I am the fourth born child in my family of 19 children. I was born May 17th, 1991, just 16 months after my parents had their first set of twins, Jana and John. Growing up, people would sometimes guess that Jana, John and I were triplets because we were so close in age, or that Jana and I were twins, since we looked so much alike. As you can imagine, we had fun with that!
As a child, I was more reserved than I am now, but usually carried a smile and enjoyed toting a little one around on my hip as we played “mom and dad”, or “hospital”, where I would pretend to be the nurse by giving “medicine” (a.k.a. Koolaide) from a dropper to my “patients” (one of my friends or siblings), or I’d pull a bandage out of my little Noah’s ark apron to wrap up their “injured” leg.
There was always something to do or someone to play with around my house. Because we were home educated, mom had to make sure that we completed our allotted assignments before we were able to be done for the day. I took up piano lessons when I was 5 years old, and was happy to start violin lessons a few years later when I was 11 years old. Eventually, I also took up harp lessons when a friend offered to teach my sisters and I. Even though practice wasn’t always my favorite thing to do as a kid, I’m so glad my parents encouraged me to stick with it, because now I can just play for relaxation and enjoyment.
As a kid, my family was really involved in politics. I remember going door knocking for my dad and other candidates. When he was serving in the Arkansas State House of Representatives, we all moved to the capitol city and we kids would take turns going with him to work. We learned a lot just going to committee meetings and watching bills be discussed and voted on. We also learned where the ice cream sandwich place and free popcorn was! As I reached my teenage years, my siblings and I continued to help candidates and even traveled to other states as volunteers some presidential campaigns.
One evening when I was 12, I was talking with my mom. I realized I wasn’t sure that if I died I would have eternal life. I did like it says in the Bible (Romans 10:9), “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” I confessed all the wrong things I could remember to my mom and God. I asked Him in prayer to take complete control of my life and take me to heaven when I die. Not too long after that, my dad baptized me at our church.
Growing up, my parents kept many biographies of great Christians around the house for us kids to read. I loved reading about missionaries who did great things for God in other countries and oftentimes wondered if God might take me outside the USA at some point for ministry purposes. I went on my first short-term missions trip to El Salvador as a teenager with some of my siblings and dad. My heart was immediately captured as I saw the poverty and hopelessness a lot of people there were experiencing because their hope lay only in this world, not in a relationship with Jesus Christ. It was hard to leave and I prayed I would be able to return! God did just that and allowed me to go back not just once, but multiple times and to other places in Central and South America as well! I started teaching myself Spanish at home with the hopes of using this skill to communicate with friends and share the gospel of Jesus Christ!
From a young age, my parents encouraged each of us kids to gain as many life skills as we could to benefit this world and better equip us to share the gospel with others. When I was 16 years old I went through 12 weeks of childbirth classes with a single mom friend of mine as her support person. I had only attended 2 of my mom’s births, so I learned a lot in the classes. After spending more time with the class instructor, I met and started assisting midwives in the area at births. Through the wise, Godly counsel of my parents and friends, I started pursuing midwifery training and education and became licensed as a Certified Professional Midwife (they specialize in low-risk out of hospital prenatal, birth, and postpartum care). My prayer in pursuing midwifery early on was to make wise use of my single years while gaining valuable skills that I may someday use on the mission field. Although I don’t plan on practicing while I have little ones of my own at home, I know the skills I have already learned have benefitted me immensely and I may be able to use them in other ways, such as teaching, down the road. Right now I am enjoying being a wife and mother.
I was born March 9th, 1989 in Rogers, AR to Cathy & Rick Dillard. I attended Rogers public schools till I graduated in 2007. As a boy, my younger brother, Dan, and I enjoyed spending time on the lake with our family. We were both involved in the Boy Scouts of America and went on to become Eagle Scouts.
When I was nine years old, during a revival at my home church (Lakeside Baptist Church), I realized my need for Jesus Christ, so I prayed and asked Him to forgive me of my sins and take complete control of my life from there on out. I was baptized shortly thereafter.
In 6th grade I took up trumpet lessons and participated in marching band at school. I was inspired to play trumpet since both my dad and grandma played the trumpet in their earlier years. I loved being active and running. So again, like my dad, in high school I ran cross country and joined the swim team.
Both of my parents graduated from Oklahoma State University, and although I liked the idea of going to school nearby at the University of Arkansas, my longtime dream of going to OSU stuck with me. In 2007, I moved three-and-a-half hours from home to begin college. I became active at Eagle Heights Baptist church and involved in Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) during my four years in Stillwater, OK.
The morning of January 18th, 2008, my mom, brother and pastor from Arkansas showed up at my dorm room and shared with me that my dad had passed away in his sleep sometime early that morning. Being that my dad was a hard working police officer and only 50 years old, you can imagine that this came as quite a shock to our family. I went home to spend time with my family, then drove back to college the next week. It was very difficult to lose my dad, my hero, but through his death God really changed my focus. I realized that life is short and only what’s done for Jesus Christ will last for eternity!
During my first two years of college, I participated in marching band. In my junior year, I was selected to represent the university as its mascot, Pistol Pete. I considered it a huge honor when I was selected again to continue this role for another year. My dad was also the OSU mascot from 1976-1978, so we were the very first father and son to both serve as Pistol Pete. In 2011, I graduated from OSU with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a minor in economics.
In April 2012, I left America for the very first time and headed to Kathmandu, Nepal where I would spend the next two years of my life. During those years, I did various humanitarian projects while taking several treks into the Himalayan mountains for a month at a time to share the hope of Jesus Christ.
I returned home to Arkansas January 2014 and began working at the Walmart home office as a tax accountant in February. Jill and I were engaged in March, married in June, and found out we were expecting in July!
Our Love Story
How I met the girl of my dreams.
Well, I’m from Rogers, AR, just about 45 min from where Jill lives, but we had to go 8,000 miles across the world to meet. When I was working in Nepal, Jill’s dad was one of my prayer partners. We would talk every couple weeks or so to discuss how our work was going and what current prayer needs were. Jill’s dad would also mention periodically the work Jill was doing in her studies as a student midwife and her desire to someday use her skills overseas on the mission field. Being that we had similar life goals, she caught my attention.
The first time Jill and I spoke was over the phone in a brief conversation we had back in March 2013. I continued speaking with Jim Bob (Jill’s dad) over the summer, but didn’t speak with Jill again until August. However, during this time I was praying about Jill and asking God for direction in getting to know Jill better.
The answer to my prayer came in August 2013, just before I left Nepal for a two-week trip to Japan. During a conversation with Jim Bob, he mentioned how he thought Jill and I might get along well, having similar personalities and direction in life. He gave me Jill’s phone number and we began texting, then emailing, then skyping/ talking on the phone. Over the next few months we became very grateful for modern technology as we continued to get to know each other better. Most of our conversations were centered around our values and life goals.
At the end of November, Jill and her dad got to come to Nepal for a couple weeks. I had no idea what to expect, but I was excited and prayed that God would give clear direction during this time. By the end of the trip I felt the Lord directing me to ask Jill to officially begin a courtship relationship. She agreed and we continued getting to know one another. It would still be two months before I completed my two-year term and would move back home to Arkansas.
Upon my arrival home (January 2014), I was met by the Duggar clan; this was my first time to meet Jill’s family in person. Over the next few months, I enjoyed spending time getting to know Jill and her family better
How I met the sweetest man in the whole world
Like Derick stated, we grew up pretty close to each other, but didn’t meet in Arkansas. Christmas 2011, Derick briefly stopped by our house while caroling with a group from his church. Neither of us remembers each other specifically from that time; all I have is a vague memory of the group of people who came. Not long after this, Derick contacted my dad and asked if he would be a prayer partner during his two-year term in Nepal. He would call my dad regularly and give updates on how his work was going there and then they’d pray together. As my dad got to know Derick he was really impressed with his Godly character. He started telling me about Derick and also told Derick about me! I listened in on a few phone conversations with my dad without Derick knowing I was doing so.
After I kept hearing good things about this guy I decided I’d look him up on my own, so I Googled him and got a little glimpse from his social media outlets. I thought it was really neat how we had similar life goals and all, so I prayed about him for a little while, but then I prayed that God would allow me to not think seriously about any guys until it was His timing to begin a relationship and “the one”. I didn’t really think about this prayer again until later.
In March of 2013, Derick called my dad to give him an update and pray together and I happened to walk in the room. Unlike the other times when I had just listened in, this time my dad told Derick I had just come in the room and asked him to tell me a little bit about himself. We talked briefly that evening, however in the months following I didn’t think much about him.
In August of that same year, my dad was on the phone with Derick one evening and gave him my number. He told Derick that he thought we may hit it off and encouraged him to group text (with my parents), or call me if he wanted to. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was a direct answer to Derick’s prayer! He had been praying over the entire summer about when/if he should contact my dad to begin a relationship with me and was asking God to show him clearly! Wow! God is good!
I was super excited to text Derick back and forth, and then we were able to Skype. Our first call lasted 5.5 hrs and I asked him a ton of questions! I jokingly say it was “love at first Skype”! It really helped me feel secure to know that Derick and my dad had already got to know each other and that my dad admired him. During Derick’s time in Nepal, he was 10hrs and 45 min ahead of us so we would try to get in talk time when it would work best for both our schedules. And then there were other times when he was trekking in the Himalayan mountains for days at a time without any communication. Although the distance was hard, we are grateful that we were able to really work on developing good communication, something that’s an important part in marriage. Also, during this time I was able to hang out with Derick’s family, visit his church, and even went to his house and rode in his car a couple times!
In November, my dad and I were able to fly to Nepal and spend two weeks with Derick! During our trip, Derick asked me if he and I could begin getting to know each other better in a courtship relationship; I happily agreed! I’d spent much time reading the bible, praying and getting wise counsel, before saying “yes”. The more I spent time with him and observed his integrity, sweet spirit and love for God and service to others, the more I fell in love with him! Our goals aligned perfectly with how we saw God leading us and we both felt we could serve Him better together than separate!
Well, my dad and I went home and over the next 60 days I cried a lot of tears; I missed him so much! Finally, in January of 2014 Derick returned home and was able to meet my entire family!
Derick asked my dad for permission to marry me at the end of February 2014 and then asked me on March 29th of that same year! I said, “yes, totally!”
We married June 21st, 2014 and one month later found out we were expecting our first baby!
Since we first began our relationship, it has always been our goal that Jesus Christ might be glorified as we serve others through family ministry, by whatever means that might be. We have a deep love and care for all of the world and a real passion for those in the nations, as many have even seen in the early stages of our relationship, and our hope is that all peoples of the world would come to repentance and put their hope in the Lord, Jesus Christ.
God placed a desire in our hearts to serve Him internationally for longer than the typical short-term mission trip, but we didn’t know how God would fulfill that desire in us. We were prepared for the possibility of it being years before our family would be able to make a move of that magnitude. It’s something we prayed about together in an effort to seek God’s plan for our lives in His service. At the beginning of 2015, just before our first child was born, God brought about an opportunity much earlier than either of us was expecting. A new opportunity arose for us to serve God on the mission field. Before us we had a choice to make that would undoubtedly change the trajectory of our lives forever.
As I’m sure many of you fathers can understand, I (Derick) had a huge dilemma as the provider and protector of my little family. There were definitely more “unknowns” with the international option. God was definitely testing my faith in Him by bringing about this choice in our lives. A friend of ours wisely shared that if God was leading us to serve Him abroad, we should pursue it as early as possible, to avoid a more difficult move later, when our roots are deep and we’re more comfortable in life. Ultimately, in life there is nothing more important than simply loving, following and obeying our Creator.
After much prayer and seeking Godly counsel, we realized that taking this opportunity and moving overseas in order to serve was the best option for our family. We shared our plans with our families and in May 2015, I shared this decision with my manager at Wal-Mart, where I was working in the Tax department. I left the company and we moved to Central America where we served on and off for 2 years. We didn’t expect the adventure to always be easy, but God never promised that following Him wouldn’t have its challenges. You can read more about our ministry in our previous blog updates.
We returned from Central America just before Samuel was born in 2017 and announced soon after that we would be working with our home church (Cross Church) for one year in their residency program (Cross Church School of Ministry), with a focus on missions and international student ministry.
We realize that even though we may not always be overseas on the mission field (although we always want to be involved somehow), there are opportunities to share the hope of Jesus with people everywhere, so it is our goal to make Christ known wherever he continues to lead us!
Here is a short video from our first term on the mission field in Central America