- Middle School
- Upper School
Our fifth episode of Bear Conversations features Dan and Lindy Broyles, Middle School and Upper School math teachers. They talk about their love for teaching math and sharing their faith with students, and how in their journey to Bear Creek, God led them to Africa and back.
About Dan Broyles
Dan Broyles started teaching at Bear Creek in 2019. Mr. Broyles shares his passion for teaching mathematics by encouraging student exploration, discovery, and discussion of topics covered in his class. Creating a positive and safe learning environment in which students are encouraged to share their thinking and present ideas to the entire class is a top priority. His hero is Keith Green because he lived a life sold out for Jesus with no compromise, undignified worship, and adoration for Him with total obedience and boldness proclaiming the Gospel. Mr. Broyles enjoys skiing with his family, playing and coaching basketball, and performing worship music on the drums.
About Lindy Broyles
Lindy Broyles began teaching at Bear Creek in 2019. She spent five years teaching math before taking time off to raise her three small children. She and her family moved to Washington after living in Tanzania, East Africa for four years. Lindy currently teaches Geometry and Algebra 2 in the Upper School and also coaches varsity girls soccer and varsity girls golf. Mrs. Broyles is thankful to be a part of such a wonderful community.
During this conversation, Patrick talked with Dan and Lindy about their travels to Africa and their time in Tanzania. You may be interested in learning more about the places they served and worked.
- Learn more about Pacific Lutheran University's study abroad program to Windhoek, Namibia
- Dan mentions an Isaiah 6 moment. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah has an encounter with God. He sees God on his throne, the train of his robe filling the temple. Seraphim fly above him crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory.” Upon seeing how holy and good the living God is, Isaiah becomes painfully aware of how sinful he is and that he lives among a sinful people. “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty,” Isaiah says in verse 5 (NIV). But then a seraphim touches Isaiah’s lips with a live coal from the altar and declares Isaiah’s sin atoned for, his guilt gone. Then the Lord asks who will go, and Isaiah says simply, “Here I am, send me!” (reference: "Just Say Yes")
- Learn more about Young Life and their mission
- Steve and Dyan Larmey prayed for and encouraged Dan and Lindy to teach in Tanzania
- Dan taught for four years at Haven of Peace Academy (HOPAC) in Tanzania
- Learn more about Dan and Lindy's organization Moyo Wakila Mama, which translates to every mother's heart, to take care of orphans in Tanzania
Welcome to Bear Conversations, a podcast of the Bear Creek School in Redmond, Washington. I'm Patrick Carruth, Bear Creek's president and headmaster for nearly 15 years. In today's episode, I'm talking with Dan and Lindy Broyles. Lindy teaches Upper School math, and her husband Dan teaches Middle School math. They discuss their journey to Bear Creek and how math integrates into learning at a Christian liberal arts school.
Dan and Lindy, thanks for taking time to be with us today.
Oh, you're welcome. We're excited.
It's not usual around here for a couple to teach similar things and even to be employed together, so for those folks that are listening that don't know, you are both married. Tell us about how you met. Tell us a little bit about the backstory of the Broyles family.
Oh, my word. Okay, so we met at PLU (Pacific Lutheran University). I was a junior and she was a freshman and we met in a Calculus II class. I remember she came into the class and I was like, "Whoa, who's that?" But I knew to stay away from fall freshman because they're, I don't know, they're just a little boy crazy. At the time, I kind of struggled in calculus, and I knew that she was pretty good at it. I know the next day she came in, she sat right next to me, and I'm like, "Oh, no, something's going on." I remember we took a quiz and I think I got like three out of 20 and she got like a perfect score, so I'm like, "Man, I got to get help." I'm like, "I know a real quiet spot, third floor of the library where it's like really quiet and private where I could just get some help and just talk to her one-on-one and stuff like that." We were just friends at the beginning. She had a boyfriend, and he was way into his hair, so I knew that wasn't going to work, and so it was just really weird.
Anyway, I remember coming back like the spring semester when we were in multivariable calculus together and I said, "Oh man, how's your boyfriend?" and she's like, "Oh, we broke up," and I'm like, "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that," and so that's when I got really interested. I remember we were out one night walking on the PLU golf course, which if you know anything about PLU, before they built a football stadium on the golf course, it was basically a cow pasture with some holes in the ground, and that's where we started our relationship.
That's cool. Lindy, you got a different version of that story?
I mean, yeah, he pretty much covered it. From my perspective, yes, I had a boyfriend when I came to college. I had never met somebody with such focus and drive to be who he knew he wanted to be, and he wanted to be someone who followed God and did the best that he could in that area, and so yeah, I sat next to him the second day of class. Yeah, I knew he wasn't going to have anything to do with me for a little while, though, but we stayed friends, and it was good.
Well, the real question is, did his test scores come up. I mean, three out of 20, were you able to help?
They did, and he surpassed me, actually, because he loves to study math. I mean, it was fun for us to study together, but he loves to get to the nitty-gritty of math, deep understanding and will not stop until it's over. I'm just happy to be there and to get the answer and then move on with it. No, he, I think in Calculus III-
Yeah, I think I did get actually a better grade than you did.
... You got an A and I got a B, yeah.
I think it was something like that.
Both of you teach math, Dan in the Middle School, Lindy in the Upper School, so who's the lover of math in the family? Who just can't get enough and kind of geeks out on it all the time.
I guess that's me. No. Well, you have the math degree.
I do. I have a math degree, and I do like math. It's my favorite subject. I chose to study it. I chose to teach it.
Well, I mean, I like the patterns. I like the patterns that we see in nature, and I think it just really obviously points to a Creator who just put these patterns in place, things like that. That's why I enjoy it and I enjoy showing my students that as well, so when we talk about that kind of stuff, that's where I really get starting to geek out a little bit is when we talk about those types of things.
But my passion is for my students as well, just speaking life into them, speaking truth over them, and so that's why I became a middle school teacher in the first place was because I had a really rough time in middle school. I know it can be a really difficult season for kids. It's very awkward and so I want to be there and just speak life into every single one of my students and to say, "Hey, God thinks you're amazing. You're incredible, and I think that, too, and I'm proud of you." That's why I became a teacher, honestly. Yeah, math is great, it's fun, but my focus is to speak truth over these kids' lives. That's what gets me fired up most. That's what gets me coming into work, just fired up and ready to go.
That's awesome. I can tell just the passion that you have even in explaining that. Do you have a specific type of math that you're really drawn to, that is your favorite version of math? Not being a math person, I just know what the courses are titled.
I really love teaching algebra functions because I like to tell the kids, "These functions make shapes, and as they get more complex, they get the more intense, more creative," and I show, I show them that and they're like, "Whoa, that's so cool," and I'm like, "Yeah, totally." That's probably my favorite type of math to teach, for sure.
How about you, Lindy?
I agree. I like teaching algebra. I teach Algebra 2 and Geometry, and geometry is fine and good, but Algebra II, I love it so much because it dives back into what they learned in Algebra I, and then it foreshadows so much what they're going to learn forever. I'll have kids who I taught in Algebra 2 come back to visit and they'll see a problem on the wall, and they'll be like, "Wait, what? We were just doing that in calculus, but to the different extent," and so I love that it just circles back and never goes away.
I'm often told by various people, "Math is such a hard discipline to integrate Christian worldview into." To some degree I get that, but then I just kind of scratch my head and think, "Well, I don't know. It seems like it's right there." How do you do that? How do you integrate a Christian worldview of Christian liberal arts into a math class?
Yes, I would agree, it can be difficult to integrate Christian worldview. However, like Dan was saying, everything the kids are learning and we're teaching is patterns. All those patterns are found in nature, and so it's not something that somebody made up. Oftentimes, actually, I'll get a question about, "Well, who just made this up? Why did they make this up?" We'll be able to talk about, "It wasn't made up, it was discovered," and actually, students will ask that. We'll be able to talk about how God created this world, and He's inviting us into this life of discovery and these people just happen to discover these things before us. Actually, with my current class, one student in particular is curious about the things their generation is going to discover about our creation, and that's put a little bit of passion and wonder in their hearts about our creation.
Yeah, that's, that's really cool, the patterns in creation remind us that we're sub-creators.
Like you said, we didn't write any of this up, we just discover it. I've heard someone say that math is just like literature. They're just different symbols to represent the reality and all we're doing is walking around on this Earth, trying to understand this place that's been made and that we've been placed here in, so that's cool. Dan, do you want to add anything to that?
I really allow my students to discover a lot of these patterns. Like you were saying, math is just a way to communicate these ideas. It's always been there, it's always existed, but God didn't come right out and tell us, "Hey, this is how this works and this is how this works," because I think when we discover those things, when we allow our students to discover those functions and those patterns and those different things like that, and it's like, "Wow, God is so amazing," and we get to partner with Him in discovering that. I mean, He already knows the answer, He knows it all. It's revealing a little bit more of His nature when students discover those things. It's like, "Wow, God is so incredible how He thought of this and how He put this in motion back in Genesis 1:1."
Yeah, that's profound. I know y'all came here from Tanzania. What were you doing in Tanzania?
We were doing orphan ministry over in Tanzania. We were officially with Young Life. Now, we weren't with Young Life prior to going. We lived down in Tacoma after we were first married and we spent about 10 years there.
Y'all grew up here. Did you both grow up here?
I grew up in the Mount Hood area in Oregon.
Yeah, and I grew up just down the street at Lake Marcel. It's in between Carnation and Duvall.
We actually live in his childhood home.
Oh, well, that's cool.
In 2003, I went on the study abroad trip with PLU to Namibia, and it was a political science class. It wasn't a mission trip. We were just studying the government and things like that. What happened out of that is one day we went to an AIDS orphanage, and I was talking with the director a little bit, or I was asking like, "Hey, what's the life expectancy of these kids?" Well, first, I asked, "How many of them were HIV-positive?" and they said, "About half."
There was about 80, 90 kids there, and I said, "Okay, so out of the kids who are HIV-positive, what's the life expectancy, what's going on?" They're like, "Okay, so most of them will die at about 11, 12 years old."
Right there in that moment, the Lord just really got a hold of my heart for orphan ministry, and I remember I went back to my hotel room and I just started weeping. I had an Isaiah 6 moment where it was just like, "Lord, send me back here. I want to take care of these kids. I want to love these kids. I want to pray healing over these kids and just share the love of Jesus with them." I remember coming back from that experience, telling Lindy about it. I remember. I'll let her tell this part of the story because she went on the same trip.
A few years later, I went on the same trip, Namibia, same class, political science, same orphanage, same director. I came back and I'm like, "I'm never moving to Africa."
And, "You can do what you want, but I'm not going." I don't think I was in a place to receive that from the Lord. I honestly just wanted to get married and start regular life. But I have the very most patient husband and he continued to pray for me, not with any impatience, but just praying that God would use us how He wants us to be used specifically in Africa.
And so you went back.
So, we had babies, and we were on our second baby, she was maybe one years old. I woke up in the middle of the night prompted by the Holy Spirit that we were supposed to move to Africa, the continent. It's such a broad spectrum, but I finally felt the call in my heart, and so woke up Dan the next day said, "Hey, I just felt God prompting me that we should be moving to Africa," so he was jazzed. He went that day and got passports for both of our kids and began applying.
We're both teachers, so we thought, "We are going to move, and we're going to teach at international school." They pay well, I mean you get room and board, you get flights, you get health insurance. I mean, if I'm going to move my whole family over here, I was saying, "God, I want to be taken care of," so we applied, applied. Nobody was biting. We got some offers in Kuwait, we got some offers in China.
Yeah, But we were felt like we should be going to Africa. We had our third baby, and people just were more interested in teachers with a international baccalaureate certificate, which we didn't have opportunity to get that in Tacoma. Also, they were more interested in people who didn't have three young kids, because like I said, they pay for your tickets and for your healthcare.
Oh, okay, so cost just the cost.
Just the cost of it all, closed door after closed door. We were talking one day about we have to know somebody with connections. I mean, we are not getting in unless we find somebody with connections.
We knew this guy, his name's Ryan. He's a big Young Life guy. He has all these connections globally. I said, "Ryan, do you know anyone who sits on the board of a international school in Africa or anything like that?" He's like, "You know what? As a matter of fact, I do. I do know someone. Their names are Steve and Dyan Larmey." We're like, "Okay," so we email them and we're like, "Hey, we know Ryan Buskirk and he's a big Young Life guy and we heard you sit on the board of a school." The next day, Steve emails us back right away and he's like, "Yes, you should check out the website. It's called Haven of Peace Academy. It's in Dar es Salaam, which is the main economic city in Tanzania." We're like, "Okay, sweet." So, we check it out and there was this one line in their website and it said, "We really value our volunteer missionary teachers," and we're like, "Oh, no. No. We're not doing that."
Right, can't do that.
So, we emailed Steve and Dyan and we're like, "Yeah, no, we're not. No, that's not happening." Steve and Dyan were like, "Oh, we're praying for you." This was back in like 2014, and so they kept emailing us once a month and they're like, "Oh, my gosh, we're praying for you," and we're like, "Yeah, stop praying for us. We're not coming." But the Lord kept closing all these doors to all the other international schools.
Yeah, it was Christmas break 2014 and we were in the car on the way down to Oregon to visit my family and I'm like, "Babe, we just interview and move on from it," so I scheduled it for the following week after New Year's when we were home for Christmas break. At the time, we were living in a really small place. I remember even now we were in the interview; I'm just listening because I was just going as a mom, he was going as a teacher, I wasn't applying to be a teacher, asking questions and listening to the director, and I just started to weep. I just could feel in my bones, in my spirit that this was exactly what we were supposed to be doing, and he could at the same time, too, and did the interview and we just prayed and surrendered ourselves. At the very beginning, I had said, "If I am moving my family to Africa, I want to be taken care of." You know what? Who better to take care of us than God?
He did. He proved Himself faithful. We started fundraising in January. He got the job, and we were fully fundraised and ready to go. We flew out in August of that year.
So, yeah, sold all of our stuff.
That was just a means for us to get there. We knew that we would use teaching for us to go abroad, but our point was to care for children. It was really difficult moving there and not knowing what we could do. The last thing we wanted was to be this white savior missionary, right, and so we wanted to do something that was helpful and we would visit the orphanages. Our kids were one, three, and four at the time, and we would bring them every time. It was just a rough scene. I would have to lift my one-year-old over sewage running through the property and our daughter would ask, "Where's their bedroom?" So, we would go to just a one room, small size with one bunk bed, five kids on top, five kids on bottom, five kids on the floor. Nobody knew the names and we had to explain this to our own kids and then try to see the hope of salvation and the hope of freedom that the Lord can bring in any circumstance, but also wanting to bring some sort of practical help to them as well.
After about six months, I felt like the way forward was, "What if your kids were orphaned? Where do you want them to be? How do you want them to be cared for?" Well, I want them to be in a family where the mom and the dad ask them, "How was your day?" and they pray for them and they take them to church and they have health insurance, so we set about to do that. We opened our orphan home there with a Tanzanian mom and dad who were some of our friends.
We had three girls. We were advised to stay with girls at first for safety reasons and we're continuing even now. Those two parents are still hosting kids, and we're working with the government. It's very slow and difficult, but to create more of these homes, similar to the foster care system here.
The orphans go into the homes and essentially have a family at that point, right?
Yes. We provide for them the housing and the food. My favorite thing is that they have the same health insurance as we did when we lived there, which is just the very best. The first day we had them, we took them to a doctor that I asked the Tanzanian mom, "Hey, she's sick. Let's take her to the doctor," so I went with her and it was a shanty, one room. It cost 1,000 shillings to go, which is 50 cents.
And she came out with malaria medication and then she didn't get better because she didn't have malaria, so I was like, "This is not it." So, we fundraised to get them on the same medical insurance that we have and they get to go to that doctor that I would take my kids to and I just love it. They're healthy and happy, and that's my favorite thing.
Yeah, so you actually brought the tangible gospel to them, right?
Actually improved their lives. That's a great story. Well, this is going to sound like a silly question after that, but what brought you back to Bear Creek?
We felt like the orphan home ministry was, I felt like it was in a good place, and we didn't need to be there full-time or anything like that. We were just praying, and we just felt peace from the Holy Spirit to start looking to coming back and we were open to moving anywhere in the U.S. We have family in this area and Lindy's family's down in Oregon and so Lindy once again was prompted by the Holy Spirit to look at a Christian school website, I think it was ACSI or something like that.
Mm-hmm, Association of Christian Schools International
We really loved our school in Tanzania. We loved that it was small. We loved that it was Christian. We loved that the kids knew each other and the teachers knew each other and all of the students, so we loved all of that, and were really looking for a small Christian school, but the small Christian schools oftentimes are more of a hobby for one spouse to be able to do, and then the other spouse needs to get a real job. I mean, we talked to not a lot, maybe to different schools, and I was mad about it a little bit.
Oh, were you?
Like, "How dare you? This is what you're offering to pay and this is the job that we're doing?" Then I was like, "We are not going to a private Christian school. This is not happening. We won't be able to live, and we just did four years of missionary, and I would love to actually be able to buy cheese and not worry about it," and so for about two months, we only looked at public schools. I registered with all the public schools in the area to get their notifications. One night, we were actually at Young Life camp in Tanzania with about a 200 high school kids and I woke up in the middle of the night and the Lord was like, "You need to keep your ear out, keep your heart open to what I have for you."
He speaks to you in the middle of the night frequently.
I opened up on my phone the ACSI website. One of the things I love about us in the end is you post jobs really early so that we get the very best teachers and I thought, "Oh, my gosh, look at this place," so I clicked on it. Sure enough, there's an Upper School math position and a Middle School math position, which would be the jobs that we would pick. If we could pick. We were willing to teach a lot of different things just to get a job coming back. That would be the top choice. Then when we had interviews in the middle of the night with you, this reminds me of that.
Oh, that's right, because of the time difference.
Yeah, Tanzania is about 10 hours ahead.
The more we looked into it, we loved it. It was all the things we loved about HOPAC (Haven of Peace Academy). I remember asking you one time about how you take care of teachers and if this was going to be a hobby and you looked at me and you said, "I hear what you're saying, and if you're asking if this is a small private Christian school that doesn't take care of their teachers, we are not that school," and I love that so much. I told that to my family and that's proven true. We are very well taken care of and have what we need and we feel supported.
Well, we're grateful to have both of you. Tell me a little bit about the experience here. What are your favorite memories of students or maybe some classroom stories? How's it been?
I love it here. I love the classroom. I love the students. I could probably tell a million stories of how they're funny and how they're smart and how they're growing up in such amazing families and how they're asking such good questions. They have a lot of voices in their head, and we're just trying to provide God to be one of the loudest ones for them and the voice of truth. One thing is after our break, so we have three kids that attend school here also, after any sort of break, Spring Break last year in particular, we had a fun time at home and in quarantine and all this, but it was time to go back to school and everybody was like, "Yeah, let's go back to school."
So, you're excited.
Because we all love it here, everybody does, all five of us do.
Yeah, I think for me, some of my favorite memories are just telling these stories that we're telling you about just our life and what Jesus has done and just being real with kids. I think it's fine to memorize Bible verses and things like that, but I want my students to really know Jesus is real and He still performs miracles today and He still speaks to us today. There's still a plan for each and every one of their lives that God has designed specifically for them and it's bigger and better than anything that they could ever dream and I love just sharing that with kids about our own experiences about our own life and how Jesus still continues to move. It's fun sharing that with them and it really opens their eyes a little bit and it's like, "Oh, my gosh. God is real. He loves me, and He has a purpose for me," and in today's culture, it's like these kids just knew how valuable they are to the King of the Universe.
Those have been some of my favorite moments to share that with, with my students and just fill them up with hope and pray for them. That's something I was never able to do in Tacoma Public Schools. I was never able to pray for my students or share the gospel with them. It's just such a blessing to be able to teach at a place where I can be real, that I can share my faith in Jesus, and to pray over these kids, even in my own private time at home, praying for them, and coming into work and just saying, "Jesus, what do you want me to say to a specific kid today? What do you want me to do?" He always speaks. He always says, "Hey, I want you to say something to that kid today and just tell him I love him," and I'm like, "Amen, I'm doing it." Just to see the kid's face light up like, "Whoa, are you serious?" They just walk a little taller that day and the Holy Spirit just lit up that kid and it' so fun.
Well, that's the end of the mission statement right there to enable students to become the individuals God intends, so you're speaking that into their lives. You mentioned the culture. I do think that's one of the things that we can be as a place for is helping students understand their identity in Christ because there's a lot of competing voices, Lindy, even as you said, wanting to shape their identity and those voices aren't the gospel, so that's really good. We were talking before we came on, Dan. I did not realize that you were a drummer. Tell me about that. Where did that come from?
My parents are pretty musical. I come from a musical family. My dad plays guitar, and my mom plays drums. When I was 13, I started taking drum lessons to try to impress girls. That kind of backfired.
Did you have really long hair and the whole drummer look or what?
No. No, not really. I mean, my mom was into mullets, and I know those are kind of coming back. The first chance I got, I cut that off. I just really enjoyed it. I played throughout high school and stuff, not on like any band or jazz band or anything like that, but I just kept playing like a garage band type of a thing. At Pacific Lutheran University, I always took private lessons with a professor there, drum lessons and things like that. I just kept going with it and it's been, it's been really cool. I've played in several worship bands, and I actually recorded a CD with somebody.
I don't know where that's at right now, but that was quite a few years ago, like a worship CD.
Can we get it on iTunes or something?
Oh, no, I don't think so. I don't think so. But yeah, I still enjoy it, and it's been a lot of fun just playing and stuff like that. Every time the kids see me was like, so we had a Clue Night with the Middle School kids and I was the rock drummer. The students are like, "Whoa. I never knew." It's just like, "Well, yeah, this is what I do. This is how I roll."
Yeah, it's fun. When I was teaching, you'd go into the grocery store or something and the kids would see you and they'd just kind of pause like, "Oh, you eat? You're actually a human being?" I wonder, do they have the same reaction when they see you on the drums like, "What is he doing? He can play the drums?"
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, it was good.
Lindy, I know that you coach golf here. Are you playing golf?
I do play golf. I grew up golfing. My dad was a golf coach and so I was always kind of around the golf course. Then when we moved to Tanzania, I lost it because we just never found a golf course in Tanzania, so I would play every once in a while. But coming back, all of our kids play golf now and I got to join the girls' golf team our second spring when we were here and it's just the best. I love being on the golf course. I especially love being out there with my own kids and with students. It's my favorite place to be, so whenever we're there together, I always tell my husband, "Why would we want to be anywhere else?"
What do you like so much about it? Is it just the peace and quiet? What do you like?
It's always beautiful. There's not usually a golf course that's not beautiful. I mean, around here, even when you're playing at a place like Twin Rivers, you got Mount Si in the background. It's just beautiful.
That's good. Well, thank you both for taking the time today. I really appreciate you and I'm glad that you're here part of the Bear Creek community and you've may already made quite an impact, so thanks for joining me today.
Yeah, thanks a lot.
Thank you for listening to Bear Conversations, a podcast of the Bear Creek School. Join me next month for another conversation with our Bear Creek faculty and subscribe to or follow our podcast to automatically receive the next episode. You can find the show notes from this episode on our website at tbcs.org/podcast.