Incoming staff: The Cooksey Family

By Olivia Loveday

We are excited to be welcoming Ben, Elizabeth, Eden, Miriam and Rose Cooksey (pictured above) for the next academic year! We asked them how they found out about Leadership Mission International (LMI), what is motivating them to join us and to tell us a little bit about themselves.

How did you find out about LMI? 

We found out about LMI from a dear friend of ours who is a mutual friend of Hannah Bryant’s. We were sharing our hopes with her of being able to live cross-culturally as a family in an environment that would allow us to build relationships with local people. She shared about LMI with us and their amazing work in Honduras, providing opportunities for women from rural communities, enabling them to gain access to education and entrepreneurship skills.

What is motivating you to join the team?

We love the idea of building lasting relationships as a family whilst being connected to a country like Honduras. Ben has a background in teaching and my background is in nursing, so the combination of our skills seemed like a good fit. We also appreciate that The Leadership Center (TLC) offers a combination of living and working alongside each other as a community, which after a year of COVID lockdowns and isolation is wonderfully appealing to all of us. The self-sustaining aspect of campus is also very exciting to us, and we are keen to learn and grow in this area.

Tell us about yourselves!

Ben and I have been married for 18 years and have three wonderful daughters.  Eden is 16, Miriam is 14 and Rose is 12.  

Ben grew up in Fresno, CA. He loved the proximity to the Sierra mountains because from the time he was quite young, it’s where he felt most at home when hiking and being in the wilderness. Ben is a life long learner with a very curious mind, which has led him to pursue various careers and interests over the years. He graduated from Long Beach State University with a degree in English Literature, after which he jumped right into teaching High School at an inner city school in Long Beach. He quickly realized that he wanted some more life experiences, in particular to live out a dream of working in search and rescue. He joined the Coast Guard and we lived as a family in Alaska for three years (where two of our three daughters were born!). Ben then trained to be a park ranger and our family moved between National Parks for the next several years. We fell in love with the natural world, furthering our drive to contribute to environmental conservation and ethics. Eventually we decided to stop wandering for a while and settled in Mt Vernon, WA. Ben returned to teaching high-school English and completed a Masters in Education. He also recently worked for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources as an aquatics land manager. He is looking forward to listening and learning from his students. He’s also excited to explore the beautiful campus and surround countryside, finally allowing him some time to write! 

Eden is a sophomore in high school this year. She is adventurous and loves a good road trip (anything to see new places and meet people from different cultures!). We took a trip to Costa Rica as a family a couple of years ago which sparked a love of Central America in Eden and a strong desire to return one day. Most recently she has been pursuing an interest in photography and can’t wait to capture her experiences living in Honduras. She loves to both make and listen to music with a wide range of taste. She is also excited to keep learning and practicing some Spanish this next year. 

Miriam is a freshman in high school this year. Most of the time you can find her curled up with a good book. She loves to read anything although she is most passionate about fantasy. Her main idea of anxiety is too many books and not enough time to read them! She also enjoys writing creatively and is looking forward to being inspired this next year in Honduras. Miriam has a newfound love of tennis after playing this last year for her high school, and also recently started exploring the martial art Taekwondo. She has a natural curiosity about people who are different to her and is looking forward to making new friends.   

Rose is 12 and in 6th grade. She can usually be found spinning around on her aerial silks or taking care of the animals on our neighbour’s farm. She loves all kinds animals and has a very tender heart toward all creatures. She is happiest when using her hand and enjoys being creative, whether sewing clothes or making jewellery. She is looking to new relationships this next year, especially getting to know some of the younger children at LMI. She is naturally nurturing and genuinely enjoys babysitting. She is also excited about working in the garden as this is something she likes to do at home particularly growing flowers. She bakes bread for our family and is hoping to learn to make some tortillas in this next year as well!

I (Elizabeth) was born into a missionary family and spent most of the first 18 years of my life in Southeast Asia. I loved being exposed at an early age to different perspectives and people, which developed a deep curiosity and desire in me to listen to and understand others. I returned to the USA for college and attended Biola University.  I graduated with a degree in Nursing and started my career in the field of paediatrics. I have always had a tender love for children and particularly for easing their suffering through offering compassionate care. I eventually found my way to public health because I wanted to do more preventative work and be able to do work that felt more holistic. I found my niche in maternal child health, in particular home visitation. In my free time I love creating meals in the kitchen with whatever I have on hand. I enjoy the outdoors whether hiking or just sitting by the ocean listening to the sound of the crashing waves. I also love a good conversation that has depth and substance to it. I am really looking forward to building relationships this next year and hearing stories.

Stories are powerful, and bearing witness to each others’ brings healing.