For us, 1985, seven years into marriage, was a life-changing year. First, we experienced a Life in the Spirit programme at the beginning of the year, where it was prophesied that we would work together to build the Kingdom.
Then later that year, God did not waste time, we were invited to attend a ME weekend at Emmaus Centre in Arima. ME, we believed, was that call to Mission. And we were right, that weekend, building on the experience of Life in the Spirit, changed us in a way that continues until today. Later that year, Simone, our only daughter, was conceived. Truly life changing.
The weekend was a call to Mission. On the first Saturday following the ME weekend, we were visited by Vaughn and Merle Amow, who ever so sweetly, invited us to become a Team Couple and to commence writing our talks. At that time, we had two sons, Brett and Kirk, four years and three years respectively, and both Sandee and myself were working, yet we answered in the affirmative.
This yes swept us off our feet into a whirlwind of joyful activity: writing talks, visiting couples, attending ME activities, presenting at weekends both locally and within the Caribbean.
Our family life changed—we were no longer a nuclear family but now part of a bigger ME family. Some of these new family members have remained with us now over 30 years.
Marriage Encounter transformed our lives as a couple and as a family. Our couple relationship was enriched as we dialogued in our copybooks and this couple relationship permeated the bringing up of the children. It led to us adopting natural family planning and as a result bringing forth our fourth child, Nicholas, into the world. The ME family would informally name him Billings.
ME introduced us to Christian community, where before we would attend Mass as a family, it became our small family meeting our big family, little Church meeting big Church.
This new paradigm took us down a different path, one that permeated our couple and family relationship. It created a longing in us to Mission full time. This took time as we needed the secure income to pay off a mortgage and put children through school. However, we were able to afford Sandee’s being a stay-at-home mother for five years and this made for a more loving home.
It took us 17 years with a couple of false starts but finally in 2002 we were able to both leave our jobs and start our own small business conducting training and development using the opportunity to Mission to those in the world of work.
This manner of living our ME dream continues today, 16 years later in our daily work and in the Christian community, and Bible circles we started with the help of our original ME family.
The ME lifestyle and family we adopted on our original weekend 33 years ago has never been extinguished and has seen us through our darkest days. When we lost our first-born son, Brett, by drowning a year and a half now, it was our ME family that prayed with us and lifted us when we were too weak to walk.
And as we reflect on his life, we can see the thread of ME in every stitch of his character and the multicoloured garment that he has sewn. – Hilary and Sandee