Austin Wesson and Rebekah Bouma
Austin Wesson and Rebekah Bouma

Not long after his daughter met Austin Wesson while on a mission trip in South Africa in February, John Bouma got a video chat request.

Though Bouma was about 9,000 miles away in Clearwater, Wesson had an important question that April day: He wanted to know whether he had permission to date Bouma’s 19-year-old daughter, Rebekah.

“We talked for a little bit on FaceTime,” John Bouma said. “He was a very serious and respectful young man. I gave him my blessing.”

Just four months later, Wesson, also 19, and Rebekah Bouma were married Friday at the Sedgwick County Courthouse.

On Saturday, the pickup they were riding in went off a country road near Clearwater and struck a tree. Wesson was pronounced dead at the scene. “Bekah,” as she was called by her family, was taken to a Wichita hospital, where she died early Monday.

Fighting back tears at times Monday morning, Rachel Bouma did what no mother ever wants to do – she talked about her teenage daughter in the past tense.

“I think her greatest love in life was to serve other people and invest in them,” Rachel Bouma said. “Bekah was selfless. She loved to get close to people and help with whatever they needed.”

Homeschooled through most of her childhood, Rebekah Bouma attended Trinity Academy in Wichita during her sophomore and junior years of high school before finishing at home. She also took classes at Wichita State University, her mother said.

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Tony Ryff, a dean at Trinity, described Rebekah Bouma as a people person who had a strong faith in God.

“She was a delightful young lady,” Ryff said. “She was a great student, had great character, and she loved people. She was the kind of person who looked for ways to encourage friendships among other young ladies.”

Wesson was a surf instructor who grew up in the Cape Town area of South Africa. The couple met while on separate Christian missions in the country this year and spent much of their courting time on FaceTime, Rachel Bouma said.

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SOURCE: BRYAN HORWATH 
The Wichita Eagle

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