March 15, 2004Iraq: Traffic. It was Carrie McDonnall's worst nightmare. She and her fellow relief and development workersa five-person team including her husband of almost two years, Davidwere anxious to get out of downtown Mosul and back into the safe zone in Kurdish-held territory before nightfall. All around their vehicle, stuck at a busy intersection, people milled about on sidewalks. Suddenly, Carrie felt something sting her. "Ow!" she yelled. A split second later, she heard the gunfire, realized they were under attack, then passed out.
Carrie and David met in Bethlehem's West Bank on New Year's Day 2000, at a gathering of young people working as missionaries in and around the Middle East. Their paths continued to cross over the following months during which Carrie worked at a foster home for Arab children in Israel and David traveled around the Middle East on short-term assignments. An e-mail conversation ensued, and by the fall of 2001, both were back in the States studying at a seminary in Texas, where they fell in love.
They married in June 2002 and celebrated their first anniversary while leading a short-term mission trip into the newly liberated Iraq. It was during that trip that a team leader from a Christian organization (nameless due to ongoing safety concerns in the region) first presented Carrie and David with the idea of working in Iraq long term. Saddam Hussein's overthrow presented new opportunities for teams to go into the country on relief and development missions, but they needed people on the ground to coordinate their efforts.1