With our trip just a few days around the corner I have been thinking about the beginning of mine and Joel’s story. By the time you read this we will have already left and since we will be back where it all began I feel it is necessary to tell the story. It is a true fairytale!
The story begins with a girl and a dream to see Africa.
In the Fall of 2003, God took hold of my life and shook my soul out of a deep sleep. He began to birth in me a love for the nations. In the Spring of 2004, God opened my eyes to new possibilities by giving me the opportunity to travel with friends to Siaya, Kenya for 2 weeks.
That Spring was also when I met Joel for the first time. He was back for a visit from Wolverhampton, England, where he was living and attending university. I had heard so many good things about Joel, about how at 19 he moved overseas and I longed for a husband like that. Then that summer, while on our way back from Africa, I along with 2 other girls stopped off in England to visit. That is where Joel and I hung out for the first time. He was so shy and hardly said anything to me. I wanted him to like me but I thought it would never happen because he wouldn’t say one word! The night before us girls left we hung out one more time. This time it felt like we were finishing each other’s sentences!! We talked about our desire to see and be a part God’s kingdom spread across the world.
Once I arrived back in Texas I emailed our friends in Wolverhampton thanking them for their hospitality, hoping Joel would email back and he did!!! This began a 10 month long distance relationship. This was back before Facebook so we emailed, instant messaged and Skyped. We learned everything about each other! I saved every one of his emails and it is now bound into a book, it is one of my most precious possessions. In November 2004, we bought a plane ticket for me to go visit and bring in the New Year with him in England. I can remember during this season of my life asking myself, “is this really happening to me?!?” My 5 days with him were wonderful:) He was full of surprises and chivalry.
Our first date was a day trip to London!
I was definitely in love. After New Years our relationship progressed quickly and marriage was in the forecast so we knew moving back was the next step for him. Joel moved back in July of 2005 and we were engaged October 1.
Then gears shifted quickly as we planned our wedding that was set for March 4, 2006. We had a very limited budget for our wedding so the women of our church rallied around us and helped us pull off the big event. It was the most amazing day of my life!!!
We had over 300 guests, a live band and wonderful weather.
In the weeks that followed I played the events from the day over and over in my head, not wanting to forget.
A year passed and we found ourselves spending our first anniversary in Uganda, Africa.
It was such an amazing experience to travel internationally with the love of my life. I loved the feel of getting on a plane and leaving everything familiar behind. I felt like a pioneer woman exploring uncharted territory with her man. I completely trusted him to lead me. At that point we knew one day we would leave home to live abroad, it is in our blood, it is one of the dreams that binds us together.
Over the next 4 years we traveled to many different countries.
Now here we are, 7 years after our first meeting, heading back to Africa and England, right where it all began. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace as I wrote that last sentence. I feel like I’m going home. I am so excited for this new adventure and can’t wait to add it to our story! After writing this all I can say is God is good!!! I don’t know how people can doubt that but I know he is because my life screams it.