Today it’s St. Patrick’s day, so I know that it is also my late-grandmother’s birthday. She always loved celebrating for her birthday. Just a few days ago I turned 30! This is also the week that I met Sara Gonzalez one year ago. To celebrate both my 30th Birthday and our 1 Year Anniversary, we went to Disneyland! The lady at our ticket booth gave us each 3 pins when we asked if there was a discount for birthdays or impending weddings. Well we got a pin that says “Happily Ever After”, another that reads: “Just ENGAGED”, and finally she wrote my name on a pin that reads: “Happy Birthday J.D.” I loved going through Disneyland with my future wife, as we count down the days until our wedding! Our good friends Chad & Nicole met us at Disneyland too, as Chad’s birthday is the day before mine. So it was a double birthday. One year before Chad & I celebrated our double birthday by going to see the Laker’s stomp on the Pacers, topped off with a kosher dinner of Champions at Hava Nagila Meating Place on Pico. When I returned home from Hava Nagila, I had an email from Sara. That was the day that our relationship began, So Sara was my birthday present. This year we all had fun singing all the words to the Pirates of the Carribean Theme song. Chad’s brother Nate acted like he didn’t know us, throwing his voice while telling us to shut up, as Chad & I did our best pirate impressions. We also knew which corner to cram towards for riding the Haunted Mansion and Captain E-O. It was so fun to be with my soul-mate and my friends on my birthday! All through my twenties I wondered when God would bring “the one” into my life. Any woman who would date me would know that she too would need to be ready to give her life in service for the peoples of Spain, this woman is Sara. I was astounded by Sara’s social poise when she came to Spain this December. Sara got to met Lisa, and the two of them bonded and loved each other immediately. For me that alone was all the Christmas gift that I needed! Sara and I baby-sat my 5 nieces and nephews in Artajona, Spain, so that Dan and Lisa could go out for their 18th Wedding Anniversary. I didn’t know on December 18th, that Lisa would go to Heaven exactly one month after her anniversary. Dan and Lisa were very happy to get a brief rest from their 5 spirited children, and they indulged in seeing the Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Lisa and Dan came back happy and inspired to have enjoyed a nice anniversary celebration alone and together. Sara was there to witness Lisa and I and my nieces, Anelise and Aida, play the praise music at our church-plant one last time. (See photo at right). I’m so grateful to God that He allowed for Sara to come in time to meet and bond with Lisa. Sara received Lisa’s full blessing, and Lisa’s outpouring of enthusiasm that God had certainly had a hand in bring Sara and I together. What a God of details we have.
Sara was born to Alejandro & Ruth Gonzalez Leon in San Quintin, Mexico. Her parents were missionaries of Mexican Medical Mission for over 30 years, and Sara’s father, a surgeon, delivered Sara and her siblings in his own Missionary Hospital, The Good Shepherd Hospital. Sara grew up in a very special missionary home where she could grow and blossom into a great woman of God. I see the Gonzalez family as the potential of a family surrendered to Christ. Each one of them continually sharpens and supports the other to shine the hope of Christ all the more brightly. For me it is a dream come true to not only be marrying my dear Sara Jean, but her family as well. What a tremendous encouragement to my mother and I, in our bereavement for Lisa, to be joined and comforted by a family that understands Spanish-speaking missions work so well. Sara and I will soon embark to begin our married life as missionaries to Puebla del Rio, Spain. I will return to the preaching rotation at Puebla Evangelical Church, where I am serving there in preaching, worship leading, and in shepherding our hand-full of youth. Please pray for God to go before us in this Journey. As the troops of Israel depended on Adonai to be with them going into battle, so Sara and I ask for you to pray for us, that God will be our shield and protector as we begin our marriage overseas.