I would like to take you on a 1,000+ word journey TO help you to feel like one of the family. Are you ready?
Let's start with my beautiful wife, Michelle. Michelle was born in St. Paul, MN, in 1974. Her parents, Steve and Candy, moved to their current house which her dad built in White Bear Lake about 1977. Michelle grew up there and has numerous fond memories of family and friends and foster children. Michelle developed some mean cooking skills which I have benefitted from later. She was interested in crafts, movies, Point of Grace, Amy Grant and spending lots of time with some terrific grandparents.
After graduating from HS, Michelle attended North Central Bible College (now NCU) and received her El. Ed. 4-year college degree in 1997. During college, Michelle visited Saipan for her teaching practicum and later decided to move their for a teaching position in late summer of 1997...enter Jayesun...
I (Jayesun) was born in Plymouth, MA, at Jordan Hospital on the second floor at 12:56am on November 23, 1969. My parents are Gordon and Yvonne Sherman. My birth was atypical for reasons described in my post on "Pro-Life." At the time of my birth, my parents went through hard times and did eventually end up getting a divorce. This left my mother with the daunting task of raising 3 kids by herself. My older sister, Nicole, and older brother, Harlow, had to deal with more than me. They got the brunt of the chores for more than a few years until I was old enough to really contribute much. We made it though!
When I was around 2, my mom and her friend loaded up the car and we moved to Green Bay, WI. We landed first in this big, old house on Monroe Avenue for a few years. (The basement was downright spooky.) Then we moved to Baird Street for a few years where the neighbor lady made the most rockin' bread pudding in the world. This kind grandma-type taught me to count to 100. After this, we moved to an apartment complex in the West side where we spent much of my teen years. In HS, my mom and I moved into this tiny second floor apartment on Eliza Street where we lived until I graduated from HS.
Through all of the moves, several important things remained consistent: our main church, our main friends, and our main schools. Pastor Cal Risk was pastor of First Assembly of God and Jim Opgenorth was my youth pastor. Too many great memories involving the people there and the great facility it was to place hide-and-seek in the dark. Some of my childhood friends are still close. I started my education at Beth Haven Academy, then went to Lincoln Elementary for grades 3-5, then to a private school in Manitowac for a year, then back to Green Bay at Bay City Baptist Academy, then full circle to Beth Haven Academy where I graduated. I was basically Valedictorian; my friend, Greg, would then be Salutorian. Yes, our class was a class of 2...don't judge me. Seriously, it was a great education which prepared me for life in so many ways.
So now it's off to college, the same one Michelle will attend later. I spent 6 years there and earned 183 credits. I took 4 years of Greek, 2 of Hebrew, piano lessons, guitar lessons, music theory and some others that were not part of my majors which were Pastoral Studies and Biblical Languages. In college, I became fully convinced of my need to learn like crazy for the rest of my life. One of the professors, Dr. Buss Brookman, told us during an assembly that we were "thrashing about in a kettle of ignorance." It made an impression, obviously.
My travels around the world started in HS. My first big trip was to Hawaii when I was 16; then I went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, the next year where I met this teenage national, Alberto Bopp, who knew not a lick of English but could mimic Phil Collins perfectly; then the next year, I went to Lisbon, Portugal, where I got a terrible sunburn from being at the beach for 7 hours with no sunblock. (Guess what I forgot to pack?) During college, I met Ray Kinsella who was recruiting teachers to go to Saipan. I did not go. Instead I spent that first summer after graduating from college at Grindstone Lake Bible Camp as a counselor. Then I spent some time visiting my relatives in Plymouth, MA. In the Fall of 1994, I moved to Panora, IA, where I worked with teens for a few months. Things did not work out, so I moved to LaGrange, GA, to stay with some good friends and figure out what's next. After 6 months, they were happy that I finally got a job as a Resident Instructor at Rawhide Boys Ranch in New London, WI, where I worked until July of 1997.
The Ranch was a training field like none other. Working with the guys was super rewarding and super challenging (sometimes dangerous). The friendships formed were deep. I even had the privilege of sitting down for a meal with Bart Starr and his wife, Cherry. Bart took off his Super Bowl ring for me to inspect. This and many other experiences helped me to mature greatly.
In July of 1997, I was contacted by Ray Kinsella. He was pretty convincing because a couple of weeks later I was on a plane hurtling towards the Northern Mariana Islands, and specifically, Saipan. When I was making my way through customs, the humidity was thick and it fogged up my glasses. As I walked through the final doors, who do you suppose was there to greet me? It was Michelle...and other teachers from Grace Christian Academy. Over the next 10 months, I was able to slowly convince Michelle that I was the ONE. We got married the next summer in White Bear Lake, MN, at the Fillebrown House. It was a very nice outdoor wedding. July 18, 1998, was almost 20 years ago, but it seems not so far away.
After Michelle and I got hitched, we taught for 2 more years in Saipan. Then we came back to Black River Falls, WI, and pastored there for 4 years. During those years we packed in as much experience as possible. We did Winter Retreats, Lock-Ins, Youth Services, Young Life Workcamps, service projects, overseas trips with teens to Mexico, Denmark/Sweden, South Africa and Russia. There were many tears shed when it was time to leave.
The decision was made to move to Asia again. This time to the Philippines where Michelle taught at a private school for 2 years and then did English tutoring and cared for our soon-to-be-daughter who was born in 2006 and finally (fully) adopted in 2011. For me, I could not have accomplished more in those 7 years in the Philippines. I earned (technically) 2 degrees: MA in Theology and Master of Divinity. Also, I did public speaking nearly every week, which included Seminars, Conferences, Churches, College classes, etc. I traveled throughout many areas of the Philippines including Ilocos, Cebu, Mindanao, and Palawan. With the adoption of Grace finalized, the college classes I was teaching done for the year, my Th.M. degree half done, and being in the PI for 5 years without a visit to America, it was time to head on back to the US.
Leaving the Philippines was super difficult and surreal at the same time. Reverse culture shock was severe for many months, which is one reason why the transition took as long as it did. During that time, I had to get back into the workforce. After some months, I decided that I would like to continue ministry as a Chaplain and contacted a recruiter for the US Navy. I went through a very rigorous process to see if I was fit to be an officer in the Navy. After many months of rigor and going through each stage with flying colors, I finally had my interview at the Pentagon. I came close, but they took a smaller number of officers than expected originally. I knew that I wanted to do more to help people, so I eventually decided to take assignment in Windom, MN, to be pastor of Windom Assembly of God, where I have busied myself for 5+ years.
This brings us up to the present. The experiences I have had throughout my 48 years of life have prepared me for public service on a higher level. From my modest house to the big House of Representatives, this is the journey I invite you to join me on. Please consider what you will do to help put me into Congress so I can serve you better. Together, we can!