We are heartbroken. A dear friend and co-worker was tragically killed on Sunday in a kayaking accident. Carissa Ireland, age 20, and her friend Irina McEntee, age 18, were paddling off of the Coast of Maine to Irina's family's summer home. They are both students of Pensacola Christian College in Florida and were looking forward to some vacation time together. You can read the story of their tragic accident and the attempted Coast Guard rescue in the Press Herald newspaper article here.The Ireland family have been faithfully serving the Lord as missionaries in Ukraine even longer than we have. Carissa and her 6 siblings grew up here (several hours north of where we are), and Carissa was fluent in Russian. Her friend Irina was a Russian who was adopted at the age of 7, so they had common Eastern European ties.Until they began heading to America for college, Carissa, her older sister Colleen, and younger brother Mike were regular attendees of our annual summer youth camp held here in Ukraine. They came every summer to camp with their sleeves rolled up, ready to jump in and help, no matter how difficult the task. The word servant is only one of the many adjectives I could use to describe this family.
Just a few hours ago we received a letter from Pastor Luis Ramos in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, who was our guest speaker at one of these summer camps. Here is what he wrote to my husband:
Dear Bro. Sloan,
I remember Carissa very well. We had several conversations about the will of God. She was a wonderful Christian. Please tell Bro. Ireland and his wife that I will be praying for them. Please also tell them that God has used the death of wonderful young people like William Borden and David Brainard for His glory, for the salvation of souls and the awakening of His people. I have no doubt that God is going to use her death in a great way. They should be proud that their daughter was a wonderful testimony to their faith and testimony.
I will be praying for the family and for you! Please keep me informed.
Thank you for letting me know.
Last summer, Carissa went on a missions trip to Ghana. She simply loved people. And a lot of people, including us, loved her in return. We will certainly miss this beautiful young lady, but we rest in the knowledge that we will see her again one day in Heaven. Until then, we will continue on with our missionary work, always aware of the brevity of life and importance of being a light in this world.
Carissa, thank you for being a beautiful, shining testimony to this world. And thank you for being an outstanding missionary kid that I can point my own children to as an example of how a missionary kid should live. You have left some big shoes for them to fill here in Ukraine!