I am so honored to say that my interview with Marini is ready for publishing! Thank you for interviewing me, Marini 🙂
Marini: What made your family decide they wanted to travel around the world and help the poor?
Elle: It’s kind of a long story, but I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version. So, the Holy Spirit really began to work in our lives about five years ago, and it’s been a whirlwind of a journey since. About traveling and doing missions work, we had been focused on deliverance ministry the most, and serving at a Holy Spirit retreat. This was a great season of preparation, but not quite our full calling. I then started to read missionary books, and got so pumped I wanted to start a missionary organization! But inside I was ashamed of the Gospel. Another long story for another day! So, when I read the Great Commission and the verse in Romans that talks about being ashamed of the Gospel, the Lord really woke me up. And I started to care less what other people thought of me as long as someone was hearing that Jesus loved them! Well, when we went to Nicaragua for the third time, this time alone instead of with the ministry team we had always gone with. When we came back, we knew we wanted to do this full-time! So we sold our house to get out of debt, moved into our inherited one in a small town in the mountains, and got ready for the Lord to use us. We weren’t disappointed! Within a year we had started our first three-month stint in a foreign location.
Marini: Have your parents been traveling with this ministry in the past?
Elle: Well, that’s kind of a hard one to explain, because we’re not really with an established ministry right now, and that’s kind of how we like it. We like to say we’re in the ministry of Jesus. So, in that case, yes, we have been traveling in that ministry. But we do have a ministry website that we use whenever someone asks for our ministry name, but it’s more of a community and information conduit. Check out www.eklsia.com for more information than I can explain today.
Marini: Is it both parents that participate in the ministry?
Elle: Absolutely! It is our firm belief as a family that it is important that families should work as a unit. It always makes me sad to see a couple separate “for the sake of the Gospel” or for a kid to be sent home to America when the rest of the family is on the mission field. Not to say that God might not have a different plan for each of us, but I do not believe permanent separation of a couple/family is within the will of God. When we go house-to-house or do any other kind of ministry, it’s important to us that I’m there, participating, and praying for people. Not out of any regulations or family rule, but out of my own love for God. That said, we also find it very important that both my mom and dad are involved in the ministry, and it’s not just something where the dad does the pastoring and drags their family overseas, or the mom does teaching or nursing and the dad and kids aren’t involved in sharing the Gospel. Each of us has our own specific role in ministry: we don’t overstep each other’s boundaries, but each of us has our own beautiful role to fulfill that the others couldn’t fill quite right. We know that for a family to be missionaries, the family needs to want to share the Word, which should be all of the Body of Christ!
Marini: Do you find it stressful traveling all the time?
Elle: I was a born traveler. When I’m on a turbulent flight or a packed chicken bus (or one that’s playing gross raunchy music videos) or a bumpy, fast, and dangerous taxi or in a tent freezing in 40-degree weather or sleeping in a tight room on a dirt floor with seven other American missionaries (and I’ve done all of those), I always think of it as an adventure. I love traveling, so I can’t say it’s necessarily stressful to travel. I seem to thrive off of the excitement when we rush through the airport. I will admit that sometimes it gets rough settling in to new places often, but I love being able to have all these experiences. And I imagine I’ll be the packing/traveling expert when I grow up, too! In our first few trips I would get really sad every time we would leave to go to a new location for a few months because I was leaving “everything.” Turns out, I wasn’t leaving everything at all!
Marini: What do you do when you take a break from traveling in Georgia?
Elle: It seems like we’re always traveling! In truth, though, we consider Georgia one of our mission fields, not necessarily as a place to come home. We’ve learned that indeed, we are pilgrims in a foreign land, and that means sooo much more now! America is not home, and Georgia is not home, any more than Nicaragua or South Dakota are our home. Only heaven is home. But, long story short, we normally head back to our house and build relationships in the area, just like we do in our other locations, and tell people that Jesus loves them!
Marini: Do you participate in any type of physical activity?
In Nicaragua, our feet are our transportation – so there, yes! I like to joke that we lose ten pounds every time we go down there! But really, it depends on where we are. There, we walk about eight miles a day over rough terrain. And ride chicken buses. That may be funny to all the readers out there, but riding chicken buses is its own kind of exercise. It requires upper body strength like you’ve never seen holding on to those bars! In Georgia, I go swimming like crazy in the summer and do fun stuff like sledding in the winter. And occasionally kayak. In South Dakota, we visit lakes and fish, kayak, and swim. We still have a hike in the books – haha. Oh, one question. Does arm-wrestling (with whoever, whenever, but especially boys who think they’re all that) count?
Marini: How often are you in Georgia?
Elle: It really depends, I guess. We’re normally in any one location for three months, with the exception of Georgia. We like to just follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. Last time we were in Georgia we were there for two months in April and May, but sometimes it’s longer or shorter than that. Because our place in Georgia is right in between South Dakota and Nicaragua, it’s a nice interval between those two places. If you’re ever wondering where exactly we are, you can check out the Missions Timeline on my site.
Marini: I read your “About Me” blog (sorry to be nosy) and you said you love to sing. Do you think singing is your special talent? What else do you do other than sing?
Elle: I believe it’s my gift from God so I can worship Him. He also gifted me with a musical talent that the devil always told me I didn’t have so I wouldn’t worship Him. But now I love worshipping my Savior with my voice and my instrument! But most of all, my life. I also read – all the time. And do school. Yes, I’m still doing school. I’m on a strange schedule. And I like to kayak. And I like to fish. And shoot my gun. And tie knots and dig through my awesome survival equipment packed in my very large backpack. And I very much enjoy piloting planes.
Marini: Do you have friends that are missionaries?
Elle: I do! Just in South Dakota, we know several amazing missionary families. In Nicaragua, we had the honor of meeting many missionaries. We always look forward to seeing our missionary friends when we visit places, as well as the locals. And many of these people have kids, much to my delight! Examples of kids my age doing missions are Anna, who works in South Dakota on the local Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is 11, and Elisha, who used to work in Nicaragua and whose family now does crusades in America and is 12. And Anna’s five younger siblings and Elisha’s two (and a half) younger siblings! There’s so many more that I don’t have time to mention!
Marini: Do you have friends that are outside of mission work?
Yeah, plenty. Even two of my very closest friends (other than Jesus) aren’t necessarily traveling around the world doing missions, but they are amazing advocates for Jesus in their hometowns, and are getting closer to Jesus every day in their walk with Him.
Marini: How often do you go to church?
Elle: This is a fun one to answer! It really depends on what culture we’re in and what the Lord leads. If He tells us to go to a certain church on a certain day, we go there. In Nicaragua, it’s completely normal to have church 3-6 nights a week, and no morning services. So we go to those services if and when we can.
Marini: What do you not like about traveling or working with the ministry in general?
Elle: I can’t really think of anything off the top of my head that I don’t like about what we do in general. Like I said, I love adventure, so sleeping on airport carpet or church tile doesn’t bother me a bit. I will say that I don’t care for getting food poisoning and traveler’s diarrhea and eating gross foods. Not to say I don’t like trying new foods – I do. And I’m a lot more adventurous than a lot of people about eating native foods – to me, they lived all these years eating and drinking it: I can! I just don’t care for those gross, new foods.
Marini: Do you wish you had siblings?
Elle: I actually wrote a bit about this and the question below it on my About page, but I’ll give you a summary. Basically, I’ve gone back and forth through my 13 years of life, and now, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m happy the way God made me, but if He gifted me with a baby sibling, I would very happily receive him/her. Meanwhile, I like everybody else’s kids.
Marini: Did you ever have to adopt somebody or let someone live in your house for a certain amount of time?
Elle: Nope, never adopted anyone. Although before my mom got pregnant with me, it was planned to adopt a Chinese girl – but then she got pregnant, and pregnant women can’t adopt from China according to their laws. Well, anyways, a wonderful Brazilian family moved in with us last summer, and they had a baby girl. It was an amazing time, and all three of them were like siblings for me. Oh, and we fostered kittens once. If that counts.
Marini: Because you’re traveling around the world and helping the poor, are you going to continue doing so in the future?
Elle: Yes! Yes! Yes! I even want to make it my future career!
Marini: If so, what countries or states do you plan to visit? If not, what do you plan to do instead?
Elle: Wherever the Lord leads, really. But I have a few dreams: China is the main one. But Cuba would be wonderful, and I’d love to go somewhere in Africa. And I’d love to go to Myanmar and do mission work in Montana. Like those two things go together.