I was born into a fairly conservative Mennonite family in Bowmansville, Pennsylvania. I had good parents who worked hard to give us a good life. We never had much money but by the grace of God, my hard working trucker dad, and the frugal efforts of my mother, we made it work.
I got saved at a good old revival service at our church when I was about 13. It was one of the last services of the week and I was so uncomfortable by this time that I was gnawing on the back of the wooden pew in front of me. To make a commitment I had to stand up in church. I was a shy kid so death was more preferable than standing up in a church with about 250 people in it. However, my tongue was full of splinters from all my nervous chewing and so I resigned myself to the conviction in my soul. I got saved!
I knew from little on up that I wanted to be a missionary. I read every book about missionaries I could get my hands on. The adventure! I loved the idea of traveling to uncharted wilderness, getting chased by elephants, preaching to a crowd of headhunters, praying my way out of plane wrecks and poisonous snake bites. Looking back, I was more in love with the idea of adventure than I was with the lost people in the world. Still, God used those interests to ignite a spark in my heart.
I remember making my first model airplane out of an aluminum soda can and then throwing it through the air. It flew like a paper weight. I was perplexed as to why it didn’t soar through the air and so I became intrigued with the complexity of flight. Later, I carefully carved a model airplane out of sheets of 2″ thick blue foam insulation. Then I set it down in the grass and spray painted it red. Red is an awesome color! But when I came back my model airplane was just a little pile of shriveled up residue in the grass! As it turns out, spray paint melts foam. Don’t spray paint foam airplanes!
Before God brought my interest in missions and airplanes together, I was planning on intentionally becoming a hermit in Alaska. I even bought nine acres of the Kenai Peninsula! I was going to sit in front of a crackling fire with my feet slipped into rabbit fur moccasins while writing kid’s books, or maybe short, scathing political tirades that no one would publish. My A-frame, off the grid cabin would be overlooking a small stream framed by pine trees and the occasional moose or lost hillbilly. God, however, had bigger plans for my life and I’m glad he did (in retrospect).
Janice (as told by Josh):
Janice was born in Paraguay which you may recognize as a foreign country (more specifically, a country in South America). She was born a Detweiler, which isn’t a very Spanish name. How her family ended up in Paraguay is a fascinating story but I’ll try to sum it up…
Janice’s grandparents (on her mother’s side) were Old Order Amish and had 14 children. When half the children were grown and married, Janice’s grandma died leaving only grandpa and 7 children still at home. Her grandpa became certain that America was going to be judged by God and destroyed with fire and brimstone and so plans were set in motion to take the 7 unmarried children (Janice’s mom was the oldest of this group) to Paraguay, a country he hardly knew anything about. Some other Old Order families went along. They had found “promising” land through a dubious contact but found out upon arrival that the land they were promised was a desolate wasteland. There was a large Russian Mennonite colony that found out about their plans. “You can’t go out there this time of year or you’ll definitely die,” the Russian Mennonites said. Thankfully, the Amish group heeded their advice and moved to the Russian Mennonite’s colony for a few years to learn the lay of the land. Janice’s mom met her dad in Paraguay. Janice’s dad’s family were there for some time although her dad, Elmer, is originally from Pennsylvania.
Eventually the Detweiler family permanently moved to Michigan when Janice was about three years old. She grew up there, went to school there, and got bossed around by her brothers and sister a lot (according to her) while working the family’s dairy farm.
Janice got saved on the living room couch when she was eight years old. She had just lost a brother to cancer and was so miserable and convicted about her own state of salvation that she finally accepted Christ. Her mother would be her mentor as she grew in her faith and is still a giant woman (figuratively speaking) of the faith.
When Janice was twelve, her dress got caught in a tractor PTO. It pulled her around the PTO twice before a hired hand managed to shut the tractor off. Janice was rushed to the hospital with a severely dislocated shoulder and lots of burns from the dress being pulled over her body. She says the brush burns hurt worse than anything else. She also remembers being scared because her dad was driving way too fast on the way to the hospital.
Janice has felt the call to missionary work her whole life. Plus, she had an expanded worldview because of the all the Paraguayan influences. She was planning on getting a degree to teach English as a second language and then move to Thailand but I came along and disrupted her plans. She claims that she doesn’t mind but some days I’m pretty sure that she got the short end of this deal.
I always felt like Janice has had good pioneer woman training. Her mom is always making homemade cheese, cottage cheese, keifer, chipas, or other strange foods, some with Paraguayan origins and some just made up on the spot. She’s constantly brewing, concocting, manufacturing, or taking herbal remedies of various and strange forms. I was dubious at first and wondered if these were FDA approved, or even safe to ingest – let alone good for what ailed me, yet I’m slowly coming to realize that I’m way too much of a city slicker. Turns out, many of the potions seem to work really well although I still approach every bubbling pot on my mother in law’s stove with an air of caution.
So how on earth did Janice and I meet?
Ah… that’s a long story. Read all about it by clicking here. It involves raccoons and Alaska and God working in mysterious ways. We tied the knot on September 19, 2015 in Nappannee, Indiana and haven’t sat still long enough to catch our breath since.
What church do we go to?
River of Life Fellowship in Middlebury, Indiana is our home church. They are a non-denominational, evangelical church. And when I say non-denominational some people imagine a weak-spined, politically correct church that is too weak kneed to pick a position but I found that River of Life to be exactly opposite. It’s a church filled with people from different backgrounds and yet we find unity among the diversity without sacrificing core Biblical principles. We love River of Life and miss it dearly. They are a very mission minded church and support us with prayers and with finances. They were an instrumental part of getting us fully funded. We are very honored to have them on our team!