Spring of Rachel's Life
Home Up Spring of Rachel's Life 'Spring' Part Two



The Spring of Rachel's Life






























































































































Elisabeth Elliot 








































































































































April For Rachel



As a lamb, you've followed

Where the Shepherd says;

Now He calls that lamb

To be a shepherdess...

How fitting that it's April,



April's full of new lambs,

And they must be fed.

You can do it, girl!

Just show how you've been led...

How the Shepherd's been so faithful

To Rachel.


Think how the Good Shepherd

Came first as a lamb...

Give Him all your worries,

For He understands

When the change is painful

For Rachel.


A courageous shepherdess,

That's who we see;

But each day, be His lamb...

Snuggle on His knee.

There you will be safe still,



We know He'll take care of you;

Each need, He knows.

Every day we'll pray for you

And hold you close.

And for all you are, we're grateful,



April's full of promise

As the spring unfolds,

Making sense of all the

Waiting in the cold.

April yields the evidence

Of plans He holds...

Seems like now it's April

For Rachel!


All my love,


(Jan Willson, April 4, 1994) 

(Be Warned: This is very long - if you really don't care how Norbi and Rachel met and fell in love, or how God led Rachel to the missionfield, don't bother reading it.  I apologize, but it is LONG)

Norbi and I met in the spring of 1994, in one of the most romantic settings in the world - the Austrian Alps.  Norbi was a student at Calvary Chapel's Bible School in Millstaat, Austria, and I was on staff.  I should back up a little and explain how I, a semi-normal American kid, ended up on staff at a school in Austria.

I was blessed to have been born into a wonderful, born again Christian family.  Both my parents were saved at an early age, and I have an incredible Christian heritage on both sides of my family.  I truly thank the Lord for my family.  My parents have basically been in full-time Christian ministry my whole life.  My mom had a music ministry back in the early 80's, with my dad as the sound man and roadie.  In 1984 our family moved from sunny Southern California to Uxbridge, Massachusetts (don't even try to find it on the map) where my dad was going to pastor a small church.  This is all a story in itself, so I'll try to be brief.  The church didn't happen, and in Feb. of '86 we moved again, this time to Maine (the eastern and northern most State, top right corner) .  God had a different "pastoring" job for my parents than in the normal church setting.  They began Hope House in our home in Mechanic Falls, ME.  It started as a home for pregnant teens as an option against abortion.  I had always wanted an older sister, and got to have many during those years of sheltering and loving young women in trouble.

The ministry of Hope House grew over the years as my parents saw more and more needs...a room of our house turned into a store of sorts with free maternity and baby items, a Single Mom's Support group started to meet in our living room.  Free pregnancy testing was offered, and my parents started speaking in local schools about abstinence and waiting for marriage.  Today, downtown Lewiston, ME is home to the "Single Mom's Support Center", or 'the center', as it gets called.  Things finally got moved out of our house several years ago, and the possibilities for helping the women long term grew.  My mom has always said that expecting some of these poor income women to know how to be good parents is like expecting a person to be fluent in a language they've scarcely heard.  Parenting classes, prenatal care, and mentoring are big parts of 'the center' today.

Okay, so maybe I don't qualify as a very 'normal' American kid - but how does this explain how I got to Europe?  Well, after growing up most of my life 'living by the mailbox' - or waiting for checks in the mail to determine how we would eat and pay the bills that month, I had pretty much decided by the time I was 13 or 14 that a life in full time ministry was not for me.  I'd go to college, get a "real" job with a "real paycheck" .  I was going to write Christian Historical Romance Novels - seriously.  True, I knew nothing of real romance - but I'd read an awful lot about it! (How being an author would bring in a regular paycheck I never figured out)

God got a hold of my plans my Junior year of High School.  I had asked Jesus into my heart at the tender age of three, but had never been filled with the Holy Spirit, or really considered to ask God if He had any plans for my life that went contrary to my plans.  The summer before my Junior year I and two good friends camped out at the Salt of the Earth Christian Fair, an annual event that used to happen each summer in Maine.  Not much happens in Maine, so the fair was pretty exciting.  Friday was Youth Night, with several rowdy Christian bands playing and speakers geared to youth.  I screamed so much during the concerts that I lost my voice.  I went around all day Sat. hardly able to speak - very annoying for a talkative person like me, at the social event of the year!  Sunday morning there was a small church service held for those who had camped out on the fairgrounds before the fair opened.  I stood up for prayer for my throat, I thought.  Instead, as several people laid hands on me, I was filled with the Holy Spirit.  I'll never forget the amazing warmth that flowed into me from several different pairs of hands touching my shoulders and head.  I began to cry, realizing my sins and begging for forgiveness.  Yet, even as I felt such guilt, I felt the warmth and such an amazing, overwhelming love, that my tears became tears of joy that were almost impossible to stop.  I gave God complete and total control of my life that day, laying all I had at His feet.

Later that year my best friend at the time, Jessica Bean (now happily married Mrs. Casey Dudek) would move from Maine to Oregon.  And yet, God's timing is always perfect, and as Jess moved away, Denise moved in.  Her dad was the new Baptist pastor in our little town, we had so much in common it was crazy (how many High School students have baby siblings?).  Denise Ring is also now married, happily, to Josh Irvan - whom I still need to meet.  I began to really read my Bible, and have serious quiet times of prayer and devotions with the Lord.  And then, came "the calling", as so many like to put it.  All I know is, God used several "coincidences" to drag my attention to missions.  I was able to give a speech on Elisabeth Elliot (if you don't know who she is, go to the links on this page and find out) in my Public Speaking class.  The same week I finished a series of books in which the main character suddenly feels called to be a missionary.  And thirdly, Denise dragged me to a youth group event with her church youth group.  I had lots of homework, and  some other reasons I don't even remember for not wanting to go.  But I went, not knowing what it was, or who was speaking.  It was an acting group that enacted the story of Elisabeth Elliot's husband and the four other men who were martyred trying to reach the Inca people of South America with the Gospel.

It was as if God had hit me on the head with a frying pan that said "Be my missionary!"  This was pretty early on in my Senior Year of High School - October or so of 1991.  While my classmates were busy trying to figure out which colleges they were going to, I was trying to find a 'missions' based training program.  At this time, an old friend of my parents had just moved to Maine to begin a Calvary Chapel - it was far from us, but we went often to give them support.  Calvary Chapel had just acquired an old mansion, or "castle" in the southern Austrian alps.  They mailed out flyers about it and a Bible School they would be beginning there to every Calvary Chapel pastor - which included my parents' friends.  The Bible School would have two missions: 1) to teach and train European students and prepare them for leadership, often pastoring roles in their home countries and 2) to train and raise up American students interested in missionary work.

I had found my school!  I loved that the "Castle" , as it is most often called, was already located outside of the US - just leaving and attending the school would be such a great experience for me.  Plus, I could afford it.  So, in late March of 1993 I was on an international flight to Munich, Germany (the closest airport to the Castle).  Attending that school would change my life, in so many ways.  First, I had my first experience outside the borders of the United States - something I highly recommend for all Americans.  We live in a very sheltered nation, with a very small world view.  I knew so little of the rest of the world - oh, I thought I knew a lot.  Most Americans think we know so much.  I had many embarrassing experiences that first trip outside the U.S.  I hope I've learned from all the mistakes I made - I hope I'll keep learning from the future cultural mistakes I'm still bound to make.

I was in a class of 46 students, only nine of whom were Americans.  Classes were taught in English, so all the students could at least understand English - some spoke it better than others.  My whole life (living in a great Christian home as I did) I had never really learned to read and study the Bible on my own.  My quiet times had consisted of reading devotional books that had scripture included.  And I had always followed along with the congregation on Sundays.  But I had never really dug into the Word on my own - and I was taught how to do just that at the Castle.  It opened up God's Word as never before, and I devoured all I discovered.  And meeting and becoming friends with the students from all over Europe strengthened my desire to be a missionary - and gave me a more specific direction on where I felt God wanted me to go....Eastern Europe.

I became especially close with my room-mates, two of whom were from Yugoslavia, more specifically, Serbia.  In 1993 the war there between Serbia and Croatia was just ending.  Another of our room-mates was from Croatia.  Politics was never really discussed, it didn't matter - we were all simply Christians.  When I returned home to Maine, I kept in touch with Vesna (Vesni) and Snezana (Snowy).  They are still two of my dearest friends.  (Interestingly, they both married American missionaries and I married an Hungarian - go figure!) 

I went through some major culture shock (yes, that term is real, and really happens) on returning to the States - I had been in a sheltered, all Christian environment for so long, the real world was hard to deal with again.  I also had a hard time with all the "stuff" I had at home, after knowing so many who had so little.  I was back in the U.S., but I had left my heart in Eastern Europe.  I worked at odd jobs for friends, all the while feeling more and more out of place.  My mother says I whined for almost a year - that may be a bit strong, but I certainly wasn't the most content or happy. 

A big part of why I felt I was back in the States was to get married.  I know now my reasoning was crazy - but I didn't feel strong enough to go out as a single missionary.  And so I figured I was meant to find some neat Christian man in Maine who also wanted to be a missionary. But after about a year of waiting, I realized I was getting nowhere and doing nothing for the Lord.  And so I took the first step in stepping out as a single, female missionary and wrote to the directors at the Bible School to ask if they could get me address of any churches in Eastern Europe.  I would then write to the missionary pastors and see if I could help at one of them.  I never did get that far.  Fred Boshaw, the director, offered me a position on staff for three months, during which time I could contact missionaries and see where God would lead me.  It was an amazing chance, and I jumped at it.  Besides hosting a Bible School, the Castle was used as a Conference Center, as well as having an open door to any Calvary Chapel missionary needing a short break.  Working there, I would be able to make so many contacts.

And so, my poor mother had to say good-bye at the airport again, just a year later in April of 1994.  This time I had a one-way ticket.  I need to say that God blessed me with such amazing parents.  To let your 19 year old daughter fly away with a one-way ticket took amazing faith and trust in our Lord.  My sneaky mother handed me something as I walked through the gate.  It wasn't until I was seated that I was able to see what it was: a poem she wrote and fashioned on a bookmarker.  That's the poem on the side of this.  I still carry it in my Bible.  It truly was an April in my life.  I could barely read the whole poem through my tears.  Yes, I cried.  I didn't know when I'd be back with my family.  Oh, I was thrilled to be going, and knew it was God's will - but there was that bittersweet passing from one time in your life to the next.  Like High School graduation.

There's such a peace in trusting your life to Jesus, I mean really trusting Him with all the details.  There's also a great excitement, a sense of not knowing what may happen next, but knowing it'll be to God's glory.  I had a home for April, May and June of 1994 - after that, I didn't know.  Our God is a caring Heavenly Father, and he only stretches our faith as far as He knows we need to grow.  And so, I wasn't left to wonder where I would go come July for very long.  The very second week I was back at the Castle, two missionary couples visited.  Rod and Zuza were from Serbia - where my dear old room-mates were.  And Paul and Jeanette were from Hungary.  There had been no Hungarian students the year before, so I knew very little of the country or the people.  I wanted to go to Serbia, to Yugoslavia.  I was so thrilled at the opportunity to speak to the pastor of my friends' church in person, I was sure this was what God had planned.  The timing was so perfect.  I spoke to Rod, and he said a flat out "No".

"No".  Surely he didn't understand, I was even learning Serbo-Croatian.  But the "No" was final.  With the political situation there still very uncertain, he didn't feel it wise for a single girl to go there.  I knew I shouldn't have come as a single girl!  And here was proof.  If God had just sent me that special someone sooner, I could have gone to Serbia.  It was so unfair.  I poured my heart out to another staff friend, Marilyn.  Dear, sweet Marilyn was really used by God during that conversation.  She suggested I talk to Paul and Jeanette from Baja, Hungary.  What was the harm?  And so, I met Jeanette - and adored her.   God kept working to get his point across, and Fred suggested I visit Baja for a weekend.  He was driving through there to bring a student home due to a death in her family.  I could tag along, be dropped off for two days, and picked up on his way back.

And that's just what I did, and how I fell in love with Hungary.  I can still almost hear my first experience of Hungarian worship, sitting on the floor of Calvary Chapel Baja.  I closed my eyes, lost in the glorious praise of our Lord - and I knew I was going to Hungary.  Just three weeks after leaving Maine with little idea of my future past June, God showed me so clearly where He was sending me.  I left Baja knowing I'd return there in July.  And I went back to the Bible School ready to try and learn as much Hungarian in that short time as I could.  I didn't learn that much - but something else happened.  I became friends with a quiet, yet crazy and fun Hungarian boy named Norbi.  Heni, Zuza, and Norbi became my Hungarian teachers, and my dear, dear friends.  The four of us ate basically each meal together (tables seated four).  Zuza, Norbi and I formed a worship team and practiced and lead worship together.  And Norbi and I were slowly falling in love.


Go to 'Spring' Part Two for more of the story...

Home Up Spring of Rachel's Life 'Spring' Part Two