As you’ve probably discovered by now, we’re moving to Quito, Ecuador! We’ll be serving as missionaries at a school called Alliance Academy International that disciples and educates 600 students from about 30 different nationalities, and we couldn’t be more humbled and eager to serve there.
How did we get here? Well, it’s hard to figure out where to start telling this story because, in retrospect, it’s one that started years ago for both of us. It’s truly remarkable to see how God has used the smallest details of our lives to thicken the plot and lead us to this point together.
Angela had the experience of growing up overseas from the time she was four, and lived in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, and Ecuador. It was these incredible experiences that grew her heart for people and diverse cultures. She loved learning from and living in other countries, and while these experiences were invaluable in and of themselves, she prayed God would use them in some way to serve others in the future. Moving to Washington State to go to college at Seattle Pacific University involved quite a bit of culture shock and adjustment, but she was blessed with treasured friends and mentors that shared and held her heart. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Global & Urban Ministry, she moved to Bremerton, WA where a string of jobs working with and serving people provided invaluable experiences and insights – and where she met the man she would marry and share her life with!
Doug grew up in San Diego and spent much of his time involved in school, church, and with friends, but it wasn’t until after college that he really had his first overseas experience. He took his first trip to Malawi, Africa in 2005 with a short-term mission team from Flood Church in San Diego. It was in Malawi that Doug first felt God calling him to quit his corporate job to use his skills for a greater purpose. For 3 years, he served as a full-time missionary providing web development and IT support for Children of the Nations (COTN) and spent 4 months living and working in Malawi during the summer of 2007. Shortly after the summer abroad, he relocated to Bremerton, WA to work more closely with COTN. About a year later, he met Angela and things were never quite the same. Though he returned to the corporate world for a few years, his passion for overseas missions never really left. He was just on a 3 year hiatus! Now, he’s thrilled to be stepping forward into a new overseas adventure with the woman of his dreams!
One of the very first conversations we had together was about overseas living and ministry, mission trips, and what we thought about them. While we were dating, it continued to be a frequent heated topic of conversation as we explored what we each felt called to or hoped to be called to in the future. We had both experienced and had a heart for living overseas and ironically had even both served in Africa the very same summer with the same organization long before we ever met!
We got married in June 2010, had a lovely honeymoon (in Ecuador of all places) and moved to Seattle where Doug worked downtown as a web developer and Angela forged ahead towards a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at SPU. We often talked about what life and ministry looked like in a U.S. urban city like Seattle, and Angela got to spend her 18 month internship at a non-profit agency providing therapy for diverse low-income families. She even got to do some therapy in Spanish – again prompting the familiar stirrings of her love for Latin America.
As graduation approached, we started talking and praying about what was to come next. We played around with the idea of moving overseas for a while but couldn’t seem to find any opportunities that fit. We had all but decided to buy a house and settle in the area when we heard about a need for a school counselor at AAI in Ecuador. Angela brushed the idea aside, but Doug felt an unquestionable sense that this was the path we were to walk down. The tables had humorously turned – God used Doug who barely spoke a word of Spanish to lead the way!
Four months, numerous application forms, and a few international phone interviews later, Angela was offered the position of counseling department chair, and Doug was offered a chance to teach some of the things he loves the most – photography, web development, graphic design, and yearbook. There were countless God-ordained moments along the way that surprised and humbled us, and confirmed God had been preparing us for this journey and service long before we ever caught a glimpse of it!
So, off we go… time to live the new chapters of our story!
Doug and Angela Johnston