When I look at an atlas of the world, and see the tiny speck of land that we live on, called the island of Tenerife, it amazes me how God has directed our steps, and puts us in the path of other people with whom we have some sort of connection.
When I was seventeen years old, I was a foreign exchange student with the Rotary Club. First a young girl my age came and spent six weeks in our home in Ohio, and then I returned to Finland and lived in her home for the same amount of time. It was a wonderful experience that I will always remember. Kirsti and I remained friends, writing each other on occasion, but through the years it became a matter of exchanging Christmas cards and an occasional email.
Several years back when I was living in Ohio, I recall receiving a card from Kirsti with a return address of Tenerife. I never heard of it--and had to look it up on a map. It was part of the Canary Islands, a place I only had ever heard of because my grandparents had traveled there a few times and had really loved their trips there.
As life went on, I lost touch with Kirsti, and to be honest I kind of forgot about where she was living, etc. We moved to New York, and Doug was working in the jail ministry, and I never heard from her again. Then in 2003 Doug was feeling the Lord call him back into foreign missions, and felt the Lord pointing him toward Africa. I told him "Wouldn't it make more sense if the Lord called us to a Spanish speaking country since we already speak Spanish?"
"Yes, it would, replied Doug, but I have to go where the Lord is directing." Then through much prayer and guidance through the Word of God, the Lord clearly gave him direction about the islands from Isaiah 42. It then became very clear to Doug that God was calling us to the Canary Islands, which are just off the coast of Africa, and praise the Lord, they speak Spanish!
It was then that the Lord brought back to my mind that I had a friend living on a small island near Africa, which was part of the Canary Islands, and it dawned on me it was the island of Tenerife. When we made a survey trip to the islands, I was able to visit Kirsti and she took us up to the top of Mt. Teide. As we were praying about which island to start working on first, the Lord directed my husband to start on Tenerife, and we were living only minutes from my friend Kirsti. Who else could have arranged something like that but God?
Another interesting event was a few weeks ago when we met Chesster, who is from the Philippines and has been living here for six years. As it turns out, his brother lives in Columbus Ohio and attends one of our supporting churches there. Chesster also has attended a church in the Philippines where many of our supporting churches have sent their pastors and have a large mission work there. Just another example of how the Lord directs our steps, no matter where in the world you go.