Love Story: Chapter 17

When Tony told me over Skype that he was coming to Johannesburg, I almost fell out of my chair. I didn’t say anything for several seconds, and finally, he solicited a response. “Well, what do you think?” 

“Umm... I’m glad you told me. I don’t really like surprises.”

Off the bat, most people would probably think that was really rude of me. This guy is willing to travel across the country (literally) to see her for a few hours, and she’s not even excited... let alone grateful?!

But you must understand how my mind operates. Tony’s whimsical and rarely concerned with the finer details, whereas I can quickly consider and anticipate possibilities, especially when it comes to near-future events. (Both personalities come in handy.) So when Tony said he would see me in Jo-Burg, here are the possibilities that ran through my mind:

  • I hate being the center of attention, and everyone is going to stare at me.
  • I won’t get to spend any one-on-one time with him (because for safety reasons, the World Race operates on a “buddy system”), and that could make our situation even more difficult.
  • I’m going to have to “share” his attention with the Racers who also have a relationship with him... and rightfully so.
  • Our feelings for each other will be officially “public news,” and I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of exposure.

I was excited to see Tony, of course. But these possibilities added a healthy dose of nervousness to the mix of emotions I was already feeling.

After our Skype chat, I headed back to the hostel for a final squad gathering. I wasn’t sure who tell to or what to say, so in typical me fashion, I just said it. Slowly but surely, word spread to the people who Tony and I were closest to.

The next morning, I woke up early and did yoga on the front lawn. I took lots of deep breaths and focused on calming my body. I asked God for peace and prayed against embarrassment, fear, jealousy, awkwardness and all other anticipated forms of attack. I set my expectations low and predetermined that I would be OK despite how the day would go.

A couple of hours later, we loaded up the bus and took off for Johannesburg. 

I sat next to my gal pal Mary during that trip, and I have a fond memory of us forfeiting our chance to go to the bathroom in order to buy Magnum Bars. Our bus stopped at a gas station for a limited amount of time, and we had to make a decision: bladder relief or ice cream fix. I’d still argue that we made the right choice.

Honestly, I can’t remember how long the bus ride from Manzini to Johannesburg was, but I know it turned out to be a lot longer than expected. You see, Swaziland’s Border Control didn’t want to let a handful of us out of the country. We’d unintentionally overstayed our welcome, and they wouldn’t stamp us out unless we paid a massive fine. And as World Racers, we weren’t exactly walking around with pockets full of cash.

A few agents confiscated our passports, along with two of our squad leaders, and went into a back room. The rest of us were left with nothing to do... except sit outside on the curb and make jokes about our situation. (You learn to be flexible on the Race. Do or die... that’s the best way to explain it.) Finally, Jeff and Alyssa reappeared. “They’re letting us go... So let’s go—quick, before they change their minds!” And boy, did we move!

The only other moment I can recall about that bus ride is pulling up to the airport. Mary asked me if I was ready to see Tony, and although I don’t remember my response, I’m sure I played it cool... or at least tried.

We made our way inside, and by that time, I know I was playing it cool. I had to! I didn’t know if Tony was hiding behind a corner and watching me. I followed the crowd and set my bags down with the rest of the squad, then Mary and I took off for the restroom. While en route, I spotted him. And he spotted me too.

He’d spent the last couple of hours searching for us (like a hound dog on the loose), but without a South African cell phone, I wasn’t able to inform him of our delay. Geez, I was excited to see him! And he was just as handsome as I’d remembered. After catching eyes, like magnets, we pulled to one another and embraced. I was so nervous that after we hugged, all I could think to say was, “I have to go to the bathroom.” And so, that’s what I did. I walked off to the ladies room and searched for my Mary friend. She helped me recompose before going back out into the public eye.

Most of my suspicions for the day came true. We had very little time alone—maybe two to three minutes. Our conversation was minimal, and our relationship was more “out in the open” than ever. But it was amazing to just be in close proximity to Tony... Seeing the guy certainly reconfirmed my feelings for him.

I was getting ready to venture into the last leg of my Race—three hard months in Southeast Asia—and needed all the confirmation I could get. God knew that, so he sent Tony to me.

While I like to think Tony also “needed” to see me, “wanted” might be better word usage. One thing Tony did need, however, was provision. Around this time, God told Tony, “If you’re going to pursue My will, you’re going to have to trust in My provision.” As Tony began to walk an obedient path, he didn’t have any other option... He had to trust that God would provide.

That’s my theory on what God was up to that day... confirmation for me, provision for Tony. Now, I’ll let my handsome husband tell you all about what happened the morning after I took off for Bangkok.

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

Abby and I snapping a quick shot with the Swaziland border sign on our way out of the country.