Who are The Hamptons?
Janice and I were born and raised in Wisconsin, not far outside the City of Milwaukee. So, I guess that makes us “Cheese Heads”. Although we come from very different backgrounds, we both grew up in the country, and still prefer a rural lifestyle. How we met, lost touch, and got reacquainted is a long personal story that we would love to share with you sometime. But, to keep it short here, we finally got engaged on the Fourth of July in 1978 and were married the following month on August 12th in Hartford, Wisconsin. In August, 2015, then, we celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary, thanks be to God!
Since I (Brian) grew up on a farm, and loved to hunt, fish and trap, I could imagine no greater career as a teen than to make a living in “The Great Outdoors” working with wildlife. So, my first pursuit was a degree in wildlife biology, which I obtained from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point in 1975. The Lord, however, “intruded” on my life and those plans, making me His own during the summer of 1974. Desiring to seek His will for my life, but with little guidance around me at that time, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps in an effort to serve Him. I accepted a position in Ivory Coast, West Africa where I taught agriculture at a teacher training center. It was there, in that French speaking country that I was required to work in that second language. It was also there, while in the company of some Baptist Missionaries, that God called me into full-time Christian Service. Although the route from there was a long and convoluted one, I eventually gained a second bachelor’s degree in Christian Education in 1981, after Janice and I were married. I went on to teach in various Christian schools in Minnesota, Washington State, and Pennsylvania from 1985-2001. I have taught every grade level from 4th-12th. At the high school level my subject areas were typically math, science and Bible. I was ordained in August of 2000 to serve as the missions pastor in our local church.
Janice’s professional interest and training is in the medical field. She attended The Minnesota Institute of Medical and Dental Careers while we lived in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated with high honors in 1988, and has served a combined 22 years in various clinics as a Certified Medical Assistant. This has not only added a very valuable dimension to her as a wife and mom, but has also caused her to be a huge asset as we serve on the foreign field, especially in Haiti. Janice traded her full-time clinic position to serve with me full-time as a Missionary Field Coordinator in December, 2011. Although she very much misses the one-on-one patient contact, she has been a great partner and gift to me in our ministry, which has truly required a combined effort. It is a great blessing to have her at my side.
For those interested: Birthdates Brian – March 27; Janice – July 24 Our Anniversary – August 12
Janice ~ My Wife, Primary Co-Worker, and Greatest Asset:
Apart from what I just commented on above, I have to say that a man would have to search far and wide for a woman that could simply tolerate running all over “the countryside” with me. In the U.S., it requires many trips away from home and all the arrangements that those require. It asks of her to sleep in a different bed, as offered, many nights…..some, not too comfortable. She needs to be willing to meet many different kinds of people, listen to them, and make hours of important “small talk” around the churches, in the homes, or at our missionary table. Many times she is asked to speak in front of groups – her greatest personal challenge. Since we host national pastors on tour, she also needs to extend hospitality to these foreign men, opening our home and doing all she can to make them feel welcome and comfortable, while they are away from their own homes for weeks at a time.
On our trips to Haiti, she needs to put up with all of the packing, planning, and airport runs and hassles. In Haiti, she has to deal with the risk that accompanies any foreign travel to a developing country on a daily basis. She must endure the heat, dust, bumpy roads, questionable (or no) food, and ever-changing schedules, while dealing with at least two foreign languages. On top of that, there is all the foreign culture, wisdom and required sensitivities, should we hope to minister effectively.
In all of this, and much more, Janice not merely “tolerates” this life with me, she actually THRIVES in it! She is a very hard worker and a “real trooper”! She loves the people of Haiti, misses them when we are away, and goes much further than I in considering how she can do something to show them a little love, kindness, consideration, or genuine care. Before we got married, her dad once shared the insight “Janice is very compassionate.” She has shown that to me as a wife, mother of our four, in the lives of our grand children, and with all of those we come in contact with, both in the churches back home, and here in Haiti. She is definitely the best part of “us”, and I thank God for her.
Our Children ~
The Lord blessed us with four children that were born close together, from 1980-1985. They grew up as close friends, and we have many fond memories of those busy years when we were all together. But then, as they came close together, they likewise left home over a short period of time to make their homes in four different states. While our daughter and her husband live close to where our ministry is based, here in Central Pennsylvania, her three brothers are scattered about. They are all doing well and active in their respective churches, so we thank the Lord for that.
Because of the love of music Janice and I passed down to them, they all grew up singing. A special gift that has always been a blessing for Janice and me, has been to hear our children – and now their spouses, sing in various choral groups, choirs, and perform special music.
Our son Ben and his wife Nadia met while attending Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola, FL. Although Ben served clients in the auto industry for over 13 years, he has moved on to work in the area of leadership training as a member of the John Maxwell Team. Nadia is a homemaker and great mom. Nadia also brings the “international flavor” to our family, as she is originally from American Samoa. Due to the unexpected passing of her father, Ben and Nadia relocated their family to that island in the South Pacific in March of 2015 to help out with things after her father’s passing. They have four children – a daughter Hadassah (Esther’s Hebrew name), a son Kaleb, and a son Matagisa (Named after Nadia’s father whom the Lord called home), and lastly a daughter Eliana.
Our daughter Jessica Harpster and her husband Shane live in nearby Lewistown, PA. Jessica’s background is in Elementary Christian Education. Although she taught for a number of years at Mifflin County Christian Academy (one of the best el-ed teachers I ever observed), she is now a stay-at-home mom working to raise their two little ones: Jack and Adelina. Shane continues to teach at MCCA in both the junior high and high school in the areas of history, science, speech and Bible. He also coaches boys’ soccer and basketball and serves as a youth leader at our church.
Our son Jonathan has so far remained single. He lives in the country outside of Westminster, MD and works for a company in the Baltimore Area that provides med-tech support for the healthcare industry. Jon is our family’s “tech-support go-to guy”. He is also our adventurer. He loves to travel and see far off places. He has already been to Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and American Samoa. OK….That last one is his sister-in-law Nadia’s fault.
Our youngest son Daniel and his wife Kate live in Wisconsin where our family started out. They reside in Arlington, just north of Madison. Dan is currently employed at COSTCO serving in a supervisory position. He says that he wants to end up a manager some day. Kate is a dedicated homemaker, who strives daily to meet the needs of their four children – a son Crew (our oldest grandson), two daughters Hadley and Brynley, and their youngest, a son Finn.
Besides trying to figure out this phase of parenting – how to be wise and godly parents to children who are now adults themselves, one of the most difficult things for Janice and me is having to watch 8 of our 10 grandkids grow up long distance on FaceBook, Skype, or on images sent via cell phone. But we know that many of you can relate to that same experience. So, times together, like the one pictured in the header of this page (already needs to be updated), are very precious indeed!
“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5