My Story

How do I summarize who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going when the pieces are still falling into place?  Grandville MI is my home; I live in Guatemala City.

This journey started back  in high school with a letter from my Area Director in MI asking if I wanted to be a student leader for Young Life.  Although I wasn’t involved with YL at all, I said, “sure, why not?”  I fell in love with the ministry and jumped into leadership when I headed off to Trinity Christian College.  I led YL for 4 years at Hinsdale Central High School.

Heading into my senior year, I was confident that I would spend my life teaching high school English.  I love, no LOVE, literature, narrative, and teaching the art of story.  I student taught in Guatemala and became captivated with the country–its history, its people, its land, its pain, its beauty.  During this time I felt God pulling me away from teaching and toward YL in Hinsdale.  An interesting move as it was neither in a classroom nor in Guatemala.

My desire to be in Guatemala continued to evolve as we took our Hinsdale YL kids down to Guate on summer work trips.  YL Guatemala captured my heart and has not let go.  I fully believe that if Jesus was walking the streets of Guatemala, he’d be walking where the YL staff and leaders walk–with the poorest of the poor, the overlooked, the lost, the broken.  Once God called me into that story, I couldn’t imagine living another one. After 3.5 years on full time YL staff, doors opened to head back into the education world. I am now teaching Middle School Life Skills at a private school in Guatemala City. While it is worlds away from the communities I’ve been working in for the past years, I am still pouring into the same people and city that I love.

Thankfully, I found someone to share my story with – I married my husband Joel in May 2012. We believe in and work toward transformation in this city. I look forward to sharing stories that reflect the transformation we see around us. For more of his thoughts, see his blog –




One thought on “My Story

  1. Greetings! I am an early grad of CCHS (class of 68). I worked at Calvin in the advancement area for 17 years from 82-99 and my two daughters and two son-in-laws are grads also. Now my granddaughter Elizabeth Klomp is a senior there and she is coming to work /visit with you and some others in Guatemala. They leave tomorrow, Sunday am, with Larry and Linda Klein.
    The other teens, I know also, including my great-niece, Kristi Kortman, my brother’s granddaughter. My prayer is that they will have a rewarding time learning from you and that they will be a blessing to everyone they meet. Thankyou for hosting them and may you and Joel be blessed in your work as well. Hoping to read all about it on your blog. God bless.
    Sincerely, Karla Kortman Laninga.

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