Acting on obedience overseas

As graduation approaches, the decision of what to do next in life begins to arise. However, for alumni Daniel and Lauren Ostendorff, obedience serves as a testimony for everything they do, even if it means sacrificing a comfortable lifestyle.

The couple’s journey set sail when both of them arrived at John Brown University, not knowing each other in 2002. Lauren, a children and family ministries major, spent most of her time being involved with the student ministries leadership team while Daniel double majored in biblical and theology studies as well as history, two subjects he is passionate about.

Life after graduation

After graduation Lauren was hired at Camp War Eagle as a post camp ministries counselor where she would help kids after camp while Daniel stayed to make up for the gap year he took after his freshman year.

“People would ask me all the time why I wanted to work at a summer camp after graduation,” she said. “It was because it’s what I felt led to do but sometimes it takes courage to actually do it.”

Once it came time for Daniel to walk across the stage in 2007, the alumni accepted a position at The University in the admissions office as visitation coordinator. Though he loved being a part of the staff he was ready to hit the books once again.

“The inner nerd in me wanted to continue by education and Kim Eldridge encouraged me to consider grad school,” he said.

Because he was late in the game he decided to apply overseas. He soon found out he was accepted into Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he continued his studies in modern history.

Boy meets girl

Daniel vividly remembers the day he ran into his soon-to-be other half, though it was in the most unexpected way.

A group of his close friends, including Lauren, happened to be in Ireland when they contacted their good friend and invited him to come out for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. With some reluctance, Daniel finally gave in, not knowing that would be the day he would create a strong friendship with his future wife.

For the next year he put Oxford aside and pursued Lauren instead. Four months later he proposed and then walked down the aisle as newlyweds in June 2010.

An overseas transition

Once the honeymoon was over, Oxford was on Daniel’s radar. The plan was to move overseas where he would begin working on his PhD in history.

With only a little time of being married and many prayers and support of family and friends, they packed their bags and set off to England.

Since September 2011, the couple resides in Nairobi, Kenya, where Daniel is observing the importance of family in the development of Kenya’s political, social and economic elite as part of his research for the next year.

Lauren’s love for the ministry has allowed her to work with various organizations in different slums and connects with children through the art of crafts and music.

“Though [children] have absolutely nothing, there is so much joy in everything that they do,” she said.

The Ostendorffs are also thrilled to announce that Lauren is expecting their first child. Though she occasionally craves the usual Taco Bueno burrito, the duo says the pregnancy is “so far, so good.”

As for “Baby O”, Lauren said they plan on having the baby in the same Nairobi hospital where Daniel’s siblings were born.

Once their year in Kenya is up, they will travel back to England with their new bundle of joy, where Daniel will complete his final year at school and hopefully be back in the States sometime in 2013. With his degree he hopes to become a professor and share his passion with others.

A lesson in obedience

Both Ostendorffs believe that their obedience in God has led them to blessings they never would have achieved on their own. Regardless of their location, Christ has blessed the alumni with a strong support system that not only keeps them accountable but encourages them in what they do.

“There are days when we want to throw in the towel and want to go home, but we choose to stay out of obedience and that has created a ripple effect in which God is revealed to the ones around us,” he said.

In the end the Ostendorffs are content with not choosing the safe and practical route and encourages emerging graduates to do the same.

“Go where your heart is and don’t rule out possibilities,” he said. “God opens doors; I got into Oxford when I never imagined I would.”