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Manchester High School
437 West Nimisila Road
Akron, OH 44319
(330) 882-3291


Jill Ann (Popa) van Opstal  --  Class of 1983
  Missionary / Children’s home founder in Brazil



I met my husband, Paul, 17 years ago in Amsterdam while we were doing a missionary course together.  We have two children, Elisa Joy (age 13) and Jeremy Paul (age 11), who were born in Holland and are bi-lingual, speaking both English and Portuguese.  They also understand some Dutch and Spanish.

Location history:

We lived in Amsterdam for nine years, then moved to Jaquariuna, Brazil where we founded Lar Feliz, a shelter for homeless or abused children. We have lived here in Brazil for nine years.

Education after MHS:

B.S. in World Mission, minor in behavioral science completed at Toccoa Falls College.


I am a full time missionary

Spouse’s occupation:

Full-time Pastor/ missionary

Did your MHS education or experiences influence your career direction?


Interesting things you’ve done since high school:

Traveled a lot to other countries; I learned Dutch and Portuguese well; I play flute with a Brazilian music group at my church. I also enjoyed many wonderful missionary experiences, in the Red Light district of Amsterdam as well as at our farm in Brazil where we raise many Brazilian children.

Strangest thing you’ve done since H.S.:

Lived in a shack where we found a poisonous snake, a scorpion, and poisonous spiders.

Something you’d still like to do in the future...

Keep enjoying my family!

Travel highlights:

Since marrying in 1990, I have lived outside the United States.  Countries I have seen include Holland, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, France, England and Brazil

Current Hobbies / Activities:

Flute/music, sewing, entertaining guests, cooking, arts and crafts

Other interesting life experiences from the past 2 decades…

Marrying my Dutch husband, learning languages and adjusting to new cultures, meeting many interesting people and making friends from all over the world

Favorite Manchester teachers, and why:

Mrs. Austin . . . I had a very good foundation in the English language which helped me to learn other languages; I also gained confidence in Speech class.

Mr. Weyrick . . . Through the band I learned to love music and gained a skill that I still use to this day, playing the flute. I also had many hours of enjoyment and learned the skill of working hard together as a team for a common goal, which is important in my missions work.

Favorite subjects at MHS:

English, Music

Least favorite subjects at MHS:


Favorite Manchester memories:

Football games, the high school play my senior year, marching band, graduation

Thoughts about attending Manchester schools, in general:

Manchester schools are adequate, especially in comparison to the schools of other nations which I have seen in my work.

Other H.S. activities / clubs you enjoyed:

Marching band, concert band, choir, musical, cheerleading, National Honor Society

Which H.S. reunions have you attended?

I went to our 10-Year Reunion in 1993

Did you have any favorite high school “hangouts?”


Favorite music from your H.S. era, and current favorite:

Classical, gospel; Brazilian gospel

Favorite TV shows:

Then -- I don’t remember my favorite show then.

Now -- I watch Larry King Live, American Idol. 

Favorite Movies:

Grease, Out of Africa; Holes, Phantom of the Opera, Anna and the King

Biggest pet peeve since graduation:

My peeve is the lack of appreciation that some Americans have for the schools, this coming from someone who has seen a lack of good education in other countries

“My old friends would be surprised to know . . .”

. . . just about everything involving my life since graduation. I was very shy in school.

Siblings who are also MHS alumni?

There were six of us, the others including Sue Popa, Jason Popa, Deb Snyder, Doug Baughman and Larry Baughman

Do you still have family living in Manchester, and how often do you get “back home?”

Yes, I visit once every two years

You can email Jill at:

The website for Jill and Paul’s shelter for Brazilian children is: Read about the history of this outstanding missionary project, and enjoy the many photos, as well.

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