MANNY AND JOKE SOETAERT
I was born in Belgium and grew up in Burkina Faso as a missionary kid. As I applied for different colleges, I also explored the option to become a missionary. I attended Toccoa Falls College and started my first two years towards cross-cultural studies (the missions degree). I took a year and a half off to go to Burkina as a volunteer, supporting various missionaries and their ministries in whatever way I could. I returned to Toccoa Falls College, switched majors and graduated with a degree in Counseling and Psychology. I ended up moving to Europe, where I met Joke (pronounced Yokuh). We got married in 2013. Some of my friends from college that also were missions majors got married to spouses that didn't share the desire to serve God overseas. I didn't think Joke would share that desire, either. Not wanting to risk a permanently closed door, I decided not to talk to her about it. Around November 2014, she wanted to go help out at Pan Bila, as my parents were overloaded with work and on the verge of a burn-out, with December being one of the busiest months. We stayed for 7 weeks and from the first day we were able to make ourselves useful. We were both happy when we were able to communicate to each other that this is the place where we felt we should be. Wanting to help where most needed, we assessed what we could do and started the process of being sent out to Burkina as full time missionaries. It's been an incredible process in which we've seen God's hand. His involvement has really encouraged us along the way. We arrived in Burkina on the 17th of July 2015 and look forward to the see what God has in store for us in the following months.