Our Story

I suppose you could say our story began a long, long time ago; or even once upon a time. There was a boy, and he had a crush on a girl. The girl thought he was a good friend, but nothing more. One day that changed and if we fast forward 16+ years you will find that the boy + girl are happily married, have two awesome kids, a dog, a lizard, and a couple of hermit crabs. The couple happily served the Lord in the local church, received their first mortgage, and saved responsibly for their children's education. Gradually, their happily ever after became a restless reality of desires and dreams yet fulfilled. The couple prayed and prayed, sought wise council, and waited patiently on the Lord. He revealed to them that their story wasn't over....it was just beginning! And so here we are, offering God our "anything" and ready to serve Him wherever He calls.

This story is far from over, and we are excited to share it with you!  Below is more detail on how God brought Uganda to us, but our blog will contain updates as the journey unfolds....so stay tuned!! 

 

Experiencing God's goodness among the devastation of the 2015 earthquakes..... Manisha has captured our hearts and we cannot wait until we get to be her forever family! 

Our story really changes direction in the Spring of 2014. We have dubbed the end of 2014 and most of 2015 as "The Best and Worst Year." I (Ashley) got sick. My immune system started fighting against my body. I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, which is a form of unexplained hair loss. Then our son, Malachi, lost his buddy in a tragic accident, and at the same time my grandparents were very ill.

Despite numerous tests, scans, and blood draws, we didn't know what was causing my body to retaliate against itself. The loss of Malachi's friend, Eddie, turned our worlds upside down. I obviously struggled with the reality of his death and how to help Malachi understand what had happened. However, what I didn't expect, was how it rocked my belief of God's goodness. My grandparents are the best. All of them. They have supported me and believed in me so deeply my whole life. Their influence has played a valuable role in who I am today. I didn't like that they were sick. Not. One. Bit.

As you can imagine. working full time, caring for my family, hashing out my (Mis)trust in God's goodness, and feeling pretty rotten physically and emotionally was taking a vicious toll on my body. I sought wise council, prayer, and advice from my fabulous Christian doctor. With a heavy heart, I took a medical leave of absence from school to rest and recover. Initially, my body crashed once it finally rested, and I found myself meeting with my doctor again. This time, we made the difficult decision to add anti-anxiety medication to my daily routine. While this experience was extremely humbling, it truly made me consider WHO I found my identity in, and WHO I ultimately trusted with my life. 

Dustin also struggled through this stretch of time. His time was conflicted between serving at the church and being home with his family. He began to resent ministry + burn himself out at the same time. This unchartered territory was not emotionally healthy, and he knew it. He was blessed with extra time off to be with me as we figured out how to navigate these storms together. 

While taking some time away to seek and pray, we relinquished the control of our lives that we had gradually taken from God. I LOVE the faithfulness of our Lord! With God in control, we found a renewed sense of peace and purpose. Dustin and I were able to truly seek HIS will for our future, and we found that He was calling us in a new direction. We began to pray "ANYTHING." Literally, Lord, we will do ANYTHING you call us to.

Through an amazing series of circumstances -- all of which were incredible, humbling,  unexpected, and brought some much needed healing to our hearts -- we traveled to Uganda with Love Does, helped out at the Storyline conference in Chicago, Dustin traveled to Florida, I traveled to Nepal twice (also with Love Does), and we made incredible, long-lasting friendships. God revealed bit by bit that  what we thought was a perfect little set up was going to change drastically - and we would relish it!

{By the way -- once I handed control back over to God....my hair started growing back, even better than the doctors predicted! }

We each resigned from our positions in Franklin, PA, pursuing God's next step in our journey. We interviewed around the country with churches and para-church organizations. Through this process we received a phone call from Amazima Ministries. Our friends at Love Does gave Amazima our info! I knew Amazima Ministries well, and was excited to learn there might be a way we could partner with them. Through a series of phone calls, meetings, Skype interviews, and more we prayed that God would guide us + that we'd come to the same conclusions, separately. Our God is faithful. He told each of us Jinja, Uganda is where we are to make our next home and serve. So, on January 4th, 2016 we will get on a plane with Malachi + Maelynn and set out on our adventure. 

Our story is FAR from over. Little did we know, those difficult trials and the healing which took place after, were setting us up for the next chapter. Our happily ever after is not defined by what WE do or say - it is defined in the legacy we leave. The legacy God is calling us to fulfill by following Him at all costs. We don't know what the future holds, but we are following after HIM hard. We look forward to sharing with you along the way!