At a wedding reception four years ago, Jacob and Danielle first met and connected over a disagreement on the correct method to roast a marshmallow. Jacob prefers a slow-cooked mallow with a soft inside and a golden brown shell. Dani is just as happy with a marshmallow that is set on fire for a few seconds, blown out, and promptly consumed.
“That is a pretty good analogy of our strengths and weaknesses,” Jacob commented. “We have differing opinions on a lot of things, but we tend to even each other out.”
They have especially found this to be the case as they make preparations to go to Thailand as RMM workers in the fall of 2019.
A year after their marshmallow debate, Jacob and Dani married and began to think about going overseas to be advocates of God’s love in a country that is largely unreached by the gospel. Dani had already spent six months in Thailand as a part of the REACH program, and then another two years as an intern with RMM. She felt a call to overseas missions and a strong connection to the Thai people and culture. Even as she and Jacob dated, they talked often about the possibility of living in Thailand in the future.
“Once we got married I realized it wasn’t as simple as just packing up and going. I wanted to make sure that he felt called to missions, if not to Thailand. And so I feel like that took a while,” Dani said.
Talking about missions led the couple to take Perspectives, a 15-week course exploring the global Christian movement. The course helped motivate them to pursue living in Thailand and go through RMM’s CALIBRATE program for prospective workers. They also began to reach out in various ways where they live in Columbus, Ohio.
One of the ministries they are currently involved with is a tutoring program for Spanish speakers. This experience has not only been a time of meaningful connection with those they are working with, but great practice for them working within another culture and language. In Thailand, Jacob hopes to use his Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and enjoyment of mathematics, to find employment teaching math at a high school or university. Dani’s education is in hospitality and hotel management, and she hopes to be involved in teaching English to the many Thai people who want to work in the tourism industry.
As well as teaching, they plan to dedicate much of their time during their first years in Thailand to learning the language and culture.
“The goal is long-term for Thailand. This means we need to put a high priority on language training so that we can be there for a long time and be sustainable,” Jacob said.
“…we would like to learn how Thai people can become believers of Jesus and still be completely Thai. We are excited to go and learn more about that.”
Once they arrive in Thailand and begin to reconnect with Dani’s old friends and make new ones, they hope to begin a house church, “meeting around a meal and then reading the Bible, maybe singing some songs. Trying to keep it very traditionally Thai,” Dani explained.
She continued, “One thing we really hope to do is discover. In Thailand, to be Thai is to be Buddhist. It is hard for anyone to imagine being Thai and being a Christian. And so we would like to learn how Thai people can become believers of Jesus and still be completely Thai. We are excited to go and learn more about that.”
The process of going overseas has been closer to a slow cook than a quick burn for Dani and Jacob, but they realize that God’s timing is best. One of the more important things they will have to do before they leave is have a baby – a daughter scheduled to arrive in February.
Another part of the process is raising funds. It is not always easy to visit churches, write letters, and keep track of large numbers, while still trying to work jobs and get ready to have a baby, but they have found that the process of working together as a team has brought them closer to each other and to God.
“I feel like this whole process has, if nothing else, really strengthened our relationship,” Dani said. “Even though we have our little times when we butt heads during the process, I feel like in general we have a unified long-term vision of what we want. I feel like God is building that up for when we do go to Thailand – we are not always going to agree on how we do different things, but we have the same vision and we both want the same goal – to invite Thai people to worship God.”
Please pray for this couple as they prepare to go to Thailand. Pray that funds would be raised quickly and that the process of bringing their little one into the world would go smoothly.