Love Story: Chapter 15

Oh man, I got mad at Tony that day. My teammate Kyle and I had taken a combi that morning to the only restaurant with decent internet within a five-mile radius of our hostel. We had to be back at the hostel for a squad meeting around 4 pm, so we went as early as possible to beat the wifi-seeking rush.

Once we got settled, I popped open my laptop and logged in. I was so excited to message Tony and tell him I was ready to Skype. My emails loaded, and I quickly scanned my inbox. 

Tony Barwick
My Mermy Merm.

I clicked on the message and here’s the first paragraph of what I read:

Hey Mermy Merm... 

Ok so I’ll cut straight to the chase... I’m going deep sea fishing tomorrow (or today, as you read this). The thing is, I’m not sure if your internet will be strong enough to Skype, but I’m almost certain I can Whatsapp from the boat. It’s a bit of a dilemma because a group of us have been waiting for two weeks for the ocean to flatten so we can fish... and now it flattens on the last day you’re available to chat. It's just that I did commit to fishing about two weeks ago. Now, I know trying to explain to a woman why I’m going fishing instead of trying to Skype may be a difficult battle—one that I’m willing to lose if need be. I weighed it up in my head and figured you'd understand. Ok so tomorrow (today) I won’t be able to Skype unless you’re in a wifi zone in the evening.

That still causes tinges of anger to rise up inside of me! I have words... most of which I’ll keep to myself. But let me say this: Tony has grown and matured so much since the day he sent me that message (exactly a year ago today). 

I’m sitting next to my husband as I write this story and reflect on the past. Together, we laugh about his email and agree that the Lord must’ve given us an abundance of patience for each other during the early stages of our relationship.

Tony’s decision to go fishing reopened old wounds, and in that moment, I had to wage war against my cynical thoughts and feelings. I fought the urge to place him in a box labeled “Men Who Only Care about Themselves” and reminded myself that, thanks to Jesus, he wasn’t like the guys from my past.

So, instead of shutting down and ignoring him when he texted me around 2 pm, I responded. His fishing trip ended earlier than expected, and he raced home so we could Skype before I returned to the hostel. I was open about how he hurt me, and yes, I cried—the first time I’d cried because of a guy in five years. (Thankfully, I was sitting outside and wearing sunglasses.)

Like Tony said in the last chapter, we eventually found healthy resolve. We’d risked our pride and communicated with honesty and vulnerability... and doing so paid off.

I didn’t talk to Tony again for exactly four weeks.

The following morning, 21 other women and I made our way from Manzini to Nsoko, Swaziland. We served at an Adventures in Missions base, slept on the floor, took bucket showers, did lots of yoga, and pursued quality girl time for the month of August.

Doing yoga with Chelsey and Alyssa in our communal area in Nsoko, Swaziland.

My dear friend Chelsey and I committed to waking up at 5 am every morning. We’d spend two hours journaling and reading the Bible, go on a 45-minute walk and eat breakfast before starting ministry at 9 am. Spend that much time in prayer and introspection, and the Lord will speak volumes! I received so much revelation that month in regard to Tony and my (now, our) future ministry. 

Chelsey and I were walking out of the community garden one day, and I told her, “I promise I’m not crazy. I’m not a crazy kind of girl. But the Lord told me Tony will be in the states sooner than me, for a reason other than me. And He said we’re going to get married... sooner rather than later.” And Chelsey, being the God-seeking woman she is, supported me in every way possible. Through prayer, encouragement and challenge, she continually called me to a higher place. A good friend will do that, amen?

That month was awesome... one of my favorites of the entire Race.

The 22 N Squad women who served at the AIM base in Nsoko, Swaziland.

On July 27th, I was walking home from Nisela, the only restaurant in Nsoko, and talking to the Lord. We were heading to Manzini the following morning for one night before driving to Johannesburg. From there, we were flying to Bangkok, Thailand. “Can I message Tony tomorrow, or must I wait until August officially ends?” I asked. The Spirit of the Lord replied, “What was the purpose of the fast?”

To focus on ministry and to pursue the 21 other women around me. That was the purpose.

“And you did that,” the Spirit said. “The purpose was not to prove your ability to fast until the end of the month. Don’t make an idol out of what I meant for good.”

That was a priceless lesson—one that I’ll never forget. And the bonus was: I’d get to talk to Tony the next day. Little did I know, what (and who) was coming my way.

To read our full story, please visit our Love Story page.