Mary Ellen grew up on a wheat farm and spent part of her childhood in California while her father was in seminary. She accepted Jesus as Saviour at 9 and was baptized in the Cimarron River. Mary Ellen attended Tabor College for a year and a half and finished her second year at Columbia Bible School, Abbotsford, B.C., where she met Alvin. They moved to Prince George, B.C., where Alvin worked as an auto mechanic and construction worker. When work became slow, they moved to the Fraser Valley, B.C., where they had their own housing contractor and construction business. Mary Ellen enjoyed singing in Dayspring, Bakerview Church’s lady’s group. She could recall Bible memory verses at a moment’s notice.