Like Tony said, my team moved to Simon’s Town on Tuesday, after we stopped by Cornelia’s preschool and met all of the kids (see photos below).
I remember walking into the flats and realizing that Louise and her daughter Micaela had fully stocked our refrigerator with enough food to sustain our team for a week. Raymond, Lindsey, Tony, Louise and Micaela were there. It was such a joyful moment to share with all of them—a moment of true generosity and hospitality, and one I’ll never forget.
Jesse and I loaned our sleeping pads to Tony and Chase that evening. We didn’t realize they’d end up sleeping on them for the majority of the next four weeks.
And now we’ve gotten to the part in our story in which the days start running together. Neither of us can tell you what happened day-by-day in Simon’s Town, but there were a few pivotal moments that led to the birth of our relationship.
I remember being so tired by the end of our days in South Africa. When we weren’t doing ministry, we were sightseeing and hanging out with our new friends. I was having a rough time as team leader and dwelling on a hard situation that my family in Tennessee was walking through.
I felt alone many days.
Thankfully my best friend and I were on the same time zone, so we were able to Skype often. She and her husband helped me process what was happening in my world and in my heart that month. She would also just listen when I felt like I had no one to turn to, no one who could truly understand my feelings.
One evening during our first week in Simon's Town, I went outside for a breather. I took a cup of hot tea with me and ventured over to this concrete landing that was a stone’s throw from our flats' entrance gate. With my back and head against the wall and my elbows resting on my bent knees, I sat.
Minutes later, Tony came walking down the stairs with the same hot drink. I had announced to those in the living room that I was going outside, so I wasn’t super surprised when he followed suit. Something told me he was a kindred spirit. I sensed we existed—mentally and spiritually—at a similar depth.
“Perhaps he’ll understand,” I thought. “Perhaps he’ll be a person I can turn to.” Only time could tell.
I enjoyed my conversation with Tony that night. I was intrigued by his engagement with others and appreciated his intentionality and eye contact. Eventually, this became a nightly routine—Tony, me, sometimes Kyle or Chase or both, two cups of tea, and a lot of heart-to-hearts.
Several conversations passed before I opened up to Tony. At first, I let him do most of the talking. God told me to. I distinctly remember the voice of the Lord speaking to me as I sat on that concrete stoop listening to my future husband rattle on.
Just listen. Guard your heart by protecting your story. Let him earn your trust. And let him lead.
I slowly started opening my heart, and on the night I shared my full testimony with Tony (several nights after our first hot tea date), the Lord spoke again.
Time to be vulnerable... it’s ok. You’ll be ok.
The Lord was telling me exactly how to handle the beginning stages of my relationship with Tony, and that removed a lot of pressure from me. I didn’t feel any urges to perform or to shut down. All I had to do was be me. And with Tony, that was proving to be surprisingly easy.
To read our full story, visit our Love Story page.