I sat on my futon in Japan sometime the last few months in the country, mind spinning with thoughts about where I would be headed to next. Would God allow me to stay in Tokyo and be involved with the prayer movements that just seemed to be getting going? Was he going to send me to Hong Kong to take another global mission position? Would he send me back to the States forever? I can remember an unsettling feeling as I lifted my fear of this uncertainty up to God...and rather than feeling an empathetic comfort from the Holy Spirit, I felt joy. It was like the Spirit was barely able to hold back the excitement at what was coming, wished to tell me what it was, but couldn't. I was holding on too tightly to where I was at to hear it. But I could sense the emotion, and knew how different it was from how I was feeling. So, I tucked it away as a "Was that God?" type impression.
Just to warn you, this will probably be a girly entry. Which is to say, it is all about a boy. :)
Several weeks ago, Joel and I went out with his sister, and my good friend, Haidee, for lunch. Haidee's back in Japan now, and it was our day to have some time just the three of us. I think it was maybe the week before that I had told Joel we needed to be careful about talking like we were assuming we were getting married, because I kept leaving those conversations a little freaked out...feeling like I had promised something I wasn't quite ready to promise yet. But, somehow, Haidee guided us past that defense of mine in perhaps three seconds flat, and, soon afterwards, we weren't talking about "if" Joel and I would get married, but processing out many of the details, like exactly when, who would do the ceremony, what I should do about the fact that I hate ranking friends or choosing between people when I have to choose bridesmaids, etc. When Haidee left for the bathroom, Joel asked me rather concerned, "Are you going to be freaking out about this conversation tomorrow?" As it turned out, I wasn't. And that conversation blossomed into quite a few more which also should have created freaking out type emotions, but in fact have felt very natural. Conversations like: "So, when we get married, how do we feel about birth control?" and "What is the proper amount of time to wait before diving into the mission field, or some other kind of intense life situation, after getting married?" Without really meaning to, I think both of us walked into being engaged. Which we tried to keep secret...and Joel did an excellent job of it, whereas I told nearly everyone...I'm no good at keeping secrets like that. :)
Anyway, the engagement became official a week ago now. We had a fun day of getting engaged. Perhaps the most amusing part was that I started the day out positive that I was getting engaged that day, and by the time he actually got down on one knee I had become convinced we were on a "trick date" so that he could throw me off from knowing when he was really going to do it. Joel and I had discussed how I would be on to him immediately if we went on a real date, because both of us are more stay at home people, and don't tend to go out. Apparently even Joel wasn't sure whether this was the real thing or a trick date...he was just walking around with a ring burning a hole in his pocket.
We biked up to Como Park in the afternoon, and got to wander through some of the exhibits we hadn't seen before. One was a jungle exhibit. I always feel like such a little kid in Como Park...at least, I don't know many adults who can bubble over about seeing sting rays, a huge snake skin that had been shed off of an anaconda, or leaf cutter ants shuttling around leaves six times as big as they are. There was also a butterfly pavilion--my favorite. We got to see real blue morpho butterflies, which are amazingly drab and brown on the outside, and then they flip open and are a dazzling iridescent blue. We were the last ones out of the pavilion as it was closing, and one attendant joked to the other, "Should we lock in the two love birds?" But, she checked us for stowaway butterflies and let us on our way. :)
We wandered through the park after that, looking for any place to sit that would be romantic (a.k.a. not inhabited by other people, not overlooking Lexington Ave., and not the residence of 10,000 mosquitoes). When we couldn't find a place like that, we headed back to our bikes, which was pretty much when I gave up on a proposal happening that day, because Joel was completely indifferent about what we should do next. Joel isn't normally so opinionated about things like dinner, but I imagined he would be if he were trying to propose. As it was, he said he didn't care if we went home or if we went out. But he seemed to want to eat out, so we biked another two miles to a little Italian restaurant where my parents had gone occasionally when they were dating. It was lovely...salmon and ravioli and lovely chocolate dessert...and still no proposal. This was becoming quite an elaborate "trick date".
We got on our bikes to head home, and when we got to Como Park again, Joel led us through some back trails. I zoomed ahead of him to try to get up a steep hill, and when he said, "Wait!" shouted back, "No, you have to use momentum to get up the hill." So, we got to the top, and he said, "And now we go back down." I followed, a little perplexed, and soon we were on a side path and he was putting his bike down.
Joel gave a very well thought out speech, starting with our conversation the night before. He had been thinking about the life he'd always thought he'd have, with a business type job, a normal family and kids. I'd asked him if it was sad to realize that marrying me might mean letting the normal life go. He continued on with that for the proposal, letting me know that the relationship he had with me was much more important to him than all those dreams (*blush*). He said quite a bit more than that, but I'm guessing you all don't need the whole thing. :) Now, Joel and I had gone shopping for rings a couple weeks before this, but I was convinced that he hadn't had the time to actually buy one, and didn't think he had the means to until August. So, I am embarrassed to say that the first words out of my mouth after his whole lovely, serious speech just popped out of my mouth when he knelt down and pulled out a jewelry box. "You have a ring?!?!" Though I quickly got myself together enough (after a little bit of babbling) to remember that the correct response he was waiting for was a good clean, "Yes." And then we ran away from the 50,000,000 mosquitoes who didn't seem to respect our 'private moment'. ;)
I suppose the proposal is the part of the story that people like hearing about...and the part I was asked to write down. But really, it feels like a pretty small part of the story. Here's what is huge: I'm getting married to a guy who prays with me and for me on a moment's notice. He has worked harder to understand me than anyone I've ever met; and he understands me better than anyone else because of it. He cooks bread with me and runs downstairs to join me if I try to do his laundry without him. Once I was off unloading the dishwasher alone and he came running into the room and said, "No going off and being a servant without me!" It is so safe to give to him all the time, because he constantly looks out for me and protects me too. Even when my craziness about God pushes him too far, he still prays for God to protect my passion. And he even lets on from time to time that he is excited that we might end up a missionary couple off somewhere--even though he hasn't really imagined serving God that way before, and I know it would be a sacrifice for him.
There was one other random part to the proposal that should go down even though it was mostly a joke. :) Joel has played an online game called Travian for awhile (I really hope I spelled that right...haha). He's really good about asking permission before doing computer things while I'm around, and I always jokingly tell him that, as long as the war he's involved in is a just war, I'm fine with it. But, it's end game in Travian right now, which means everyone is racing to build wonders of the world. One of Joel's Travian friends found out he was going to propose to me, and so he renamed their wonder of the world, "Pamela, marry Joel?" Joel knows I don't care much for Travian, but I have to admit I was a little touched to have a wonder of the world named after me. ;)
So, I should be getting married in April next year, about when the lease on our community house runs out. I'm hoping to have a nice God-centered wedding ceremony, and excited to plan it. (aside from all those detail things like flowers and photographers...oi...) However, if I start talking about everything I'm excited about right now, this will become a 20 page entry instead of 10. But now you're all in the know. :)