How I ended up in Dallas

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I am always interested in hearing how people land up in certain places. Also, over the years I have had my fair share of "How did you end up in Dallas?" questions.

I went to a great high school. Great for many reasons: 1.) A practical hands-on education. In addition to advanced math and science we were required to learn a trade i.e., mechanics, fitting and turning, electrical, and woodworking. I have worked on reconstructing a car engine, have made a screwdriver on a lathe, and have made multiple electronic circuits. My love, though, was woodworking, especially creating oak furniture. I would love to have a woodworking workshop (and library) in our house one day.

Great high school reason number 2: My high school emphasized drafting. We drew everything from pulleys to roof trusses. I still have all my drawing equipment that is waiting for Livia or Liam.

Number 3: I was able to live out my faith, unashamed. During my senior year I led our school's student Christian association. Great leadership memories with an exceptional team.

And lastly, reason number 4: For every 10 boys in our class there was only one girl. Sorry girls, but limiting distractions during puberty seems like a good thing.

In my senior year of high school I received a scholarship to pursue building engineering. I was on track to pursue a career in architecture or engineering. However, I believed God was directing me to foreign missions. My family and I toured a few Bible colleges near Cape Town but did not feel any, at that time, were very mission focused.

A few months later, we were on summer vacation on the beautiful coastline south of Durban. On one of our day trips to the beach we met the Jackson family. Their daughter, Gwyneth, was currently studying at a Bible college in Dallas. They told us about the school and it's strong mission focus. They also happened to have an application form for the college at their beach house. I applied and received a tuition scholarship.

I would still need to raise about R25,000 (approx. $4,000) for my first year of college. This would cover my air ticket, housing and food. I decided to take a GAP year to raise funds before heading to Dallas. I worked full-time in retail while living with my parents and saving 90% of my monthly salary. We also organized a variety of fundraisers. We had a garage sale in which members of our church community donated their unwanted items. My favorite fundraiser was a country and western dance party. We roasted a whole sheep, everyone dressed up like cowboys and cowgirls, and we danced the night away. Proceeds from the entrance ticket sales went towards my college fund.

When departing for Dallas on December 31, 1998, I remember the airport was filled with family and friends. It was a day full of mixed emotions. I transited through London and stayed a few days with family friends. I landed in Dallas on my 19th birthday, January 4, 1999. I was greeted at the airport by Gwyneth Jackson, daughter of the family we met on the beach. That evening I was surprised with a birthday party with total strangers, but soon to be friends. Gwyneth had arranged for fellow South Africans and Americans to congregate for the party. What a warm welcome to a new city.

What was only supposed to be a one year stint in Dallas turned into five years before heading off to Shanghai. No one knew how I would financially survive more than one year in the U.S. I attribute my survival to God's provision and hard work. If anyone is contemplating studying in the United States or if you know someone who has an interest in studying abroad, think: MISSION POSSIBLE.