It was always easy for me to remember how many years Cris had been in Mexico. She moved there and started her ministry in 1970, the year I was born. Because Cris was so close with the Planks, she frequented our home each time she came. I vividly remember so many years that she brought Mexican students along with her to help with VBS. I was always fascinated by a new language, a different perspective on the world and seeing how the Holy Spirit moved in the same ways with people all over the world. It was only as an adult that i began to understand how these moments in faith community shaped my theology at a young age.
I remember wanting so badly to speak Spanish well, and was deeply moved my Cris' story that she moved to Mexico completely unable to speak Spanish...and that she had requested of the Lord that He help her learn to speak as a native, so that no one would even know she was from the States. God certainly answered that prayer! It's because of her that I learned to speak another language.
My first experience at Bethshean was when I was 16 years old. I flew down by myself...which was such an adventure at that point in life. Cris must have taken me to every village in a 40 mile radius and exposed me to so many facets of mission. Then we toured a big part of Mexico as she showed me the country and people she loved so much. At one stop, she helped me buy a souvenir machete that was engraved...which I flew home with on the airplane in my carry on! Can you even imagine that now?!
In the years to come, I was blessed to take numerous mission trips there with youth groups from the Atlanta area...building projects, camp programs, music, teaching...so many opportunities. The joy of her ministry and the passion she had for God was infectious with young people who looked at her like she was a Marvel Superhero.