Monday, 9 November 2015

Henry and Margaret: Our Love Story

Hello again Readers. I'm back. And just so you know, no, I did not continue on with my New Years' Resolution. But I have had an abundance of new experiences this year, some of which I will share in this blog. I'm married now, and my husband and I have quite an interesting story, which we took time to write while we were engaged. That is what I share here in this post, with some edits. I changed some details in my story to reflect what has taken place since I wrote it. 

Margaret's Story

Henry and my story started several years ago. We met around the time that he became a Christian, since we were part of the same church and youth group. So when I was 16. Henry went to Mexico five and a half years ago in 2010, initially to go to Bible school for three months. I was 18 at the time. When he came back, I found out he was going back to work at a rehab centre. However, during his time at home, he hosted a bonfire where he invited a bunch of youth from different churches and he asked a few people to share a devotional. I was one of those few, and the only girl he asked. This made me wonder why. And after sharing that evening, he told the people why he asked me, that he often noticed how much I had going on in my mind. I wondered at the time if he liked me. I didn't know, but I did see that Henry saw things in me that not everyone did. He saw what I had to offer and gave me opportunity to express it. I have always really appreciated that.

Time went on and although I did pray for Henry and his work in Mexico from time to time, I didn't give him too much thought otherwise. We did keep in touch via facebook from time to time though. However, in my mid to late teens, I also started praying for my future husband on a regular basis. I prayed for him, and I prayed for God to grow qualities in him that I wanted in a man. Although I don't remember everything I prayed, a few things I remember I wanted was for my husband to have a love for people, a man that I could support in ministry, and a person who was strong in the areas I was weak. One day late in 2011, close to the end of Henry's second year in Mexico, I was praying for my husband when Henry's name came to mind. And Henry fit everything I was praying for right then. That's when I started praying about the possibility of Henry being my husband, and as I thought about how our lives and personalities fit together, I felt more and more sure that it was God showing me he would one day be my husband. He came home to visit again that winter, and I was excited to see and spend time with him but nothing happened. 

The following year, now his third year working at the rehab centre, he shared with me that he felt his time at the rehab centre was coming to an end. I was looking forward to him coming home in December. He had three more months of Bible school left before he graduated, but I had just assumed that in the spring, he would come home again. I never thought he would stay in Mexico. However, that December day when we got to see each other again, I found out that he had been asked to be a youth pastor and work on the radio in Mexico, and it seemed to be God's leading. I went home and cried so hard, pleading with God for some other way. I knew he would make a great youth pastor, but I wanted so badly for Henry to be at home, and I wanted him to start a relationship with me. One of the hardest realizations for me was that Ontario was not Henry's home anymore; Mexico was. And that winter I wrestled with whether or not I was willing to go to Mexico if that's what a life with Henry would mean, and I painfully decided yes. But again he left and nothing happened. Around this time, I also determined that a man will love me best when he loves God most. If Henry was saying No to what God wanted him to do to pursue a relationship with me, then something was wrong. I had to trust that if God wanted us together, He could still make it work.

In the fall of 2013, Henry came back to Ontario again. However, it seemed that any interest I had sensed from him before wasn't there that time. I saw very little of him that time, which was disappointing. But before he left, I gave up. For about two years I had waited and prayed, I had watched him come and go, and I still didn't know how he felt about me. I couldn't hold on anymore. I stopped hoping. I stopped praying for him as my future husband. And for the first time, I was okay. 

What followed was a very difficult year where I had a lot to deal with. From the time Henry left in the fall, until July of last year while I was in NY, we had no direct communication. Then he got in touch with me again. This got me wondering again if something could still happen between us. It was just enough to get me hoping and make me feel absolutely torn when considering another possibility. And I was angry with myself that I had ever stopped praying for Henry. Henry and I chatted occasionally throughout the year. However, with no real indication that he was interested, I was ready to go back to school this year to pursue an education and career in accounting. However, when I shared this with Henry, he honestly told me he couldn't see that for me. Thinking back several years, knowing Henry had insight into me that many others didn't, and wondering if maybe there was a personal interest involved, I decided to back out. I'm very thankful now I did.

Even so, Henry didn't have plans to come back to Canada anytime soon. But in the new year we did start chatting more on Facebook. I started to notice I could expect to hear from him about once a week, then soon we started talking almost everyday. I knew this couldn't go on too long without talking about where our friendship was headed. Meanwhile I was praying fervently that Henry would talk to me about how he felt. I wanted to know and see something happen, or I wanted him to leave me alone. I also stopped praying for my future husband, and started praying more only for Henry with faith that he would one day be my husband.

At the end of March, I felt God calling me to prepare for ministry and it seemed very likely it would mean Mexico. At this time, Henry and I were getting closer and I shared this with him. The next day he told me he was thinking of coming to Canada in the summer after all. Although I got an indication from him that he was planning on spending some time with me, he didn't make his intentions clear until Easter weekend, when he told me he wanted to come and see if things could work between us. Soon we started skyping, which allowed us to see each other and talk more openly and within a few weeks he asked me to come to Mexico when he went back home in July. I wrestled with this for a few days, but agreed that I would come to Mexico with him so we could get to know each other better and I could get used to the idea of a future here. 

After being in Mexico for about five and a half years, my prince came back for me.

On June 20, Henry and I saw each other again personally for the first time in over a year and half, and we made our relationship official. On July 7, we flew back to Mexico together, where we got to know each other more, and I have been helping at the Friedensplatz children's home. On August 12, I got an idea for a poem, which I decided I wanted to save for when we got married. The next day I found out that that same evening Henry was writing a song for me. (Initially we planned to share them at our wedding, but didn't after all.)  And that next day, on August 13, after a picnic down by a little lake, he asked me to marry him. And I said yes.

We started planning a small simple wedding in Ontario in a 48 day engagement. September 30 marked the beginning of our lives, truly together, and we have made our home here in Mexico for the forseeable future.

And that's my story in a nutshell. After years of praying, tears, wrestling, surrendering, and picking my dreams up again out of the dust, those dreams have finally come true.

Henry's Story

I have known Margaret for about seven years. The first memory that I have of her is shaking her hand in church one morning. She had a really tight grip!

I remember her from youth although a relationship never crossed my mind while I was living in Canada. During my first two years in Mexico I came back to Canada for two months each year to visit after Bible school. I still had never thought about a relationship at that time. Although one thing that I did always see was that she did take her Christian walk seriously. She studied and shared openly. I noticed she was always very attentive to the things I shared when we were together with the youth or elsewhere. I could see that she took things deeper than many of the other youth did.

We kept in touch occasionally during the time that I was in Mexico. Sometimes more than others. We shared things that were going on in our lives. She went on various mission trips and did other things and I lived and worked in rehab. I still didn’t think about a relationship but I was interested to hear the things that she was going through.

The first time that a relationship had crossed my mind was about two and a half years ago. We had been talking on facebook again at that time. At the time it was just a small thought…could it be something? But one thing that crossed my mind was whether she would have any interest in Mexico or whether God was leading her life in a different direction. For me it has felt like a clear calling to stay in Mexico so it was something that I needed to know.  So I started to kind of beat around the bush and ask her certain things and talk about stuff to see kind of what her thoughts were like about Mexico. And through some of the things that we discussed it seemed that there wasn’t very much interest in coming here and maybe God was leading her life in a completely different direction. And I thought that was ok. It was just kind of a passing thought I had at that moment. No big deal. That was just what I had wanted to know. And so I put it out of my mind for the time being. (Note from Margaret: I was trying to make my interest known without being obvious. I guess it didn't work.)

But, later on that year I had visited Canada again and while I was there some family had mentioned to me that she WAS interested in me. It came as a surprise… and yet it didn’t. I hadn’t known that she liked me but as I thought about it it made sense that maybe it could be. But I didn’t want to do anything with it then because at that time I had been talking with someone else and thinking about a possible relationship (which never happened, but ended up really complicated). So I wasn’t going to start something at that time while thinking about this other girl as well. So I left it and went back to Mexico.

I had finished working at the rehab center the previous year and also graduated from the Bible school. That’s when I started a new life on the radio and youth pastoring. But at that time in my life I sunk to a place in my Christian life where I had never been before. I had had some difficulties during that year already before I went to Canada but after I had come back and through the following year (which was last year 2014) I was struggling with depression and faith. I was a depressed pastor. It was up and down with me but I did my best to try and be faithful to the youth and help them the best that I could but it was very difficult at times. And my faith was shaken throughout the year. Sometimes I would feel like I was coming out of it only to have something smack me in the face and bring me right back down. And talking with Margaret this year, it seems that she and I had both been having a really hard time during the same year and a half. I feel like maybe there were some struggles that we both needed to battle through before we could be joined together. 

I tried my best to hide my struggles from people. Some people noticed but for the most part I think I kept it hidden. But I had gotten a good friend for a roommate last year and it was really needed. I needed someone to talk to and I broke in front of him a couple of times. But it helped me a lot having him live with me. But this happened throughout the year until this year started. I spent one day a week at the Bible school again this year which really helped me again to revive and be strengthened spiritually.

I still struggle even now to get completely out of the pit that I was in. I have gained much strength this year already but I still have a ways to go to get back into shape spiritually and ministering more again. I think that maybe I have been broken and reshaped. Things are different and I am still working through the pain of the reshaping.

Coming back to Margaret. We started talking again the end of last year and more coming into this year. We shared things and I liked reading her blogs of new experiences. I started to think about whether a relationship was something that could happen. I didn’t know. It was hard trying to determine things from 3000 kms away. But I do remember reading one of her blogs one day in which she poured her heart out about no one being hopeless to Jesus. That article really did a number on me. It was actually a big turn on. I thought about the struggles that I had gone through the year and a half before and I thought to myself that I needed someone like her in my life to help me and support me while I was also struggling. Someone that I could trust. Someone that loved Jesus and would help me build up my faith again. I know I’m supposed to lead but sometimes a broken leader needs a helper to get back up.

I had thought about stopping my work on the radio and things I was doing earlier this year but everything in me just wouldn’t give me peace about leaving. I couldn’t help but think I was running away from the place that God put me if I left. So I decided I would stay. And I started thinking about the things that God had lead me to do and when I looked at everything it just seemed like Margaret was one person that would fit. End of March I decided that I would fly back to Canada for 2 weeks just to kind of hang around and observe Margaret so to speak. I had mentioned to her that I was coming, but not that the reason was her… until a couple of weeks later. So finally in April we started talking more about us and a potential relationship but I didn’t like texting. That’s when we decided to start skyping. She was the first and only person I have ever skyped with. But doing that helped make a lot of things clearer.

We started skyping every day and eventually made plans that she would come here for the summer with me. Things haven’t always gone smoothly and we’ve had to learn how to communicate to each and be open about things. But learning that has brought our relationship a lot further. We’ve talked about difficult things but after each one was done we became stronger as a couple and our love has grown deeper. It’s getting harder to spend time apart but, Lord willing, soon we won’t have to.

I’ve realized that we have both come out of a period of distress and weakness in our lives and both needed to come to a place of refreshing and strengthening. Maybe God had his purpose in it being that way. Maybe this way we can both be built up into a new life together. 

Our Wedding

We had a small, simple wedding in Ontario on September 30 and then we honeymooned through the U.S. back to Mexico, making stops at the Creation Museum, Southern Grace Bed and Breakfast, and Pigeon Forge, Tennesee. And now I'm settling into life as a housewife in Mexico.

Wedding Photo Credits go to Heidi A. Photography