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COME MEET IVY AND MICHAEL
‘I said that I’d never go to Australia, as it was a country that never interested me… but lo and behold I met my Australian husband here at YWAM Harpenden! Michael fills in- Hahaha and I always said that I’d never marry an American … but here we are!’
This amazing couple runs the Trainee Housing short-term accommodation building among many others things. The trainee building hosts all trainees during their time at YWAM Harpenden while studying on UofN courses and seminars. One of these trainees is my very own family! We’ve personally gotten to experience living in this building for the past 4 months, and have had an up-close view of all it entails to run this building – from painting, cleaning, making beds, laundry and endless coordination of many departments. It’s hard work and Michael and Ivy’s heart to serve is visible in all they do.
Ivy and Michael, can you tell me more about your vision for the short term accommodation?
Our heart is to create a welcoming, clean, respectful environment for visitors and students – a place that feels like home, away from home.
What made you, as a young married couple, commit to running a big old house like this? Where did the vision start?
We were on a bus while leading a DTS outreach when we wrote to the leadership about taking on the leadership for this building! Really… on a bus? Yes on a bus, on our phones! We knew that God was nudging us to take on this role and was asking us to commit to this – so we did.
Pretty amazing how things happen sometimes hey! So how do you see your heart as missionaries within your daily work?
It’s a holistic approach to the environment that we are in. We believe God looks at things holistically and that’s what we want to bring to our short-term accommodation provision here on campus. We may not be leading people to Jesus every day in this place, but by serving trainees, through creating a loving environment, a welcoming space, clean kitchens etc, we believe God is has given space to speak into their lives. A driving factor for me personally (Michael), is the practical side of getting things up to scratch. For Ivy, it’s more about making it an inviting friendly place where one can feel God’s love without saying or doing much. Our skill-set together makes for a great team!
Your commitment to this place is evident for sure. I know too that the daily challenges you face having so many different cultures in one building – it is definitely no easy task to manage this building! So tell me, what does your typical day look like?
Laundry…. a lot of laundry – Ivy chuckles away! Yeah, the laundry for this house is never-ending. We also have a lot of admin from bookings to coordinating with other buildings and the events team. On the more practical side rooms need to be cleaned and made up again – for instance just today we had ten rooms that needed turning over ready for the leadership seminar participants arrival. We also have our long-term projects of painting, maintenance and renovations. We work closely with property services in this, so again there’s lots of communication involved in this role!
What are your future plans for this accommodation?
Renovations and more renovations! Our next major project is getting all the bathrooms re-done.
If you could change some things that aren’t a necessity but may make things better and nicer what do you envision?
Michael adds, well I’d love to utilize the space in the “horseshoe”( the courtyard area behind the building), it’s a big wasted space and I keep on envisioning a veranda with a fountain, a place to socialize in summer and have barbecues.
Wow, that sounds amazing and would really fill out that space wisely.
Yes, it’s a bit of a dream, but you never know what might happen.. Other than that, Ivy adds, we ask ourselves where we fit in with the 500 trainee vision. How do we integrate this into this building? What could change now to facilitate more trainees? So we are proactively considering triple high bunk beds that would be built in and ensure UK health and safety laws. We are also considering joining smaller rooms to create bigger, more versatile spaces.
That sounds like a lot of work and commitment! How long do you plan to be here at YWAM Harpenden?
A speaker came to the base after we’d been here a year and we were challenged by something he said about the current reality, that generally young people find it difficult to commit. It spoke to us and caused us to pray. Instead of two, five years is what kept coming to us, so we decided to commit and not leave, even if/when it got tough. Our friends and family questioned our choice at first, but see that we are committed and are investing in the future of missions, so they remain very supportive.
How did the both of you end up in Harpenden? I’ll first start with Michael and then carry on with you Ivy.
Well, I was 17, rude, ignorant, flirtatious and annoying and the only dream I had for my life was to join the military, just as my dad had done. When I was denied entry I had no idea what to do next.
Why were you denied? And why couldn’t your dad do anything about it?
Well in the words of the military, I was “too young and too dumb”! Together my parents prayed and felt strongly that they want to gift me with a DTS. They’d seen the life-changing impact of their own DTS 23 years previously, and hearing their heart for my life made me agree it might be a good idea. Since my dad and our family were stationed in London at the time I looked for YWAM locations nearby. I did my DTS here in Harpenden in 2014. Afterwards, I felt a draw to come back, not because God told me specifically but mainly because I liked the people and felt a sense of belonging and I knew I could serve well here.
I just love your honest and humorous way of sharing Michael, thanks for sharing! How about you Ivy?
After studying Nutritional Therapy I felt the urge to travel, rather than settle into a career, despite having only lived in one place my whole life! Michael exclaims “Not like me who has moved over 13 times being a military kid!” So I was ready for something new. Friends of mine had done DTS so I began to explore it as an option. I felt led to an English speaking Nation (not Australia … I never felt drawn to “down-under”!) and northern England was my first choice. Despite being accepted to a base there, plans changed. In a long and beautiful story, I did my DTS here in September 2012, which was transforming. After DTS, it became clear on my return back to the US that God had opened my heart to ‘home’ being YWAM Harpenden so I committed for two years to working in missions – serving in the kitchen and Café – as well as staffing a DTS.
How did the two of you meet? Let’s try and keep it short and sweet.
Well, my parents told me that one always needs to honour and respect the one who is cooking for you, at the time this was Ivy since she was serving at the B.B. Hall. Ivy already had been on staff for almost 2 years. I was rude, disrespectful and a lot of things, as mentioned before. Ivy became the mediator between me, staff and students. She also became my friend and eventually, I asked Ivy out! We dated and were madly in love but still, we ended up breaking up. Ivy continues… I just didn’t feel right about us. Five months later I got really ill, and despite not being in a relationship Michael took such good care of me. I felt God saying, Michael is my gift to you… after that, we dated again and the rest is history!
What a beautiful, honest and vibrant story…I love God’s promise of Michael being your gift! One last question, what is your vision as a couple in long-term missions?
We love DTS and as we look to the future we definitely see ourselves teaching, staffing and leading DTS’s. Discipleship is where a big part of our heart lies. We feel called to be part, in whatever we do, to be equipping young people from all over the world to go into the nations.
Thank you for sharing your story and journey.
Your stories leave us all with a challenge, to look at our own lives and ask the question how does God want us to commit? What does that look like? It may not look like Ivy and Michaels story, but is God pressing on something in your personal, work or church life? Is there something you need let go of or change? May we all take a minute to think about how our story fits into God’s story because they are beautifully intertwined.
Ivy is 25, from Delaware, USA. She married Michael in the summer of 2017. Michael is 22, from Canberra, Australia. Ivy studied Nutritional Therapy, thereafter joined YWAM in 2012. Michael joined YWAM in 2014. Both staffed 2 schools and attended various leadership seminars. Together they have a 5-year commitment to YWAM Harpenden.
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