Getting Personal & Meet My Fiancee

A couple of readers have encouraged me to get more personal from time to time in my posts. So, by request, I’ll do that briefly in this post.

I grew up in Canton, Ohio, home of the Football Hall of Fame. I’m the oldest of five boys. Here’s a picture of all of us, along with my parents (I’m in the blue shirt and white shorts next to my mom), in 2005:

After high school, I spent three years earning an Associates Degree at a college in Dallas, Texas. I then lived in Malaysia for nearly six years (2001-2007), teaching English in two different language centers for most of that time. I love the people there, the food, the culture, the incredible hospitality, and the weather (hot and humid). When possible, I loved spending time in the villages, and I got involved in a couple of different Village Homestay programs, to the point of helping coordinate with groups of westerners who were open to staying in village homes. With God’s help, I became (and remain) fluent in the Malay language. Here I am with my first host family in a village in late 2001 (and the same family again in 2004):

Since late summer 2007 I’ve been living in Minneapolis. In addition to working and completing course work through Northwestern College (off and on, admittedly), I got involved for a while in tutoring Somalians in English through a program called SALT (Somali Adult Literacy Training). [There are more Somalians, Hmong, Liberians, and Oromos (from Ethiopia) in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/Saint Paul) than anywhere else in the United States.] At this time, I’m beginning to volunteer again with a group of people who are reaching out especially to refugees in Saint Paul (a significant number of Somalian Muslims live across the street from a Drop-in Center that opened up there in November 2011).

From the 4th quarter of 2010 through the 3rd quarter of 2011 I experienced the toughest ordeal of my life, something I would never wish on anyone. God knows the details, as do some family members and friends. I alluded to this briefly in one post back in April. Some recovery is behind me, and some is yet ahead, especially financially. Yet I’m grateful to God for the deliverance that He brought about, and the grace that He showed me throughout that time.

Among my hobbies and interests are sports, writing, international foods and culture, and traveling (it’s been too long since I’ve done that, aside from driving to and from Ohio a couple times a year).

Last but not least, I’m now (since mid-November) engaged to be married to Jasmine, a girl who is beautiful on the inside and the outside. She’s a true blessing and a gift from God. We are from the same hometown in Ohio, and actually met for the first time about 11 years ago. Perhaps she and/or I will share more on this blog about how God brought us together in a relationship last year, at a time when both of us were facing some tough circumstances. For now, here are a couple of recent pictures of the two of us:

Jasmine is now an author on this blog, and plans to contribute some posts beginning in the very near future, with topics ranging from spiritual to lifestyle.

When this blog began in August 2009, four of us from a home-based Bible study group (Dave, Rod, Mike, and I) contributed to a series on the book of Revelation. Mike is not likely to post anything else in the future, Rod may or may not, and Dave will probably post from time to time (here’s his most recent post regarding his prosthetic leg, titled “Running With Hope“). Presently, there are three other guys in the Bible study group: Aby (from India), Pat, and Brian. None of these three are into blogging. One other friend, Mark, who lives near Oakland, California, has been designated as an author on this blog, though his future posts remain only in the planning stage.

Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.