OUR STORY & PART OF THE JOURNEY THAT LED US TO LIFE IN CAMBODIA
February 11, 2001
Matthew and Melissa met when he came to be her guest artist and performed with his brothers at the Crystal Cathedral. They stayed in touch via phone calls, emails, letters, (packages of Full City Coffee beans were the best!) and quick visits!
February 15, 2002
After many phone calls and visits between Southern California and Oregon over the course of a year, THE ENGAGEMENT happened through a series of hidden clues, that ended up at Melissa's favorite teahouse! The wedding date was set for exactly one year later!
December 26, 2002
Not to be missed (for the few of you that are interested) this was their first Oakland Raider game together of many!
February 15, 2003
Wedding bells rang in Southern California, as life began together in Eugene, Oregon. Melissa quickly discovered that the printed speed limit on the highways (unlike in California) meant what it said in Oregon. She also discovered "rainy" season. Matthew learned that his wife baked . . . A LOT.
Melissa started work as an adjunct professor for Northwest Christian University. Matthew continued as the design manager for Wipf and Stock Publishing. Matthew sang on weekends with The Stock Brothers, and both worked together on the many concerts directed by Melissa.
In her free time, “on the side”, Melissa started The Sassy Cupcake, specializing in cupcakes for weddings and events. At one point in conversation with her best friend in CA., she mentioned, "I really wish that I could use cupcakes as a way to work with and bless women. But I don't know how that could possibly work!"
Matthew and Melissa take the new NCU Campus Pastor (Troy Dean) to Dickie Jo's to meet him and enjoy a hamburger! He introduces them to the work of Agape International Missions, and talks about the need for missional work in Cambodia based on the tragic history of the Khmer Rouge and the recent genocide. They agree to come along as leadership on NCU's first mission trip to Cambodia. (fast forward to years later—Troy is one of Matthew's dear friends, and talks almost weekly with him in Cambodia!)
Matthew and Melissa visit Cambodia for their first time on a mission trip and fall in love! After learning more about the history of Cambodia and the recent devastation by the Khmer Rouge, they could not forget the needs they saw and the hope from the lives of those that had been changed by their faith in Jesus. The three weeks in country, and the week they spent with AIM, was one they could not stop sharing about with family and friends upon their return.
Matthew and Melissa read a prayer email from Cambodia that talked about the needs in Siem Reap for jobs for some incredible women. This job would help give new skills and employment. The NGO was looking for a married Christian couple to come be General Managers of this training center!
Matthew and Melissa visit Cambodia for their second time, again with NCU. Melissa flew out a week early, and spent that week in Phnom Penh observing the training center. Upon returning a month later to the USA, Matthew and Melissa spent serious time in prayer. They applied in July, and were accepted in August, as General Managers in Siem Reap. Plans were made to announce this transition, work on fundraising, resign from current jobs, sell almost everything they owned, and find a loving home for their pups.
Sept 29, 2012
On September 29, Matthew's father, Skip, was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. The day they announced that they were going to move overseas he called them to his home and told them, " . . . don't you for one second question the call God has placed on your life. He's asked you to go, you need to go".
October 20, 2013
Heaven gained a soul. Matthew's father had been such a support in the journey of discovering their love for Cambodia. He was a key person in the processing of moving away from family to pursue their calling. They knew that their hearts would grieve not getting to experience their new journey abroad with him.
February 14, 2013
One day before their 10th wedding anniversary, Matthew and Melissa landed in Phnom Penh to start on a new adventure together! Their first week there they stayed in five different hotels in six days (it was high season and everyone was booked!), while they looked for an apartment to rent for one month.
Matthew and Melissa moved to Siem Reap to begin what ended up being a five year volunteer commitment as General Managers at Blossom (later Bloom) with an amazing team. Fifty-four incredible girls went through the training center during their time there. During those five years, they stayed very close to some of the AIM missionaries in Cambodia.
Matthew and Melissa moved to Phnom Penh, signed a five-year volunteer commitment with Agape International Missions (AIM), and start work with another amazing team.