I hope you all had a lovely New Year’s! I thought Brian and Sandra would be the perfect couple to blog about for my first 2015 post. Since we are celebrating a holiday that is focused around goals and inspirations, I thought it was only appropriate to share about this sweet pair and their powerful testimony. These two encourage me to be more confident in my faith because they actively lives theirs out each and every day. I’m so thankful for the short time that I was able to spend with them!
Meet Sandra. She was born in Montana in a Hutterite community where she speaks a dialect of German which is a combination of many languages. Hutterites are comparable to Amish Mennonites and it is a community that you can only be born into. It is a closed off community where everyone lives and works together. People do not make their own money as everyone works to benefit the entire community. It is a strongly male dominated society, where only the men vote and they receive the most and the first of everything. It’s a community where the men make most of the decisions while the women are held to very traditional roles of caring for the home and children. This community is not open to any other beliefs beside theirs, and they hold everyone to a very strict standard of morals and rules. If you break these rules, you have to stand in front of the church and get condemned for your behavior in front of the congregation before you are forgiven. While they believe in God, the Hutterites are strongly focused on a work based salvation where you are taught at a young age that if you leave the religion you will be condemned to hell.
Despite growing up under this community, Sandra found herself seeking something more. At a young age she looked through a National Geographic magazine where she saw pictures of young African children and she fell in love. Through this magazine, her desire to go to Africa was sparked. Sandra would often sneak over to her neighbors house (who were considered outsiders from their community) to work for them. She would raise money so that she could send it to a child from Africa that she supported. The more time that she spent with her friends, the more she began to see something different. She was touched by the way they lived their lives, loved her, and she noticed that they were different. When she asked them what it was, they told her about God and about Christianity. They also shared about a Bible college that they attended. Sandra was saved at 18 years old and she contacted this college with no high school education and no money, but wanted to know if she could attend. The staff of the Bible college prayed about it and contacted Sandra to tell her that they believed God wanted her there. At 19 years old Sandra decided she wanted to pursue this newfound knowledge of this God that seemed different than what she had known her whole life. On August 21, 2010 at 4am she jumped out her bedroom window, left a note for her family, and ran away from the only life she knew. Leaving with nothing more than a backpack and no money. Sandra traveled to Bible college and began her journey into a brand new society in which she describes as being a “complete culture shock.” She remained at the college and gained her GED and after one year. She worked hard and she later bought a one way ticket to Uganda where she had made contact to work at an orphanage.
Sandra has remained in Uganda for the last 3 years where she she continues to pursue college classes online, and works for a nonprofit called, Abide Family Center that focuses on keeping families together. She only comes home once a year for visits and fundraising in order to continue living in Uganda. After a year and a half of living in Uganda, Sandra met Brian in a church parking lot. Brian was born and raised in Uganda with 5 siblings and speaks 9 different languages. He is a Godly man and a hard worker. He currently has a diploma in law and is now going to school for human rights and ethics. He works as a radio host/marketer for a Christian radio station and he travels to America and Scandinavia with a children’s choir. He leads worship at his home church in Uganda and he has the voice of an angel. He continues to work towards his master in law and one day he hopes to work doing international law/relations. After forming a friendship and with a little bit of pursuit (on Brian’s part), Brian won Sandra’s heart and they have been dating ever since.
Earlier this year, they met my sister, Amanda, and her fiancé, Eric, when they traveled to Uganda on a two week mission trip. They immediately became the closest friends and they returned home, I listened to Amanda and Eric gush over Sandra repeatedly. Six months later, Sandra and Brian planned a trip to America and they stopped by San Diego to visit us where they stayed at my mom’s house for five days. From San Diego, they are now on their way to Montana, where Sandra shares her continual journey to several different churches and visits her family. Brian has come along with her in hopes of meeting Sandra’s family and to receive their blessing to date and one day marry their daughter. However, Sandra’s family has made it clear that they do not accept, nor want to meet Brian and has told Sandra several times to not bring him into the community. Despite this, these two travel with faith that God will continue to provide and bless their journey in whatever way He deems best.
Sandra’s story is so powerful that she was even contacted by Oprah’s production team to have her story filmed and shared. However, she declined and she continues to live a humble life that serves the Lord and His children. It was such a blessing to meet Brian and Sandra and learn about their life, cultures, and their faith. They both have a heart of gold and to add to it, they have some of the best personalities ever! They have quickly become part of our family! Please pray for their journey and challenges ahead!
I had to sneak my sister and Eric into a few. They are all best friends after all!