Hi, everybody. I am Dustin and I am going to be your new Youth Pastor! Our family is so excited about that. We can’t wait!
Some of you know us and some don’t. But even if you do know us it’s been 11 years since we lived in Summerland. So, maybe you changed Ben’s diaper but you’ll be shocked to hear that he doesn’t wear those anymore. He hates them. And Meg doesn’t have tantrums anymore, she just beats on me to help her deal with stress. And Liv isn’t a little squishable baby, she’s super tall! Seriously. She’s taller than Christy. And we now have a Jude. So, I’d like to take a minute to introduce our family.
My wife Christy and I, we’re both 39. Christy works full time as a fitness and nutrition coach at a local gym here in Lethbridge. She loves it and is super good at it. Invite her out for coffee sometime and ask her about why she loves it. Her story is amazing. She also loves interior design, house projects, and transforming old furniture into something awesome. I work as a freelance content creator. That means I get to do fun things like make videos, photos, design logos, graphics for t-shirts, and paint on my iPad. Someday I hope to make graphic novels and write and illustrate children’s books.
We have four super awesome kids. In a few days, 3 of our 4 kids will be teenagers. We love games, movies, skiing, and Five Guys. Ben is 17, Megan is 15, Olivia is turning 13, and Jude is 8. Ben graduates this year. He stays pretty busy with his part time job at McDonald’s, homework, drawing, and playing Beat Saber with his buds. He’s not sure what he’s going to do after graduation. He’s interested in a career doing character design for video games. I am jealous.
Megan is in grade 10 and she’s part of a super awesome choir. They just got to go and sing with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra! She loved it and they really are amazing. This Spring she goes on a choir tour to California. They even get to sing at Disneyland. There may even be fireworks and a breakdancing Mickey. Megan also loves drawing. We’re all into drawing actually. We love graphic novels and movies. Megan and Ben are also going on a missions trip to Guatemala in February. They’re going with the same organization I went with when I was in grade 10. They’re excited and nervous about that trip.
Olivia plays clarinet, basketball, loves baking and sushi, and adores snuggling our pets. We have a cocker spaniel and a Netherlands dwarf bunny. They’re both super cute but the dog stinks and the bunny poops a million poops. Livi loves the Marvel movies. We all do. We watched all the Marvel movies in chronological order leading up to Avengers Endgame and lined up two hours early on opening night. It was super fun. Yes, we all cried in the movie, some more than others.
Jude loves Lego, making art projects, messy experiments, and figuring out the best folding technique for paper airplanes. He’s also picky about his bacon. Not too crispy and not too soft, right in the middle is perfect. He loves learning about and drawing dinosaurs and Pokemon just like his big brother. He dressed up as a Pokemon Trainer for Halloween and can make throwing stars out of paper.
That’s a little bit about us. We are all super excited to be a part of your community and really look forward to getting to know you. As you could imagine, moving is super hard for kids, especially teenagers. Please pray for us all as we make the transition and move. Making new friends is scary. My family moved a lot when I was young and I was super shy. I still remember the moments when kids my age would come up to me and want to be my friend and invite me into things. I needed generous outgoing people to pull me out of my fears. Those friends are still my friends today. So, all you amazing outgoing kids, you’ve already done that for Jude and Livi and I know you’re going to do the same for the rest of us.
I want to say a MASSIVE “Thank You” to you all, kids included. We have been so blessed and encouraged by your support, your prayers, and your thoughtful words. The two weekends we’ve spent with you recently have been short but they’ve been overflowing with your generous heart. So far, it’s been Christy and I, Olivia and Jude who’ve had a chance to be there in person and each of us has been significantly encouraged by your kindness and love. You are an authentic community of generosity and love so well. Thank you! Your heart for community is one of the primary reasons we want to join you in ministry.
Our family made the choice together to come to Summerland. Taking the Youth Pastor role has been a family decision, one we’ve walked out together slowly. We wanted to make sure to give plenty of space for our kids to share their hearts and their honest response to moving again. We’ve moved a lot. Since our family started in 2002 we’ve moved 9 times. We wanted to do our best to make this decision together with our eyes, mind, and hearts wide open to God’s leading.
All the moving has been for a couple key reasons. We were 21 when Ben was born. Being married and having kids young is really crazy. It’s been awesome but it’s meant we’ve had to live a mix of survival and figuring out our desires as we go. We’ve loved the adventure but we’ve wrestled a lot with those desires. Why has God given them to us? We’ve struggled to understand them, what they mean, and how to trust his will for them.
We have lived an amazing adventure overflowing with beautiful communities and cultures, lovely people, and challenging roles. All of them a masterfully designed education in who God is and who we are. Every detail of the journey has been an opportunity to know God and his definition of good. In his grace and master craftsmanship he’s designed a story in our life of his glory and we will spend an eternity discovering just how good he is in it and another eternity worshiping him for it. We are eager to share what we know of our story with you and to learn from yours.
Your community has been a major part of our story and it is a very precious grace to us that God would see us returning. We return with a deep gratitude for all you’ve invested into us and our adventures over the years. We return with a diverse spectrum of experiences that reveal just how rare of a treasure your community really is. Our hearts hold a unique topography of experiences and desires that we’re eager to invest into your vision. Building with you and your team of staff is an opportunity we’ve been seeking God for. Friends, you are a beautiful gift to us and we can’t believe how amazing it is that God is giving us this significant desire of our heart. This opportunity to join you in building community engages a staggering amount of our heart’s desires. Not just mine or Christy’s but our family’s. Over and over God has shown us that our idea of good isn’t even worth comparing with his.
We have loved and appreciated you deeply for over 15 years and we are so thankful to get to show our gratitude every day as we love and serve our youth. I cry even now just thinking about it.
Yeah, you’re going to have to get used to the crying. I get it from my dad.
With overwhelming love and joy,
Dustin, Christy, Benjamin, Megan, Olivia, and Jude.