An experienced SIM missionary said to me this week, “There are two groups of people that you will bond to more significantly than any others along this journey: the group you do SIMCO with, and the people at language school.” It seems to be holding true so far.

Many of the people here at SIMCO are here with their entire family as there is even training for the children. There have been 6 of us here that are unattached along this journey (at least for now). At all the meals we have to check ourselves off of a list, so the leadership asked each family to appoint one person to mark off all the members of the family. Consequently, the first single person to get to the list typically marked off the rest of our “family.” We joked about our singles family, but after two weeks of intense time together, I feel like I’ve known them for years. That made saying goodbye to the short-termers this weekend really hard!

I’d like to introduce you to the members of my SIMCO family that have left here to continue on their journey:

Jill Lemen

Meet Jill Lemen

Jill is a nurse from California with a heart to work in Africa. Due to some hiccups in her original leading toward Sudan, she’s now hoping to serve in a clinic in Ethiopia. Sadly, we finished SIMCO without Jill getting any confirmation of her placement! We’re praying that she knows something concrete soon so that she can begin raising her support with a destination in mind! The clinic would be crazy to not want her, but these things still require approval. She’s a lovely woman of God, easy-going, and a blessing to spend time with. I just wish we were going to the same continent!

Crystal Rendel

Meet Crystal Rendel

While Crystal has technically left SIMCO, she’s living nearby for a while and I get the privilege of spending time with her until one of us leaves for the field! She grew up in Niger, West Africa, and is planning to return there to continue to serve in her home. She gives fantastic back massages and has nearly worked our all my horrific knots near my right scapula while we’ve been here. She has a precious heart and is a fantastic woman of God. The best part about having Crystal as part of our family was getting to answer her “awkward question of the day.” The questions led to some great discussions that helped us get to know each other really well!

Ryan Somero

Meet Ryan Somero

The complete extrovert in our family, Ryan, is a Virginia Beach surfer who is never short on energy. He’s going to be teaching physics at Bingham Academy in Ethiopia. This crazy guy wrote his master’s thesis (on hydrodynamics!) during his two weeks at SIMCO and will defend it on August 6th, the day before he leaves for the field! His students will never be lacking for entertainment and I suspect they will find physics quite interesting with Ryan in front of the class! We were fortunate to be able to have Ryan co-lead worship and share during our devotional time on Lookout Mountain last Sunday. Thankfully he slows down enough for us to mostly follow him when he teaches! 🙂

Steve Turner

Meet Steve Turner

Stephen, Steve, ST, Steve-o, or S-tizzle – this is the man of many names in our family. He will be leaving Spokane, Washington in November, Lord willing, to work in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya with SIM-Kenya’s short-term program called SIMpact. A genuine and solid guy, Steve has a heart for others to know our Father. He’s the opposite of Ryan when it comes to talking, but I was more impressed with this guy each time I learned more about him. His life is going to be a great light in Kenya. He’s started a blog about his journey:

Thankfully there is at least one member of the family left for the 3rd week of SIMCO. Jacob Rodriguez, who is just to my right in the family picture below, is also going long-term and will be here to meet the US Council this week as well. Jacob will be involved with theological education in Ethiopia after completing his master’s in exegesis at Wheaton this fall. He’s an intelligent guy to have in our SIMCO family! He also blew us away with his ability to speak the language when we went out for Ethiopian food last Sunday night. He’ll be a great asset in the seminary there.

My SIMCO family

My SIMCO family (L-R): Steve-o, Crystal, Jill, Me, Jacob, and Ryan

I wish all these guys were coming to the field with me! I suppose the only consolation is that technology is such that we can stay in touch quite easily these days. I have a feeling we’ll stay close as we all continue on our separate journeys to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the nations. I praise God that He allowed our paths to cross here at SIMCO these last two weeks. Love you guys!