Name: Gail A. Hanson

Age:  43

Location:  Grand Rapids, Michigan

Occupation:  I evaluate training / motivation materials.

Where did you come from? Born and raised in Southern California.

A Fear:  Never accomplishing something of significance. Leaving my boys without a legacy they can be proud of and not being remembered.

A Goal:  Write a book. I’ve started more than once. If only I could finish.

A Memory:  One of my favorite memories of childhood is riding my lavender bike with the white basket to the library. Filling that basket with books for the week and then riding to the grocery store for ice cream or candy. This is what summer looks like. Even though every trip was a little different I remember them all as one collective snapshot. And, I’m always smiling and happy with the sun beating down.

A Mistake:  I will always regret not finishing college.

A Hero:  My older sister for making the raising of children look easy even when it was hard. Single mothers never get enough credit for what they do.

A Fault:  I think I know everything and therefore I am always right. I do not and I am not. (Don’t tell my husband I admitted that.)

A Talent:  I can crochet.

A Prized Possession:  An old broken manual typewriter that belonged to my father. Once it was my dream to use it to write my novel. It reminds me of how he believed I could do anything. I still long to have it repaired.

A Need:  Patience.

I want more:  Time and energy to enjoy life with my family and friends. The introvert in me is always searching for quiet places but I also want the boisterous moments with those I love.

I want less:  Stress and worry.

What would you change about the world?  I would change the prevalence of prejudice; eliminate the hate crimes that accompany racism. Bring about justice for the marginalized. Recent years have shown too many instances of injustice. I worry for my boys and what the next generation faces.

What do you love about yourself?  Such a tough question … I love my sense of humor. The moments when I can feel light in laughter. It doesn’t happen nearly as much as I would like but still I feel my best at those times.



Name: Jasmine Lowell

Age: 43

Location: West Olive, Michigan

Occupation: I work at Hope College as the administrative assistant to the Dean for International and Multicultural Education.

Where did you come from? Singapore. I grew up in Singapore, and came to the US as an international student to attend Michigan State University.

A Fear: The unavoidable day when I lose a family member to death.

A Goal: For my marriage to flourish until death parts us, and for my sons to grow into honorable men who love God and love people.

A Memory: The moment my oldest son was born, I was struck by my instant love for him. The love I felt for him was not due to what he had done for me, nor based on his character or personality. It wasn’t even due to anything I had done for him. My love for my son was birthed from the relationship between us. My son – my flesh and blood. That was the first time I understood and could emotionally connect with God’s love for me. Nothing I do or don’t do can stop God from loving me. He loves me simply because I am His child.

A Mistake: When I was younger, I always compared myself with others to the point where I was dissatisfied and lacked confidence in being myself.

A Hero: My parents. They worked hard and sacrificed much to provide for me and my sister. They’ve not had it easy. When I was 5, they lost twin baby girls – stillborn – but they got through that without turning bitter, and got through that painful time by continuing to live life one day at a time.

A Fault: Pride. I’ve always tried to be good – to do the right thing. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on my motives. If it stems from pride and I’m trying to perform or please people, that’s not necessarily the right motive. I need to do what is right, motivated by love.

A Talent: I am musical and athletic. I love playing the piano and singing with our music team at church. I also love sports. I played a sport called netball from 4th grade until I graduated from high school. There’s no netball in this area, so I settle for being as active as possible with whatever opportunities come my way, whether it is roller hockey, tennis, biking, basketball, etc.

A Prized Possession: My wedding ring.

A Need: I need to feel secure and loved by my husband and sons; to know that each of us will be committed to our family unit, and will love faithfully with sacrificial action.

I want More: Visits to Singapore: to see my family, enjoy the fantastic food, catch up with friends, and soak in the beauty of the city and culture on that sunny island.

I want Less: Bills and household clutter.

What would you change about the world? The brokenness. I want the world to live life in the way of love and truth. To know we were created for a purpose, and that the only way to true freedom living is the way of love, the way Jesus taught.

What do you love about yourself? I am an optimist. I am easy going, and attempt to be a positive influence on people around me. I try to assume the best about everyone and strive to not dwell on the negative.


Deqa Elmi-Buursma

Name: Deqa Elmi

Age: 24

Location: Accra, Ghana

Occupation: School librarian, nurse at Liberty American School

Where did you come from: I was born in Somalia but after the Civil war my family and I migrated to Kenya where I lived until I was 13 years old before moving to America.

A Fear: Fear of failure. The thought of not doing things right scares me. I know some people say that fear helps to protect us, makes us be alert and prepares us to deal with our fear but in my case I hate the feeling of being fearless. I think this is one of my weakness in life.

A Goal: Be happy, healthy, have close friendship, exploring, being inspired and appreciating beauty. One example is I love fashion and being artesian in my own wardrobe. I would like to think I am my own person. When it comes to that I express myself through my style and I wear what makes me feel gracefully at ease. I hope one day to have my own store which will be full of international goods. With that said, I would like to build a successful business from scratch.

A Memory: A recent one is, my husband Derek and I visited Kenya. It was Derek’s first time and for me (10 plus Years). The memories of my childhood came floating back. Derek and I talked about our homelands and about the experiences of living. The more we talked and shared memories, questions like how long I’ve been gone came to mind and you realize that here (home) has gone on without you. People have grown up, they’ve moved, married, they’ve become completely different people and so have I. It’s hard to deny that the act of living in another county, in another language really changes you. Sometimes I felt that so much has happened in my absence, that so much has changed. The feeling of being an outsider trembled my mind and fear starts to tremble and weaken me as I think back of the memories found there. Some people might say you are different when you move to a new county but I have matured and accumulated a lot of wisdom over the years in the two places I call home.

A Hero: My mother. Like a lot of single moms, she had to struggle to work and care for eight children and at the time in an unfamiliar county, language and culture. Seeing her over come challenges in life, instilled in me the sense that I can do anything.

A Prized Possession: My wedding ring. My ring is a sign of love and fidelity between myself and husband, I cherish the memories and relationship it symbolizes.

I Want Less: Stuff and things that clutter and take away space. I want to make memories not take up space with non meaningful things.

I Want More: TRAVEL!

What would you change about the world: Human nature. For humans to put ethics before greed, and courage before fear. And to take away the illusion of body image so people can see the heart and character of the person.

What do you love about yourself: My natural hair. Growing up, I hated my hair because I never knew how to take care of it. Now, I love my hair, its BIG, CURLY and GORGEOUS.