When Mark and Margie traveled to Midwest Mission with their mission team in November of 2004, they expected to learn about Midwest Mission and serve for the week. While they did learn about Midwest Mission and serve, they also received something they didn’t expect - a spark. A spark that would cause them to return one year later as Mr. and Mrs.
Margie’s local church district had a mission team that would coordinate mission trips among churches. The mission team would go on exploration trips to different ministries to see if it could be a potential place to send a team. The church district had never been to Midwest Mission, but had re
ad and heard about it. They decided this would be the next place to visit. They would take a small group for a short time to see if Midwest Mission would be somewhere they wanted to go.
A few days before the group was set to leave, Margie heard about the opportunity. Margie had always wanted to go on a mission trip, but it never quite fit into her life. Midwest Mission was not too far from her home, and it was only for a few days – the perfect mission trip for her first time.
So, she called the team leader to see if there was still an opening, and there was.
The team, composed of several different churches in the district, was going to carpool in a couple of vehicles. The church just east of Margie’s home was bringing their church van, and the team leader suggested contacting them and seeing if she could ride along. They had room and they would pick her up.
The day came for the trek to Midwest Mission. As the church van pulled into her driveway, she gathered her stuff and prepared to climb into the back row of seats. She pulled the side door open, and paused, realizing that every seat was taken, except for the passenger seat.
Cautiously, Margie slid into the front seat. You see, Margie was not an expert navigator, and was reluctant to navigate for the driver on the 400-mile trip. She hoped that a couple miles down the line, they would meet up with the other car, and someone else could navigate.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Margie was stuck in the passenger seat, map in hand, preparing herself to direct the driver, Mark Dresbach.
In the large front passenger seat of the van, she couldn’t really talk to the people behind her, so Margie and Mark began light conversation as she got more comfortable directing him.
Quickly they realized just how much they had in common. They both had been teachers, served on local school boards, and probably had been at the same science fairs, band concerts, and basketball games. Although they were total strangers, their paths had more than likely crossed once, if not several times.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking of similarities is that Mark and Margie had both previously lost their spouses to cancer. “That’s the glue,” Margie said when looking back on that moment. “When someone else has been down that road, they understand like no one else could. It really did tie us together.”
The two talked and traded stories the entire 400-mile trip to Midwest Mission in Pawnee, IL.
The cars full of volunteers pulled up to Midwest Mission on a Monday, ready to serve through Friday. At the time in 2004, Midwest Mission was only the front Kit Room. The team of 11 was really ambitious. They worked hard, putting together kits, and completing tasks left and right. In the evenings, Mark and Margie would sit in the common area of the 32-person dorm and roll garbage bags while sharing more about their lives with one another.
The district team was impressed with Midwest Mission. “It was a good, positive experience,” Margie said. “I came away feeling really good about Midwest Mission.”
After a district team went on a mission trip, they would meet a couple weeks later, have a meal, and reconnect with the team members. After the holidays, the Midwest Mission team met together in January.
“I saw Mark again and just said hello,” Margie said. “And that was it at that point in time.”
While the team was at Midwest Mission, they heard about Henderson Settlement, and the district decided to send a team down to Kentucky to volunteer there. In April, there would be an informational meeting to discuss the details.
A few days before the meeting, Mark called Margie asking if she was planning to attend the meeting. Unfortunately, Margie had been in an accident in March and had to have surgery on her shoulder, so she wasn’t driving at that moment. Mark told her he would pick her up for the meeting. They attended, learned about the Henderson Settlement and the trip, and Margie decided she would go on her second mission trip.
Because Mark and Margie had rode together, they talked about her shoulder, and she shared with him that she had an upcoming doctor’s appointment. He told her he would call and ask how it went. Margie thought he was simply being kind, and didn’t expect a call.
To her surprise, the afternoon after her appointment, the phone rang. She picked up the phone, and Mark was on the other side, wondering how her appointment had gone.
He also asked if she was busy that Friday, and if she’d like to go out to eat with him. With a smile on her face, Margie accepted the invitation. From that point on, they spent a lot of time together.
When they came back to Midwest Mission in November 2005 to volunteer, they were Mr. and Mrs. Dresbach.
Since then, the Dresbachs traveled back to Midwest Mission every year to serve (until COVID). In 2007, they were even volunteer leaders for a month.
“Midwest Mission has a special place in our hearts,” shared Margie. “We have met so many wonderful people there, and everyone has always treated us so well. We were impressed from the very first time we came.”
Such a sweet love story that sparked at Midwest Mission.
We feel as though we should put in a disclaimer — we cannot promise a trip to Midwest Mission will result in a new love story (although we sure hope it does!).
What we can do is share the love and the stories that make our hearts melt.
Happy early Valentine’s day!