Dan and I had our first serious conversation in an Edmonton apartment while we gathered with a group of students following an evening Bible School psychology class. It was obvious even during those few hours that we had a lot in common and a lot to talk about. It has been said that marriage is a ‘long conversation’ and, together, we have experienced a richly fulfilling life as we have followed the calling that God placed on our lives as young people.
Dan’s early years were spent in Osoyoos, BC in the beautiful Okanagan Valley. He enjoyed the hot, dry heat of the dessert, playing in the orchards, and learning to skate on Peanut Pond. Like many Canadian boys, he wanted to be a professional hockey player. Along the way, God spoke to him various times about a far-reaching future of life in missions. At age 17, when living in Red Deer, God used a broken wrist in a hockey game and 3 operations to bring him back to his life-purpose. He attended Northwest (now Vanguard) in Edmonton and began summer adventures in missions with the AIM teams for 4 consecutive summers going to the Caribbean Islands, West and East Africa and Brazil. To finance his early adult years he worked in men’s clothing at Val Berg’s and later at Henry Singer’s in Edmonton.
Mardell’s family moved frequently and she says that this was part of her early mission’s training. Her early years were spent in Edmonton, Red Lake, ON and Red Deer, AB. Her elementary and teen years were in Chilliwack, Kamloops, Burnaby and Surrey, BC. At 14, while attending a mission’s emphasis at Clayburn Camp outside of Abbotsford, God spoke into her heart that she would be involved in international missions. She began working locally with YWAM and then internationally on the team to Morocco and the Munich Olympics in 1972. She finished her studies at an early age and worked as a Registered Nurse for a year before attending Northwest College in Edmonton.
Together, as young adults, we came into a deeper understanding of God and His ways during the Jesus People days of the mid 1970’s. We were married, mentored in ministry at Peoples’ Church Edmonton and then sent by them to our first appointment in Mexico. This was a time of rugged adventure as our home was our 5th wheel trailer and we travelled throughout the country receiving pastoral assignments under the tutelage of Bill and Gerda Brown. Our first 2 children were born a few years later in Guadalajara where we settled locally to help Marco Polo Nunez further establish the Casa de Cristo church plant.
Our next 7 years were spent in Alicante, Spain, the Costa Blanca of the Mediterranean Sea. We started with 9 people and saw the Lord grow the church. It was a tremendous time with teams coming to help us with evangelism in our neighborhoods and throughout the city. The 1992 Olympics were held in Barcelona and again there were great days of evangelism with many teams from Canada, Spain, and Europe. Working with our great friends and pastors from the Salem churches throughout Spain we saw very special relationships formed that have lasted now for over 26 years. Our 3rd child was born to us and as Manual Vidal, the founder of the Salem churches told us, “She will forever bind you to this country.“
Our last 15 years have been in Bucharest, Romania, at the Bucharest International Church. Though they have been challenging years because of Romania’s many needs, physically, spiritually and emotionally, they have been rewarding years as we have seen so many lives influenced positively. Many people are now working as leaders in other countries and cities. The needs have been great as we have worked with children with AIDS. We helped to oversee 200 sponsored Romanian children by Canadian families. We have seen our lives changed as we have sought to make people aware of the huge problem of human trafficking. Bucharest can be an agitated and hostile environment but, after 17 years, the warmth and hospitality of the people keep drawing us back.