The morning I met my husband I almost stayed in bed instead. It was Dec. 27, 1998 and I was 20. I was sharing a tiny one bedroom apartment in San Diego with 5 other girls at the time. That’s another story. But my friend Rae really wanted to go on this trip and kept asking me if I was going. So I got out of bed.
We met in Mexico.
Actually, we first laid eyes on each other in a parking lot in a large group of people as we prepared to cross the border into Mexico, but we don’t count that. I had no idea that I was meeting the person with whom I would one day choose to intertwine my life. He was just another name and face in a sea of names and faces. He was similarly unimpressed. He thought I said my name was Tureen and thought that my parents must be nuts for naming me after a soup serving dish.
A few short hours would be all it took to make sure that we never forgot about each other ever again.
We were with a combined group of churches and were taking food, clothing and baby blankets to celebrate Christmas with a church in Tecate. The GH’s dad was a local pastor and one of the organizers of that trip.
I borrowed his key chain scissors to cover the food tables with paper. (Now I carry them in my purse, I borrowed them so often he finally gave them to me.) I noticed his very cool tattoo, which he designed himself, and we talked briefly about the difference between Pictish and Celtic art. And still we failed to notice each other, though I do remember thinking I really liked his smile.
There was a bit of a service, different people shared. My FIL gave the final talk and then asked us if we would all pray for his son who was headed to India for a year. (They were killing Christians in India then, much like they are doing now in Orissa state. More on that in a future post.) So many, many people gathered around the GH to pray for him.
I was pretty bitter about some things that happened in my very dysfunctional home church in Canada at this time, so I remember my entire thought process as, “Sure, they always pray for the pastor’s kid.”
But, since I was at that time still a “good little church girl” as the GH likes to put it, I at least stood up on the outskirts to sort of join in.
And then it happened. I saw him. I really, truly saw him. This happens to me sometimes, these moments of clarity, most often when I am praying. It’s almost as though some membrane is pulled aside for the briefest of seconds and I can really see someone for the first time. Perhaps what really happens is that I’m able to let go of all my preconceptions and filters for a moment and see past them.
And there he was.
All I remember was thinking that he had the most beautiful heart I had ever seen. There was something so very sincere and faithful about what I saw in that moment that I desperately wanted to talk to him just once in order to see it again. Maybe that’s when I started to love him.
It was so strong that it was three days before I was able to connect him with the guy I had had the two prior conversations with. In my mind they were different people.
So I watched him rest of the day. I watched him through the loud and exuberant Spanish singing. I watched him as I served hot dogs, passed out blankets to babies and hygiene items to girls that looked old enough to need them. I watched him as we cleaned up and ate home made tortillas and tacos, which was amazing food. And I saw a guy who could laugh out loud in a way that made every one else laugh too, who was loved and admired by every one who knew him, who seemed to know how to do everything, and was always helping someone with something. He had lived in this place for a few summers as a teen, pitching in on building projects, and there were so many people there who were happy to see him.
And I resolved to pass quietly away from that place without ever talking to him. I, quite perversely, didn’t want to seem like another face in his adoring public. I never really liked to follow the crowd, even if I agreed with them. And then I was holding a bag of oranges to pass out for dessert. And there he was, talking to a friend. I offered him an orange.
And then I kept standing there, making stupid small talk, and we kept talking, and talking. The other person left soon after, and we kept talking.
He told me later that about 20 minutes into that conversation, it was as though time stood still for a second, and he knew that he was going to marry me. He described it as feeling like part of himself was looking back at him as we talked. Then he quoted Milton, which was the way to my nerdy English lit. heart.
Part of my soul, I seek thee, and thee claim
My other half: