Three years ago today, I sat outside on steps in Brentwood, Tennessee and was asked to enter a committed relationship. One week ago today, I woke up in San Marcos de Colon, Honduras with a new ring on my left hand, for I had been asked to enter a deeper commitment to the same man. Saying yes to both questions has brought more adventure and life experience than I could have ever planned for myself alone. Yes, “it’s always better when we’re together”.
So Tuesday was any normal work day for me. The night before had been a long one, after helping at the clinic in Las Pitas. Translating all day made my head spin and stomach hurt, but the experiences were well worth it, from house visits and the car ride conversations with Griselda, this amazing woman who works to feed 6 mouths, we were worn out. I had the most assured thought, this is what I was made to do. God has me here and this is His work I get to be a part of. Monday was heavy and rewarding, and Tuesday reflected that. Work to catch up on, moving slowly. As an organization, we had lots of moving parts today because a group of 60 is coming in for their mission trips. 3 churches, at least 9 rented vehicles and 3 buses. Everyone has a job they are hustling to complete. And I was no exception.
I knew I had to be ready at 4pm for this photo feature we were doing. Jarrod wanted us to take headshots and group photos for a story on empowering women in the workplace, and me with my girl-power attitude was all about this. I sat in the sun working on product research until 3:30pm when it was time to go get ready.
We were told to wear dresses, but the ladies didn’t know if they had dresses they could wear, so I wasn’t sure if I should wear one or not. I had heels too, but thought that was too much. I went down to my cabin and put on my Latin sweatshirt dress with the vibrant multicolored pompoms on the sleeves, cause why not. Then I settled on Chacos. They are comfy and probably won’t be in the headshots, right?
I was ready, but the photographer was running late, or at least that’s what they told me. So I went back up to the posada to upload some photos and talk with Socorro. Killing time waiting for them to be ready to go. Bremelly pulls up and tells us to jump in the car, so MZ and Socorro and I get in and we go to pick up Dra. Nelcy at the office before heading up to Prayer Rock, where we are having the photo shoot. It’s a pretty hike, and an amazing view. We are bumping along the road towards the church, which is just below Prayer Rock and I’m feeling good. We park the car and start the final hike to get up to the vista and I am glad I opted for chacos and not heels. The earth here is raw, stone steps carved into the earth, sprinkled with a natural gravel. When you step on it at the right angle, it’s like stepping on marbles. You slide. Luckily, we had no wipe outs, and we made it to the top, to the view. It’s this precariously balanced boulder at the edge of the bluff overlooking the valley below, complete with river, cattle and a farm house. You can see the coffee plantation on the mountains to the right, and another range to the left, and another range behind. It’s a special view, where you realize the intention of the Lord as your God who carved each mountain and cares about the people who live in them. I’ve got goosebumps as I write this.
Kirk, MZ’s husband is already up there and so is our photographer. He’s got Dave Barnes playing on his Bluetooth speaker and I am so happy. I shared Dave Barnes with Kirk and MZ just a few days before, and I’ve heard his sound bouncing from their cabin a few times since. He says it’s to help us with our model poses, and I have no contest to that. Bremelly goes first, then Nelcy, then me, then MZ. We take a few individually, then a group photo. She has up turn our backs to her and we are overlooking the range. We are commenting on Guanijiquil to the right and the new street lights, the smoke coming up from the range, the clear skies. It was beautiful. And then we are done.
And I turn around and Kyle is standing there. And it’s the strangest thing. I mean, I haven’t seen him physically in front of me in a month, so I didn’t think it was real. I must have blinked 12 times in 2 seconds because I thought my eyes were lying. Then I thought I was dreaming. And literally I have a hard time remembering what even happened. Thank our good Lord Kirk was there and took a video. I think I held my breath as he dropped on bended knee.
I couldn’t tell if I was asleep or day dreaming or if it was real. See, I had a dream this happened back in March or April. I only told one person, my best friend Madison. It was in the mountains, Kyle proposed. In the dream, I was wearing a blue dress, but here he was, wearing blue. He was wearing a blue sports coat and a blue and white striped tie and he was real. He was right in front of me. It wasn’t a dream. And I said yes. And it was beautiful.
It probably took me an hour to calm down, I was so shocked and confused and joyful. We hugged all of our people who were there who helped coordinate it, and we walked over to the edge and talked and hugged and kissed and laughed. Then the group gathered by Prayer Rock and we prayed for our marriage, for God’s love to reign over our relationship, to rain down on this dry country. We gave thanks for the light that led us to each other, that it would never go out.
I’m really glad Kyle coordinated the photographer. Otherwise, I might not have believed it happened. He found a professional photographer from Choluteca online and turns out, she is one of Emilia’s friends! That’s Cholu for you. She is so talented, we took many different photos after, then wandered on our own. Walking back, a car pulls past us and someone honks and rolls the window down and shouts, “she said yes!!” So many people were in on the surprise and I genuinely had zero clue it was going on. It made me feel so loved and so special.
They set aside a sweet little table for us overlooking the valley, with fresh flowers cut from our gardens and a wooden sign from the vocational school that read “Love”. We drank water from champagne flutes and sat on chairs covered in cowhide and ate rice and potato and steak. We talked about everything. The distance between us evaporated.
It was such a special thing to have him here. To go to morning devotional with, to hike and sweat with, to run through the afternoon rainstorms with. We drank too many glasses of sweet tea, and ate Reese’s and Nutella every night. We played mafia with First Colony’s mission team and learned others, sharing in the celebration of our engagement. He learned to cut leather, to pull hides, and count inventory, beat the guys at their daily soccer game during lunch break and arm wrestled with the students. We worked the kitchen at dinner time, helping our staff and saving some of the bean dip for ourselves. We went to San Marcos, went through too many uncomfy military checkpoints, went to Amapala and La Isla de Tigre, walked black sand beaches, swam in the dirtiest yet most beautiful ocean you ever saw, standing in one country while looking at two others. He ate a fish that was pulled straight from the ocean and dropped in a fryer, and that night we saw Finding Dory in Spanish, no subtitles. We drank fresh coffee at the farm, slept in a hammock under the stars, sat on Prayer Rock, feet over the edge until the sun went down.
It took me a week to put it in writing, because every second Kyle was here I wanted to spend with him, talking, sharing, planning, smiling. And today is the first day I am here alone. Its the first day I can really think about it all, to reflect, to take it in. It was hard dropping him off at the airport, so Emilia and Nacho took me around Tegucigalpa to get my mind off of it. Today, that was harder. Here really is great, but it was even better sharing this special place with Kyle. Now that he’s gone, it’s like something is missing. Everyone has been asking if I am okay, if I miss Juan Carlos (this is how John Kyle introduced himself to everyone). And this morning, I cried every time someone asked me. But Socorro and Emilia responded best, with such assurance. He came down here, he surprised you, he promised himself to you. He will wait for you. You will spend forever with him. It’s the happy truth.
There’s something particular about writing this on today’s date. 6/22 marks our third year being together, but we’ve never been able to spend our anniversary together. Year one, I was studying abroad. Year two, Kyle was on tour with Kenny Chesney. Year three, I am in Honduras. We always planned a time before or after for celebration, date night with ice-cream, something sweet. This year, we celebrated early with a surprise and a simple ring, and it was more than enough for me.