A BIT OF OUR STORY: We met during our first year at Wheaton College (1988) when had a couple of intro classes together. I noticed her immediately; she was gorgeous, witty, down-to-earth, globally aware, spoke French, and wore an African dress (a gift from her brother who had lived in Ghana for a few months.) We were friends throughout college but dated other people. Hers were smarter, better looking, and richer than I was – nice guys too, but lucky for me, she ultimately settled for a wild and crazy global adventure. We didn’t actually start “dating” until our last semester of college; we like to joke that it was “senior panic” (1992). We had a rocky courtship spanning three continents and several months apart (including France and Liberia). I did my insecure best to test her love by asking her things like whether or not she would still love me if I wound up flipping burgers at McDonalds.
After a hard summer apart (back in the pre e-mail days of regular French postal strikes), we both went to teach intro courses at the African Bible College in Liberia where my family lived. Shortly afterwards, Liberia’s second war began, and we left for refuge in nearby Ivory Coast where I had gone to high school. The “exile” gave us lots of time to work through some of our issues, and we have never looked back. In hindsight, we must have gotten all our problems out of our system then, because it has been smooth sailing ever since.
We were engaged as refugees in Bouake, Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in November 1993. When I proposed, she was so shocked she just laughed and laughed. All this time she had been wondering why I showed zero interest in ring shopping. Little did she know that I had asked for her father’s permission about six months earlier and had been carrying an engagement ring in my pocket ever since. This was the first time I was sure that she would say “Yes!”
[I’ve just summarized in three paragraphs what we took almost an hour to tell friends recently; I am sparing you a long, long story with lots of complicating and – now – very funny twists and turns.]
After Christmas of 1992, Christi went home to take care of her grandmother, and I went back into Liberia to “take care of the campus.” Christi was not pleased, but it was an important spiritual time for both of us. After an encounter with Nigerian fighter bombers in April 1993 [another long story], I left Liberia and joined her family in Massachusetts until the wedding.
After the wedding, we packed all our wedding gifts – everything we owned – into her parents’ Toyota van and ventured out to look for an apartment and jobs in Washington, DC. It seemed like as good a place as any for internationally-minded folks to get non-pressure, temp jobs that would allow us to enjoy newlywed life for a year while we decided where to go to graduate school. I think we surprised even ourselves with what a great team we became. Nine years, several jobs, countless great memories, and one child later, we moved to Paris for three years (2002-2005) before finally moving here in August 2008 – just after another anniversary.
It’s been a wild, crazy and fun-filled fifteen years!! So many incredibly great memories. It hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve always been on the same team. In other words, we’ve had some very tough times – work pressures, illnesses, major life crossroads, etc. – but we’ve always been on the same page, and our relationship has constantly been a great source of refuge and support through the midst of those struggles.
Today is a bit of a sad day; there’s a huge empty hole in my life; it’s our first anniversary apart. Christi is visiting her sister in the US, and I’m preparing to leave for Tyndale House at Cambridge on Monday. So here I sit, reminiscing alone. ;-(
Marriage advice? We were blessed to have been able to get married young and to spend a few years enjoying our young married life together before kids. Getting decent (non-pressure) jobs, living simply, and saving money early on helped too.
But the best advice someone gave me was:
- say nice things,
- give lots of backrubs
Sorry that doesn’t sound very profound, but it works ;-). I’ve enjoyed 15 years of an incredible [adjectives fail me] loveship. [I do need to give more backrubs though.]