In 2012 two young ladies’ lives were inexorably linked together and changed forever.
The girls hadn’t known each other up to that point, even though both their families were missionaries serving over-seas in the country of Papua New Guinea. They lived in different areas and probably wouldn’t have gotten to know each other any more than the occasional slight meeting when they both were at the large mission base. But, God had other plans.
In 2012 a Christian camp known as Hume Lake sent over a group to set up a small camp for all of the Missionary kids in Papua New Guinea. This camp, known as Spiritual Emphasis Weekend (Or SEW), was a tradition for the missionaries. It was a time when the teens could get together and have a weekend full of fun as well as being challenged to grow closer to God.
2012 was also the first time that Kara Swanson had ever attended SEW. Needless to say, she was fairly nervous. When she learned that all of the Teens would be assigned to various cabins, she immediately assumed that she would be assigned to the cabin where most of her friends were, since she was new to the camp. However, that is not how it happened.
In 2012 Charis Smith was attending SEW for the second time in her life, and as she surveyed the list she was surprised to find that she was in a Cabin with a few girls she had never met. One in particular: Kara Swanson.
Neither or the girls were very happy with this arrangement, but unable to change it.
The first day of camp, the cordially met and then went about their own business with their separate friends. Then, that night, something happened that would change both of them.
And, it all started with a song.
Every teen in the cabin was asked to tell something about themselves, and Charis used up her time by quoting a song.
A song that happened to be by one of Kara’s favorite musical artists.
“You know Jamie Grace?” She asked, leaning over the side of her bunk-bed to see Charis clearly. The younger girl smiled.
And, from that moment on, the two were nearly inseparable.
They both discovered they had so much in common it was almost scary. They loved the same music, movies and even writing.
By the end of the camp, the girls had decided to write a short story together. Over email.
But, by 2013, it was clear that their little short story about Mermaids and Pirates was not so little. It was quickly becoming a 270 page novel.
All written over email.
Because the girls lived so far away, this was the only way they could co-author the story. Charis would write the first chapter, Kara the second, and so on.
Then, they began to start looking into ways to print their novel so that friends and family who were interested in reading it could.
Kara began looking into publishing companies, but all were too expensive. So, she and Charis decided to merely print the novel instead of having it officially published.
But, they still needed to have it edited. The last thing the girls wanted was to print the book and have it riddled with errors.
So, once again Kara began to search for a way to do this.
And, once again, God opened amazing doors.
Through a friend’s recommendation, Kara contacted Angela Pinch; a woman who did freelance editing and also was married to the man who owned the printing company the girls planned to use.
When Angela heard that the girls were missionaries, she did something that completely astounded them. She offered to help them by editing their novel and get their book self-published through someone she knew at Entrust Source Publishers. And, all this for practically no cost. All she wanted was a few items from Papua New Guinea.
Needless to say, the girls were overjoyed.
They soon finished their novel, and after Angela edited it, they were able to get it self-published.
Though Kara was only seventeen, not yet graduated from High School even, and Charis only Sixteen, the girls were able to see one of their biggest dreams come true in an incredible way. They were immensely impacted by the way God so obviously moved, opening doors and leading them to generous people who were willing to help them.
Now, the girls are both working on getting the word out about their first novel, Pearl of Merlydia, as well as continuing to write other novels. They are also in their last year of High School and looking forward to where God will lead them next.