a different opportunity presented itself to me – to go and serve with the CMF field team in Nairobi, Kenya. There, I will bring my operational knowledge and home office experience to the field as we work to add capacity to our sponsorship program there with the goal of reaching even more underprivileged children living a life of poverty.
It’s an exciting time! As I take a step back and look at the big picture of my life, I can clearly see how things have been pointing this direction since that first time I set foot into Traders Point Christian Church seven years ago. And I can’t wait to see how God will mess up my plans next!