Last week I shared how Kyle and I finally started dating in The Story of Us: Part 5. You can also check out parts 1-4 here, here, here, and here. So that means today I get to share our engagement story!! I have really loved sharing all about how our relationship began and progressed. We’ll finish it up next week (on our anniversary!!), and then I have a fun new series to start on Mondays!!
Kyle and I spent six weeks together at The City of Hope after we started dating officially before I returned to the USA. Those were the best six weeks! I’m sure some of you are wondering if we ever took do-over romantic sunrise walk, and the answer to that is yes!! We went up to the rocks to watch the sunrise a couple of times!
Those six weeks were so valuable. We’d already worked together at camp for three summers. And now we were working together in a children’s home in the bush of Tanzania. Not only did we learn how each other served, but we also saw each other at both our best and our worst. We started our relationship with the common goal of loving and serving others. We built our romantic relationship on a strong foundation of communication and friendship. Basically, we were really well setup for success from the beginning!
I think that’s why when, after a short six weeks of dating, I had to leave the country while he stayed for another six months we were able to survive it. Don’t get me wrong, I cried and cried when I had to say goodbye. (And then I may or may not have taken a Benadryl for the flights home just so I could sleep and not think about how every second took me further from the one place I really wanted to be: with him.)
During those 6 months after I came home, we talked on the phone once/week. That may not seem like much but you have to remember that Kyle was still in the Bush! He didn’t have electricity, and any kind of internet or cell connection was pricey and hard to come by! So, we made it work on those once a week talks!
Don’t get me wrong! It wasn’t easy!! But, by that time, we both knew that it was worth it. And, I stored my passport in the glove box of my car. I told myself that I could always just quit my job and catch the next flight to Nairobi. Hard day at work? Quit and flee the country. Show up and surprise Kyle at the City of Hope. (I never did this, by the way. I was raised with a strong work ethic and that keeping my word was one of the most important things I’d ever do.) There were days when I wished our engagement story had already happened, just so I could have more of a “right” to do this surprise trip, though.
But, the six months finally passed. June 16, 2011 dawned clear and bright, and I left early to drive the 2 hours to DC to pick him up from the airport. The moment I saw him standing there, it was like the world stopped. I kept reaching over and touching his shoulder the whole drive to his parents’ house. It was like I couldn’t believe he was really there beside me! And, finally, after 6 months of bi-continental communication we were in the same time zone again!!
We Skyped every day and made a point to see one another at least every other weekend. He moved back down to the Charlotte area July 4 weekend, which was a 5 hour drive for me in Harrisonburg, VA. We often met in the middle, either at his parents’ house or mine. This gave us both the really special opportunity to know one another’s families. I’ll never regret that!! And now we both agree that we’re pretty blessed in the in-law department!
We spent another six months making our long-distance relationship work with him in Charlotte and me in VA. Late one August evening, Kyle brought up the subject of marriage. We both agreed that was where our relationship was heading.
I had no idea what sort of timing to expect, though! Friends and family speculated that he’d propose on my birthday—nope. The next guess was over Christmas or New Year, but both of those dates passed with no ring, too!
On January 5, 2012 we left with a small team from Charlotte, NC to go on a mission trip to Nicaragua. Since no one on the team knew everyone else on the team (except for the team leader), we met at a small beach-side hotel at Playa Samara in Costa Rica. There we spent a couple of days getting to know one another before driving across the border to begin ministry in Nicaragua.
We spent January 6 as a team hanging out at the beach and exploring the little town. Due to some passport complications, one of our team members had gotten stuck in Miami and had to fly down a day later than the rest of us. Our team leader and another teammate drove back to the airport in Liberia, Costa Rica to pick him up. Meanwhile, Kyle and I had decided to watch the sunset over the ocean.
When we walked down to the beach, we realized that a cliff was blocking our view of the sunset. So, we ran and ran down the beach until we reached a spot with an unobstructed view. Kyle was standing behind me with his arms around my waist as we watched. I remember noticing that he seemed to be shaking. That would’ve been strange, but it was nearing dinner time. I always get shaky when I’m hungry, so I assumed I was the one shaking.
But then, just as the sun slipped into the water, Kyle stepped around in front of me, took both of my hands in his, and knelt down. He pulled the most beautiful, daintiest, and most unique engagement ring I’d ever seen out of his pocket. And he asked me the question I’d been waiting for.
I wish I could say that I accepted right away. But I was so surprised and so dang excited that I could hardly speak!! I just wanted to hug him! So, as I often do when I’m extra excited, I started babbling. I might have even told him to get up. But, he finally steadied me enough to remind me that I hadn’t actually answered him yet, and I gave him an enthusiastic and whole-hearted, ‘YES!!”
After enjoying the moment for a bit, we started walking back to re-join our team for dinner. As we walked, we passed people riding horses on the beach. It was beautiful! Until I stepped–barefoot, I might add– into a pile of something warm and mushy. I froze. And then I freaked out. Screaming and yelling I rushed down to the water and frantically washed my foot!
Poor Kyle. He had no idea what had just happened. One moment we were walking hand in hand down the beach dreaming up a future together. The next his fiance had completely lost her mind. He took off running after me to see what was happening (something I now recognize as a very brave move indeed!)
We laughed so hard about this afterwards!! And our ministry team, who had witnessed this whole moment and just thought we were being playful, made all sorts of jokes about having horses at our wedding (there were no horses at our wedding). But, I finally cleaned my foot, and we enjoyed a delicious dinner on the beach. Sharing our engagement story with the team was the icing on the cake. 🙂
All official engagement portraits taken by Daniel Storment.
Come back next week for the final part of the story and our anniversary post!!
May 6, 2019
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